Details: How's your day going?
Bret Easton Ellis: I was afraid you'd ask that. It usually doesn't start this late, but last night led to some surprising places, and I'm in a good mood.
Details: Care to elaborate?
Bret Easton Ellis: Not really. I'd sound too much like a character out of my own books.
Details: I was under the impression that you don't go out to Los Angeles nightclubs anymore.
Bret Easton Ellis: Okay, I don't go to nightclubs. But I've become a member of a private club here, and I went there for the first time last night, and I was surprised at how much fun I had. There definitely was something therapeutic about it.
Details: Your new novel, Imperial Bedrooms, revisits the characters from Less Than Zero. It turns out that your narrator, Clay, is arguably worse, morally, than American Psycho's Patrick Bateman.
Bret Easton Ellis: I'm not gonna disagree. Patrick Bateman is a much more ambiguous case. Because we're really not sure of what his crimes might or might not have been. Here, with Clay, there doesn't seem to be any question about that. I guess one of the questions is, well, why? Why did this happen to this person? I really wasn't that interested in the other characters, and neither is Clay. This became, for me, an exploration of intense narcissism.
Details: I thought some characters might have found some redemption in 25 years, but most of them seem creepier than ever.
Bret Easton Ellis: Isn't that what happens to most people? I mean, do 40-year-olds seem less or more creepy to you than 18-year-olds? I'm just throwing that out there. It was hard to look into that mirror.
Details: Your father was an alcoholic, but you still drink, at 46. Do you worry about going down the same road?
Bret Easton Ellis: He had already gone down a road so much worse than mine. By the time he was my age, I don't think he could've even talked to you. I don't think I'm at the same place he was.
Details: Have you ever felt the need to go to rehab?
Bret Easton Ellis: I followed someone into AA once, but only because I wanted to have sex with them. I was told the only way it was going to work between us was if I went to AA, so I pretended I was in AA to get laid. It only worked out for about four weeks, and then the jig was up.
Details: There's always been this casual approach to bisexuality in your books. There are characters who might sleep with a woman or sleep with a man, but you, the author, never seem to make a fuss about that.
Bret Easton Ellis: You're right.
Details: That's an interesting decision for a writer to make so young. Why did you make it?
Bret Easton Ellis: I really don't know! I would love to give you an answer—depicting me as extremely conscious of these choices. So many of the quote-unquote choices you make are emotionally based. That is an interesting aspect of my work. And why did I go that way when I was 18, 19, 20, writing Less Than Zero? I don't know. I mean, it just felt right to me. And I think it's how I've always felt about it—that it's not necessarily a big deal.
Details: You've been coy about your own sexuality in the past. Where do you stand on that now?
Bret Easton Ellis: Where do I stand on it now? I stand the same place that I've always stood on it, which is...which is what?
Details: My perception was that you were bisexual.
Bret Easton Ellis: I guess that it is the perception. I don't know if that's totally true. It seems to be the narrative that people respond to most, and there is a desire to keep that narrative going. I just tend not to relate to either straight or gay culture. That's where I'm at. And it's really not a confusing place.
Details: There's a scene in Imperial Bedrooms in which Clay falls asleep while listening to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf," and you write about the song's "transporting me for one long moment into someone both young and old." Is that a sensation you have these days?
Bret Easton Ellis: Yeah, I guess I can say that. But I have to tell you, I always felt that way. I felt that way at 18. And I don't know if I feel any different now. Like, I had huge problems with my peers when I was writing Less Than Zero, so I already felt like an old man when I was writing that book.
Details: I've noticed that when you fly JetBlue into the Burbank airport, they're always playing eighties New Wave music on the sound system in the terminal: Oingo Boingo, the Thompson Twins, the Psychedelic Furs...
Bret Easton Ellis: The Burbank airport has the best music playing! No other airport has that kind of music.