May 1998
s m u g
bumping uglies
by Todd Levin

*

The Great Leap Backward

Interview reprinted with the cooperation of Disturbed Teen Dream Magazine, April 1998

As many of SMUG's readers are already aware, things have been going extremely well for Todd Levin. On a break from writing "Bumping Uglies", in February of this year, Todd scored a huge victory in a class-action suit against HOOTERS' discriminatory hiring policy. And things skyrocketed from there. He was discovered on COURT TV by a television producer and soon landed a groundbreaking television role as a tolerable middle-of-the-road sidekick with no strong opinions or social flaws in the NBC situation comedy, Whores To Us! Well, it seems like Todd can do no wrong these days. With two daytime Emmys and a blockbuster award for Best Non-ethnic Comedic Double-take in a Situation Comedy About the Sex Industry, Todd has been blazing a trail to superstardom so brilliant that to simply regard the trail with one eye, even through laced fingers, would cause retinal damage so severe that special eyewear would be required for the rest of your life just for proper vision in daylight. That's how well Todd is doing.

Naturally, with all of the wonderful things coming his way, his time is extremely divided. Mostly between ghostwriting his own memoirs and eating Halloween candy for charity. But Todd was kind enough to sit down with DTM for an hour to answer some "dry" questions about his very "saucy" column.

Here's the deal: you write about a lot of things people would rather not know about. Sexual things. Perverse things. Things people wish were made up but aren't. Are you a creep, or what?

(Laughs. Then stops for a few seconds to take another sip of his Bahama Mama. And then continues laughing for approximately 30 minutes) Has your tape run out yet?
I have plenty of tapes in my bag, Todd.

Oh. OK, then. I started writing "Bumping Uglies" because I thought sex was really easy. Everyone thinks about it. Almost everyone does it in some fashion except my parents, of course. So it's pretty easy to write about. I really thought I would be spending a lot of my time divided between writing columns about hookers and masturbating and writing columns about strange sexual practices. It would all depend on whether I was sexually active at the time. If you've read the column consistently, you can see that it works out to only 98% hookers and masturbation. Which is not too shabby.

What are some upcoming topics we will see in Bumping Uglies?

Um, I've been working on a couple of ideas. Clown sex, Pony girls, the Porky's trilogy, homosexuality in the insect kingdom. That kind of thing.

Cool. DTM loves clown sex. How do you deal with all the hype about the zine?

To be honest, I don't really deal with it at all. First of all, there hasn't really been any hyping efforts for SMUG, except for that Turkey Drop Leslie tried to pull off last Thanksgiving. (editor's note: the Stove Top® Turkey Drop that SMUG co-sponsored in Cincinnati this past year was only a media footnote for its disastrous results. Several dozen uncooked stuffed roaster turkeys, each with SMUG's URL written on them in high-visibility orange, were dropped from a news helicopter by former WKRP in Cincinnati alum, Richard "Les Nessman" Sanders. It was a publicity stunt in which Leslie invested an enormous amount of time and capital, hoping that in the wake of the event, SMUG would become as ubiquitous in the public's mind as, say, STIM or SLATE or STUMMIES or that other web zine with all those liberal ideas. Sadly, the event went wildly sour as people were unable to read the web address written on the turkeys since the birds were falling from the sky at such extreme velocities. Additionally, by the time the flightless fowl hit the pavement eventually mortally wounding key players in a team of awestruck wheelchair basketball athletes scheduled to compete in an exhibition game against Korean War veterans on donkeys the turkeys were such a mess of flesh, gravel and wet, delicious Stove Top Stuffing® that SMUG's URL was all but lost in the muddle. It was a ridiculous failure and Leslie is still reeling from it as she plans another big promotion for SMUG as part of the Mobil Gasoline Smoke-a-Thon and Free Open Containers of Volatile Gasoline Festival in Mobile, Alabama. We wish her luck.) That event didn't really provide the kind of "hype" we all expected, but in case SMUG does become as big as my pop-up books on tape became, I think my Mosad-trained entourage of flesh-to-bone silent killers can "get their hands around" any sort of hype I may fall victim to. Oh, can you please put quotes around "get their hands around"? It was a play on words, because it was sort of a reference to both handling a bad situation and strangling the life out of any of my fans. I don't know if you got that.

I did. Thanks.

Great.

Do you really think that level of brute force is necessary in dealing with the potential hype of SMUG?

Um - no.

What would you parents like to change about you?

That's really funny, because Tiger Beat France asked me the same question recently, but they asked it in French, which sounded much different. I would have to say that if my parents could change one thing about me it would probably be my last name, and perhaps my genetic material just a little bit. Just enough to erase all genetic records of lineage. That's been a huge sticking point between us.

Between Pacey and Dawson, who would you go for in real life?

Definitely Pacey. He's so precocious. I think he would make a good boyfriend. Dawson is so lame!

When was your last date?

Does a pornographic video count as a date?

No.

What about a pornographic 8-millimeter film?

I'm sorry, no.

OK.. Wow, you're tough.

Who do people say you look like?

I get all sorts of things, really. Fonzie, Ponch, The Duke brothers - sometimes Bo, sometimes Luke. Someone once told me I look like the guy who rides her bus, the one who's always clutching a bag filled with hollow, plastic Easter eggs. He's always hanging out in front of the St. Vincent's Hospital emergency room entrance. I thought that was pretty descriptive. And, in a sense, remarkably dead-on.

Do you like the glamorous, cover-girl part of your job? Would it be shallow to say that the reason I got into this business in the first place was the glamorous, cover-girl part of my job?

No, I don't think so.

Really? OK then, well, the reason I started doing my column and, eventually, my TV sitcoms, films, radio talk show, and celebrity assisted suicides was simply for the glamorous, cover-girl aspect of the job.

Wow. You are so shallow.

What? Really? Please don't print that stuff. Seriously.

Sorry. I'm going to print it. It's my job. Just like being an a-hole is your job. Next question: Have you ever wanted to do anything besides write?

I've always wanted to have sex with someone. I have really been focused on that one. I don't know if you can tell, but if you look really closely at my face not that closely, please you can see the wrinkles in my brow. That means I'm concentrating.

It shows -- you're good. what are you horrible at?

Rope-climbing and telling the truth. And heart surgery. Not very good at that.

All of your work indicates that you seem to have a problem with confrontation. Would you like to comment on that?

This interview is over.

(editor's note: 2 days after the interview Todd's publicist called our offices with a message from Todd requesting emphatically that we not forget "to put that bit about the hands" in quotes)

*

letigre@smug.com

*

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