James Ellroy, the Playboy Channel and an Internet Controversy
James Ellroy recently took part in a controversial publicity video for the Playboy channel, which has achieved a minor level of notoriety. In a split second scene, Ellroy mimes masturbation when he is describing his past history of voyeurism and burglaries. The entire episode is just the sort of thing which gets overblown by angry responses on chat forums and internet threads.
Although Playboy is regarded as a soft-porn magazine, it has also achieved distinction through its long history of publishing interviews with prominent literary figures. Ellroy is one of the most prominent novelists in the US today, and Playboy is currently serialising his forthcoming memoir The Hilliker Curse. Ellroy also likes to shock and entertain through his Demon Dog persona, and the masturbation mime is a part of that persona.
The video itself is brilliant: it is the first in Playboy’s new writers series ‘Walkabout’. Ellroy explores all of his old haunts, including the houses he use to break into and then do things such as sniff women’s underwear and make himself sandwiches. Ellroy also visits nearby El Monte and stands at the spot where his mother’s strangled corpse was found outside Arroyo High School.
The masturbation mime is only one brief part of a seven minute video. You can watch the video here.