BY REBECCA GOODACRE You know there’s that guy that always, always seems to get his way? And no one even minds. Or the guy that gets to sleep with women yet manages to avoid all the whiney crap that usually goes along with it? Or the colleague who never really seems to do all that much work but always scores promotions? Or the relative that somehow manages to avoid all those irritating family duties? How do they do it?Well, it’s because those people are assholes. But don’t worry, you can be one too with a little help from Chris Illuminati and his new book, Assholeology: The Cheat Sheet, your one-stop guide to overcoming all those nails-on-a-blackboard, only-one-sock-left-in-the-drawer irritating daily torments that you wish would just crawl back into the hole of crapness they came from. If you are looking for advice on how to score yourself a job interview or master those awkward ex conversations, Illuminati has you covered. As a regular contributor to Maxim, Penthouse and Askemen.com, Illuminati knows from asshole.
Initially, I was skeptical about the entertainment value of a How To guide for assholes. I always believed it was nice to be nice and that karma was a bitch I did not want to cross. And I was pretty sure my mild-mannered Brit mother would not have approved either, and that’s scarier than karma even on the darkest of nights. But then I learned the hard way that nice guys don’t just finish last, they finish on their backsides, probably on the urine-soaked floor of the bathroom in a dingy bar, unemployed and single. And as the back cover of the book says: “Don’t spend your life being picked on like a pansy, or hated on like a douche bag. Stand up. Take control. Be an a**hole.” It’s about empowerment, really.
The advice Illuminati dispenses varies in its practical usefulness. There is a lot of useful advice for assholes and non-assholes alike, things like: “How to Remember a Person’s Name”; “Dealing with Customer Service” or how to “Keep a Repairman from Screwing You Over.” But the sections on how to “Borrow a Friend’s Car and Sell It,” or how to “Steal a Coworker’s Idea and Say It Was Yours” or “How to be an Asshole Dinner Guest”? Hmm, not so much. So, for the most part the Iluminati’s wise counsel given is best taken with a pinch (or in some cases a handful) of salt. But setting aside the actual putting what he’s written into practice, Assoholeology makes for a highly amusing read.
PHAWKER: What’s the best thing about being an asshole, other than getting your way? What is the worst?
CHRIS ILLUMINATI: The best thing is that an asshole usually ends up getting his way. The worst part is that occasionally you’ve got to do some hurtful things. For example, there is a section of the book about dumping old friends. You know that person you’ve been friends with for years but you’re really not sure why anymore? The section shows examples of how to end a friendship that neither of you is really getting anything out of anymore. Doing stuff like that is sometimes awkward and uncomfortable.
PHAWKER: In the book you give advice on how to be an asshole, but how will society survive if suddenly everyone is an asshole?
CHRIS ILLUMINATI: It’s impossible for everyone to be an asshole. Just like it’s impossible for everyone to be nice. You’ve got to have a little asshole in you already (even though that sounds naughty).
PHAWKER: What’s the biggest asshole thing you’ve ever done?
CHRIS ILLUMINATI: I walked out in the middle of a job interview. The minute I walked into the office I just knew it wasn’t a place I would enjoy going to every morning. About five minutes into the actual interview (right after the interviewer pulled my resume out from under his bagel with jelly and dusted the crumbs off) I stopped him mid-sentence and said, “You know what, I’m gonna stop you right there, and not waste any more of our time. Good luck on the search.” Oddly enough, that same job posting pops up once in a while in classifieds/online. Same ad, word for word, ten years later. I’m pretty sure I made a smart move.
PHAWKER: My boyfriend now wants to be an asshole, what’s the best piece of advice you can give to him, and you can give to me?
CHRIS ILLUMINATI: He is a smart man. He should pick up both books, memorize them, and go out and change his life. My best advice to you is to go along for the ride. His new asshole persona will pay off and benefit both of you. Unless he becomes a huge douche bag – then run away as far and as fast as you can.
PHAWKER: I’m a pretty pathetic 20-year-old girl, is there any hope for me to be an asshole too?
CHRIS ILLUMINATI: The first step is realizing there is an issue. It sounds very Tony Robbins-like, but it’s the truth. If you know there is something wrong in your life, go and change it. You too can be an asshole about it. Don’t like your career path? Do something about it. Hate the way people treat you? Get in their face about it. There is hope for everyone.
PHAWKER: You differentiate between assholes and douche bags in your book (assholes good, douche bags bad). Living in Jersey, how does it feel being so close to so many televised douche bags?
CHRIS ILLUMINATI: People from Jersey get so worked up over the shows like Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives of New Jersey because they feel like it makes the state look bad. Calm down. This state has been making itself look bad for years, way before TV got involved. I love the place and probably would never leave but we’ve all got to lighten up. I’d call the casts of those shows douche bags if that was all they did in life. They’ve all learned how to stretch their 15 minutes of fame. Take a guy like “The Situation”- say what you want about him as a person but he was smart enough to realize his fame isn’t going to last forever so he should cash in while he can on his name and face. Douche bag persona, but a smart asshole when it comes to marketing what little talent he has to work with.
PHAWKER: Who’s your favorite celebrity asshole and why? Who is your least and why?
CHRIS ILLUMINATI: Harvey Levin of TMZ would have to be my favorite asshole right now. The guy basically made a career out of being an asshole that has cameras following around celebs, waiting for them to say or do something dumb. It’s really brilliant because for years there was this kind aura about famous people like they were all so wonderful and perfect. TMZ proved that they are all human, and in most cases, even more screwed up than the rest of us. I don’t really have a least favorite, unless one day TMZ digs up something on me, then I’ll have to change my mind.
PHAWKER: What is the deal with your last name, are you a member of The Illuminati? If so, do you guys secretly control world events and can you show me the secret handshake?
CHRIS ILLUMINATI: Nope. It’s my real last name and I’ve got nothing to do with any secret society that controls the world. If I did, wouldn’t I have made this book a New York Times best seller by now? Also, who the hell joins a secret society and then takes that secret society name as his own? Someone that wants to get found out pretty damn fast. Just like you don’t see anyone with the last name Klu Klux Klan or Scientology. I do have a secret handshake, but all it gets you is half off at Arby’s.
A**holeology-The Cheat Sheet book reading and signing with author Chris Illuminati Thursday, March 3 at 7pm at University of Pennsylvania Bookstore, 3601 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 (215-898-7595) FREE