That showed up a lot in your new novel, Imperial Bedrooms.
There’s the character of Rain, obviously, who is willing to do anything to get a role in a film, but also there’s a part where Clay watches a video of the young actor who lived in his apartment before him, and he sees “the fake smile, the pleading eyes, the mirage of it all.” Do you encounter that kind of person in real life?
All the time.
And do they ask you for things?
Yeah. It’s Vegas here. It’s a gambler’s town. You come here and the odds are overwhelmingly against you, but you do it anyway. And you know what? I really think that—and I’ve said this before—but I think that LA forces you to become the person you really are. I don’t think LA is a place where you’re allowed to reinvent yourself. It absolutely isn’t. There’s an isolating quality to a life lived out here. I don’t care how many friends you have. I don’t care if you have a relationship. Whatever. It’s just an isolating city. You’re alone a lot. And I think it forces you to become the person you really are. It doesn’t allow you to hide. I think New York is a much easier place to kind of reinvent yourself. In LA, over time, the real person you are ultimately comes out, or else people can’t deal with that and they flee before it happens."
What ever happened to embarrassment? Why are an increasing number of us comfortable bringing our private activities - from personal hygiene to intimate conversation - into public view? Bernstein and others place some of the blame on the desensitization wrought by reality television and social networking sites like Facebook, both of which traffic in personal revelation. To be sure, television and Internet video sites such as YouTube have made all of us more comfortable in the role of everyday voyeurs. We watch others cook, work, shop, argue, sing, dance, stumble, and fall - all from a safe remove. The motley denizens of reality television regularly put themselves into questionable and embarrassing situations so that they can later discuss, for our viewing enjoyment, how questionable and embarrassing their conduct was. If we are less easily embarrassed, it must be in part from vicariously experiencing so much manufactured embarrassment on the screen."