I just turned down a request to appear on The Ricki Lake Show. Before you gasp in disappointment and shock, let me explain. I'm still a whore; it's just that I now consider myself the classy kind of whore.
Here's what happened, though I still don't quite understand it myself. I received a telephone call yesterday, and the woman's voice on the other end asked me if I was Todd Levin. This has happened to me before, because there is another Todd Levin who is well-known in very small circles, mostly in Germany. I believe he used to be a "composer" of the type of contemporary music one might describe as "modern shitty", and now he curates art shows. Anyhow, every once in a while I receive a phone call from someone with a German accent asking if I am him. I reply "nein" and carry on about my business.
Yesterday was different. First of all, the accent was New England middle-class. And then she asked if I was the Todd Levin who wrote a story on "male vanity" for GirlComic.Net. Yes. Yes I am. (i remember being embarrassed to tell the lady i was dating about this story, because it was so crass and she was so class.) Apparently, Ricki was doing a full show on the subject of male vanity and they'd found my article during their research. They loved me, or so they said. They needed me on their show, or so I was told. And here's the part I really didn't understand: they thought most of the material in that article was true. At one point in the conversation, the production assistant actually asked me if it was true that Edward Norton and Van Morrison had breast augmentation surgery. (i guess she forgot to ask about james joyce and cardinal o'connor - two of the other famous male figures i accused of under-going this same surgerical procedure.)
My immediate reaction was the same one I stuck with: no. Would I love to be on television? Absolutely. It would make a great story and, under the right circumstances, it could be fun and useful. But Ricki Lake? I asked the PA who the other guests would be. She mentioned a man who has invested $36,000 in cosmetic surgery, and another guy who once appeared on MTV's "True Life: I'm Getting Plastic Surgery" (a hard-hitting episode that aired right on the heels of "true life: i'm horny in miami") so he could share his calf implants with the rest of the retarded world.
I sized up the distinguished panel and quickly realized the show would go down something like this: I would crack a joke about how lame male vanity - and all vanity - really is, and the guy with giant calves would say something like "Well, look at you, chicken wing. Maybe you're just jealous, with your ugly face!" And then all of my smart ideas and classy comebacks ("eat a dick sandwich, bitch") would melt away and I would be reduced to tears. Because, as we all know, ideas have no place on Ricki Lake; only words. And more than that, no matter how clever and evolved I think I am, I still basically crave approval and love from everyone and that very basic need would result in being legitimately concerned about the opinions of a man who has had fake calves inserted into his legs. I would be sitting onstage for the remaining 40 minutes of the program, silent but wondering, "does this chair make me look fat?" That kind of thing doesn't happen on Charlie Rose.