Portrait of the Onanist as a Young Man

nicktosches Portrait of the Onanist as a Young ManNick Tosches, a former Florida snake hunter who started out as a journalist at Creem and Fusion, is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He is also the author of novels Cut Numbers and In The Hand of Dante, and biographies of Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis among many others.

When Salon published a profile of Mr. Tosches in 1999, it described the writer’s penchant for leopard-printed loafers, smoking two brands of cigarettes at all times, and dining at Da Silvano on a daily basis. In the piece, Mr. Tosches also talks about not caring about what goes on in Hollywood, despite it being the place where many of his works were planned on being adapted. (Dino, for example, was supposed to be directed by Martin Scorsese, but ultimately fell through.)

This week, the Daily Transom discovered a little item that Mr. Tosches wrote for Playboy (in the shape of a phallus) on the topic of sex addiction, responding to the recent revelation that Hollywood actor David Duchovny was one of the afflicted.

Mr. Tosches recounts the time when he was 12 years old and first dealing with what some might describe as sex addiction:

“Bless me, father, for I have sinned.” My voice must have been trembling like a lamb on the altar. I’ve always loved the title of Herbert Huncke’s little book Guilty of Everything. That was me, that was all of us, or so we felt. “I’ve committed self-abuse.”

The unseen priest on the other side of the screen asked me how often. “About five times.” My confessor’s voice was consoling. He knew I was about 12. “You are young,” he said. ‘But if you have committed self-abuse five times already in your life—.’ I needed to set this guy straight. I didn’t want to get swag absolution. I did not want to fuck with this heaven-or-hell shit. “Not five times in my life. Five times a day.”

That day Mr. Tosches received a lengthy prescription of prayer and swore never to tell the truth, apparently until now. In the piece he describes his fascination with various online porn sites and writes off sex addiction as another invented disease like vasomotor rhinitis (a.k.a. runny nose) or obesity.

Mr. Tosches writes:

The first time I ever heard the phrase “sex addict” was at an A.A. meeting at which some sniveling—excuse me: non-alergic-vasomotor-rhintic—little sly-grinning faggot introduced himself with the words, “Hi, my name is blah-blah-blah, and I’m an alcoholic and a sex addict.” God, did he love saying that.

I thought of him when I heard not long ago that David Duchovny, who’s supposed to be some kind of actor or something, was undergoing treatment for addiction to internet pornography. Man, if that ain’t Hollywood, what is? And if this whole damned gone-dead culture ain’t Hollywood, it ain’t nothing at all.