Meet Marie Calloway: The New Model for Literary Seductress is Part Feminist, Part ‘Famewhore’ and All Pseudonymous

mariecalloway1 Meet Marie Calloway: The New Model for Literary Seductress is Part Feminist, Part Famewhore and All PseudonymousOn one of the first nights of summer break, Marie Calloway, a 21-year-old Portland college student, was up until 3 a.m., sitting in her parent’s house in Nevada, working up the nerve to hit “send.”

For weeks she had been exchanging e-mails with a writer she admired. Now she would make a frank proposal. He had expanded her world view, she told him, and she’d be in New York at the end of the month. Would he like to sleep with her?

He responded promptly.

Six months later, Ms. Calloway published a 15,000-word story about the brief affair. It couldn’t have surprised those familiar with her work. On Thought Catalog and her personal blog, Ms. Calloway published similar accounts of sexual encounters with Internet acquaintances. She even told the writer she was going to write about him; he gave her his blessing.

A sample:

We laid side by side.

He asked me to help him get an erection. So I moaned, “I want you to fuck me.”

He laughed. I couldn’t believe it.

“I can’t do it if you’re going to laugh at me.”

I thought then how it’s really unfair how men want and expect you to be really slutty and wild in bed, but they then laugh at you for it. You’re either frigid and boring or you’re unintentionally funny and crazy.

“I’m laughing but it’s also making me hard.”

The piece was shocking for its explicitness—it included a photograph of Ms. Calloway that purported to show the writer’s semen on her face—and the fact that its title was the writer’s name, “Adrien Brody.”

Not really Adrien Brody. That is what we’ve agreed to call this much less famous person because anyone who wants to figure out who he is probably already has. Besides, Mr. Brody could not be reached for comment.

Neither is Marie Calloway really Marie Calloway. It’s a pseudonym inspired by Marie Antoinette, whom Ms. Calloway has sympathized with since the Sofia Coppola film.

Compared to Ms. Calloway’s other stories, “Adrien Brody” made bigger waves in literary New York because Mr. Brody was fairly well known here. He was affiliated with The New Inquiry, a brainy online journal that recently made its debut in a New York Times Styles profile. He also had a girlfriend, an ethical dilemma featured prominently in Ms. Calloway’s account.

And what good was a literary magazine without a little personal intrigue? The Partisan Review wasn’t the Partisan Review until founder Philip Rahv’s girl Mary McCarthy ran off with Edmund Wilson.

Ms. Calloway didn’t set out to be a writer. She grew up shy—essentially a hikikomori (a social recluse, in Japanese), she told The Observer—and blogging platforms LiveJournal and Tumblr became her diaries.

“I wrote to express my worldview/subjectivity because it felt then that no one had any idea,” she said. “I guess ultimately I wanted to connect with others in order to feel less alone.”

She coupled blog posts with photographs of herself, sometimes naked, always under a pseudonym.

In the photo gallery she emailed Mr. Brody, she lolls around in front of a web camera wearing a micro mini skirt and black thigh high stockings. Despite studiously unflattering poses, she looks very pretty and very young, Anna Karina meets Wednesday Addams.

As a writer, her influences were eclectic. Joyce Maynard’s memoirs about her time living with J.D. Salinger resonated with her but she was also fascinated by non-literary Internet it-girls like Cory Kennedy and Bebe Zeva—all of whom escaped their unremarkable youths through proximity to successful older men.

Ms. Kennedy was the jail bait muse of prominent Los Angeles nightlife photographer Mark Hunter. Now 21, she is a correspondent for NYLON TV.

Ms. Zeva (also a pseudonym) was a suburban teenager with a fashion blog until she became the tee-shirt model for Hipster Runoff, acquiring a following so large that Elle wondered if she was the next Tavi.

The poet/novelist/deadpan literary provocateur Tao Lin, once rumored to be the author of Hipster Runoff, made a documentary about Ms. Zeva early this year, in which Ms. Zeva, now 18, poignantly tells him about growing up without a father. Later, Mr. Lin sprays whipped cream on her face and rubs it in her hair.

In April, two weeks after Mr. Lin screened the documentary to a room of squirming journalists at Soho House, Ms. Calloway emailed him a link to a story she had written about losing her virginity, and a photo of herself.

“I liked her ability to describe a memory objectively and interestingly and without preconception or judgment,” Mr. Lin told The Observer in an e-mail.

Comments

  1. This was an interesting article.  Felt weird to me that there exists a “scholar of micro-internet celebrity” but it makes sense I guess.  “I always had a PhD.: a Pretty Huge Dick / Ladies tired of getting ripped off by guys like this” – Kanye Wests

  2. Django says:


    We laid side by side”

    Awesome writing, dude.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Failed to mention Marie Calloway’s strong marxist bent. Much of her stories must be viewed with this in mind to understand her project as exploring human anomie vs. human connection more than simple power and exploitation.  Some of the responses to her work, even those of female readers, are compromised by capitalist value judgments regarding dominance/submissiveness and the value of sexual currency.

    This radical marxist viewpoint is actually the most exciting part of her writing. It sets her outside of capitalist norms and allows her to operate and report independent of cliched value judgements. Wrongheaded assumptions evidenced by a line like “it’s tempting to believe that there is some sort of feminist impulse at work, that she derives power from humiliating men with her sexuality, the same tool they used to objectify her” reveal an oppressive worldview that is taken for granted in most critiques. Even by feminist critiques. I think.

    1. Entertained says:

      Is this satire?

  4. Bailey Kennedy says:

    sofia coppola not sophia.

    1. Kat Stoeffel says:

      Thanks.

    2. Guess says:

      Who cares? Article isn’t about Ms. Coppola. This from someone who couldn’t distinguish between the usage of I and Me (see your dog’s tumblr for reference). At least she can write something, and not to pretending to write.

  5. guest says:

    how can this girl be a writer with ‘we laid side by side’?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely revolting all around.

  7. Jamie says:

    Famewhore or not, I really like this girl’s writing, so thanks for introducing it to me. I like the Marxist angle, and I think it’s very emotionally honest without being overwrought. It’s a rare writer who can study her own emotions like a scientist might study a bug under a microscope.

  8. Petra says:

    A woman lures a successful writer, dumps her emotional baggage on him and then publicly humiliates him as some kind of misguided revenge on men. Pathetic is the only way I can describe Calloway.

    1. Anonymous says:

      star f*ckers, is what we call them. Very boring. Wonder if she has a blue dress….

    2. Laura S. says:

      …and the most predictably boring response to it imaginable.

  9. James says:

    She’s confused attention with power and has let herself be used, sexually and now by other writers who are more savy than herself (who profits here?). Her sexual exploits seem to be traumatizing experieces that she orchestrates to tantalize people who get off on the degradation of women (including herself). She has written repeatedly about how she is frigid, how sex is painful to her and how violence turns her on because she was a victim of rape. Just gross… and sad.

  10. Forgive a 60yo man for horning in on a subject he knows little about, but I’m puzzled by what appears to a blackout by the media (Observer, Gawker, Emily Gould) of the writer’s real name.  Is that you don’t want to rob him of his dignity?  Is he akin to a victim of rape?

  11. Famejohn says:

    Famewhore or not, I’d tap it. Don’t mind being used and humiliated by her for her blog as long as I get a piece of that “weapon” of hers.

  12. Kat Meyer says:

    So, this is all about a
    short story – albeit, a supposedly true one – yes? So, why are you attacking the author, exactly?
    I mean – just trying to gather — are you critical that Miss Calloway got attention for the story, or are you critical of the story? And do you find it at all ironic that you’re getting attention for *your* story about seemingly unsavory artistic practices, all because Marie Calloway got attention based on unsavory artistic practices?
    Iread Miss Calloway’s story. I found it moving and sad and disturbing. And – I  really thought it was a good read.
    I think that’s what story writers are supposed to do.
    I think journalists have a mission as well. I’m pretty sure the good ones aren’t spending their time attacking the lifestyle choices of 21 year old fiction writers.

  13. This is exciting and compelling. I liked her story.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Is “Wall Street” a good movie b/c finance is interesting or b/c Stone’s a good director?  Is “Oliver Twist” interesting b/c any book about London street urchins would be a slam dunk or b/c Dickens knew how to write?

  14. Elle M. says:

    there is nothing interesting about any of this.

    1. Guess says:

      The article is very interesting, unlike your comment.

  15. Chris Hosea says:

    Can you remind me what this article was about?

  16. Guest says:

    “Ms. Calloway agreed. She said that she writes to give meaning and permanence to female subjectivity.” So, in other words, to herself. I think that is what the anti- commenters are picking up on here. Dressing narcissism up in lit crit vocab doesn’t make it any less narcissistic. The idea that something / anything that happens in her life – for example, sleeping with this guy — is made inherently interesting by the act of her narrating it is pretty bankrupt. And it repulses me that the outlets that have jumped on this story are the same ones that I already think of as being intellectually and aesthetically bankrupt in that same exact way. The Hairpin, for example. As far as I can tell their remit is to have an opinion about anything and everything about women that appears anywhere in the media. Whereby a dingbat magazine cover with the Kardashians on it is as interesting and as worth of discussion as the ongoing assault of womens’ reproductive rights. I don’t mean to imply that writing about lady-stuff ought to be dead serious at all times or that it should float above pop culture. What I mean is that I think it is bankrupt and vacuous to pretend that all lady-stuff written by and for ladies is inherently interesting due to its lady-nature. So bankrupt and so vacuous that I wonder whether the writers and editors of such nonsense actually believe the idea has merit, or whether — as I suspect — they are careerists who see a space they can easily and cheerfully fill without having to do the tiresome work of cultivating any sort of individual voice or identity. To return to the subject of Ms. Calloway specifically, it’s hard to see how deleting her blog fulfills her stated reason for writing. Considering the number of tiresome media parasites who would like to latch on to her, I can’t blame her for changing her mind, though. 

    1. sonia says:

      The way I read it, the Hairpin realized once their advice might have anything to do with this fiasco (and we don’t know if it did), they took it down immediately because they wanted nothing to do with something this morally bankrupt. Brava to them, I say. Wish more places saw this as the nothing story it is, or at least as the incredibly hurtful thing it is to people who had jack to do with it (i.e. the girlfriend).

  17. Fawntell says:

    I think it’s all just for fun.

  18. Lfelster says:

    The real reason her story was published by Lin ….”Soon after “Adrien Brody” was published, he emailed Ms. Calloway. If she
    could pay her way, she was welcome to stay with him in his hotel room
    in Paris from December 4 to December 6. She would cover the trip, and
    he’d reimburse her for half after the story was published. “I’ll help
    you find a venue,” he offered.”

  19. Hazel says:

    It’s sad that you equate a feminist impulse with a woman deriving a sense of power through humiliating men with sexuality.  Isn’t more accurate to call that a sadistic impulse?