My Tucker review

April 4, 2007 — 10 Comments

I get emails every once in a while on how I met Tucker. The barebones story is this: I wrote an article about him, emailed it to him, he liked it, and we went from there. I thought I’d post the article, mainly because I look at it periodically to see where I’ve grown as a writer. But the crucial point here is that ARTISTS LOVE IT WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND THEIR WORK. What was the difference between me, the 18 year old kid who at the time didn’t have a credential to his name, and the dozens of established reporters who’d interviewed and written about Tucker before? I did some research. I grasped that he was struggling to assert a deeper message. Only the superficial and ignorant would think an artist would be content to simply retell their roaring twenties and nights of blackout-drunkenness. No, he obviously was trying to get something across or he wouldn’t bother doing it. Hardly anyone writes to become rich, they do it to spread a message. And if you can find that message, you can develop a truly personal connection. What I did was nothing special. It’s right there in plain sight. He’s the talent, I just reaffirmed it in print.

***

“If Hunter S. Thompson had found this site, he probably wouldn’t have killed himself. I say this about TuckerMax.com because there is little else that so fully embodies the Good Doctor’s message of self-destruction and indulgence.

The design and utility of the site, along with the subtle insertion of truly skilled artistry is impressive but in the end, totally irrelevant. His enormous traffic (some 10 million visitors a year), popular messageboard and eclectic collection of like-minded writers all pales in comparison to the stellar content.

Hunter S. Thompson often wrote of man’s descent into primal behavior as an escape from both internal pain and the crushing pressure of a mundane external world. Tucker Max embraces this ethic to hilarious extremes and like his gonzo predecessors, contributes to the society from which he takes so much by writing of his experiences.

You can dismiss him as a joke, an internet fad or a pompous jackass, but sooner or later, you’ll come around. The stories are long and they are addictive to the point of causing dangerously low productivity. One story leads to two and three leads to hours in front of the computer.

Let’s face it: text has never looked very kindly on humor, but this collection of youthful indiscretions and drunken angst stands as a bright exception.

Try it and believe me, you’ll find that the story about the time you and your buddy “got totally trashed and were pretty sure the cashier at Wendy’s was on to you” or when you “got high and ate 6 bags of Cheetos” aren’t as funny when you write them down.

Stories about drinking, vandalism, and women have always screamed “you had to be there” but somehow Max’s are different. Both the overall quality of the experience and the prose that describes it combine to ward off the juvenile nature that tales of debauchery so often fall victim to.

Context and style are certainly integral to the success of his writing, but that’s not to say his exploits wouldn’t stand on their own. One would be hard-pressed to find anything more rife with comedic potential than a drunk fighting a hockey mascot or Duke law graduate vomiting on a dog. Nor is there a more qualified person to relay such a message than a man who, out of necessity, carries a tape-recorder to accurately recall the belligerence that flows from his toxic stupor.

Humor, like his patented Tucker Max Death Mix (Red Bull, Gatorade and Everclear), flows seamlessly through the bloodstream of his work. If you can’t remember the last time you actually “laughed out loud” it’s probably because little on the internet actually justifies it. Max, however, earns each and every laugh with bulimia inducing fat-jokes, shameless sexual conquests and general psychosis.

He doesn’t just do what you wish you could do, he does what you wouldn’t even begin dream of and says what you wouldn’t dare think.

It is from this that his message becomes so universally relatable, even if your life doesn’t resemble his at all. A love of alcohol isn’t required to respect a man who lives life on his own terms and is wildly successful at it. A steady girlfriend or a hatred of college-whores doesn’t prevent the inevitable entertainment that stems from dangerous overindulgence and megalomania.

Again, there is the tie to Thompson, who too achieved the cult-status that comes from a life of excess and intelligence:

“Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Weird heroes and mold-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ‘the rat race’ is not yet final,” Thompson once wrote.

Max’s site and success stands as inspiration to those who’ve grown wary of a system that rewards stagnation and embraces the unoriginal. He’s a self-absorbed asshole, but at least he’s himself. Unlike musicians or actors who stand apart rather than behind their work, his life and his craft are one, creating a single refreshingly genuine character.

Despite its propensity for ignoring quality and promoting garbage, Hollywood has begun to take notice. With a looming book release and a screenplay under his belt along with an infamous profile on MTV, Max doesn’t appear to be all talk.

His site rests comfortably among the top 15,000 most visited places on the web, and is the keynote attraction in the “FesteringAss.com” network of bloggers and artists. All of which generates a self-estimated “six-figure income” from ads and merchandise sales.

As an internet writer he belongs to an elite class who have shied away from imitation and in the process created an entirely new genre of media. His delivery is superb–he sits on the cusp of a revolution–but it would be nothing without content.

In this rare instance, he stands apart as both a literary and business genius. Success on a massive scale isn’t likely for Tucker Max it’s impending, so you might as well become a fan before its cliché.”

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

10 responses to My Tucker review

  1. This Tucker review knocks of the NY Times review…if not in prose, then certainly in understanding.

  2. Was this enough for him to let you slob on his knob a bit? Just the tip maybe?

  3. What a great pitch. The irony is that tucker was not actually providing “the good doctor’s message of indulgence and self destruction.” According to Ellsberg’s interview and one that Tucker has confirmed as accurate, he was seriously messed up in the head and working through his own issues. Your pitch was appealing because you reframed his stories, or life, in very positive and noble terms – the purpose of good marketing. What a gem – thanks for sharing.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelellsberg/2012/01/18/tucker-max-gives-up-the-game/
    http://tuckermax.me/thoughts-on-my-forbes-profile/

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