L.S.: Well, timing is everything. You could write a book like that today and Calvin probably wouldn’t care.
S.G.: It wasn’t so much about what I wrote, although I did write about his sex life, and I don’t think anybody had—I think he was only described as bisexual before that. But that book was killed at G. P. Putnam. One of the things that made it into a greater scandal was that my editor called me and told me that Barbara Walters had a word with [then-publisher] Phyllis Grann and said, “You can’t do this to Calvin; it’s making him miserable. Everybody’s gonna be angry at you, Phyllis.” And so once I went to the press and repeated that, a lot of people were really angry at me, including you.
L.S.: Well, I probably was. I probably was defensive about Calvin’s sex life.
S.G.: No, you were defensive about Barbara Walters.
L.S.: Well, I used to defend Barbara. I always believed, Steven, that you had to get access. So I worked hard to get access. So sometimes I overstepped my … I think loyalty is the biggest last line in the world. More people do bad things and lie and defend people and attack people over their loyalty. Loyalty seems to be craved by everybody, and I think it’s a bad thing to have. It clouds your judgment. Makes you so you can’t be dispassionate about things. When you’re writing about them, you need to be dispassionate. Generally. I got away with a lot because I wasn’t a serious writer.
S.G.: Also, there was a certain kindness. You weren’t in this to destroy lives, to make people unhappy, or to cause embarrassment.
L.S.: I don’t know whether I deserve so much credit. I was probably just cowardly and loyal to certain people.
S.G.: You were kind to me when they dragged me off to the hospital to dry out.
L.S.: I never wanted to see people suffering. I had an advanced viewpoint about sex. Sex is sex. It never surprised me or shocked me. People are going to go on doing strange things like biting each other. But the Internet is just outrageous. Maybe when I was writing, you could believe that I was a real human being who was trying to present both sides of it, though I certainly have fended against that plenty. But you don’t believe any of this shit you read on the Internet. They may be right, they may be intrinsically right, but it’s all so mean-spirited that it’s made gossip not fun.
S.G.: You don’t know what to believe.
L.S.: And they have no guardians. No editors, publishers, lawyers. We used to have to vet everything with the lawyers. We had to explain ourselves, what we were saying. Well, all I can say is I had the best of it. It deserted me in the end.
S.G.: How do you mean?
L.S.: Well, I got fired by the Post. I had no outlet anymore. And you’re only as good as your outlet.
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