50 piled on. “Bitches,” he mentioned.
After the show, Howard was suspended for a day—with pay, he says. The ostensible reason was that later in the program, Howard talked extensively about Sirius. The next day, Hollander called a closed-door meeting at the Beacon restaurant. There, management laid down the law. Again. Tempers flared. That’s when Howard called Hollander a “house Negro.” Hollander wasn’t pleased, but later, he sounded understanding. “Howard’s very nervous,” said Hollander. “It’s like he’s had a fourteen-month honeymoon, and now he’s got to go do it.”
In the living area of his apartment, Howard takes a seat next to his girlfriend, Beth Ostrosky. Outside, it’s a stunning fall day. Through the windows, and the apartment has tons, you can see all of Central Park, every single red-yellow-orange tree.
Beth is almost twenty years younger than Howard and a beauty. White-blonde hair, opalescent eyes, long legs. She’s modeled since she was 9; recently, with a lingerie specialty. Not long ago, she appeared on the cover of FHM magazine in a bikini, a career high point. Beth, though, apparently feels some pressure on her modeling prospects. It’s her ass. She says she can’t stand her ass.
The thought moves Howard. “Honey,” Howard tells her. “You’re my sex object. I want to see your ass. I want you to walk around the apartment naked.”
“Never!” gasps Beth.
Howard grabs Beth’s hand. “Beth doesn’t think she looks good, and I’m like, ‘You’re insane.’ ”
“No,” Beth says. “I can doll myself up and be fine, but, no, I have a really poor self-image—really, it’s bad. Really bad.”
“We’re two insecure people,” Howard says, shrugging.
Howard pulls Beth’s hand onto his lap. It’s an adorable scene. A goofy V-shaped smile settles on his face. It’s like he’s wearing a slice of pie. It softens his features, doubles his chin. Howard might be on his prom night, though, of course, Beth is the type of beauty Howard couldn’t ever have taken to the prom. Howard was an ungainly teen; Beth was homecoming queen. “I can’t believe I’m with the homecoming queen!” Howard sometimes says.
For Howard, his fucking happy marriage, which ended in 1999, was a different kind of relationship. “Alison wanted somebody who was involved with her and did things with her,” Howard says. “And I wasn’t fitting the bill.” He squirreled himself away in the basement. “She kind of confronted the sort of lack of marriage that we had,” says Howard. “What I think ended us . . . we both had problems with that lack of passion. I’m sure it wasn’t often enough, ’cause I was gross.”
Part of Howard hates being divorced. (Alison remarried a year later and is currently a practicing psychoanalyst. “I’m now very happy and leading the life I always wanted to,” she says.) Howard’s life works better now, too. For one thing, that schizy feeling is gone. “I used to think I was two different guys,” Howard says. “I was very sure that I was one way on the air and then when I come home, I’m Ward Cleaver and I don’t have any weird thoughts.”
Howard has come to a different conclusion. “That’s horseshit,” he explains. “That guy on the radio is me. And when I get off the radio, I behave differently, but I’ve got to own the fact that I’m fascinated by strippers. I’m really sexual. I’m curious about everything. That’s a much healthier way to look at who I am, I think.”
Howard had expected to be one of those divorced guys who goes around sleeping with everyone. “You would think,” Howard says. “But I found out that that’s not who I am. It was all fantasy. I didn’t feel right just sleeping with someone. It’s not my thing. I feel like it’s a use: a use of me and use of them,” he says. “There’s too many bad feelings afterwards.”
The evening Howard met Beth at a dinner party, he was feeling particularly lonely, missing his daughters, who range from 12 to college age. He and Beth talked till three or four in the morning. And the next day, they hung out, watching movies at Howard’s.
“We were like, ‘Wow, this is so nice,’ ” Howard explains. “We connected and we hung out and it was great, and I didn’t want to give up that feeling.”
Beth hadn’t listened to Howard’s show much—still doesn’t. But she had an impression. “He was a crazy maniac,” she says. “Like, that was my impression of him.”
They met five and a half years ago. Last year, she moved in with Howard. Howard doesn’t want to ever remarry, which Beth says is fine. “I never had that burning desire to get married,” says Beth. “If he wanted to get married and we decided, he’s the one I would want to marry. But I’m okay. I never had the burning desire to have children . . . yet.”