NEW YORK -- Mark Brennan Rosenberg loved his life as a party boy in the Big Apple. Life was good. But then the drinking got out of control, and he says he hit rock bottom.
In his first novel, "Blackouts and Breakdowns," Rosenberg writes about his former lifestyle.
He teases potential book buyers by posing these three questions:
* Ever wondered what it's like to pretend to know sign language to pick up a hot deaf guy?
* Have you ever wondered what it's like to date a convicted pedophile?
* Or, have you ever wondered what's it's like to work as a hot dog vendor?
Rosenberg swears he has learned valuable lessons from his drunken shenanigans and has written about them with humor and humility.
In an exclusive interview with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Rosenberg discusses his upcoming book tour, his life then and now, and why he loves to visit San Diego.
SDGLN: In seven words, what is your story?
Overcoming life’s obstacles in the fabulous way.
SDGLN: Your 240-page book, “Blackouts and Breakdowns,” published by Newcomer Press, is autobiographical. What inspired you to write it?
When I began writing “Blackouts” I was still drinking. It was only supposed to be a book of essays about the crazy situations I got myself into when I was hammered because they were so ridiculous. However, after I got sober, I added my journey through the first 30 days of my sobriety. I will never forget my first few weeks of AA. I was the only person there who was like me. I figured if I told my story, in a way that was humorous and relatable to others, it could help people like me in a way I was not helped.
SDGLN: You write about your excessive drinking and your struggles to quit boozing. Such is the life of many folks in the LGBT community. Is the book more for entertainment or to show the way to a life of sobriety?
It’s a bit of both. I am not one of those AA’s who criticizes the way other people live their lives because having done some of the things I have in my past, I am in no position to judge. The only person who can diagnose your alcoholism is you. However, there are people who need help and have no idea where to look for it, so if I someone reads “Blackouts and Breakdowns” and it helps them in some way – that’s an amazing added bonus to reading it.
This book is mainly for entertainment value. A majority of the people who have read it do not have substance abuse problems, but I feel that everyone can relate to at least one story in the book whether it be a bad relationship, or a crazy thing they did when they were drunk, etc. -- and that’s what makes it fun.
SDGLN: You describe your book as “a no holds barred look into the life of a 20-something very gay, very fabulous, very alcoholic young man.” How did you become this person? And who is the person that has emerged from this hedonistic lifestyle?
I became that person by living in New York and surrounding myself with the people I associated myself with in every aspect of my life. And believe me, life in New York was fabulous when I was drinking, but when the party stopped for everyone else, it continued on for me, which is what lead to my recovery. The person I am now is just as fabulous, if not more so, but sober. As a sober gay man in his 20s, I have discovered my self-worth and what life really has to offer beyond the bottle. That is something I never had when I was drinking and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
SDGLN: Your blog, The Single Life of A Manhattan Homo, documents the ups and downs of your personal life. You note in the blog that you celebrated three years of sobriety in October 2011. Did you hit rock bottom before you decided to embrace sobriety?
I think every AA has to hit rock bottom before they decide to embrace sobriety. However, I had hit rock bottom about 4,210 times before I decided to finally stop drinking. When I finally stopped drinking on Oct. 11 of 2008, I was in a position where I had no choice but to stop. I honestly felt that if I drank again I would have died. I was sick and needed help. Asking for help and admitting you’re wrong is the hardest thing we have to do as human beings but in doing that, I changed my life for the better forever.
SDGLN: Your national book tour to 40 cities begins Jan. 17 and will make a stop in San Diego. When and where will you appear in America’s Finest City?
I will be in San Diego from Jan. 28 to 31. I will be appearing at Eden on Jan 31 at 5 pm, then we are running over to Gossip Grille that same night for an event at 9:30 pm. We’re also trying to work out something at Bourbon Street for the 28th but it’s still TBD.
SDGLN: According to your blog, you’ve been to San Diego before. What are your memories, good or bad?
All of my memories from San Diego are very good. Visiting your city last year was the best thing I ever did for myself. I met some wonderful people and saw some amazing sights, and I can say with o100% honesty that San Diego is the stop I am most looking forward to on this tour.
SDGLN: When your tour ends April 19, you will be releasing your second book, “Eating My Feelings.” What is that book about?
“Eating My Feelings” is a book about realizing your self-worth. When I was very little, I was very fat and very gay, which made for a very terrible combination. Being told you are fat every day for years, stays with you as an adult, whether it’s true or not. The things that our parents say to us as children and the values that they try to instill in us, may they be right or wrong, stay with us for life, and moving past that as an adult is almost like a full-time job. After I stopped drinking, my life was faced with different obstacles that revolved around body image, food and dating that led to even bigger, hilarious problems. I am very proud of this book and I am so looking forward to sharing it with the world.
SDGLN: What advice do you have for young people who believe that life is just one big party?
I don’t know what the meaning of life is, but I am pretty certain that we aren’t here to party. I once thought that life was one big party but then I realized that if you can live your life and do wonderful things such as helping others when they need it or can’t help themselves, love your friends and family with all your heart, and go out of your way for people when they least expect it. It’s so much more rewarding then getting messed up.
SDGLN: You describe yourself as a huge fan of Britney Spears, Erica Kane and glitter. What kind of gay man are you?
I’m less of a gay and more like a middle-aged woman who likes Britney Spears.
SDGLN: You also say that you currently reside on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with your lesbian life partner of several years. OK, what does that mean?
Unfortunately, my Upper West Side apartment is no longer. I was living with one of my best friends (who moved back to L.A. late last year) for several years and we referred to each other as “non sexual lesbian life partners.” It’s a joke between the two of us – and I wanted to give him a shout out in the book.
SDGLN: Single or taken?
I am single, but there is someone I care about very much in New York and he knows who he is.
SDGLN: Boxers or briefs?
SDGLN: What’s playing on your MP3 player?
Britney is usually on heavy rotation no matter what. Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyonce and, of course, Lady Gaga. I decided that our book tour theme song is “We Taken Over” by DJ Khaled, so I’ve been listening to that a lot as well.
SDGLN: If you could have the ultimate dinner party and invite three guests (living or dead), who would be there and why?
Susan Lucci – obviously because I have been a huge fan of hers for years and my book is dedicated to her and I feel like after one dinner we’d most likely be best friends. Bill Clinton – because I think he will most likely go down as the greatest president of our time and I respect his philanthropic efforts and how he continues to try to make the world a better place, long after his presidency has ended. My third guest would probably be my grandfather, who passed away when I was 13. I’ve been thinking about him a lot recently. He was an amazing man who had this unique way of making me feel special the second I walked into the room, and I would really love to know what he thinks about this whole gay book tour nonsense. He and La Lucci would probably hit it off, now that I think about it.
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.