Monday, September 20, 2010

"Sick City"

Tony O'Neill played keyboards for bands and artists as diverse as Kenickie, Marc Almond and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. His autobiographical novel Digging the Vein was published in 2006. Seizure Wet Dreams, a collection of short stories and poems was also released in 2006, followed in 2007 by a volume of poetry, Songs from the Shooting Gallery. Down and Out on Murder Mile, his second novel, was released in 2008 by Harper Perennial. O'Neill also is the co-author of Hero of the Underground, the memoir of Jason Peter.

His latest books are Neon Angel (co-written with Cherie Currie) and his new novel, Sick City (both 2010).

O'Neill applied the Page 69 Test to Sick City and reported the following:
Sick City is a novel about 2 drug addicts (ex-prostitute Jeffrey, and wayward son of a Hollywood tycoon Randal) and their attempts to get rich by selling a legendary sex tape on the black market. The tape itself was stolen from the Tate house by a crooked LAPD cop the night of the Manson murders, and shows a sex and drug orgy starring Sharon Tate, Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Mama Cass.

Other characters include:

• Dr Mike, the media whoring “addictologist” who runs the rehab our heroes meet in. Dr Mike has a nice sideline in self help books and reality television.

• Ex-child actor and now meth-addled gay porn performer Spider.

• Phil Collins obsessive Pat, a psychotic speed dealer who is hot on the heels of the tape.

But what you really want to know is what is happening on page 69, right?

Well, page 69 amounts to paragraph of writing, as it falls at the end of a chapter. In this scene Dr Mike is at home with a beautiful transsexual called Champagne. We find them mid way through an act of… uh… lets call it “oral copulation.” However, before she will continue pleasuring the Doctor, she insists that he bring her some painkillers, to “help her concentrate.”

Does this snippet sum up the book in any way? Well, no, not really. But it does speak to one of the threads of the book: the fact that the “normal” characters (like Dr Mike) are easily more corrupt and repulsive than our drug-addicted anti-heroes, Jeffrey and Randal. In this exchange we see the duplicity of the sanctimonious “addicologist” who is willing to trade prescription narcotics for sex, while preaching abstinence to his drug dependent patients.

However, you’ll really have to pick up a copy of the book if you want to know why James Frey called Sick City “one of the best books written about LA in a long time.”
Learn more about the book and author at Tony O'Neill's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue