From Strip Clubs to Dateline
Hollywood may seem like a world of glitz
and glamour to the naked eye, but beneath that glitter is a seedy underworld.
Mark Ebner is the journalist who exposes
the real side of Hollywood for all to see and
then some. On Monday, March 9 at the AET
campus, as part of the Mary Pickford Lecture
series, Ebner was there to offer his wisdom
Ebner is an award-winning journalist
and New York Times bestselling author
who published two books: "Hollywood
Interrupted" and his latest, " Six Degrees of
Paris Hilton: Inside the Sex Tapes, Scandals
and Shakedowns of the New Hollywood."
Ebner spoke to a great turnout about his
exciting life and how he became interested in
journalism. " I live for the story. When I was six years old I loved the T.V. show Superman and what I liked most about the show was Clark Kent getting stories and making a living off of that. At six I knew what I wanted to do," Ebner said.
Then, he described how he dropped out
of high school in his junior year but did an
internship at the daily newspaper in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ebner learned about reporting there and even started his own newspaper.
"I learned the mechanics of putting on a
newspaper and started the North Wooster
Community News and years later it still
exists," he said. Then Ebner went on to apply
to many colleges finally getting into a small
liberal arts college in upstate New York.
"When I came out of college, I came out
with a vicious drug habit," he said. From
college, Ebner went to New York where
he burned through all his money. When he
wanted to start anew, he went to New Orleans,
lived in the French quarter and worked at a
strip club for $10 an hour plus tips.
Owing many debts to people in New
Orleans, Ebner went back to New York,
returning also to his addictions . Then at 25
he became clean and wrote a play about his
experiences in New Orleans in New York's
off Broadway. Then Ebner came to L.A.
to become a journalist and became a freelance
journalist for Spin and Rolling Stone
Magazine in 1985 where his first story on
Scream Queens, girls who make a living
getting killed on screen, brought him 25
cents a word.
Ebner would later write for any publication
from distinguished magazines and newspapers
to porn magazines. "I never thought a story
was beneath me and I wrote porn stories
because I never said no to a story, but I also did any story I could get to not get a day job," Ebner said.
Then came what Ebner calls, "Immersion
Journalism" in which he pitched a story to
his editor about the religion Scientology in
which he immersed himself in the religion
and chronicled what he experienced and what
other people had gone through.
This article no doubt brought controversy,
"I was sued when I wrote this but I said,
'bring it on' and in the end those suits never came to anything because I wrote the truth," Ebner said. This story made him so famous he became a consultant for the "South Park" creators on an episode entitled, "Trapped in the Closet."
Ebner also told the audience of another
expose´ about pit bull fights where he went
to find the place where these fights were
held, leading him to an eye-opening, awardwinning story. "The story made it to city hall, woke some people up and the law was changed from a misdemeanor to a felony," he said.
He went on to talk more about his stories,
from infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan in east
Texas, to living in a van with his two pit
bulls while having a bestselling book, to
being invited to accept a five figure salary
at American media, a.k.a. National Enquirer
and Star magazine, to writing his latest book
and producing for programs on VH1 and
When asked if his reputation of gonzo journalism follows him, Ebner states,
"No, all you have to do is work the phones,
work the beat, and that's all that matters, you have to live for the story."