An Interview With AJ Daulerio
“…come on, you’re telling me Shirley Povich didn’t canvas the titty bars to get inside information on the players he covered?”
“Every Deadspin post doesn’t have to be overly crude, or arched for it to work on the site. Sometimes it’s necessary to let the readership know that you are capable of being a decent human being. If it’s truthful and not stilted, I think the “earnest” stories can be just as successful as those littered with dick jokes and smart-assery.”
“I rarely monitor the comments to see who’s a good or bad commenter. I think what happens down below the post is its own universe and is self-policed…It’s very Lord of the Flies”
AJ Daulerio: Interviewed on November 15, 2008
Position: Deadspin Sea Captain (and editor)
Born: 1974, Philadelphia, “home of the World Fucking Champion Philadelphia Phillies”
Education:La Salle University, 1996 1/2, Communications/English
Career: “Various legal and financial trade publications, The Black Table, Oddjack, Philadelphia Magazine, Deadspin. Numerous other places before and in between”
Favorite restaurant (home): Mercato, Philadelphia, 12th and Spruce. “I could bathe in their short rib ragu”
Favorite restaurant (away): Blue Ribbon Brasserie, New York. “I think I could eat 96 oysters”
Favorite hotel: THEhotel, Las Vegas, “Mini flat-screen right next to the toilet”
AJ Daulerio, posted on Deadspin, November 12, 2008, 2:30 p.m:
“I don’t get the Derek Jeter thing, ” one dancer named Julianne says from across a four top table in the dimly lit dining room of Rick’s Cabaret. “He’s so normal looking.”
Two other girls, Holly and, oh, I don’t know remember what her name was — Bambi, maybe?— agree. “Yes, he’s really not that handsome.”
This was the extent of the “athlete” conversations we had with the dancers, three of them, sitting around our table, boobs and bubble-headedness on full display. It was tough to get the girls to talk about the professional athletes they’ve had has clients. Most were willing to go there, but simply couldn’t remember any names, or teams, or what day of the week it was.
I’ve interviewed strippers before and, like all humans, some are brighter than others. Some keep careful track of the notable names and faces that they meet. Others could give a lap dance to the president and won’t treat him different than any other dude waving a $20 — unless they’re told to. Special treatment is a directive passed down from the host of the club. Athletes are the whales in these places and on Monday night, we played that role. Granted, it could only go so far, because everyone in the club could tell that we were just a couple of idiots playing dress-up. The staff happily obliged, though, and we experienced for one night what Rick’s Cabaret is like for those with athlete celebrity status and disposable income.
The reason we picked this Monday was also to watch the “beloved” Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Will was adamant about this. Whatever other kind of shenanigans transpire, he still gets to watch the game. “We get to watch the game, though, right, that’s why we came here…” Yeah. Got it.
Our host for the evening was accommodating, making sure that we had a table right in front of a television and ensured we were never lonely. ” If the girls get too annoying or distracting, just tell them to leave,” he said. I envisioned a scenario with Will politely asking strippers to leave the table so he could watch the game because, “I’msorryma’amthat’s my team, I love the CardinalsgoCardinals!Notthatyou’renotalovelyhumanbeingbutthisismyteamandI…I…I…I.” That whole thing.
We ate our steaks and watched our game and shared pleasant, awkward, nonsensical conversation with the women seen pictured in many of these photographs. This is what differentiates us between actual athletes — they’re smart enough to know that small-talk should be limited to money exchanging and if they want more drinks. Conversations about family or world economic policy are not they types of topics that should be broached before a woman jams her knee in your crotch.
But who does come to Rick’s Cabaret? According to our host, members of the Knicks, Yankees, and Rangers are all frequent attendees. They get steaks, they get their favorite girls and they relax — it’s decompression time. Not all of them partake in multiple lap dances or get embarrassingly shit-faced. No, some just ignore the girls and the drinks altogether and just want to go some place where they won’t be bothered. (No photos in the club enable most of the athletes to relax a little more. And autograph-seekers and fanboys are less inclined to bother them at a strip club.) Many of the visiting teams pick up their side-projects there — “road beef”, if you will — and plenty of women treat those arrangements like a part-time job.
While we’re still in blind item mode, one woman that was at our table for a little while actually broke character for a minute to ask one of us out on a date. And one of us retardedly thought that this was something be flattered about and followed through with said date last night. (Note to people who still think this is a fantastic idea, even in a purely anthropological sense: IT IS FUCKING NOT.)
Our food was great, our drinks were bottomless, our service was top-notch — we were treated like Very Important People. We were whisked away from the upstairs dining area and thrown into the middle table in the downstairs cabaret lounge, still with a front-and-center view of the Cardinals/49ers game which actually turned out to be a great game. We were over-served with drinks and over-compensated by dancers.
But as soon as the Michael Robinson ridiculously dived right into the Cardinals defensive line and the final seconds ticked down, it was over in a cruel, anti-climatic fashion. The waitress grabbed our half-empty glasses off the table, our host shook our hand and thanked us for coming, the girls that were fawning over us quickly pulled up their tops and moved on to the next table. We sat there looking at each other and realized we both became entirely too comfortable with this type of treatment, which at that point, had gone on for more than four hours.
” I think if I was a professional athlete, I would go to a strip club every night,” I yelled over to Will.
He just nodded, contemplating the statement and replaying the whole evening back through his head.
“I can see how that might be enjoyable .”
Q. Were you disappointed the strippers didn’t name names? Is this the future of sports investigative reporting?
A. No, I was not “disappointed”, per se, but I was definitely hoping for more salacious anecdotes. It’s safe to say I was pretty distracted. And, come on, you’re telling me Shirley Povich didn’t canvas the titty bars to get inside information on the players he covered?
Q. Who got the date?
A. I did. Nice lady. But after an hour of conversation topics ranging from “What’s your favorite color?” to “Do you like Christmas?” I realized it was not going to end well. It’s safe to say there will probably not be a second date.
Q. When Jason Whitlock (KC Star) recently posted on Facebook that he “wishes he could poop right now”, you put it up on Deadspin with the comment, “Good God. Somebody send the man a laxative”. Why are Whitlock’s bowels considered newsworthy by Deadspin? Have mainstream media missed the boat on this issue?
A. Absolutely. I’m surprised most regional newspapers don’t have daily updates on their sports reporters’ bowel movements. It would definitely help their circulation numbers. But Jason is still my favorite columnist,regardless of any gastro-intestinal problems he may have.
Q. Can you tell us about how Deadspin is produced? Who does what, and when? What’s the daily drill?
A. It definitely changes all the time, but this is a pretty accurate snapshot of the daily routine: Rick Chandler is usually the first one up, so he handles most of the morning stuff. Then Dash Bennett will begin to file. I’ll oversee what they’re doing, plow through email, check out some of the bigger blogs, deal with any managerial button-pushing issues, watch Sports Center, plan out my own stories for the day. I smoke constantly, eat sparingly, and am always, always checking email.
Q. How many sports blogs do you monitor? Are there young Will Leitches in the hustings waiting for a big break? How does one break through in the sports blogosphere?
A. I hit the Big Lead, Sports By Brooks, With Leather, Fanhouse, and The Sporting Blog every day. Then I’ll scan SI, ESPN, NY Times sports section, Philly.com, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, LA Times, etc.
Q. How does someone get to be a Deadspin contributing writer? What’s the ‘right stuff’ for Deadspin? Are Deadspin writers born wiseguys or do they come to it through experience?
A. It’s very arbitrary. Usually the writers will have a uniqueness about their humor or approach or expertise that caters to a specific section of our readership. You have someone like Drew Magary, who could pretty much write about anything and be entertaining. Then someone like Matt Sussman, whose freakish live blogging ability just completely blows me away anytime he does it for us. But a writer’s blogging experience doesn’t matter at all. It’s whether their style fits in with Deadspin.
Q. How much oversight from the corporate suits at Gawker? Where does Deadspin rank in the Gawker constellation?
A. There is definitely a lot more oversight than there was when Will was in charge, but it’s necessary right now. The site is no longer a mom-and-pop operation and requires some long-view suggestions from the higher-ups in order for it to continue to grow. But they’re definitely not overbearing and never question my editorial oversight. Right now, I think Deadspin is right in the middle, but upwardly mobile.
Q. Almost everything in Deadspin is ironic or snarky. Have you ever felt like writing something serious or earnest?
A. Of course. But you have to pick your spots for that. Every Deadspin post doesn’t have to be overly crude, or arched for it to work on the site. Sometimes it’s necessary to let the readership know that you are capable of being a decent human being. If it’s truthful and not stilted, I think the “earnest” stories can be just as successful as those littered with dick jokes and smart-assery.
Q. How does someone get to be a commenter? All-time best commenters? Do you weed out and discard dumb or unfunny commenters? Though the strippers didn’t name names, can you name commenters you wish would go away?
A. It’s not a very complex process. Readers who wish to comment either email me or Rob Iracane – our comment guru – and then get let in. I rarely monitor the comments to see who’s a good or bad commenter. I think what happens down below the post is its own universe and is self-policed. People quickly realize who is in charge and will usually hear it from the everyday crew if they’re out of line or unwelcome.
It’s very Lord of the Flies. I check in on the commenters from time to time just to see what they come up with — honestly, there is some funny, funny stuff down there that usually has me laughing out loud once a day. As long as they’re having fun, they can say pretty much anything they want. My job is to monitor what goes on up top. But every day, I’ll make it a point to throw a couple of posts up where the commenters can continue to build their own community and carve out their own little piece of real estate on the site.
Q. Are you ducking the question?
A. No, not at all. I honestly don’t get annoyed by any commenters.
AJ Daulerio, posted on Deadspin, Nov. 14, 2008, 6:15 p.m:
Thank GOD this week is over. Christ. Between going out on dates with dim-witted strippers
, gloom-and-doom reports from management
, litigious MMA fighters
and threats from spatially-challenged U of F co-eds
, this week has been a perfect storm of corporate drudgery. Well, not the stripper. But that was soul-sucking in its own predictable way.
Here’s some stuff that was managed to amuse:
This weekend, you’ll have a cavalcade of weekend editors from KOGOD’s Weekend Army to keep you occupied and let you know if Brock Lesnar survives his first real fight.
Thank you for your continued support of Deadspin. Fuck it, let’s SKEET
and drink like there are no more Mondays.
(SMG thanks AJ Daulerio for his cooperation)