Of all U of C alumni who have gained notoriety through their writing, Tucker Max could be the first sex icon to come from the school where students quip that "the only thing that's penetrating are the questions." A crowd of nearly 200 people filled Kent Hall on Friday night to hear from the recently best-selling author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, who shared U of C memories and some of the crude insights and that made him famous.
The book signing and question and answer session featured Max sitting nonchalantly in the center of the room like the quintessential regular guy depicted in his stories, not the suave or irresistible playboy that one might expect of a man who claims to have slept with over 300 women (though he now says he's stopped counting).
At the Q and A, Max lived up to the persona that The New York Times called "highly entertaining and thoroughly reprehensible." Student questions ranged from how he enjoyed his time at the U of C (he hated B-J and had sex in the Reg) to questions concerning his purported area of expertise. To the amusement of the crowd, Max guessed correctly that a student raising a particularly crude question was a member of Fiji.
Before the event, there were some rumors that feminist organizations intended to organize a protest, but Max's visit went on without incident. The Chicago Shady Dealer, a campus humor magazine, organized Max's visit and planned a mock protest with signs that read "I don't want to bring babies into a world with Tucker Max" and "Tucker Max=Rude."
During the Q and A, Max let no one off easily, himself included."Who would've guessed I grew up without a strong male role model?" he said, when asked about his parents.
Describing his disillusionment with social life at the U of C, he complained that fourth years wanted to hang out with him when he was just a first year: "I should never be the coolest person in the room."
Max's longtime fans seem to appreciate his honesty. On his web site, Max provides a disclaimer for women: "I will never fall in love with you, and I for damn sure will never date you. Just being clear."
In a phone interview, Max reflected on his adolescent years. Perhaps not surpisingly, one of the major shapers of his identity was, well, horniness.
"When I was 18, 19, 20, 21, I was basically a walking hard on. I wanted to get laid all the time," Max said. "At that age, no one teaches you that shit . I thought you pretty much had to lie and manipulate and cheat and steal. I realized girls don't want to be lied to."
Now, Max's mantra is about being honest and original. "It seems cliché [but] it's liberating," he said. "It's the most ethically and morally defensible position."
Max attributed much of his success and lifestyle to the time he spent at the U of C, claiming the bleak social scene contributed to his party-hard attitude after graduating. And since he hadn't "partied himself out" by the time he got to Duke Law School, Max had enough energy to appreciate experiences his college years had lacked. He began chronicling his social life.
For their part, audience members seemed to enjoy the event.
"[Max] seemed to be a pretty chill guy, which was exactly what I expected. He didn't hold up any kind of pretense and was completely honest about what he was doing," said Andrea Goldstein, a first-year in the College.
Goldstein noted one of the more memorable parts of her evening with Max.
"When I went to have my picture taken with him, I think his hand ended up on my butt," Goldstein said. "That's really classy right there."