At 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, Danny Marianino visits the Phoenix location of Changing Hands bookstore for a signing and reading celebrating the release of his new book, To Make Matters Worse. The author and musician has a few books under his belt already, including The Mega Book of Revenge Films Volume 1: The Big Payback, and Don’t Ever Punch a Rockstar: A Collection of Hate Mail and Other Crazy Rumors. Yep, he’s the dude who clocked horror-rocker Glenn Danzig, but that’s just one event in a well-lived life. He’s moved on; we can, too.
This new book is a collection of stories from Marianino’s youth that will make you laugh 'til it fucking hurts. It’s chock-full of pranks, misadventures, and funny characters. Each tale is told in the author’s relatable, unpretentious tone. Full of toilet humor and junior high grossness in the best possible ways, Marianino is still able to thread it with a sense of poignant nostalgia. It’s a perfect blend of the simultaneous fun and (often hilarious) misery of being a kid. It’s a laugh riot and even more of a treat to listen to the audio book featuring the author himself. Give it a read. Pretty sure you’ll never look at a porta-potty without thinking the words “portable murder closet” ever again.
New Times: This book is truly hilarious. You have a few other titles under your belt. How did this one come about?
Danny Marianino: I really put my heart and soul into this one; I had a lot of funny experiences to share. I enjoy telling goofy stories from my life. The best way to get anyone to open up to you and tell you a similar type of story is if you tell them one first. If you go to a party and the room is quiet, if you tell some crazy experience like you went to a wedding and someone threw up on the bride, all of a sudden four other people will stand up with stories just as crazy or funny. I love that. I love when people take funny and embarrassing stories and make light of them. When I planning on doing a new book, I wanted to do something relatable, with life mistakes that you can laugh at.
Are these stories you’ve shared over the years, or did you have to wrack your brain to pull these out?
I’ve been telling these stories for years. Other than some names I’ve changed as to not put some people on blast, these stories I can tell with my eyes closed. I’ve been laughing about them for years.
Are you still friends with some of the people in the stories?
Yes. I mention my brother-in-law a lot in the book. He’s my brother-in-law now but he was my best friend growing up. And definitely some of the other guys, too. One guy in the book, Joey the Face, and I recently reconnected. It was out of the blue. He was off the radar and then all of a sudden popped back into the picture.
You had to have driven some teachers nuts to the point that they still remember you. Have you gone back and visited any of them as an adult?
No, but I get to hear about them. My nephew went to my same middle school and he’s currently in the high school that I went to.
Does he get any shit for your past shenanigans?
He’s such a good boy, so they’re not giving him any static. But he did tell me a great story about someone he knows who did something to a health teacher I had. It’s so funny, but I promised him I wouldn’t share it. Mrs. Dalrymple, she was the teacher. It’s funny to hear him talk about them, and that they’re still there teaching.
What kind of things do you have planned for this book?
Changing Hands this weekend. I’ll have a booth at the Tucson Comic Con in November. They’re doing an area called Author Alley, branching out beyond comics. I’m itching to get on stage and start telling some of these stories in a live setting. That was the idea with this book — to help me start moving in that direction.
Was it always your plan to read your own audio book?
I listen to a lot of audio books and it makes me crazy when people have someone else do it, especially when it’s autobiographical. I just got the new Artie Lange book and it’s read by someone else. The guy did a good job and everything but I wanna listen to Artie Lange. I couldn’t not do it myself.
What are you going to do at Changing Hands?
I’m really excited to be there. It’s such a cool store and they do so many great live events. I’m gonna do a signing and then about 40 minutes of storytelling.
All stories from the new book, yeah?
Two stories from the book, and I am bringing a prop related to one of them that I was able to track down – it’s pretty disgusting.
So you’re a huge horror fan and have been involved with programming the horror selections for the Phoenix Film Festival for a while now.
I think this year may be the 10th. My friend Brandon Kinchen, who’s a partner in the Flagstaff venue the Green Room, does the independent horror movies. He does the full-length features and I program the shorts.
So since you love storytelling and horror, have you thought about penning any horror fiction?
I definitely have a lot of different stories I’ve written. I have one that’s similar to Black Dynamite (movie, 2009), so when that came out I felt like I had to stop going with that one. It was about a '70s-style cop — like Telly Savalas — named Sweet Cognac. It was really funny. What I really like is talking about real experiences that are funny. I have like five different books going at once. It’s a lot like writing a song. If there’s a point you get stumped while writing that song, you move onto another song and hopefully grab some inspiration, and when the time is right, you go back to that other songs. Writing books is like that for me. I don’t like to push things. I’d rather do it the right way than just push stories out just to get something done. I’m just going to keep the ball rolling from this point. I love reading and I love writing. It’s a good outlet for me – it keeps me out of trouble. I’m working on another volume of The Mega Book of Revenge Films – there’s so many movies out there about revenge, in every genre. And I’m definitely planning on another volume of To Make Matters Worse, 'cause I easily have another volume of personal stories to share.
What about your band, North Side Kings?
We played our last show at the Yucca Tap Room in 2008 but we have been talking about doing a few shows in 2017. Everyone’s had a lot of different things going on, but it looks like we’ll be able to do a couple of fun shows next year.
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Back to the book. It really paints such a great picture of growing up in that late-'70s to mid-1990s time period – especially before technology really had the hold it does now.
I really tried to get a grasp on things from my childhood and that era and showcase the things we did and thought about. There’s a bonus chapter only in the audio book about a clubhouse that I had. I decided late in the game and when I was finishing the recording, I busted out this chapter about my clubhouse and how I had this Playboy magazine with Elvira in it, and all of the things I’d hide there. Stuff I didn’t want my parents to catch me with. Like, I had a machete, and I’d throw it in the snow for no reason. Just because I could, I guess. It was definitely a different time. One of my stories is about buying M80s from a guy. I got a book from my school library that told me how to build explosives; that’s not gonna happen these days. Definitely a different time.
Anything else you’d like to say about it?
I hope people read it. I want people to check it out and send me their funny stories to my e-mail. I love reading people’s stories. That’s the point of this book, that everyone has stories to share. Sometimes people won’t tell their tales until they’re provoked, and then they want to match your story or top it. One of my favorite things to do is to be in a room and say something like, “So this one time when I was 16, my dad thought I was gay 'cause I had a David Lee Roth poster and he was in his underwear” and then see where people go from there. A lot of times they have similar stories. I love that.
You can get the book from usual sources like Amazon, and Audible. DannyMarianino.com has stuff for sale and all of the information on what Danny’s up to and where you can find him.