A fascinating chat with the writer behind John Mayer’s Playboy interview


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The Ministry meant to bring attention late last week to this Ann Powers exchange with the writer behind John Mayer‘s controversial Playboy magazine interview, but life is life and it went on the back burner.

That said, a few days’ time does not diminish our interest in The Times’ music critic’s e-mail conversation with Rob Tannenbaum, the veteran music writer and Playboy contributing editor who interviewed Mayer. It’s full of behind-the-scenes goodness and also includes thoughts from both parties that go beyond the surface of the situation.


From Tannenbaum, about how Mayer ‘goes there’:

‘In most cases, I didn’t have to bring up a sensitive topic because he beat me to it. He knows interviewers are going to ask these questions, so he brings them up voluntarily. It’s a candid approach.’

Also from Tannenbaum:

‘I don’t think it’s fair for me to speculate on [Mayer’s] motivations. People often come to regret things they’ve said in interviews. It’s a thrill to speak the truth, but there are also ramifications ...

... and the ramifications remain after the thrill has faded. That’s why celebrities routinely claim to have been ‘misquoted’ or ‘taken out of context.’ And it’s worth noting that Mayer didn’t do that. He took full and sole responsibility for what he’d said.’

From Powers:

‘[W]hat really struck me were his comments about how Internet porn has transformed men of his age into people who literally can’t be satisfied by a single real partner. Now, in light of what’s happened, I also wonder if the Internet has transformed the interview, making it something that can’t be self-contained, that will inevitably explode into sound bytes that will be misinterpreted, respun and played out to the torment of those interview subjects.’

And from Tannenbaum:

‘The article is long and it’s complicated. It’s 6,870 words total. Holly Robinson Peete, an actress Mayer mentioned in the interview, called it on her blog ‘quite possibly one of the longest interviews ever published.’ Which isn’t a fact (Playboy publishes an interview of that length every month), but it is a feeling. Articles are much shorter now. So are sentences. Who has time to read 6,870 words?’

And in case you were wondering, no, Mayer wasn’t intoxicated. Not even close.

Judging by the response to the Ministry’s take on Robert Pattinson‘s interview with Details, we know this blog’s audience knows how to read and is willing to do so -- so check out the Pop & Hiss article yourself by clicking the link up at the top. Oh heck, no need to make you jump through hoops -- here’s the link again for your clicking pleasure.

The exchange is definitely more than 140 characters deep.

-- Christie D’Zurilla

Related dispatches from the Ministry of Gossip:

PREACH IT! John Mayer stops tweeting, leaves us with Tila Tequila

John Mayer and Playboy, Part 2: The self-loathing Twitterpology John Mayer opens his mouth to Playboy and makes our brain hurt

John Mayer in Rolling Stone: Not over Jennifer Aniston, but an innovator in masturbation

John Mayer back on Twitter; year 2010 now free to proceed

John Mayer equates dating with shame, presses on somehow

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