Peter Z. Scheer, Truthdig
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Gore Vidal in 1974 / AP
(August 1, 2012) I remember Gore Vidal like a Bond villain. He was sitting on the edge of his bed in that same big house in the Hollywood Hills where he died Tuesday night. Holding on to a glass of whiskey with one hand, he used the other to stroke a giant white cat with an angry mouth and a cloudy gray eye. He called it “pussy.” Of course he did.
I was there to record the great man with the booming voice while he read his latest Truthdig essay. We had done this before, but I got the impression that my arrival had disturbed him and I was anxious as I fumbled with my equipment. He was a pro with Southern grace and diction that could dent a microphone, but he chose that day to fuck with me. Rather than read his own words as written, Gore kept going off script, eyeballing me and smiling every time I ruined the recording by laughing nervously at his improvisations. The audio was unusable, but the great man had his fun and that mattered much more to him than the godforsaken hits we might generate with a podcast. That was four years ago.