Neil Strauss has interviewed everyone from Howard Stern (for a recent Rolling Stone cover) to Lady Gaga. His latest book, “Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead,” takes a look at some of the less-appealing aspects of stardom. We asked him about his own career, as well as those of the high-profile celebrities with whom he comes in contact.
Which interview surprised you the most?
To me, maybe it was the Chuck Berry interview, only because his reputation of being cantankerous and bitter sort of precedes him. And what I met instead was actually a really funny, warm, loveable guy. Not only did I understand why he had that reputation but I also understood how he invented rock ’n’ roll, his entertainer side, just by the way he approached the interview.
How do you get people to open up?
My first interview was bad! But there have been a number of them. Since it’s for Rolling Stone and because I’ve got a lot of time with these people, I never start the interview right away. I’ll always hang out with them, observe them in their life and get them a little bit used to me before starting the tape deck.
How has fame impacted the celebrities you’ve interviewed?
I think a lot of people think fame and wealth will solve their problems and fix what’s wrong with them. All it does is amplify what’s wrong with you, so if you’re a stable person who grew up in a good family, it strengthens your character. If you’ve got anything wrong with you, man, you’re under that microscope and all the worst stuff comes out.
–Dan Schawbel is the author of “Me 2.0,” the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC and a personal branding expert.