Tony O’Neill has a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to portraying the seedy drug culture of Los Angeles, considering the author, now a family man based in New York, was ten years ago in the throes of addiction to hard drugs.
“It’s a very cut-throat culture to survive in,” O’Neill explains. “You’ve got to be prepared to f— people over. When you put your characters in that world, it allows them to act in a much more extreme manner.”
That brings us to his most recent work, “Sick City,” a Tarantino-esque tale about two junkies who meet in a rehab run by a celebrity addiction specialist, Dr. Mike, and hatch a plan to make millions by selling off a sex tape starring Yul Brynner and Sharon Tate. While the book is a fictional departure, O’Neill does take aim at the culture of addiction as it is portrayed in the media today.
“They peddle this myth that the only way to get clean is to check into this $10,000-a-month place and never drink again,” he says. “When Dr. Drew swoops in and gets these people at their lowest ebb and exploits them on TV, to me he’s not much different from somebody who hangs out at the bus station, offering strung-out girls 10 dollars in exchange for [oral sex].”