Some saintly sorts make it their life’s work to improve literacy or eliminate land mines. I have made it my life’s work to read/write about every half-assed, sleazy, amateurish tell-all written about Dr. Dre and Eminem. So it was inevitable I'd eventually get around to writing about Shady Bizzness, a typo-ridden, self-published expose on Eminem written by his former bodyguard.
This invites the question: has anything good ever come of self-publishing? Do any of you have positive experiences with it or the bastard industry it has spawned? Looking back probably the best self-published book I’ve read is the Mr. Show oral history Mr. Show: What Happened? How bout y’all?
As he mentions oh, I dunno, at least a dozen times, Williams gave up a good job at GM so he could tour the world as Eminem’s personal bodyguard. So instead of experiencing the joys of punching a clock, paying union dues and working on an assembly line, the 6’8 Williams, who looks like tough-guy character actor Terry Crews on stilts, was reduced to traveling with the hottest star pop star in the world and forced to deal with rabid groupies begging to suck his cock and give him free drugs. William was having none of it: a proud family man, Bible-thumper and teetotaler, he just looked on with disgust and disdain while Eminem did things that made baby Jesus cry.
I hope all of you have your monocles fastened tightly, because I am about to shatter your brainbones with explosive revelations: Eminem regularly engaged in shameful, shameful sexual intercourse—with women who were not his wife! Nor did he fornicate solely for the sake of procreation and raising an army of Christian soldiers. Even worse, Eminem engaged in the deplorable practice of smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, before, during and after having sex outside the Godly confines of matrimony.
It’s like I always say: sex is far too sacred and precious a gift to be wasted on the sober and lucid. Williams appeals to reader’s prurient interests in describing the debauchery, sexcapades and drug abusage of Eminem’s early tours while nevertheless depicting himself as a righteous man of the Lord intent on preserving his dignity and morals even if he can’t save the soul of his hellbound hellraiser of an employer.
Williams paints a pathetic portrait of Eminem as an irresponsible, deeply unhappy man-child who relies on his bodyguard/self-styled mentor/babysitter/conscience/better half/life coach for everything. In Bizzness Williams pays many of the multi-platinum multi-millionaire’s bills because manager/Anti-Christ Paul Rosenberg won’t let his golden goose have any walking-around money, lets Eminem use his cell phone since the terminally scatter-brained icon keeps losing his and generally does everything short of brushing Eminem’s teeth, picking out his outfits and tucking him into bed every night after reading him Goodnight Moon.
But does Eminem appreciate him? Does he finish each show by giving Williams a bear hug, slipping a thousand-dollar bill into his meaty paw and inquiring about Williams’ wife and children while giving his bodyguard a much-needed massage to help him deal with the stress of his job? No, he does not.
To remedy this unforgivable lack of appreciation, Williams repeatedly goes to Eminem (whom he refers to almost exclusively as “Slim”) and Paul Rosenberg with elaborate proposals for pay raises and increased benefits. Ever the savvy businessman, Williams whips out pie charts and graphs and elaborate contracts stipulating how he, Byron Williams, could and should get paid more money but do his bosses listen? No. No, they do not. On the contrary—I hope you are sitting down so that you do not faint in shock upon reading the next few words—they inexplicably seem to resent constantly being asked for more money.
You know who else resents Williams constantly bitching about being underpaid? Me. It’s no exaggeration to state that the author probably whines about being underpaid seventy-five to a hundred times over the course of a photo-heavy 151-page book. I wanted to go back in time and give him the 100-dollar a week raise he keeps bitching about just so he’d shut up about it. Williams’ self-serving account of his time with Eminem makes it seems like he’s more important to Eminem’s success than helpless Marshall Mathers himself but it’s hard to feel too bad about a guy making $1300 a week. Was Williams underpaid? Definitely. Is he doing himself any favors bitching about it? No. No he is not. Am I doing myself any favors by asking, then answering all these damned questions? No, no I am not.
While taking care of baby Slim, Williams manages some trenchant observations about his employer’s personality:
Overall, Slim was a decent guy at times…There were difficult times, like when I refused to take part in his drug activities. I never liked him using the drugs, because I didn’t want the responsibility of notifying the next of kin if he O.D’d. A few years ago, I was a drug treatment counselor and, from my analysis, Slim had all the symptoms of an abuser. It’s no secret. I can recall one day during the Warp [sic.] tour where he took 14 different drugs. It started with Ecstasy, then liquor, Vicodin, Valium, Shrooms, marijuana, Tylenol 3, Whippets, and a host of over-the-counter drugs.
Now, I’m no drug treatment counselor but I would imagine that if you take more than, I dunno, 12 drugs a day you might have a problem. You might want to cut down on your “drug activities” and lay off “the drugs” a little. Incidentally, I love the phrase “drug activities” almost as much as I love “the drugs." It sounds positively quaint, like an afternoon diversion at a Senior center; “After lunch we’ll play foosball then drug activities from 3 to 5! Bring your Vitamin C tablets and plenty of orange juice!”
Every Eminem tell-all needs a juicy villain. In previous Silly Little Show-Biz Book Club entry My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem, Eminem’s notorious ex-wife Kim played that role. Though Em and his on-again, off-again soulmate come off like a trailer-park version of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf Kim is but a minor villain here, and Eminem emerges more as a spineless, passive dupe than a proper heavy. So the super-villain role is played by Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg, who fans might recognize as a bit player in many of Eminem’s albums.
Does our intrepid author let negative experiences with unscrupulous Jewish businessmen like Rosenberg affect his perception of Judaism as a whole? Yes, yes he does. As Shady Bizzness races to a paranoid, feverish, mildly engaging finish a resentment-poisoned the author begins obsessing about the religion of various lawyers and bosses, as in the following passage about Williams’ return to GM after resigning from Eminem’s camp following one insult to his pride too many:
The supervisors would treat me like shit, and the one who did it the most was a Jewish guy. I tried to look past that, but every time I heard the word ‘Jewish’ it would bother me.
Now how often do you think the word “Jewish” comes up at a GM plant? It’s not as if the average conversation between autoworkers goes something like this:
Autoworker 1: So, Moshe, I hear you went to your nephew’s Jewish bris over the weekend? How was it?
Autoworker 2: It brought me such nachas, Schlomo. I love all these Jewish ceremonies. Any time a bunch of Jewish people get together to do something Jewish it’s a cause for celebration, especially a Simcha like this.
Autoworker 1: Whether it’s bagels and lox, Alan Dershowitz, the Three Stooges or the entire field of entertainment law, everything Jewish is awesome.
Autoworker 2: It’s just like I’m always saying to my Jewish wife and my Jewish children Jewish Jewish Jewish Jewish Jewish Jewish Jewish.
For all his whining, self-aggrandizement, holier-than-thou sermonizing and relentless plugs for his group Wadsquad, Williams does occasionally stumble upon a casual bit of show-biz profundity, like when he marvels late in the book, “It seemed like the game was set up for people to get screwed out of money.” Amen, brother, amen.
Next Up on Silly Show-Biz Book Club: Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking