The Odd Couple

In the interest of research, New York Times critic Neil Strauss moved in with ex-Chili Pepper Dave Navarro.

Published July 28, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

New York Times pop music critic Neil Strauss seems to have developed an affinity for cross-dressing rock stars. Last year he collaborated with Marilyn Manson on the singer's autobiography, "The Long Hard Road Out of Hell," and now he's coauthored "Trust No One," a dark, paranoia-inspired set of musings by kinky guitarist Dave Navarro, formerly of Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The book chronicles a year with the hard-living Navarro at his Los Angeles house and features photographs of each unwitting soul who happened on that grim setting, including prostitutes and delivery boys from the Pink Dot, the local convenience store. "The theory is that those who stay in your lives are the ones who just drop by, whereas friends and family desert you," Strauss told Salon Books.

Given the bleakness of this premise, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Navarro was struggling with depression at the time. He and the Chili Peppers had just parted company, and USA Today was reporting that he had returned to hard drugs.

"I'd never seen anyone in that dark a space before," Strauss recalls. "I didn't think he would survive." As for "Trust No One," which is in final contract negotiations with Regan Books, Strauss says, "Dave opened up his entire life. Not every book you'll read is this warped."

The idea for the collaboration came from Navarro's friend Manson, on whose tune "I Don't Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me" Navarro played guitar. (The prosthetic-breasted singer also claims in his autobiography that Navarro once propositioned him.) One night last year, Manson, Strauss, Navarro and Manson band member Twiggy Ramirez were watching a video of the movie "Grease" at Manson's L.A. home. Manson, pleased with his own collaboration with Strauss, suggested that Navarro and Strauss team up. A few months later, Strauss moved into the guitarist's house to begin his long night's journey into day.

"Trust No One" is Strauss' second deal with Regan Books; "The Dirt: The Autobiography of Mvtley Cr|e" comes out in November. Strauss will also provide the text for publisher Watson-Guptill's "Searching for the Perfect Beat: Flyer Designs of the American Rave Scene," to be released early next year.

By Craig Offman

Craig Offman is the New York correspondent for Salon Books.

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