This is a big deal for me. A few months ago, my friend introduced me to Marc Bernardin, who is a new editor for Playboy. My friend told me that Marc is helping bring back the kind of writing that Playboy had in the 70s and 80s, when it was held up next to Esquire, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone. They both thought that I should become a contributor, and be part of that effort.
It was an incredible honor when Marc asked me to interview Patton Oswalt for The Playboy Conversation, and I’m really happy with how this turned out. Here’s an excerpt.
Geographically, Los Angeles isn’t that big. In fact, we say that pretty much everything, from The Valley to the South Bay is about a 20-minute drive, until you account for the traffic. It’s just past eleven in the morning, and I’m stuck on Highland, just six miles (but almost 22 minutes) away from my destination, because I didn’t account for the traffic.
I call my assistant and ask her to “let them know that I’m stuck in traffic, and I’ll be there as soon as I can.” She calls me back a few minutes later and tells me that everything’s okay. “Patton’s already there, so just drive safely and get there when you can.”
I try and fail to be patient. I can’t make the traffic move faster any more than I can go back in time to take a different route to Hollywood from The Valley, but I’m late, and the only thing I hate more than waiting for someone is making someone wait for me.
Twenty-five minutes later (parking is a bitch in Hollywood) I walk into BLD restaurant on Beverly. I look around and find Patton, sitting at a small table, facing the door, sipping from a mug while he looks at his phone.
“I’m so sorry to keep you waiting,” I say.
He looks up, cradling his mug in one hand. “It’s okay. Is everything alright?”
“Yeah,” I say, sitting down. “There was construction on Barham and an accident on the 101 and–”
“And you’re fucked,” he says.
“Pretty much,” I say. The waitress comes by and I order some coffee. I pull out my recorder, and set it on the table between us.
Where do I start? I’ve known Patton Oswalt for almost 15 years, though we’ve never been particularly close. When our orbits intersect — most frequently at Comic-Con or in the lobby of a theatre in Los Angeles — we talk for a few moments before going on our respective ways, until we meet again. I like Patton, and we’re friendly, but we’re not friends. This isn’t the first time I’ve interviewed someone, but the uncertain intimacy between us, combined with my general anxiousness about being late, has made me a little off balance. Whether he senses this or not, I don’t know, but Patton takes the pressure off.
PATTON OSWALT: So you’re interviewing me for Playboy?
WIL WHEATON: Yeah. And I’m not going to lie; I think it’s pretty cool. It’s such an interesting part of our culture. Magazines like Playboy are so different to the current generation than they were to ours. Like, if you want to look at boobs today, you just go to the internet, but when we were younger, we had to, like, actually find a magazine, find that one kid who for whatever reason, had an older brother or something who got it.
PATTON: I think I actually wrote a thing for Playboy about telling the new generation buy Playboys and go leave them in the woods, just so those kids can still, it gets them out of the house. I think I actually wrote that down for them. Gets them out of the house. Because the sense of that quest, it doesn’t really exist anymore. Not only the quest, but the currency. Now you’re the kid that has a Playboy: What can you trade for it? What can you get for it, you know?
(My friends and I hid a Playboy in a tree, covered up with some rocks, in the wash behind our house. I remember that the playmate of the month was Hope Marie Carlton, and the Internet tells me that that means we had the July 1985 issue.) The waitress comes back, and sets a small press pot down in front of it. It probably has three cups in it. “Would you like to order some breakfast?”
I look at Patton. “Yes, I’ll have the huevos,” he says.
I order the first thing that I see on the menu. “Blueberry pancakes, with a side of bacon or sausage.”
She writes on her notepad, stops, and looks at me. “Did you want bacon or sausage?”
I notice that she has blue eyes, and is pretty. She has a cool tattoo on her left forearm. “I don’t care. You choose.” I hope I’m not being flirty. That happens sometimes when I’m nervous.
You can read the rest, where we talk about Twitter, fatherhood, stand-up comedy, The Interview, and his new book, Silver Screen Fiend, at Playboy.com (the site is probably NSFW, but the page where our conversation lives is SFW)