By Mike Monopoli
OnlineOffbeat.com is a site that was originally started to showcase the humor of Ben Alper, political commentator and op-ed contributor to the Boston Herald. Alper is also a joke writer for comedians like Joan Rivers and Jay Leno, plus is the creator of online spoof dating site NothingPersonalAds.com. Former TV critic Monica Collins soon joined the festivities, as did David Lennon, site designer. “I met Monica through friends, she hired me to work on her site AskDogLady.com,” says Lennon. “About a year ago, they invited me to lunch to discuss the site. They wanted to expand it so that it wasn’t just Ben. What they envisioned was sort of an Algonquin Round Table where they would get a bunch of writers to weigh in on culture, politics, movies, theatre, whatever. They asked me if I would be interested.” Interested he was, as was his alter-ego, Spike Loveless. I got to sit down David and find out what’s behind both personas.
Lennon, a self employed graphic designer and aspiring writer, has finished two mystery novels and is plotting a third. Modeled after early detective novels by Dennis Lehane, one of the characters is a gay police homicide detective. But as far as his on-line fare goes, Lennon, a fan of cable TV’s Showtime channel, posts about television and movies. Some of his favorite shows are “Dexter,” “Weeds,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” It’s Lennon’s creative alter-ego, Spike Loveless, that is the writer of “Spike Sez,” OnlineOffbeat.com’s advice column (complete, for those who don’t realize the tongue-in-cheekness of it all, with disclaimers at the start and finish) that offers guidance and words of wisdom for “…the lovelorn, lost or stupid.” “Spike has been sort of an odd fit to the site. It’s not about culture or current events, and is very gay specific. Based on statistics, however, and no doubt because Spike is a larger-than-life character who can and does say things that many people wouldn’t have the nerve to, Spike Sez has become one of the site’s most popular features.”
Uncensored, and at times explicit, Spike’s columns have raised a few eyebrows. Lennon admits to pushing the limits and says with a slight grin that allowing total creative freedom is “…something that Ben regrets sometimes.”
Those who dare seek Spike’s advice should not expect gentle treatment of their problem. “Spike is well read and confident in his ways, and while he’s usually well intentioned, he does at times use the column as his own personal pulpit,” says Lennon. “The whole reason I wanted to do Spike in the first place was that I got sick of reading advice columns in gay papers where they would take this really touchy-feely approach, not asking people to be responsible for their own actions. That’s not the way I was raised. If someone is looking to be coddled, and that’s not what they need, I’ll kick them in the ass instead. ”
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