Acito, Marc 1966-
ACITO, Marc 1966-
PERSONAL: Born 1966, in Bayonne, NJ; married Floyd Sklaver (a writer and real estate investor), July 23, 2003. Education: Attended Colorado College.
CAREER: Vocalist and writer. Co-owner, with Floyd Sklaver, of Tigard FastSigns (sign-making business), 1997-2002. Former opera singer; performances include in productions of Down in the Valley; (as Remendado) Carmen, Seattle Opera, Seattle, WA, 1995; (as Pong) Turandot, Seattle Opera, 1996; (as Valazacchi) Der Rosenkavalier, Seattle Opera, 1997; (as the Emperor of China) Turandot, Portland Opera, Portland, OR, 2003, and (as Bardolfo) Falstaff, Opera Ireland. Judge for Scholastic writing awards, 2005. Former singing waiter.
MEMBER: Willamette Writers.
How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author of "The Gospel according to Marc" (syndicated humor column); contributed comic strip "The Boys Next Door" to Just Out (newspaper), Portland, OR, for four years; author of unproduced screenplays It's in His Kiss and The Long Shot.
ADAPTATIONS: Columbia Pictures purchased film rights to How I Paid for College.
SIDELIGHTS: Former opera singer Marc Acito was one of the best-known humorists in the gay and lesbian world even before he published his debut novel, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater. He quit opera because, he explained to TheaterMania.com interviewer Michael Portantiere, "I was frustrated being a thread in someone else's mosaic. I cannot tell you how many times I had directors come up to me and say, 'Marc, what you're doing is very original, but you're not in the same opera as everybody else.' I would look around at everybody else's opera and I would think, 'You know what, mine is way more interesting!'" This creative streak is evident throughout Acito's writing. He has been dubbed "the gay Dave Barry" and is frequently compared to humorous essayist David Sedaris, a comparison by which Acito is "flattered," as he stated on his Web site.
Inspired by Acito's own teen years, How I Paid for College "is a book for mature readers that reminds us what a blast immaturity can be," Jeremy Jackson declared in a review for People. The book, set in 1988, tells the tale of high school senior Edward Zanni, who wants to attend the Juilliard School to study acting. He has been accepted, but his father, a successful, hard-nosed businessman who thinks acting school is frivolous, refuses to waste his money on sending Edward there. Edward refuses to give up and sets out to earn the $10,000 tuition himself. He starts with legitimate types of employment, but is fired nearly immediately from every job he lands. This, he is convinced, is conclusive proof that he is "best suited for a life in the arts," but it still leaves him with the problem of how to pay for career training. Finally, Edward and his rag-tag band of friends decide that there is only one way: crime. Their various frauds sometimes verge on the ludicrous, but "Acito does a wonderful job of building the comedy to wonderfully absurd crescendos without threatening the integrity of the story," remarked PopMatters.com reviewer Daulton Dickey. The result, wrote Portantiere, "is gutbustingly funny."
Acito began his published writing career as the author of "The Gospel according to Marc," a syndicated humor column published in nineteen newspapers nationwide. In a serendipitous way, this column helped Acito find a publisher for How I Paid for College. Acito went to a reading by another Portland, Oregon-based writer, Chuck Palahniuk—best known for the novel Fight Club. When Acito introduced himself to Palahniuk, the novelist told Acito that he read his column and loved it. Based on that fact, Palahniuk offered to give Acito's manuscript to his agent. Within weeks, Acito had not only secured a publishing deal, he had also sold the film rights to the book.
Although Acito drew on a painful subject—trying to fit in as a gay theater student in the unaccepting world of high school—in writing How I Paid for College, he pointedly does not emphasize Edward's suffering. "I don't need fiction to tell me that life is hard," Acito explained to a PopMatters interviewer. "I already know life is hard. I still fly coach. What interests me is turning pain into comedy. I think of it as creating a soufflé out of garbage."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Acito, Marc, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Booklist, August, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater, p. 1895.
Business Journal-Portland, August 18, 2000, Dan Cook, "Refugees from Broadway Find New Home in Tigard," p. 4.
Daily Variety, October 24, 2003, Nicole LaPorte and Jonathan Bing, "Columbia, Ziskin Enrolling in 'College, '" p. 6.
Details, September, 2004, Jonathan Sabin, review of How I Paid for College, p. 317.
Entertainment Weekly, September 10, 2004, Melissa Rose Bernardo, review of How I Paid for College, p. 170.
Financial Times, August 21, 2004, review of How I Paid for College, p. 33.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2004, review of How I Paid for College, p. 547.
Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, September 17, 2004, Emily Lloyd, review of How I Paid for College.
Library Journal, May 1, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, review of How I Paid for College, p. 86; October 1, 2004, Karen Core, review of How I Paid for College, p. 66.
New York Times Book Review, October 10, 2004, Julia Livshin, review of How I Paid for College, p. 20.
People, September 27, 2004, Jeremy Jackson, review of How I Paid for College, p. 56.
Publishers Weekly, September 6, 2004, review of How I Paid for College, p. 47.
School Library Journal, September, 2004, Emily Lloyd, review of How I Paid for College, p. 234.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 28, 2004, John Marshall, review of How I Paid for College.
USA Today, October 6, 2004, Edward Nawotka, review of How I Paid for College.
Empowerment for Women Web site, http://www.empowerment4women.org/ (January 27, 2005), Heather Wilkinson, interview with Acito.
Frontiers Online, http://www.frontiersnewsmagazine.com/ (November 1, 2004), Tom Yanni, review of How I Paid for College.
Insightout Book Club Web site, http://www.insightoutbooks.com/ (November 1, 2004), interview with Acito.
Marc Acito Home Page, http://www.marcacito.com (November 1, 2004).
Out.com, http://www.out.com/ (November 1, 2004), review of How I Paid for College.
PopMatters.com, http://www.popmatters.com/ (September 14, 2004) Daulton Dickey, review of How I Paid for College; (November 1, 2004), interview with Acito.
Powell's Books Web site, http://www.powells.com/ (November 1, 2004), Marc Acito, "A Decade of Reading Essay Contest: Marc Acito Takes the Artist's Way."
TheaterMania.com, http://www.theatermania.com/ (October 21, 2004), Michael Portantiere, "One for the Play People: A Chat with Marc Acito."
Willamette Writers Web site, http://www.willamettewriters.com/ (November 1, 2004), "Marc Acito."