Confessions of a tabloid writer: Sam Post publishes tell-all book
By Katie Scarvey
Sam Post has described himself as the most rejected novelist in history.
A common refrain in the rejection letters heís received:
iThis is implausible.î
Post decided to take that criticism and work it to his advantage ó with a brief but lucrative career writing sensational stories for tabloids.
And now, years later, Post has compiled a collection of those stories in a book: iConfessions of a Tabloid Writer!î
Like anyone who was breathing in the 1970s and 1980s, Post had seen tabloids like “The Sun” and “The Weekly World News” and “The Enquirer.” He’d always been too embarrassed to buy them, but one day ó after checking to make sure no one was around to see him ó he bought one and took it home.
As he read, he realized the stories could not be true.
They were, in fact, “implausible.”
Before the day was over, Post had written one of his own. It was about a woman who got mad at her husband and served him up a dish of spaghetti ó made with meat from the man’s beloved dog.
It wasn’t hard, Post says. Newspaper writing came naturally to him. After all, his mother is the legendary Rose Post, recently retired after more than half a century as a newspaper reporter, one of the most celebrated in North Carolina history.
Unlike his mother’s news stories, however, the dog meat spaghetti story was a complete fabrication.
He mailed it off to “The National Examiner.”
Before long, he was on the phone with the editor, who asked him if the subjects of his story would mind it being published.
Since Post had made the story up ó and was convinced the editor knew this ó he simply said, “They’re not going to come back and react to this.
“We had an understanding,” Post said.
“OK, send more,” the editor told him.
So in the late 1980s, Post started writing sensational stories regularly and would send off three at a time. Usually, one of the three would get published, he says.
For about a year, he was writing “pretty steadily” for “The Sun” and “The National Examiner.” That was in the heyday of those tabloids, when you couldn’t go to a supermarket or a convenience store without seeing their lurid headlines.
Post didn’t use his own name when he wrote for the tabloids. He often wrote under the byline of Ted Corners, but stories also appeared under the names Dr. Bruno Gross and Manny Silver.
And what did his mother ó a real journalist ó think of Post’s stories?
She was amused, Post says.
As far as whether readers believed the stories to be truth or fiction, he figures that some believed the stories while others enjoyed them while realizing they couldn’t possibly be true.
Post was working at West Rowan Middle School at the time and occasionally worried what his employers might think of his tabloid writing if they found out.
A few of Post’s friends and acquaintances knew what he was up to and would look for his stories.
“Paul Bernhardt always wanted to know when I had one in,” Post says.
His friend Robert Jones asked Post if he’d write a story about his cat, Tofu.
Post was happy to comply.
The resulting story was “Cat Saves Owner’s Life … by Dialing 911!”
Post admits he “got a little bit of a charge” out of being in a supermarket and seeing one of his stories on a tabloid front page.
He always tried to stick to sex, food and money as subjects, he says.
“And sometimes aliens or Elvis,” he adds.
He’d read somewhere that he couldn’t go wrong with those topics.
His editor had told him that the typical tabloid reader believed Elvis was still alive.
He was also asked not to write anything negative about smoking. A lot of tabloid readers smoked, his editor said, and he didn’t want to upset them.
Post was careful not to use the names of real people in his stories. He took pains to come up with bizarre names like Wallosa Crimtoni ó and often, the subjects of his stories were from eastern Europe.
One of his favorite stories was about a movement to clothe Michelangelo’s statue of David.
He also liked “Strange Cult of Ex-Hippies Worships Deer.” That one was inspired by a photo his mother gave him of deer statues in people’s yards.
At least some readers took Post’s fabricated stories seriously.
A radio talk show host from Detroit named Denny McClain called him to discuss a story he’d written about a set of twins who hired themselves out as hookers to ruin people’s marriages.
McClain ó the Detroit Tiger pitcher famous for breaking Dizzy Dean’s strikeout record ó wanted to meet the twins, who didn’t exist, of course. After being told that he couldn’t talk to the twins, McClain wanted to talk to Post, who declined the interview.
One story about a couple having to bowl one game to determine custody of their children was actually reported on ESPN, he says.
Post believes that he wrote close to 150 tabloid stories, about 50 of which were published.
His new book, “Confessions of a Tabloid Writer,” which is self-published, includes stories that made it into the tabloids as well as stories that didn’t.
Post says he started out making $125 a story, he says. That dropped to $100 and then later to $60 or $75, he says. He thinks the price kept dropping because he was writing so many stories, he says.
One has to wonder how Post came up with some of his stories, like “Hitler’s Ghost Seen in Dirty Toilets” or “Busty Mom Trades Breasts with Flat-chested Daughter” or “Daughter Sues Mom for Making Her Eat Broccoli.”
All good things must come to an end, and ultimately, the market dried up, Post said. The two tabloids he was writing for got new editors, who quit buying his work.
“I don’t even know if I could write that stuff anymore,” Post says. “It’s like a different person wrote that.”
These days, Post spends much of his time working on Coffee News, a popular restaurant publication that can be found in many local businesses. He also continues to write plays.
Post will sign copies of “Confessions of a Tabloid Writer” at the Literary Book Post, 119 S. Main St., 7-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5.
From 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, he will appear at the Looking Glass Artist Collective, 405 N. Lee Street, to talk about self-publishing and sign copies of his book.
By Katie Scarvey email@example.com Just four years ago, the site of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke was a... read more