Carrots, Hollywood, and Sex Addiction: Interview with Author Dan Harary

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Dan
“Carrots: True Confessions of a Hollywood Sex Addict” is a new memoir by author and Hollywood publicist Dan Harary, a self-professed sex-addict who is currently in recovery.



Carrots: True Confessions of a Hollywood Sex Addict” is a new memoir by author and Hollywood publicist Dan Harary, a self-professed sex-addict who is currently in recovery. Sex addiction affects millions of people and can leave sufferers with ruined relationships, financial debt, disease, and other unpleasant outcomes. Dan’s book chronicles how he recognizes and coped with this addiction via finding therapists who specialized in sexuality, joining Sex Addicts Anonymous, and finding caring support networks.

Dan Harary recently discussed this book via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in publicity and how did that lead you to Hollywood?

Dan Harary (DH): My route into Hollywood publicity was truly unique and could never be replicated! I studied communications at Boston University, which included everything EXCEPT Public Relations! After I graduated, a friend of mine from BU who was working in the PR Department of Columbia Pictures Studios in Manhattan had just gotten promoted and helped me get his old job. That was my first look “behind the curtain” at the world of entertainment PR. Problem was I couldn’t afford to live in NYC at that time, so I left and decided to move to Los Angeles. For the first year and a half I lived in LA, I had a series of “temp” jobs – typist, go-fer, receptionist, errand boy – until I finally landed at The American Film Institute – one of America’s top film colleges. Once I was established at AFI, the next jumps up the ladder to bigger and better entertainment jobs happened fairly quickly. After AFI, I became the first publicist for The Playboy Channel, then a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures Television, then a VP at two of LA’s most prominent entertainment PR agencies. In 1996, when I turned 40, I launched my own PR firm -The Asbury PR Agency. It’s been over 26 years now and I never looked back. The truth is I was NEVER interested in doing publicity, really, as a profession. I came to LA at age 24 to become a comedy writer for TV. Unfortunately, that goal never happened, and I literally stumbled into PR when I joined The Playboy Channel. Since I’m a strong writer, have an outgoing personality and am supremely creative, I had all of the basic “ingredients” really necessary to succeed in the Hollywood PR industry.

MM: Did you career as a publicist in Hollywood feed into your struggles with sex addiction at all?

DH: Yes! Very much so. Starting with my work as the first Publicist for The Playboy Channel, I was very often surrounded by remarkably beautiful – SINGLE – women. First at Playboy, where I knew dozens of “Playmates” – and worked with them, quite often when they were naked! And then at my other future jobs for the next 40 years, I was regularly meeting very attractive models, actresses, singers, comedians, supermodels, and porn stars.  I was married from 1984-1992, so during those years, I never cheated on my wife, but I fantasized about doing so ALL THE TIME! Then, once I got divorced in ’92, my sex addiction sprang forth like the alien in the movie “ALIEN” – I chased after every woman that came across my path like a hungry lion in the jungle who hadn’t eaten a good steak in decades.

MM: When did you realize that you had a problem?

DH: Well, the answer to that question comes in two parts. When I turned 40, I knew I was never happy and literally was unable to even smile, so I found a psychiatrist and told him my life story. He informed me – for the first time in my life – that I had had Clinical Depression since the age of 15! Untreated, undiagnosed clinical depression for 25 years! He said, “I’m so impressed with you. You are like a diabetic that never had insulin! It’s amazing to me what you have accomplished in your life without medication.” He gave me a prescription for Prozac, which changed my life forever. Within one week I became “undepressed” and that same year launched a multi-million-dollar PR agency. Part two answer to this question: When I was in my early ‘50s, I was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on women and sex: either going on very expensive dinner dates with women who were completely out of my league, or hiring call girls and prostitutes, or getting lap dances at strip clubs, and eventually having a high-priced dominatrix at my beck and call. If you add into that mix peep shows, phone sex and then video cam sex via computer, my wallet and bank account were getting seriously dented. And concurrently, I was sending my two children through college. I realized that I couldn’t keep those behaviors up at that current rate, so I told my sister-in-law everything and she insisted I find a sex therapist.

MM: Was it tough to take the initial step to get help?

DH: It wasn’t tough, really, but it was awkward, shameful and embarrassing. I’d never talked about my sexual obsessions and fantasies with anyone in my entire life! My “sex stuff’ was always a closely held secret for me – I never shared with anyone until my sister-in-law. Once I found a sex therapist, she asked me about the history of my sex life – and while I was shaking a bit and went into something of a “daze,” I told her everything I could think of. She then calmly said, “So you’re a raging sex addict, huh.” To which I actually replied, “Really? I am? I had no idea!” She told me I was a poster child for sex addiction. She insisted I start attending Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) meetings, which I did for several years. The first meeting I ever attended for SAA I was a nervous wreck. The room was filled with about 30 men and no women! How on earth was I going to spill my guts about my lifelong sexual behaviors in front of a group of men! When the leader of the group asked: “Do we have any newcomers here who would like to share?” I raised my hand, much to my own surprise! I then shared my deepest sex secrets during the course of the next four minutes. At the end of evening, numerous attendees came up to me, shook my hand and said, “Wow! That was the best ‘share’ I’ve ever heard!” On my drive home from that first SAA meeting, I felt elated. I felt as though a five-ton weight had literally been lifted from my shoulders.

MM: What are some of the risk factors for developing this condition?

DH: Well, the history of my life with girls and women has been a sad tale of disappointment, frustration, bizarre incidents, remarkably bad luck and sorrows, so in retrospect given my lack of ability to find and keep intimate relationships with women, it shouldn’t be surprising I became a sex addict. Add into that mix: 25 years of undiagnosed clinical depression, which meant that for me “orgasms” from masturbation were the equivalent of “serotonin medication” which I should have been taking all that time. Also: my mother was a classic narcissist, so there wasn’t enough “mommy love” for me (or either of my two younger brothers, I might add.) Plus: when I was 12, I was molested by my best guy friend, and during early childhood, a series of traumas occurred between me and “little girls.” So, all of those risk factors were ingredients within my sex addiction recipe.

MM: Why did you decide to write a book about your struggles with this addiction?

DH: I first began writing my book CARROTS: TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A HOLLYWOOD SEX ADDICT, in 2009. That was the year I found my first sex therapist and joined SAA. I had felt so “high” from sharing my intimate, “dirty” sex secrets during those early SAA meetings, that I thought writing down my entire lifelong history with women/sex/addiction would help me to “purge” the feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment and to “embrace my truth.” I keep re-working, updating, and editing the book from 2009 until 2022, when I finally felt it was a comprehensive piece of literature and had a beginning, a middle and something of an “end.”

MM: Was it difficult to write about such an intensely personal topic?

DH: It was very therapeutic. While I was writing CARROTS, I found that I would go into a “trance-like” state. I could “see” my entire life playing in front of me on a blank wall – as though I were watching a “movie.” I saw all the good, bad and ugly of my experiences, and, in a sense, was just “transcribing” what I was seeing onto my computer keyboard. Paul McCartney talks about how he “dreamed” the song “YESTERDAY.” For me, writing CARROTS was like typing during a dream. I did have to have long talks with myself, a number of times, about several EXTREMELY embarrassing things that I’ve done or have happened to me in the past – and the ones that were truly cringe-worthy I decided to leave out of the book. Since my mother is still alive, I knew that some of those stories would be too upsetting for her to ever hear about from someone else who might read the book in the future. But those ultra-embarrassing things were few. Almost everything else that I could think of made it into the final manuscript.

MM: What have been some of the most helpful healing practices for you?

DH: When I joined SAA, they advise you to create your “Three Circles” on a piece of paper. Your inner circle includes the things that are most problematic for you. For me, they included strippers, call girls, my dominatrix and phone sex. Then for your middle circle you write down things that could “trigger” inner circle behaviors. For me, these would be like going to the beach and staring at women in bikinis, watching pornography, and driving around town and looking for billboards that featured gorgeous women in skimpy clothes. Then for the outer circle, you write down things that you should be doing to pursue a “healthy life.” For me, those things included exercise, reading books, spending time with friends, visiting my daughter, riding a bike, buying a dog, etc. Once I was able to push my inner circle behaviors further away, and to embrace my outer circle behaviors, my sexual compulsions were greatly calmed down. Today I am able to live a calm, thoughtful life without the constant noise within my own brain of thinking up new and stimulating ways to secure sex.

MM: What advice would you give to someone who might be struggling to cope with this condition?

DH: I consider myself rather lucky in this regard. For me, the only damage I was really doing to myself was to my wallet and to my bank account. I was spending ridiculous amounts of money that I wish I had today. I blew a fortune between the ages of 36 to 56. In my SAA group, there were lots of men who had lost everything from their sex addictions: their homes, their wives, their children, their jobs, their parents, their closest friends. Several had been arrested or sued or jailed or were living in their cars! My advice to anyone who’s thoughts constantly revolve around “How am I going to get laid today?” “Who am I going to have sex with today?” “How can I masturbate in a new way today?” REALLY needs to talk to a SEX THERAPIST! A good sex therapist understands these compulsions and can gently and calmly walk you through various coping methods which can be easily blended into your life to help settle down those racing, out of control thoughts. Also, I strongly suggest joining an SAA group – they have meetings in person and virtually. If you Google “SAA Groups Near Me,” chances are good you can find one. Again, I was a nervous wreck the first time I attended a meeting – but after I shared my stories, I felt elated and almost “high.” For anyone out there reading these words, give SAA a try. Keeping your “dirty little sex secrets” secrets can really wear a person down. Once they are “out there” in the ether, you may, like me, feel better. And, to even go one step further, write everything down! I did, in my book CARROTS, and now my past shame and guilt have been exposed to the “light” and I’ve healed tremendously from the experience.

MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to mention?

DH: Today, I am 66 years old and I am still an active Hollywood publicist. I have terrific clients and am very fortunate to say that I make a comfortable living. In addition to CARROTS, I have two other books. My very first book was entitled FLIRTING WITH FAME: A HOLLYWOOD PUBLICIST RECALLS 50 YEARS OF CELEBRITY CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. That book, on Amazon and released in June 2022, recounts my hundreds of stories of meeting – and/or working with – countless major celebrities from the areas of film, TV, music and pop culture. My third book comes out in March 2023. That book is entitled AFTER THEY CAME – an original, Sci-Fi novel about two benevolent Aliens who come to Earth to save a single man from his own suicide. In so doing, the Aliens help that troubled man become the “Hero of Earth” by working in tandem to solve all of mankind’s problems! I dedicated that book to my father – he and I saw a giant silver UFO together once, and since he worked as an Electronics Engineer for the U.S. Army at the time, I truly believe that he knew what that UFO was! If anyone would like to cotact me, please visit: www.asburypr.com or  www.danhararyauthor.com