Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Doug Probst aka Shawn Mayotte
Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…
Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?
Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.
Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.
TGG: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
DP: My birth name is Doug Probst and I’m blessed to have my son Joshua who is 31 years old, and I’m blessed to be married to my wife Marie for 12 years. Both are on loan from God. I also am known around the world by my stage name: Shawn Mayotte.
I was born into addiction with an alcoholic mother and a child rapist father. Later, I was placed into boys’ homes where some adults required sexual favors and sexually assaulted me.
I was a hustler and a drug addict. I now work with SEX WORKERS helping them find jobs, and I’m a drug and alcohol counsellor.
I was a model (clothed and nude) and my photos have appeared in many print publications and websites.
I lost hundreds of friends who have died from AIDS, at a time when prejudice and hatred delayed fighting the epidemic.
I’ve been a professional musician & songwriter. I have performed on stages around the world with recording artists such as Billy Preston, who wrote “You Are So Beautiful”, and recorded with Neil Young and other well-known artists.
I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and became a husband and a father not knowing if I’d live long enough to see my son grow into adulthood.
I’ve been homeless, and I’ve acquired homes with money I was blessed with through self employment, and partnering in businesses.
TGG: What a story you have to tell! It’s no surprise then that I’m interviewing you today about your autobiography, “Mayotte: The Musings Of a Narcissist. A Survivor’s Story.” Could you tell us about it?
DP: Thank you for asking. Originally, I just wanted to shout out to the world that what I endured in my childhood, teenage life and days on the street weren’t what most people experienced. Then I realized maybe, by telling my story, some people would relate, and they could be inspired and know they’re not alone, and I’d actually be helping people.
Right at the top of my acknowledgments I write: “This book is dedicated to all of the children in the world who have suffered physical and sexual abuse. I know what it’s like to cry out in pain and no one hears you. I listened. I heard you. There will be no more suffering. I also dedicate this book to everyone who died of AIDS and are now suffering and dying from COVID-19. But I especially want to remember my friends who died on the streets of Long Beach from a virus that had no name yet. I’ll never let the world forget you.”
This is also a story of betrayal and triumph. Except for a three-month period in 1978, and a couple of months in 1981, I never lived outside of the L.A. County probation system between 1977 and 1982. I never saw your world. Between those years, the world changed dramatically. When I left your world, there were magazines and pinball machines. When I came back to it, there was MTV and Pac-Man.
During these years I was confined to boys’ homes, mental hospitals, juvenile halls, and probation camps. I entered at 12 and left at 17. I never attended high school, except for a short period at Redlands High while I resided at Guadalupe Boys’ Home in 1981. I never experienced a first date or a prom, never went to a beach, saw a movie, or rode a bike. They diagnosed me with ADHD, since I was considered an incorrigible youth. Maybe that’s why I loved AC/DC so much — I was always the “Problem child.”
Every moment of my teenage life in that system was about survival, and not only trying to survive a war zone filled with crips and bloods, mexican gangs and teenage killers, but also having to navigate my way around the real enemies: the probation officers, counsellors, guards, and priests who physically and sexually abused us, only to spit us back out like vomit.
I’ve heard it said many times that understanding one’s journey and purpose in life is a process. In my book I acknowledge that I have a lot in common with everyone else, and yet I am very different and unique. I’ve seen life from many perspectives. I’ve been rich and I’ve been homeless; I’ve searched for food through feces in downtown Dumpsters and I’ve waved at the poor people from a private helicopter; I have committed acts that I consider crimes and I have bitched about the “rise in crime.”
I also talk about being a professional musician, and I tell a few stories about what it was like to play on tour with famous recording artists, the drugs, the women and the sex. I played on countless recording sessions in the 1980s, mostly with musicians seeking stardom, but I also talk about the many personal songs I wrote and performed on. Music is more than a hobby for me. I’ve heard people say they play music to comfort them from the fear of dying. For me, I embraced music as an escape from the terror of living.
I was sexually assaulted as a child, and I’ve been a fiercely protective father. I never realized how much sex dominated my life until I did. I thought I was in competition with everyone else to get as much sex with as many women and people as possible. Although this is not a pornographic novel, I talk about sex and I won’t shield the reader from the reality of my sexual escapades, my traumas, my impulsive and reckless behaviors that led to very dark places.
My teenage and early adult years were also distinguished by a disturbing, frightening reality that landed in my world just as I was released from Sylmar Juvenile Hall to the streets at 17 in 1982. Actually, I landed in the middle of it: AIDS, and the deaths of almost everyone I knew.
On the streets back then, death was everywhere, walking among us, palpable to all of us who were ostracized from society. Can you imagine losing over 30 of your close friends at 17 to a disease that had no name yet? I was surviving, but terrified, while caring for the sick and dying, nursing kids who were castigated not only for who they were, but who then had to suffer the indignity of dying alone while their families self-righteously ignored them. By 1991, I had been to 97 funerals. By 2000, over 140 of my friends had died of AIDS. In this book I share their stories. They deserve to be remembered with dignity; not forgotten like yesterday’s garbage.
I realized when my baby boy was born; narcissism is playing God, which we all do to one degree or another. But playing God has its consequences. In my life, there have been reality checks — a theme to my life — evidence of a concept that emerges every day I get drunk on the insanity of my own omnipotence. This is when I am made painfully aware of a remarkably intriguing likelihood.
All the time I was playing God, God was playing me.
TGG: Powerful words. I can’t wait to read the book. What’s something you learned during the writing process?
DP: Less is more! As you can tell by my long-winded answer describing my book, I write too much. I learned how to get the same point across using less words. My editor helped me with that – but I also learned the hard way: By reading and getting frustrated with the length of my own book. I learned to write the scene or thought, and move on.
TGG: You’ve worked with many big names in the music industry, could you tell us a memory from your time in music?
DP: This could get me in trouble – lol. Memories of playing music on stage in front of 10,000 people are some of the most joyful and timeless memories of my life. I have wonderful memories of meeting some of my heroes and finding most of them to be down to earth.
I have many life altering memories I tell about in my book, mostly about smoking cocaine with celebrities until we were psychotic and needed hospitalization. The drug years were the worst. When I finally stopped, I had so many regrets. I realized how long I had been lying to myself. Believe me, recovering from addiction is very hard, but living a life of constant regret would be suicide.
TGG: How can we best support you? (Where can we follow you on social media, and buy your book?)
DP: I love this question! You can support me and we can support each other just by being kind and compassionate to everyone. Let’s be the change in the world we want to see. Support is universal. Let’s be models, not critics. Let’s be lights, not judges. Let’s be part of the solutions, not part of the problems.
You can purchase my books on my website www.mayottenow.com
If you prefer a paperback (I love paperbacks), you can purchase it on
www.Amazon.com – just type my name Doug Probst in the space bar or the name of my book: Mayotte: The Musings of a Narcissist a Survivor’s Story
You can follow me on these social media platforms:
Facebook: Doug Probst | Facebook
Facebook: Shawn Mayotte | Facebook
Instagram: Shawn Mayotte (@shawnmayotte)
Twitter: Shawn Mayotte (@shawnmayotte) / Twitter