Thursday, May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024
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How Brian Cuban Beat Bulimia and Drug Addiction

A brother of that other Cuban writes a memoir, Shattered Image.
photography by Billy Surface

photography by Billy Surface
Your book is titled Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Explain what that is.

It’s when someone zeros in on minor or even nonexistent defects in their body and exaggerates them to the point where it affects their ability to function. My issue growing up, as a result of fat-shaming at home by my mother and bullying in school, was my stomach—and, to a certain extent, my hair. No matter how thin I got, when I looked in the mirror, I would see this huge, huge, obese stomach.

You joined the Marines in 1985, not for patriotic reasons, but just to get in better shape. And you only lasted about two weeks because you didn’t want to shave your head?

I didn’t want to shave my head. I was terrified, absolutely terrified.

John Candy in Stripes, his character’s name was Dewey Oxberger. You’re him. Not only did he join the Army to get in shape, not only did he have a problem with getting his head shaved, but, like you, he joined up right after a doctor recommended EST therapy to overcome his shyness. I mean, if I wanted to take a dim view, I would say, “Brian just lifted all this stuff out of Stripes.”

The parallels go even further. Just like Ox, I developed a self-deprecating sense of humor as a defense mechanism. It’s a problem I still have today, even though I’m not heavy.

A year after you got out of the Marines, you moved to Dallas. You write about what Dallas was like in the mid-’80s, about cocaine and steroids being everywhere.

Absolutely. I’d seen cocaine once before, when I was 16. But I had never seen it up close until I came to Dallas and got a chance to use it.

This is the reader service portion of the Q&A. Describe the “yawn technique” that you used at clubs to talk to girls.

The Fast and Cool Club, on Greenville, was one of my favorite hangouts. I would basically stand in the corner and just yawn and hope some girl would come up to me and say, “Are you tired? Why are you tired?” I would never approach a girl. Ever, ever. Unless I was on cocaine. Sometimes it didn’t work, and I’d yawn all night and go home.

If someone comes up to you and says, “Are you tired?” what’s the answer to head the conversation in the right direction?

“I’m feeling better. Want a drink?” [laughs]

See, I would have tried to come up with an elaborate lie about what I’d done the night before to make me tired. I see your angle of attack would be more effective.

You have to go with your strengths, and my strengths are standing around, talking to no one, and yawning.

Your last name is Cuban. Kind of a unique name. Are you any relation?

Yes, I am. And I think you know that very well.

I’m kidding, yes. You have been sober since 2007. You were with your brother in 2011 in Miami when the Mavs won the championship. I’ve talked to people who were in the club for the celebration. That had to be a challenge for you.

No, it wasn’t challenging at all. I’m very comfortable around alcohol. There was a lot of pot smoke in the air. [laughs] So maybe there was a contact high. But, by that point, in 2011, I’m comfortable with my sobriety. The sight of alcohol isn’t a trigger for me. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to celebrate something like that with your brothers. We’re very close. You know, I wasn’t a Mavs fan before Mark bought the team. I became a Mavs fan because I love my brother.

After all this horrible stuff—bulimia, addiction, near suicide—what made you want to write a book about it?

It started out as a cathartic experience. It was notes and journaling. A lot of people talk about addiction, but no guys are talking about eating disorders. I just said, “I’m going to at least attempt to turn this into a book that might let some guys know that they’re not alone.” I took all my blogs and all my notes. I put them into a book proposal and sent it to a publisher buddy of mine. He said, “Well, you suck as a writer. But there’s some good material here. So let’s get you a real editor and see if we can turn it into a book.”