BROOKE GLADSTONE: Last week saw the passing of Fast Eddie Parker. He was a pool player and a hustler. In fact he was the Hustler -- the inspiration for the 1961 Paul Newman movie. The movie's main character went by Fast Eddie Felson. Parker also used Felson as an alias. Hustlers do that. BOB GARFIELD:In recent years Parker tried to separate himself from the movie. Being known as The Hustler dramatically decreases your chances of taking an unsuspecting mark by surprise. While Parker was a singular character, he had plenty of company in the club of people who see themselves become movies. BROOKE GLADSTONE:A year ago there was a woman living in California named Erin Brockevich. That same woman is now named The Real Life Erin Brockevich. The real life Jerry Stahl was a television writer whose drug habit resulted in firing, near death and ultimately a memoir, and the memoir went on to become a movie starring Ben Stiller. I asked the real life Jerry Stahl to talk about having his life turned into a movie. MAN: Well you know it's a strange thing. I remember the first day of shooting, I went down to the studio and I tried to get past the guy at the door; you know they have those sort of guys in tool belts with like a donut in one hand and a hammer in the other, and he didn't know who I was, so-- he wouldn't let me in. And I finally said well you know man I'm the guy they made the movie about. He said Ohhhh! Dude! That's so great, man! They don't usually make movies about losers. You know? [LAUGHTER] So [LAUGHS] it's flattering to be up there in a, an esteemed group that includes, you know, Larry Flynt and Serpico, [stuff] like living human beings who've had the semi-sweet thrill of seeing themselves portrayed on screen. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Ahhh! MAN:But you know it's very surreal, because the woman who played my girlfriend was an actress who actually looked like the woman, who I wasn't seeing any more, so I was in the odd position of looking at the movie and being jealous of myself [LAUGHTER] for being able to be with this actress. So it's - you know it's a very surreal existential predicament one finds oneself in. BROOKE GLADSTONE: But you say it was a sweet thrill, or rather a semi-sweet thrill. [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE] MAN:No, I said it's - it's a bitter - I mean you know look it's a - considering, you know, that I was basically living in a car or-- you know - working at McDonald's a few years before, I-- you know I didn't know at the time I was doing research. Put it that way. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Did you look at yourself differently? Did you see yourself up there? Did you see Ben Stiller? MAN:I saw a much cuter version of myself, that's for sure. On the other hand there was 2 days when it looked like it was going to be Jon Bon Jovi, so I, I can't complain. BROOKE GLADSTONE: So what about the way people saw you? If you wanted to pretend to be somebody else-- [LAUGHTER] if you wanted to be-- MAN: I see. Yeah. BROOKE GLADSTONE: -- someone with a different past, you had nowhere to hide! MAN:Well, that's a good point. I think you know if you lived a life like mine, you got two choices -- you can-- sort of look over your shoulder and hope nobody finds out that you spent a lot of time with guys named, you know, Pepe and Dog, you know, slinging crack in MacArthur Park, or you can-- figure well, you know, this is who I am; this is what I did, and anybody left talking to me is my friend, and anybody else, you know, [BLEEP] 'em! BROOKE GLADSTONE: Do you think people made friends with you because of the movie? MAN:I wouldn't say they made friends with me, but you know total strangers felt comfortable enough to come up and tell me the most heinous secrets of their entire lives, because they felt like they knew mine. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Would you recommend the cinematic treatment to others? MAN:Well there's no therapy like having people make a movie of your own life, that's for sure. One thing I realized in some strange way - even though, you know, much was changed -for example in the movie, because the actress playing my mother for whatever reason didn't work out, they basically killed my mother. So [LAUGHS] I had to explain-- [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE] BROOKE GLADSTONE: Oh, my God! MAN:-- to the poor woman - like - you know like I hadn't put her through enough - I had to say geez, mom, you know, you've been killed off in this movie, so; you know; tell everybody in the beauty parlor. You know if we could all have independent movies made of our lowest moments, we'd probably have a-- we would all treat each other better, I think, that's for sure, because I realized-- just what a selfish freak I was when I saw, you know, saw the look on other people's faces by the things Ben Stiller playing me did, and somehow you can know that in the abstract and you can talk to people and try to make amends, but in some strange way, seeing it on screen it was like I got to step outside and say Jesus Christ! You really were a jerk! BROOKE GLADSTONE: Jerry Stahl. Thank you very much for talking to us. MAN: You're the best! Thanks so much! BROOKE GLADSTONE:Jerry Stahl's memoir, Permanent Midnight, was made into a film starring Ben Stiller and his novel, Perv, is now out in paperback.