Neil Strauss Strips the Sheen Off the Celebrity Interview

VIDEO: The Game Author on Picking Up Stars

The celebrity profile: often, it's a fluffy piece of journalism, a rose-colored portrait intended to show the star in the best light, lunching at the Ivy, sipping tea at the Plaza Hotel, or playing with their Pomeranians in their penthouse.

But what about the times that the star in question is doing drugs, drinking heavily, and/or getting cuffed by the cops?

In his new book, "Everyone Loves You When You're Dead," Neil Strauss chronicles some of the most candid moments from the more than 1,000 celebrity interviews he's conducted over two decades of writing for outlets like Rolling Stone, Esquire and The New York Times. Beyond the usual backstage Q&As and hotel room suite sit-downs, Strauss details drinks with Paris Hilton, motorcycle lessons with Tom Cruise, and apartment shut-ins with Courtney Love.

"I went back through all the interviews and all the crazy adventures with these celebrities and found the moments of truth where you really saw somebody's soul," Strauss told, "whether it was a moment of insecurity or them getting arrested."

He spent two years culling through recorded transcripts and notes; the stuff that made the cut fills more than 500 pages. That includes Madonna talking about drugs (she's good on morphine, bad on Vicodin), Cruise teaching Strauss principles of Scientology (Strauss called it "a fascinating peek behind the curtain"), and Lady Gaga crying ("She said, 'Some of the things I've been through are so horrific that I have 13-year-olds and 11-year-olds listening to my music and reading about me, and I don't want to put these images in their heads.'")

Strauss has training in making tough subjects open up: he wrote the modern-day Bible on wooing women, "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists," which taught him how to steer conversations to extract information he wants.

"When I did the Britney Spears interview, it was going so horribly, and she was just giving me one-word answers, so I did some of the 'Game' stuff, taught her about herself, the mind-reading stuff, and it just blew her away. She started jumping around the room saying, 'Oh my God, this is the best interview ever!'" Strauss said. "She made me stop the tape recorder and gushed about all this stuff and at the end of it, we exchanged phone numbers. My friends were all like, 'You've got to call Britney!'"

(Strauss claimed he never called -- journalistic standards and all that.) Below, check out 10 of the most revealing celebrity tidbits from's interview with Strauss and his book.

Madonna on the drugs she took after falling off a horse: "I'm a lot of fun on morphine. At least, I think I am. But I'm not fun on Vicodin. I only tried Vicodin once. I was in a lot of pain, and nothing killed the pain. Not even morphine, to tell you the truth. … Drugs have a weird effect on me. They do the opposite with me. I just chewed the entire inside of my mouth. I b***hed at everybody. And I was in more pain. It was terrible: the worst experience of my life." (A representative for Madonna told that any drugs the star may have taken "would definitely not have been for recreational purposes.")

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