As most people know, Netflix's successful series Orange Is the New Blackis based on the memoir of Piper Kerman's time spent in prison. But while Kerman has spoken about what's true and what the show has taken liberties with — and the "real" Alex has also spoken out in a detailed Vanity Fair piece — for the first time, the man in Kerman's life, Larry, is opening up.
In an article in the online magazine Matter titled "My Life with Piper: From Big House to Small Screen," Smith talks about the other side of the true story. From his near-perfect life essentially crashing at 29 to Kerman's incarceration, her book, the TV series and everything in between, Smith shines a light on what it's like to be that guy -- played by Jason Biggs — who inspired a big part of Orange. Here are 10 things we learned from his story.
1. Larry has a history with lesbians.
Piper wasn't the first gay woman he crushed on. Smith explains that in the summer of 1989, "Shortly after I realized Susan wasn't into guys, she decided that she liked me, and we hooked up. I had no idea then that, for whatever reason, I would love a lot of lesbians in the next two decades, and they, oddly enough, would love me back. This and good hair are the gifts the universe has given me."
2. Larry encountered Piper years before they really met.
That summer camp where Larry hooked up with his first lesbian is also where he first came face-to-face with Piper, who was giving a speech. Years later, Smith says that a friend from camp was in town and invited him to brunch with her and a friend. That friend, of course, was Piper. While the rest wasn't history, they did essentially become best friends from that day.
3. Larry's career started in San Francisco working on Mightmagazine with Dave Eggers.
After college, Larry ended up on the West Coast. His first position was an internship at SF Weekly. One of Smith's first freelance pieces was illustrated by newcomer Eggers, the eventual founder of satirical magazineMight and the author of the autobiographical A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
4. Piper's big reveal about her past played out almost true to life on TV.
Smith talks about how odd it was to see that conversation — which he essentially blocked out — come to life in the premiere. But one thing Fictional Larry said that he wishes he had? "I didn't, like Larry Bloom, exclaim, 'Who are you? I feel like I'm in a Bourne movie! Have you killed?' But I wish I had—it's a great line."
5. He never uses the pet name "Pipes."
It might be Fictional Larry's nickname for his fiancée, but in real life Smith says he's never used it.
6. Piper is actually very private.
You'd think someone who has aired their dirty laundry in public wouldn't be shy, but Smith says, "Piper is a private person who told her story because she believed she could get a lot of people to pick up a book about prison who probably wouldn't otherwise." On the other hand, he adds, "Unlike Piper, I've always written about my life."
7. He was president of the Piper fan club.
At times, Fictional Larry's sympathy for his fiancée wanes — especially when in Season 2 [SPOILER ALERT!] he has an affair with Piper's best friend. In reality, Smith ran a website they created, thepipebomb.com, to keep their friends and family informed. "At times I felt like a cross between the president of a prison fan club and a crazed soccer mom juggling her children's schedules," he says.
8. Larry made friends at prison.
Smith talks about not only meeting the husbands of Piper's fellow inmates — including the real-life Yoga Jones — but going so far as to carpool with them. "After Thursday or Friday visits, when I'd leave work early and take the train up from the city, Ray often gave me a ride back in his VW Bug, jazz playing on his CD player, easing the sting as Danbury faded into the distance for another seven days," he says. "When Piper learned that John, the husband of one of her fellow-inmate friends, was my neighbor in Brooklyn, I arranged to give him a lift on the occasions when I drove up—with his baby snoozing in the back."
9. Larry hated the real Pornstache.
Are you surprised that the guy who inspired Pablo Schreiber's intolerable character was just as bad? "Gay Porn Star was the worst, but he wasn't the only guard who played a role in our relationship. They controlled the inmates' lives, and, on visiting days, they controlled our lives, too," he says. "We acted stupidly pleasant—what I always imagined a lobotomy would feel like—as if it would somehow help us curry favor with the guards. It doesn't work at the DMV, and it doesn't work at the BOP."
10. He's somewhere in between Kerman's take in her memoir and Biggs' characterization.
Above all else, Smith wants people to know the real Larry is a combination of the guy people have come to know through Kerman's book and TV show. "If you ever meet me, I hope you'll discover I am neither the saint of Piper's book, nor the schmuck of a hit show."
See why Orange Is the New Black is our pick for Binge Saturday: