Nick Martino ’15 discusses his senior thesis (a novel), regrets his middle school self, and reveals what goes down at all-boy sleepovers.

c/o Nick Martino

Nick Martino ’15 is equally at home on the stage and on the page. A senior from Wisconsin, Martino is a regular Midwestern James Franco: he has performed in musicals and Terpsichore, composed poetry and a novel, and edited for Stethoscope Press. The Argus sat down with Martino to discuss being typecast, what goes down at boy sleepovers, and his burgeoning senior thesis.

The Argus: Why are you a WesCeleb?
Nick Martino: Why AM I a WesCeleb? I don’t know. I guess it comes down to being involved in a certain amount of things. One of my friends pointed out that his friend came to visit and he saw me from afar and said, “Who’s that huge dude with the huge hair?” I’d never really thought of myself as the huge dude with the huge hair. So I guess I’m fairly visible on campus.

A: What musicals have you been in?
NM: I started with “Little Shop of Horrors.” I was the dentist—the Steve Martin character. The insane, nitrogen huffin’ dude. That was really fun. I like playing crazy people. I did “Charlie Brown” last year. I was Linus with the blanket. That was awesome.

A: You were clearly typecast.
NM: I guess so. I’m definitely always typecast. I got asked to be Hagrid. I’m the king in “Tragic Kingdom,” which is a play that a bunch of my friends are putting on. They wrote it themselves and they’re doing the music themselves. It’s going to be fantastic. I did “Shrak” last semester. A lot of people ended up going to see that. I played Donkey. That was the most fun.

A: Are you a singer?
NM: I’m a shower singer, I guess. I tried out for every single a cappella group my first semester junior year and didn’t get into one.

A: Oh, no!
NM: I did get called back, but I didn’t get into one. But yeah, I can carry a tune, I guess. I mostly just like singing because it feels really good.

A: So tell me about Stethoscope.
NM: I’m editing a book of poetry by this gal named Kathleen Radigan [’17]. I’ve gotten to know her through Stethoscope. She just transferred here. She’s fantastic. She’s writing these love poems, but they’re not sort of the stodgy, “A rose is my love,” blah blah blah. I think the best part about Kathleen’s poetry is that when you read it out loud, you’re like, “Ah! That’s Kathleen.” I just hear her voice coming through so strongly, and nothing clouds that at all.

A: [Looking for list of questions] Sorry, I wrote these inside this pocket-sized Constitution. Do you have a favorite amendment or article, by the way?
NM: It’s embarrassing, because if you asked me, “Do you know an article of the Constitution…?” It’s too early to think about the Constitution. Maybe if I perused through I could find one.

A: Okay. What were you like in middle school?
NM: That’s a great question, because I really like talking about this. I was a little shit in middle school. I was kind of the chubby checker in my grade, the guy who definitely ate way too many things of McDonald’s. I was overweight, and I took it out on other people. I lashed out on people. I didn’t have a lot of friends overall. But it’s okay. I think it’s funny now. I remember this one time—my friend reminded me recently that I was a little asshole in middle school. I was like, “What do you mean?” He was like, “Don’t you remember when you tried to get your dad to bring over your Game Boy one day? You literally rolled around on the ground for 10 minutes, on the ground, stomping and flinging your arms.” Middle school was kind of a bummer.

A: What about high school?
NM: High school was wonderful. I’m from Milwaukee, and I went to this itty-bitty private school outside Milwaukee. Very little diversity. And I went to this school from kindergarten through 12th grade, so I knew these people since they were eating boogers and wiping them on their sisters. We knew every little thing about one another. It felt a little bit too insular, especially towards the end, when I was angsting to get out. In high school, I kind of rolled with this group of 12 awkward, gangly dudes.

A: That’s a huge group!
NM: Yeah, we were a lot of boys. We had a lot of boy sleepovers.
A: What happens at a boy sleepover? Those exist? Tell me everything!
NM: Boy sleepovers are great. I don’t want to speak for every boy sleepover, because there are so many different varieties. But at least for me, we would usually start the night by playing a lot of video games, eating a lot of bad food, and farting a lot. Sometimes we’d do the gallon challenge, where you’re supposed to drink a gallon of whole milk, but that’s impossible, so you try to drink a gallon of milk in an hour and keep it down. One time we had a ping-pong tournament and the loser had to shave his legs. We actually made him shave his legs, and I still feel bad about that, because it didn’t grow back very well, and he still doesn’t wear shorts. Bazinga, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I love you, Bazinga. We would play this wonderful game that we invented called dark room. It’s basically just hide-and-go-seek, but it entertained us for hours. Then we’d fall asleep talking about boobs. It was great.

A: Oh!
NM: Yeah, they’re the real deal. Not a myth.

A: Do you feel that you can be emotionally vulnerable with your male friends?
NM: What a great question, because this is actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. If you were to ask me that maybe a year or two ago, I would say no, probably not. We’d always shared all our highs and lows together, and were really, really close, but we wouldn’t break into really tough emotional stuff. And that was always lacking. Just given recent stuff, and I think growing older, it’s just the vulnerability thing. As of now, we’re a lot better at saying, “I feel like shit today.”

A: Are you still evolving as a person, or is where you are right now as “Nick” as you’ll ever be?
NM: What a horrible thought! I’m absolutely still evolving as a person. That’s the most exciting thing about college. As I look back to even, like, a semester ago, I’m like, “I did this thing, and I never did that before.” That’s the most exciting part of being alive—picking up new things, dropping them off. I notice that a lot in my poetry, too. You can kind of tell that you’re getting better. And even if it’s not where you want it to be, it’s still better than a poem you wrote two months ago. You can track that progress, and it makes me want to keep going.

A: When you read poems that you wrote a while ago, do you cringe?
NM: Only once in a blue moon am I like, “Yes! You nailed that.” Usually I’m like, “Ugh, what are you doing?” But it’s cool because I can be like, “That line’s good, and this is working.” Sometimes I go through notebooks and steal from myself.

A: Do you want to be a writer?
NM: Yes. I think I do. That’s been something that I think I only recently decided. Before, writing for me was just a fun pastime…and once in a while I’d stay up all night and write poems. Now it’s something that just consumes me. I have to be writing every single day, especially because of my thesis, which is a book I’m writing. I kind of want to follow a gang of peeps to New York and rent a little spot and try to make it in the big city.

A: Is your thesis a book of poetry?
NM: No, just a book, like a novel. I wanted to tell a story in the form of “Field Guide to Orchids,” which I’ve always been obsessed with. It’s a story set in a fictional town in Wisconsin, a podunk little town, maybe three thousand people, way north, called Wissahickon, and it’s about this botany-professor-turned-bee-keeper who gets caught up in a turf war in the town between this chemical manufacturing company called ChemoDyne, which basically runs the town…and this group that calls itself the Society of the Women in the Wilderness, which is this medieval German doomsday cult that someone is reviving.

And they’re blowing up warehouses and going on T.V. and saying, “We’re the Society of the Women in the Wilderness! Chemadine, get out of Wissahikon!” They’re threatening to drop a seed bomb, which is a little clump of seeds and dirt that you throw and they take root. But they’re trying to drop seed bombs on a massive scale of this type of orchid called the grief orchid, which is an orchid I made up, but it’s a big deal because the grief orchid emits this hallucinogenic perfume, so they’re saying, “We won’t need you chemical manufacturing people, because this grief orchid is a natural pesticide remover.” But then everyone’s all, “But it’s going to make everyone trip balls!”

A: What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?
NM: Well, golly. When is that? The 13th?
A: The 14th.
NM: Oh golly! Well, I’m single, so I guess I’ll maybe try and find a date? Either that or I’ll sit in my room and weep.

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