Manly is as manly does

Hundreds of people, most of them adolescent, most of them male, massed in Folsom last Thursday evening to meet their king.

The man dressed in the crown and robe, for whom fans had lined up around a Borders bookstore, is not wealthy, handsome or even, at the moment, employed. To family and friends he is George Ouzounian, a 28-year-old Salt Lake City resident and former computer programmer. But Ouzounian is better known as Maddox, the creator of a popular humor Web site called The Best Page in the Universe and now the author of The Alphabet of Manliness, a No. 2 New York Times best seller in the category of “advice.”

Low-key, polite and witty in person, Ouzounian gained a cult following with his brash, hilarious online rants, which also have been appalling enough to inspire the formation of a “Mothers Against Maddox” site. Even with rare posts these days, every Maddox article gets a million hits or more. Now comes a 204-page, A-to-Z tour of masculinity. B is for boners, L for lumberjacks, and P for pirates, who, as noted on page 127, “hate all forms of dancing, except for break dancing, which lumberjacks would agree is awesome.”

The book shot to No. 1 on Amazon’s advance-sales list, USA Today reported, after Ouzounian sent a mass e-mail in April announcing publication. He told SN&R that it will be another year before he can start collecting royalties.

“I’m almost always broke,” he said.

Ouzounian allows no ads on his site and currently subsists on sales from his online store. Having quit his office job in 2004, he spends most of his time working from the apartment he shares with his girlfriend of six years.

The veritable recluse had fans waiting Thursday for an hour before he was set to appear. Enough people showed up to keep Ouzounian signing autographs for two hours. At least half a dozen men arrived in suits, per Maddox’s posted suggestion of formal attire, for the event. A pirate was also in attendance.

The book signing was preceded by a Q-and-A. The first question—“Why do you kick so much ass?”—came from a teen who later had his forehead signed. After a query regarding the book’s Chuck Norris chapter, Ouzounian directed fans to a particular page, prompting someone to remark, “Get out your bibles.”

“He’s actually a pretty mellow guy, more down-to-earth,” said friend Carl Inniss, a Reno Web developer. “It’s funny that people take his word as law, more a religion at some point.”

Ouzounian, who has enough creative projects planned to occupy him for the next decade, said his real message is about the importance of following dreams. He said his fans know his material is written jokingly. “They know I’m not this guy who’s stabbing people in the face,” he explained. “Otherwise, I’d probably be in jail.”