Aaron Richard Golub’s Fighting Spirit

In his new memoir, Ruckus, the celebrity lawyer entertains with stories from the feisty background that gave him his winning swagger.

By Jim Servin

He’s been named a “ninja lawyer” by New York magazine. His clients have included Valentino, Donald Trump, Divine, Candy Darling and other denizens of Warhol’s Factory. He famously faced off against William Hurt in a landmark palimony case in the ’80s. He has been married to actress and jet-setter Marisa Berenson. In the 1990s, he was named one of “12 Guys You Should Know” by GQ. But Aaron Richard Golub, in his recently published memoir, Ruckus, shows that he never forgot where he came from—Worcester, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the commercial valentine in 1847 and the smiley face in 1963. Cultural confections notwithstanding, a pugnacious, often brutal spirit prevailed in the 1950s and 1960s, throughout Golub’s childhood in New England’s second-largest city.

“There were 10,000 Robert De Niros in Worcester,” writes Golub, son of a grocer who was ejected from four schools due to random acts of mayhem and mischief. Conflict was the order of every day, with classmates, neighbors and warring factions within the city; Golub found his tribe, a spirited gang known as the Crazy Eight, who “moved like a hand-knit sweater, each of us a loop,” Golub writes. Today, he mentions that the six remaining members of the Crazy Eight have planned a reunion this October in Las Vegas.

“When I look at all the things that happened to me as a kid,” Golub says, “I’m amazed that I was able to withstand a lot of the opposition and adversity. For some reason, I kept going.” He’s a likable narrator, full of brash humor and endearing quirks: In high school, he forms both the Crazy Dance Club (“Therapeutic dance was my baby”) and The Spell Club, which involved freezing classmates in place: “People played along because it was just plain insane,” he writes. His love of language is evident in his constant companion throughout adolescence, the vocabulary textbook Word Wealth. “I always felt that, with all the wild things that happened, all the trouble that I got into, I could talk my way out of it,” Golub says. “That’s what I’ve done as a lawyer. When I became a lawyer, when I stepped into the courtroom for the first time, it was an atmosphere that made it so open and so easy for me to talk. Here is a room that is meant for argument, for expressing yourself. A courtroom is a forum for expression. It’s a theater.”

Ingrained feistiness and inspired flair made Golub star of the show. His literary dreams came to fruition in 2000 with the publication of a legal thriller, The Big Cut. This year’s release of Ruckus fulfills a long-held goal. “I kept saying, I’ve got to memorialize what happened to me as a child,” says Golub, who still practices law, and currently represents artists George Condo and Brian Donnelly (an artist also known as KAWS). “Last December, I tried a case in the federal court. My adversary and I really went at each other,” recounts Golub. “He would walk across the courtroom bumping me, claiming I elbowed him. He and I almost had a fistfight in the courtroom. The judge had to separate us a few times. That was a little after my 80th birthday.” amazon.com/Ruckus-Aaron-Richard-Golub/dp/B0BZF7L2HF