October 26, 2020
Paul Beckman looks at his watch. It’s 8:30 pm up in the Angeles National Forest and he doesn’t know where he’s going. Well– sort of.
In an attempt to get back to his car without using a flashlight, we’ve ended up in a dried stream with no sign of the trail in sight. Despite slipping out a “fuck,” and “we’re lost,” he’s managed to curb any fear with his childish giggles. He fumbles for the flash light, but as soon as he finds the button, he stops himself. “No, we started this, we’re ending this. We got this.” Perhaps this is the positive Pauly people speak about.
Or maybe he’s just weird.
Call it manifestation, call it providence, call it coincidence, we spot a fire in the distance. But Beckman isn’t quick to call out. We keep in the same direction, doing our best to not walk through the campsite, even though we’re stepping over bushes and rocks clearly not on the path. We’re almost completely past when we hear a voice, “You’re more than welcome to cut through our campsite! It’s a little dangerous down there!”
Instantly flipping from Eagle Scout to friendly guy, Pauly’s face lights up and chirps back “Oh dope! Yeah lost the trial a while back was just kinda headed in the general direction.” No hesitation, we’ve changed our directions towards the campers.
“Oh yeah, yall were so close, the trails right here! Wanna beer?
“Oh sick, thanks! Wanna joint??”
And like that, Paul Beckman’s made another friend.
Beckman was born into charm. His Coloradan mother, Roberta Mary Dorgan Beckman, happens to be the sweetest person on Earth. You could say she’s never met a stranger. I ask him to describe her. He stops, reflects, and turns to me with a smirk, “Imagine a box of puppies, now imagine the one that’s happiest to see you – that’s – my mom.” Mama B was always Paul’s connection into the art world. Encouraging his writing, his art, and exploring his talents. “My mom’s been my ‘Day-1-Number-1’ – fan.”
Then there’s Dennis. Mr. B. Papa B. Pops.
“If my mom taught me how to love the world, my dad taught me how to get through it.” The Beckman name comes from Germany. Dennis’ great-great grandfather moved to America, settled in Iowa, made a thousand bucks from the ‘49 Gold Rush, bought a farm, and made a family. Four generations later, Dennis became the first Beckman to move out of Iowa. But instead of gold, he sought space. He quickly became the coolest guy to know at NASA. Dennis never made it to space, and Paul had a lot of childhood friends whose parents were Astronauts, but Paul will still tell you his dad is the most badass person he knows.
“My dad was the first person to teach me to not give a fuck. He’s the king of it. He gets the job done. He makes friends. He does whatever he wants. But family always came first.” This puts Paul in a place reflecting on his father. After a brief moment, Beckman continues. “And my Dad hates lines, he might as well be allergic to them. All the sneaking into places, I got that from my dad’s hatred for them.”
Earlier on in our mountain trek, navigating through the dark, Beckman stopped to look at the stars. “This is a good spot.” I quickly learned that that means smoke break, turned into dance break.
Paul’s used to finding his groove. One of his favorite things to do is dance. He’ll dance to any type of music, anywhere. Grocery stores, lines, LA traffic- as long as there’s a rhythm he’ll find it. He just wants to make the world a brighter place.
With his camelback still on, headphones in, and joint between his finger tips, Paul looks lost in the music. Out here in the middle of nowhere, no humans in sight, no sun to see, Beckman’s cuttin’ a groove.
I’m hesitant to bring up the next topic, because- well, the subject matter is the subject matter. And Beckman isn’t the one to bring it up.
As some know, Paul had to get an Orchiectomy (you can google that). One morning he found a lump, the next week he was in surgery. But what most don’t know, he wound up with Stage 2 testicular cancer. Now, he’ll be the first to tell you don’t worry. There’s a 97% survival rate.
“I want people to know first and foremost I’ve already made the decision I’m beating this, so don’t worry. Second of all, it’s a mild one comparatively, so even though I say I’ve made the decision just saying “I’ve made the decision” sounds corny af to me, so just know we’re good.” He gives the hawaiian shaka and carries on.
For this particular Stage and type, Beckman will undergo a 9-week treatment program. “when the nurse told me they were going to install a port into me, I smiled big and said ‘so you can jack me into the Matrix!?” His nurse hadn’t seen the matrix, that joke only pleased him.
“I’m actually pretty jazzed about it. Ya know, now that all the dread and shock has worn off.
Like- selfishly, this is going to be a great thing. Everyone’s gotta have a thing. This is my thing. I mean, I’m Pauly B positive. Won’t be able to call bullshit on that name any more.”
He laughs. A big, smiley, genuine laugh.
“Everyone loves a good narrative, and when you’re trying to make it in Hollywood, it’s great to have a good narrative!” He kisses his fingers and makes the ‘spicy meatball gesture’. I assume this means that’s a good thing.
Now past 9:30, any semblance of sunlight is long gone.
We leave the campfire after some cordial goodbyes. Now on the trail, the car’s only a short walk away. I’m curious why Paul didn’t bother to get the numbers of the new friends he’s made.
“I mean, it’s LA, you barely have time to hang out with your best friends. I’m never gonna see those guys again. Or maybe I will, who knows, life surprises you doesn’t it.”
There’s that Pauly B smile we love.
February 6, 2021
It’s been 15 weeks since the hike.
Paul started his treatment and has one round left.
I met with the mogul to see how he’s coming along.
Ok, so how ya doin?
I’ve got cancer.
[My blood pressure drops]
[Paul bursts out laughing] I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! That’s just me dude. You’re good. Like, I’m doing great-really!
It’s that question right?
I mean that’s the greeting these days. We all use it. It’s our unspoken “exchange.”
How’s it going? -Good, how bout you? -Good.
I think it’s beautiful really. One person casually telling the other person, “hey- I’m thinking about you- I want you to know I’m here.” And the other person giving back, “Yes, I’m here, I appreciate you seeing me, and I’m here for you too. And I won’t share my shit because you’ve got yours and we’re just passing through.”
I mean- yeah that’s kinda it huh?
Obviously that’s not always it. But you feel me.
Among friends catching up though, there can be more to it?
Oh for sure dude. [Laughs]. And I hear you and I really appreciate that, and this, and all those who are curious and genuinely asking.
I really am doing fine. Yes, it’s been a crazy two years. But like- amidst all that, I’m so blessed. So freakin blessed.
Like I’m in incredible hands. I’ve got health insurance, an awesome sister with a beautiful family who bring me joy, and a mom and dad doing anything they can to help out. Not to mention a million friends who’ve got my back. So yeah, are there shitty moments? Oh yeah- but like, I got ROCKS in my court.
You truly are Mr. Positive.
Ayyyyyee [Paul raises his eyebrows up and down repeatedly]
(It’s hard not to smile)
So how are the symptoms? I mean, I see your head is bald, kind of hard not to notice.
I know right. [Paul rubs his head and a smile grows].
I’m starting to like it.
Is that so?
Well, one of my nurses when she first saw me after I shaved went- “Oh look! Jason Statham’s here today!” So I’ll take that as an absolute win. My dad cracks himself up, he likes calling me “Mr. Clean.” I got myself the other day with Smallville’s Lex Luthor [Smiles]. But I love hearing em all.
And shoutout to my brother Brandon Tran. He shaved his head after I did. I truly have amazing friends in my life. Thanks B!
That’s a cool dude right there.
You were blonde for a second before that right?
HAHA! I WAS! That was fun too!
I’d always been against dying my hair because I love my grays and never felt like I needed to change myself. But when I knew my hair was gonna go anyway I was like- fuuuck it! I can do whatever I want. And I loved it!
While blonde-you had even more doppelgangers.
[Counting with his fingers] Guy from Memento, bad guy from Die Hard 3, slim shady–
-Let it be known- he might have been blonde first, but I shaved my head first! You saw him on New Years? With a shaved head? Yeah well I had that day after Christmas. [Paul delivers this to a camera that’s not there] So come at me Pete!
But for real, if you ever wanna hang out, you, me, maybe Kim- or whoever you’re dating- dude I’m down.
Are you done?
Dude had a better 2021 than all of us.
You’re not done.
Just saying– people are starting to get it– guys like Pete and I– we may look thin and pasty, but we’ve got great relationships with our mothers and always got weed [winks at another imaginary camera].
There you have it folks. If you wanna swipe right on that.
I actually don’t have any apps. All about the real world interactions [tries to say without laughing].
Oh is that so?
Went through a break up. It’s hard when you lose your best friend. So it took about a year to really get over it. I deleted the apps to focus on myself and a project, and then never redownloaded em. Kinda forced me into the real world to notice the beautiful people around me in everyday life.
And how’s that been working for ya?
Someone’s either attracted to you or they’re not. It doesn’t really matter what you say. But you can’t get that answer unless you make a move. So shoot your shot. If it’s no, let it go, if it’s yes let it grow!
He rhymes too ladies and gentlemen.
With anything, if it’s weighing on your heart, go for it! Even rejection starts to feel good because you know you tried. That alone is worth its weight in gold.
Gold Hair. No hair. You seem to be handling this all pretty well.
I’ve got one more round left, feeling really good about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got tough days, like, no fun at all. And the third round is supposed to suck, the most. But I know this too shall pass.
-And pot- pot really helps- a lot.
Every day is a gift my guy, and one more day closer till this is all over!
I like that.
Also, I want to tell people, I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet. I’ve never figured out how to open up about it. It’s something I like talking about,I just never will be the one to bring it up. And I love joking about it, for real, dark humor is my soul food. So please, if you have questions, ask away. Someone told me it helps to share because someone going through something similar might feel a little less alone. So here’s me trying to share more.
On October 25, 2017, you snuck into the World Series at Dodger Stadium. On January 24th, 2022, you shared “if the Rams go to the Super Bowl, I’ll go to the Super Bowl.”
The Rams made it to the Super Bowl. In LA.
Listen, listen, listen- ok. Let me explain.
So you’re not?
Look, I was HYped for this. Once the Bucs (the GOAT) dropped out, I knew LA was gonna play in LA. I should have bet a lot of money, like I knew it was happening again. The signs. The stars aligning. And of course- they make it. Now I’m even more excited. This is great. I’m going to sneak into the biggest game of the year WITH cancer. Middle fingers up. I’m the GOAT shit.
You know how athletes have visions of their game winning play? Black and white Babe Ruth walking into your room Sandlot type shit. Yeah, I had all of it.
Destiny was calling.
Just not where I was looking.
Well, give it to us, you get scared? Get too real?
Ya know, any time before I do any of my stunts, I play out the scenarios in my head. The first question usually being “what’s the worst that can happen?” I actually think about getting caught and what I’ll say. 9 times out of 10, it’s just play dumb and be apologetic.
Seriously people, the saying is true, “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.”
The other secret, don’t be an asshole. People don’t like to help assholes. You know who they do like to help? People being kind. People that make them feel good. People that aren’t shit bags.
The other other secret, if you feel like someone’s about to ask you what you’re doing, go up to them and ask them what they’re doing.
Lotta secrets. I like that last one. What’s not a secret?
Act like you belong and you’re good.
Also, yes, it helps to be white, male, medium tall, and not unattractive.
Definitely not a secret.
But hey, just cuz someone got two legs, doesn’t mean they run.
This is true.
And I seen people run with no legs.
You really got away from the question.
Oh shit, you’re right. My mom!
Excuse me what?
I love my mom!
That’s terrific. Are we still avoiding why you’re not sneaking into the Super Bowl?
My mom. My mom called me.
She too ran the worst case scenario.
Of course I thought of that, but big deal, they really gonna lock up a guy with cancer!?
“Well, they might. And now you’re stuck in jail without access to meds, a whole new problem to deal with, and potentially delay your treatment even longer.”
Wow. Yeah, that does kind of spell disaster.
Ya know what’s cooler than sneaking into the super bowl?
Not doing it, so mom doesn’t have to worry.
Seriously, she’s the sweetest human on Earth. One of my best friends. My ultimate supporter. She spoke, I’m trying to listen.
Damn, didn’t think you’d save this. But I think the jury’s in.
That’s the lesson. I don’t care what the jury thinks.
Was I conflicted? Yes. Was I bummed? A lot at first. I’m gonna disappoint people and not live up to what I said!
But a quick chat with my brother to humble me and remind me I’m enough already, and the people that matter don’t care, and the people that care don’t matter.
Even this though, me explaining myself, it’s still ego. But whatever, life’s tricky. I’m trying to figure it out.
Has this changed what you’ll do (or maybe not do) in the future?
Oh I’m not finished sneaking around…I think Chapelle’s got a sold out show at the Hollywood Bowl in April. But yeah, I’m just all-in focused on healing right now.
You must really love your mom.
Bro, she knit me a sweater and matching hat. The hat was particularly difficult to get the right size, so she remade it three times. And she prays the whole time she’s knitting!
And she sends me an email every day with jokes and memes and wonderful things to say.
Can I have your mom?
Nah dude, my dad’s got her. [Paul lets out a big laugh here] They’re the cutest. I love hanging out with them. Him and I will be waiting for her to come out of the bathroom or catch up to us, and as she’s walking toward us still out of ear shot, and he’ll just nudge me, not turning his head, staring at her, “Isn’t she the cutest thing in the world?”
Like, it’s one thing to be as privileged as I am, but how many people’s parents are still together AND madly in love. My life is filled to the brim with blessings.
Great relationship with mother ladies. How about your dad?
Oh I got a great story for that.
So before starting treatment, you meet with a nurse to describe what the whole chemo process is really gonna be like.
To the nurses credit, she made me feel a lot better about the whole thing. Just the experience she’s had around so many others and seeing what the real side effects are like. I’m so grateful to have had this time.
We’re nearing the end of my orientation, and she casually drops the line, “So what’s your beat it activity?”
I’m like– “Excuse me?”
“Your beat-it activity, for when you beat this!”
So she mentions people going skydiving, bungee jumping, and I’m just like “eh done those.”
She can’t believe me.
Such is your life.
She thought I was crazy. I tell her “you should meet my dad!”
Oh, so we are still talking about your dad?
He’s the reason for it all. Got the family to scuba dive with sharks when I was 16. Took me skydiving at 18. Got my mom to go white water rafting. Dude ran with the Bulls in Pamplona at age 66 . Like, if adventure has a name it must be Dennis Beckman.
And so adventure’s instilled in me. There’s nothing he would do I wouldn’t, and vice versa.
That’s a great relationship.
This has become such a staple in our lives that I put on my bucket list “do something Dad wouldn’t do.”
Naturally, the last item on his list is, ‘Never let Paul cross that one off his list.”
It’s a mutually beneficial unreachable goal. We love it.
It’s like a sweet insanity.
Ooo, I like that. Yeah!
So this sweet insanity: it finally clicked! I figured out what my thing is. I asked for some help to get there for Christmas, and instead, my dad tells me he’s gonna do it with me!
Yay!!! Do what?
I’m not familiar-
It’s where you leave the cockpit mid flight and climb onto the wings and top of the aircraft. One of those biplanes from the 20s.
I know right!?!
And that doesn’t scare you?
It’s a celebration of life! I’m STOKED! I literally watch videos of (the few) people doing it, and I just get a feeling of joy and exuberance, like filled with the spirit just watching. I’m very very excited. Plus, it’s in beautiful Washington State near Olympic National Park. Really looking forward to the time with my pops.
Is there anything that doesn’t scare you?
Other than birds? [laughs] Of course there is. Look, do extreme sports scare me? More like excite. Sneaking into the Super Bowl? Walk in the park. What’s really scared me?
The thought of sharing my Cancer story with you.
I fear looking weak. I fear that people will think I’m trying to shove it in their face, or ask for pity, or ask for help. It’s the fear of looking disingenuous. The fear of not making people feel good anymore because cancer’s so often a mood killer.
You can’t know what others think.
Exactly! That’s just projecting! So stop trying! Stop assuming! Stop hiding yourself! Be your you’est YOU!
Let’s GO baby! WE BACK BAYBEEEEEEEE!
We never LEFT babyyyyyyyy!
Ima fuck this cancer UP babyyyyyyyy!
Yes! I like this. I’m excited. This is exciting.
Look, my personality is me. Dark humor is in my blood. So I’m gonna make fun of the shit out of this. I got some bald headed videos I’m finally ready to share.
Now I’m getting aroused.
You speak my language.
Alright so we’re pumped, I’m fully torqued, what projects you got cookin’ up?
Well Alta Vista, my man crush Joe Clarke directed, I co-starred in, it’s up on Amazon to rent or buy! Joe’s won a ton of awards already including Best International Film, Best Screenplay, Best Score. The film crushes.
Manliest Man, this one was a lot of fun. My buddy Aaron Sonn directed. “A socially awkward virgin tries to hire a prostitute through the help of a self-proclaimed love guru.” [Laughs] Should be out soon after its Festival run.
I’ll take a fucking guess who you are..
[Smiles] Last but incredibly least, I landed another dating show.
Another? There was a first?
Phone Swap. Season 9, Episode 12.
Writing that down for later… What’s the new thing?
Yo, I still can’t believe it. I kinda wanna have a watch party for it. Yall wanna come??
Come to what? We don’t know what it is.
It’s a cooking show.
You just said it was a dating show.
It’s a dating cooking show.
That sounds like a perfect storm.
Sounds like a producer pulled it out of an algorithm.
‘The Bachelor’ meets ‘The Great British Baking Show?’
Meets First We Feast’s “Hot Ones”
HOT people. Eating HOT food. In a HOT place.
That’s the show?
You’re kidding. It’s called- “Hotties?”
Only on Hulu.
You’re a joke.
That’s too good.
Life is good.
So when can we expect to see it?
I have no idea, maybe early summer? I’ve been real quiet about this, because I hate sharing when no one’s asked, and Producers kiiinda said not to say anything. BUT- I just saw the host of the show post about it so fuck it.
WHAT ELSE ARE YOU NOT SHARING WITH US!?
Uh- UH- UH– I want to make dance videos!
I want to learn jiu jitsu! I want to write a country album. I want to perform a one man improv comedy musical! I want to produce a well received live action Dragon Ball Z movie- MCU level big! I wanna do stuff!
And I’m excited to grow my circle in LA. I want to bring others up as so many others are doing around me. It’s inspiring to see the success of my peers and I want to start giving that back. I mean they’ve got their own clothing companies, fitness studios, Netflix shows, CW shows, Comedy Central Spots, National Commercials. It’s really dope to see the energy thrive out here.
And yall, my now best-bud Rob Tirrell gonna shake up this world. We’ve done two photoshoots together now and just really click. I love his eye, the framing he uses- just the comfortable place he puts you in when you work together.
His idea to bring a stool? Genius. I mean his work makes me hyped to see myself. What more can you ask for in a photographer!? Looking forward to watching his success and our friendship flourish!
Lots of ideas. I need to get em out. Been keeping em in too long. Working on that. Also fitness.
Is paulybfitness still a thing?
Pauly b out of shape is a thing if you know what I mean. [laughs] For real though, I want to have my own fitness business. Just a little away from the mark right now. First I was kicked out the gym, then I broke my wrist, then I had major surgery, now I get tired after a long walk. It’s been a journey. I’m just working on my “before picture!” [Huge smile forms]
And what’s the after picture trying to be?
Honestly, I just like to look good naked.
Forget everyone else.
It’s for me dude.
I’m just really excited to get back to moving around a lot. I just love it. I love being outdoors, I love picking up and putting down heavy shit, I love challenging myself. It’s cool seeing what your body can do! In a few months, when this is all over, and I return to fitness, I feel like I’ll be training with the weights off. A new man.
A new man indeed. I like this, not new you, but you you.
Well if I was looking for a life changing event, I think this fits the bill.
Well, as I mentioned, you’re handling this really well.
Thank you. I appreciate that. Ya know there’s a lotta days with a lotta of hours to feel a lot of different ways- just know that overall, I’m doing pretty good.
And please, if you see me- ask me how I’m doing- so I can ask You how You are! [Biggest smile yet]
And there’s that Paul Beckman smile we all love.
Produced on location by PB Productions. Photographed exclusively for Magazine by Rob Tirrell in Los Angeles, California. Shaving products by Gillette. Grooming by Paul Beckman. Jewelry by Michelle Nelsen. Temporary Tattoos by FIFYAN. For details, go to justpaulbeckman.com.