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On Tour With...Chris Rock

Rock of Pages

December 1, 1997 -- The thumping beat of Master P and the Notorious B.I.G. fills the aisles of Washington's Vertigo Books as a subdued Chris Rock dutifully signs copies of Rock This! (Hyperion, $19.95), his unflinching musings on such topics as sex, marriage, O.J. Simpson and race relations. On the rappers-as-role-models issue, for instance, he offers, "I love Tupac and Biggie, but school is still going to be open on their birthdays."

Well over 200 admirers arrive to meet the Saturday Night Live alumnus and Emmy Award winner whose career has gone big-time this year: On top of his own late-night HBO talk show, the Brooklyn-raised Rock, 32, has a comedy CD (Roll with the New) and featured roles in two upcoming movies (Dogma and Lethal Weapon IV). Rock is also the voice of "Lil' Penny Hardaway" in a popular series of Nike commercials, and he emceed the MTV Music Awards in September, a month before Rock This! began winning over the reading public.

"A lot of things he's speaking about I can definitely relate to," says Jerome Peters, 36, a physician from Landover, Md., who read most of the 202-page book while waiting on the autograph line. Robert George, 35, a Newt Gingrich aide who says he admires Rock's "biting social commentary," told the author, "Republicans love you too!" Even Rock's mother-in-law, Gayle Fleming, 49, a Virginia real-estate agent, arrives to testify to the book's amazing comic power. But Rock pooh-poohs the family endorsement. "They'd be happy," he says, "if I was employee of the month at McDonald's."

-- JENNIFER MENDELSOHN


Copyright © 2000 Time Inc.

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