Steve Altes (born November 13, 1962) is an American rocket engineer and writer, best known for his humorous essays. His specialty is getting hired into unusual occupations and writing funny accounts of his misadventures. Some escapades he has written about include working as a hand model, a stand-in for Brad Pitt, a trainer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, answering phones for President-elect Bill Clinton, and applying to the Central Intelligence Agency.
His essays have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Examiner, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Phoenix, National Lampoon, Technology Review, The Ottawa Citizen, Penthouse, Funny Times, The Syracuse Herald-Journal, Fairfield County Weekly, and Salon.com. He has been a commentator for NPR's All Things Considered and is a member of Us Weekly's fashion police.
Altes also works as a humorous speaker and a print model. In the late 1990s his face appeared on the box of Just for Men Sandy Blond haircolor. In 2004, he competed on the first season of the TV series Extreme Dodgeball, playing for the undefeated league champions, the Certified Public Assassins.
Altes was born in Syracuse, New York. Earlier in his career, Altes worked as an aerospace engineer. He holds three degrees (S.B., Aeronautics and Astronautics; S.M., Aeronautics and Astronautics; S.M., Technology and Policy) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained in 1984, 1986, and 1986 respectively, and was part of the Orbital Sciences Corporation team that was awarded the 1991 National Medal of Technology by President George H. W. Bush for developing the Pegasus air-launched space booster. His master's thesis was titled, "The Aerospace Plane: Technological Feasibility and Policy Implications." Altes's thesis became the only college thesis ever reviewed by The New York Review of Books when James Fallows reviewed it in the December 18, 1986 edition.
He lives in the Los Angeles area, is married to acting coach Diana Jellinek, and has two sons, Augie and Remy.
- 1997 - The Little Book of Bad Business Advice (ISBN 0-312-96223-1) St. Martin's Press
- 2001 - If You Jam the Copier, Bolt (ISBN 0-7407-1865-7) Andrews McMeel Publishing
- 2005 - May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor (ISBN 0-06-051626-7) (contributor) Harper Paperbacks
- 2006 - Joke Express: Instant Delivery of 1,424 Funny Bits from the Best Comedians (ISBN 0-7407-6047-5) (contributor) Andrews McMeel Publishing