BOOK FETISH Q&A ( http://bookfetish.org )
What started you writing this book? It’s such an dramatic mix of emotional narrative and graphic images.
The galvanizing energy struck me like a Zeus lightning bolt from, of all places, the stage of a comedy festival on Valentine’s Day in Aspen, Colorado. That evening took a turn I didn’t expect:
Very smart and funny, the producer/director of Sex and the City, Michael Patrick King, spoke about how events in his life intersected with his creative work. He stood center stage, alone, unscripted, and revealed his dreams, his fears, his regrets—all disarmingly sprinkled with embarrassing anecdotes. He recounted his conversation with the show’s star, Sarah Jessica Parker, concerning their urgency to find a new love interest once her current beau, Mr. Big, was written out of the script. With great humor King described how the two of them plotted to ensnare the famously dramatic Mikhail Baryshnikov for the role. The back story details culminated in a colorful description of how King’s own torrid affair with Baryshnikov became director-and-actor in front of the camera and lovers behind the scenes. Though I admired the producer’s high-octane wit and personal charm, I was even more impressed by the rawness of his candor.
Next Teri Garr walked awkwardly on stage and explained why she had not been seen in public for several years. She was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Unable to do films any longer this appearance was to be her debut as a stand-up comic. An uneasy hush fell over the audience. Our discomfort, however, quickly turned to appreciation, as it became clear that her disability was not the obstacle that it first appeared to be. Warmed by her humor, we were soon laughing along with her at memories of life in Hollywood as a young adventurous sexpot in the 70’s.
Richard Pryor’s daughter Rain followed and spoke unflinchingly about growing up in the shadow of a much celebrated comedian father—a young girl in the midst of drugs, abuse, and craziness. She spoke earnestly about the relationship of pain and humor and described how she had finally found her own way to the stage. By the time she was finished, my eyes were rimmed with tears.
I left the tent simultaneously spellbound and drained—deeply touched by the performers’ courage and humanity. The impact of seeing them confront their issues stayed with me for quite some time. I thought about my own art and how it intersected with events and challenges in my life, and whether I, too, would have the courage to expose my vulnerable parts on my stage.
I realize now that I’ve always faced emotional issues by either writing or making some kind of art and it seems this book is a combination of both—a narrative interwoven with art and memorabilia plucked from my life. It’s an “artobiography”—clearly, my attempt to put all the pieces together, both literally and figuratively.