Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seduction by Goldfish

It's completely normal to read about men who dress up in drag, complete with live goldfish swimming around in their plastic boobs, right?

Sounds normal to me. Sound normal to you?

I'm actually quite shocked at the amount of books I read before I stumbled upon the memoir category. I don't think I touched a single memoir (especially not if it was leisure reading) until graduate school. "Memoir" was synonymous with "biography," which in turn was synonymous with "old but politically important dead guy who may/may not have had venereal disease." The venereal disease was always the selling point (not to name names, Communist leader Mao Zedong). People's parents are born, they are born, they do great things, they die, a book is written. Not a record I want to reread on a Saturday afternoon. But every once in a while, someone does something interesting instead of great. In Josh Kilmer-Purcell's case, it was get perpetually trashed, dress up in drag, and date a drugged up male escort in his memoir I Am Not Myself These Days.

All of a sudden, Saturday afternoon just got a little bit more scandalous, am I right?

We follow Kilmer-Purcell through his day job at an advertising firm, and his nights as drag queen "Aquadisiac" (or Aqua for short) in the gutter laden gem that is New York City, equipped the entire way with caustic wit and a large glass of vodka on the rocks.

I think it's a little presumptuous on his part to think that I would want to talk to him anyway. I mean, sure, I went home with him, probably slept with him, ate breakfast with him, and wore his clothes to work the next day. None of this I see as necessarily flirtatious on my part. All in a night's work as far as I'm concerned. But there's something flirty/sexy about his voice that's appealing to my inner-romantic comedy actress. Then again, maybe it's just his penthouse apartment I'm hearing. My inner-gold digger frequently beats the crap out of my inner-Meg Ryan.

Instead of beginning at conception and ending at death (of either Kilmer-Purcell or his alter-egtress Aqua), the piece covers the span of time in which Kilmer-Purcell dates Jack, an escort who at times would bring his work home with him, leaving Aqua to come home at 4 or 5 in the morning after doing a round of shows at the nightclubs and finding a middle aged man hogtied in the foyer, or a trio of men having an orgy on the couch.

They say love is a many splendored thing. Whether that's a diamond these days or shattered glass, you'd have to tell me.

What makes this an interesting read is Kilmer-Purcell's treatment of the surreal quality of his life. He's not shocked by the crack den in the kitchen, but he is disturbed by the acrid smell of the fumes. He's not surprised at coming to in a train with his left boot and purse missing, but he is incredibly tense at the prospect of hosting his mother while she's in town on vacation. He grapples constantly with the balance of his current "abnormal" life and the respectable extra-credit student he was raised to be. He just wants to say the right thing. Maybe this is what makes his memoir so relatable.

It's pretty awesome.


Also, the TV station Bravo has announced that they're going to be turning this novel into a television series, so look for that to come out.

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