with my sister Helene
Unc, Aunt Tillie, my Father & Mother
with Helene & my Mother
with Helene & my Mother
My parents & friends at the Concord Hotel 1959
My parents and their card playing friends
(my mom standing in black dress, dad in headlock)
From the time I was a toddler my family made sure that I knew I could do and be anything I wanted. That's a lot of pressure for a little kid.
So I wowed them by getting into the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, and then deflated their expectations by refusing to go. I showed them!
I left college because my advisor told me that English majors had to go on to become English teachers. I didn't want to be a teacher; I wanted to be a writer. Although I had never trusted anyone in authority, I did believe that idiot advisor.
For years I wrote funny little newsletters for my friends, sent missives that had people howling, had pen-pals far and near.
And then I got lucky. I met editor Annie Flanders, who was just starting the original DETAILS Magazine. She either saw potential in me or felt sorry for the miserable state of my life, I'll never be sure which. But she took me under her wing and had me start writing for the magazine. Annie's only mandate was that you were passionate about what you wrote. As for me, I had passion in abundance.
I started as DETAILS book reviewer. I spent hours on my couch, reading literary memoirs and scary mysteries, short stories and deep works of fiction. I went to sold-out readings and book signings, big book conventions and tiny underground poetry slams. I got to go to The Miami Book Fair, where I met Jane Smiley, TC Boyle, Richard Ford, Ray Carver and other writers who were so inspiring to me. My column, Book 'Em, was a complete joy to write each month.
I wrote the first Knifestyles of the Rich and Famous for DETAILS, a first-person, on-going column about plastic surgery. This was in the mid-80's, when plastic surgery was still in the closet. I had had my breasts made smaller (one of the highlights of my life), and went on to meet women and men who had every single part of themselves transformed. These people told me their plastic surgery successes and failures. Knifestyles was both uplifting (no pun intended) and very frightening-- when plastic surgery goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong.
Then I interviewed Aidan Quinn, my first "celebrity" interview. Aidan was so funny and charming, and we went on to become good friends. I started doing more entertainment pieces. I did a cover story about Elizabeth Taylor and went to her house for a bar-b-que; interviewed Nic Roeg, whose films (Don't Look Now, Performance, and Bad Timing) I so admired; got a tour of the newly opened Tribeca Film Center with a very chatty Robert De Niro.
In 1990, I started writing for other magazines. I traveled around the world-- to Paris to interview Roman Polanski and Juliette Binoche, to Berlin to spend a week with Anthony Hopkins, to Rome for an afternoon with Susan Sarandon. I flew back and forth from New York to Los Angeles, and met actors at every stage of their careers-- I did one of the first interviews with Leonardo DiCaprio when he was 19, went club-hopping with Mike Tyson before he was crowned heavyweight champ of the world, went to Washington DC to interview Republican strategist Lee Atwater, who had put partisan politics aside for a brief second so he could put out a CD of classic blues songs. Thinking we would have nothing in common, I was completely bowled over by Atwater's sense of humor and encyclopedic knowledge of music. (When he had trouble forming words during our interview and was rushed to the hospital, he invited me to come along. That day he was diagnosed with his life-threatening brain tumor. Our friendship continued until his death).
I helped zip Jennifer Lopez into her Escada wedding dress for a story for In Style magazine. For a Cosmo cover, I saw Pamela Anderson's breasts (okay, who hasn't?). In the course of my stories, I've picked through Elle MacPherson's closet, shared lunch with Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Meg Ryan, Andy Garcia, and hundreds of other actors whose films I've watched over and over again. I interviewed Angelina Jolie when absolutely no one knew who she was, and JJ Abrams before his huge success.
I've danced with Christopher Walken, gone CD shopping with Jeff Bridges, and out-run the paparazzi with Sean Penn. I took Sherilyn Fenn to see a storefront psychic during her time on Twin Peaks, and interviewed Mariah Carey the night before her nervous breakdown (I swear, I had nothing to do with it).
And never, not for one second, have I stopped pinching myself and reminding myself how very lucky this girl from the Bronx has been. This is the point most people thank god. Me? I'll just thank Annie Flanders.
My work has appeared in magazines as diverse as the original DETAILS, The New Yorker, Fashions of the New York Times, Japanese and German Men's Vogue, The Goodguys Gazette, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Movieline's Hollywood Life.
I have been an on-air contributor to VH1's Sexiest Movie Moments, Entertainment Tonight, and Inside Edition.
For the past fifteen years I have been a co-host of the Woodstock Roundtable, a Sunday morning radio talk-show on WDST in Woodstock, NY. The host of the show, Doug Grunther, has been another mentor of mine.
Since the inception of the Woodstock Film Festival in 2000, I have been the moderator of the Actor's Dialogue. Among the people who have participated in these always sold-out events are Aidan Quinn, Lily Taylor, Stanley Tucci, Steve Buscemi, Liev Schreiber, Olympia Dukakis, David Strathairn, Marcia Gaye Hardin, and Peter Reigert. Order your tickets early!
I am a winner of a NYFFA Award in creative nonfiction, was a fellow at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, was named the1997 Philip Morris Fellow at The MacDowell Colony, and was the 2003 Artist-in-Residence at SUNY Ulster, where I taught a class in memoir writing.
I am now the Executive Director of the Woodstock Writers Festival, a yearly get-together of writers and readers, which features workshops, panels, readings, fetes and more. Over ther past 3 years we have hosted such notable writers as Susan Orlean, Ruth Reichl, Dani Shapiro, Marion Winik, Colm Toibin, Augusten Burroughs, William Kennedy, Ann Hood, and many, many others. Our intensive Woodstock Writers Workshops, with nationally recognized writers, are always sold out. We're already planning for 2013. woodstockwritersfestival.com
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