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I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir (P.S.)


I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir (P.S.) Cover

ISBN13: 9780060817329
ISBN10: 0060817321
Condition: Standard
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Chapter One
I've just dropped my vodka glass and am having that perennial, silly internal debate about whether I should order another one — since, let's face it, I have reached the state where I'm dropping full glasses of vodka. A silly debate because it's highly unlikely that I will be able to keep a firm clutch on the next one, and perennial because I'm going to order one regardless. And then one after that.

I deserve another one, really. I've just broken the record for number of weeks anyone has won the Amateur Drag Queen contest at Lucky Cheng's. True, I did reuse the same song and wore the same outfit as I did on the first winning Thursday, but, honestly, this is uncharted territory here. Six weeks running of being voted the most talented amateur drag queen in New York City. By the audience. Pour me another, the future is stunning.

Of course I'm not just in it for the accolades. There's the prize money to be considered. One hundred and fifty dollars plus whatever the audience tips. After setting aside a portion for retirement, I must decide whether to invest the rest in food or two months back rent. Or possibly to retire on the spot and use it all for shots of vodka. I've retired approximately eight rounds tonight alone, not including the one that just hit the floor.

Okay, okay, already. I'll have another.

My little secret from the audience is that I'm not really an amateur drag queen. I'm practically a veteran, having been through the boot camp of drag queen training — Atlanta. Where men are men, and women are cartoon characters.

Not that I would be excluded from the Lucky Cheng's competition if my professional status were public knowledge. Quite frankly, the host of the contest I'd just won, Miss Understood, has enough difficulty rounding up three reasonably sober, mildly entertaining contestants every week. She's not going to become a stickler for rules and risk losing a weekly gig that pays her one hundred dollars and a free portion of sweet and sour pork. Besides, I've only been in New York for less than two months, so I guess I technically qualify as an amateur New York drag queen. Luckily, I've been able to find club work four nights a week, in addition to my day job as a junior art director at a Soho ad agency.

Miss Understood recognizes reliability, and for the moment, her name is "Aquadisiac." That's me. "Aqua" for short. Mostly just "Aqua," really. Because when I came up with the name I didn't realize that the average club-goer wouldn't catch the wordplay on "aphrodisiac." Or perhaps because it's extremely hard to pronounce with any degree of comprehension after two or three drinks. Or ten.

The name is derived from my gimmick. Every successful drag queen must have one or risk being lost in a sea of clichéd wannabes wearing Halloween novelty wigs and overstuffed bras. My gimmick happens to be fish. Goldfish usually, since they survive longest in my clear plastic tits. Not that any of them ever die in the breasts themselves. They're lovingly transferred from aquarium to tit, and tit to aquarium before and after each performance. Unless of course I happen to wake up in an unfamiliar environment, say, on a bench in Bryant Park, in which case I find the nearest faucet and refresh the tits' water supply. My mother raised me right.

I'm 6' 1" when not slouching, 7' 2" in wig and heels. My wig is blond. I wear three wigs, actually, clipped together and styled like a cross between Pamela Anderson Lee and Barbarella. My outfits are on the skimpy side: thongs, clear plastic miniskirts, vinyl boots, 22-inch corset, and a tight top with two holes cut out where the breasts should be. Into these holes slip two clear plastic domes. I purchased dozens of these clear domes from a craft store years ago. For lesser creative types than I, they were intended to be filled with holiday paraphernalia and then two of them snapped together back-to-back to form some sort of tacky oversized Christmas tree ornament. I've reengineered them with flat, mirrored backs and small holes, each plugged with a rubber stopper. They are filled with water nightly, sometimes lightly colored in honor of a holiday (for instance, tonight one's red and one's blue for the Fourth of July). The fish are slipped in through the hole in the back and the stopper is replaced. Then the tits are slipped into the evening's outfit — with small flashlights tucked underneath that shine off the mirrored backings causing the tits, and fish, to glow. All my costumes are very intricate and complicated. Marvels of modern-day engineering, really. Very often duct tape must be employed in order to keep things that mustn't be seen in places where one won't see them.

No fish has ever been harmed during an evening out. Sure, they die on a pretty regular schedule. Who doesn't? These are dime-store goldfish we're talking about. Even if I do unintentionally slash a few days off their already negligible lifespans, how many other fish can brag about meeting Leonardo DiCaprio at Limelight? Karmically, I think it's a wash.

A boy is tapping on my right breast. I tap him back on his forehead.

"If I were a petting zoo, you'd owe me five bucks. Or a drink," I say.

I have dozens of "buy me a drink" lines always on the tip of my tongue. It's imperative. I always seem to run out of retirement funds.

"They're funny. High concept," he says, still tapping on the breasts. "What're their names?"

"Left and Right. And yours?"

"Jack," he says.

"I'd shake your hand, Jack, but I have an imaginary drink in mine."

The foregoing is excerpted from I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. All rights reserved.

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

monique.colver, September 16, 2008 (view all comments by monique.colver)
I was amazed at the similarity between Kilmer-Purcell and myself, as if we were but two halves of the same coin, our angst a result of our somewhat desperate attempts to find some sort of sanity in an insane world. Though I am not gay, not a guy, not a drag queen, not in advertising, and live on the west coast, there was still that striking identification, as if we're all playing the same game. Could that be?
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(6 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
lindsey beadle, January 23, 2008 (view all comments by lindsey beadle)
Given to me by a coworker for a Christmas exchange gift - one of the best exchange gifts I have ever gotten. Heartbreaking and funny. A fast, enjoyable, and at times, educational read.
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(5 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
lilmizzlyndzmarie, September 27, 2007 (view all comments by lilmizzlyndzmarie)
I have read this book a total or four times now. Being a straight 18-year-old girl, this has to speak wonders. I am completely amazed by Kilmer-Purcell's ability to write and convey feelings with the wit and dialogue that captures the most random readers. Two thumbs way up!!
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Product Details

A Memoir
Kilmer Purcell, Josh
by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Kilmer-Purcell, Josh
ell, Josh
Kilmer-Purcell, Josh
Harper Perennial
New york (state)
Specific Groups - Male Gay Studies
Personal Memoirs
General Biography
Kilmer-Purcell, Josh
Transvestites -- New York (State) -- New York.
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.08x5.30x.83 in. .63 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Gay Studies

I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir (P.S.) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780060817329 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In the go-go '90s, Kilmer-Purcell spent his days as an advertising grunt and his nights hopping around Manhattan's gay clubs as 'Aquadisiac,' over seven feet tall in a wig and heels with goldfish swimming in transparent bubbles covering 'her' breasts. (Not that Kilmer-Purcell wanted to actually become a woman; as he explains to his mother, a drag queen is 'a celebrity trapped in a normal person's body.') He meets a cute guy, and soon he's moved into Jack's penthouse apartment — which he pays for by working as a male escort. Kilmer-Purcell gives much of his story a Sex and the City-ish spin, finding comedy in the contrast between his and Jack's sweet, cuddly relationship and the sexual demimonde of drag queens, hookers and masochists they count among their friends. But there's always a dark undercurrent: before the two get serious, Kilmer-Purcell's alcohol-impaired judgment frequently puts him in dangerous situations, but things get worse when Jack starts smoking crack during sex parties and becomes addicted. The exact, unpitying detail with which Kilmer-Purcell depicts his downward spiral makes it impossible to look away, especially since it's not until the final scenes that he allows himself to succumb to sentimentality." Publishers Weekly (Feb.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Again and again in this rich, adventure-filled book, Kilmer-Purcell illustrates the truth of Blake's proverb, 'The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.'"
"Review" by , "[A] delicate narrative that spares not an ounce of pain but never once aims for contrition. Effortlessly entertaining yet still heartfelt; the romance of life as an escape artist."
"Review" by , "[D]arkly hilarious and entertaining....Highly Reccommended..."
"Review" by , "[P]lenty of dishy anecdotes and moments of tragi-camp delight."
"Review" by , "...In a word, wonderful."
"Review" by , "I laughed. I cried. I laughed again. I Am Not Myself These Days is tawdry and brilliantly witty."
"Synopsis" by , The New York Times bestselling, darkly funny memoirof a young New Yorker's daring dual life—advertising art director by day,glitter-dripping drag queen and nightclub beauty-pageant hopeful by night—was asmash literary debut for Josh Kilmer-Purcell, now known for his popular PlanetGreen television series The Fabulous Beekman Boys.His story begins here—before the homemade goat milk soaps and hand-gatheredhoneys, before his memoir of the city mouses move to the country, TheBucolic Plague—in I Am Not Myself These Days,  with “plenty of dishy anecdotes and moments of tragi-camp delight” (WashingtonPost).
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