I'm not sure what it is that attracts gay men to jobs requiring the coddling of divas, but we seem to do it often and well. I have more of an idea of why gay men love gossip, which we also do often and well. We're also probably inordinately psyched by our own life stories, but that's just because we're so fassscinating.
I was sent this book a few months ago and kept meaning to post something about it. Better late than you'll never eat lunch in this town again, right?
I wasn't thinking I'd love it, but I did wind up liking it quite a bit. Buchmeyer has a snappy writing style that mimics a fun BFF and is good at playing up the "could you believe this was happening to me?" angles of his encounters with the likes of Tyra Banks, Rosie O'Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg and quite a few more. I really thought this had great potential to be obnoxious, but was proven wrong—it's funny and not a little charming.
After a slightly overplayed embarrassing moment with Goldberg that involved being caught gold-handed holding her Oscar, the story became more interesting to me in that Buchmeyer is the son of a famous Texas judge. He describes his homelife as Courtside Manner:
"Courtside Manner took a dramatic turn in October 1979, when President Jimmy Carter appointed my father to be a United States District Judge for North Texas, and Dad quickly made a name for himself as an activist jurist that conservatives love to hate. He dragged Dallas kicking and screaming into the modern era with landmark decisions advancing civil liberties and fair access to public housing. In 1982, when I was 13, he handed down a celebrated and derided decision in a case known as Baker v. Wade declaring unconstitutional the Texas law criminalizing homosexual conduct in private...For added drama, he made sure I was in the courtroom for the hearings, which left everyone—including the press—wondering if the judge's effeminate son had any impact on the decision. Not exactly the kind of attention a kid struggling with his sexuality relishes."
Even more interesting, the good judge is not flatteringly remembered as a particularly good dad; after Buchmeyer's parents split, he found himself coldly displaced by a new half-sibling. Later, he was kept apart from his little brother because his stepmother thought his homosexuality might rub off. Ironic, considering his dad was a hero to the gay community at the time.
I liked the early years of Buchmeyer's story not only for this politically important aspect, but for the familiar asides about his obsessions with Mary Richards; his youthful illusions about what life would be like when he left home will ring bells for many gay men.
Of all his star-crossed experiences, I found his superficial working friendship with Tyra Banks the most humorous and the most telling (about her as much as about him). Vanessa Williams comes off as a royal bitch, taking her frustrations out on the author over packaged vs. fresh honey. Bizarrely, Buchmeyer seems to have appreciated her nasty behavior:
"Wanting fresh honey wasn't too much to ask. It was my own attitude that needed an adjustment. I understood now that to be a great celebrity publicist you have to crave the diva details. You have to relish all the babysitting and the handholding. You have to love your mid-level place in the culture of celebrity."1
I found reading the book more fun in spurts; its episodic nature lends itself to this. And speaking of which, in case you're looking for sex, there is some of that, too, though the part of that I remember most is an unlucky European liaison that was a hard lesson learned. But then, the whole book is about lessons learned, lessons littered with bold-faced names.