I've been reading almost exclusively non-fiction these days, which is a complete turn around from my childhood. The one genre that held my attention in between Nancy Drew then and histories of gay porn and disco now is celebrity memoirs. As a kid I devoured the entire autobiography section of our rural library - which meant I'd read autobios of Reba, Dolly, Barbara Mandrell and Kathie Lee by the time I was 15. As a sheltered child I knew of these names but very little of what they did. I was entranced by their stories none the less.
Recently I finished Ricky Martin's exquisite memoir Me. As much as I was hoping for a juicy tell all with lots of details about exploits with other attractive Latin men, it was a surprisingly engaging and very spiritual life story. He didn't name names but he did discuss in depth his own inner turmoil surrounding his sexuality, his infamous interview with Barbara Walters (where he denied his homosexuality) and eventual decision to come out while writing the book.
But Me is about a lot more than that. It's about leaving his family to join the factory-like atmosphere of Menudo, his exhaustion after his US breakthrough and his calling to protect children around the world from sex traffickers. He talks about becoming a father. It's beautiful and a rather literary read. It could have used a few more pictures of the sexy star, but it's not really that kind of book. Unfortunately.
But turning to something a little more silly on the surface, I also read Confessions Of A Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim. The former child star of Little House On The Prairie is to this day known around the world as the hateful brat Nellie Oleson, even to the point of being beat up at a press event by child fans of the show during its heyday.
But Alison's story is much deeper than playing one of the most famous villains on family friendly TV. Her parents were in a marriage of convenience, a gay father who pushed his two kids into any publicity to further their career. Her brother molested her, starting at age 6. And she lost her gay best friend and TV husband to AIDS. These events led her into speaking up for AIDS organizations and going on Larry King Live to get tougher incest penalties enacted in California. Being a prairie bitch opened doors and gave a hurt young girl strength.
I would highly recommend both books to more than just fans of these very different celebrities.