Ask Dr. Mueller: The Writings of Cookie Mueller

Ask Dr. Mueller: The Writings of Cookie Mueller

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by Amy Scholder
     
 

"Ask Dr. Mueller" captures the glamour and grittiness of Cookie Mueller's life and times. Here are previously unpublished stories—wacky as they are enlightening—along with favorites from "Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black" and other publications. Also, the best of Cookie's art columns from "Details" magazine, and the funniest of her advice… See more details below

Overview

"Ask Dr. Mueller" captures the glamour and grittiness of Cookie Mueller's life and times. Here are previously unpublished stories—wacky as they are enlightening—along with favorites from "Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black" and other publications. Also, the best of Cookie's art columns from "Details" magazine, and the funniest of her advice columns from the East Village Eye, on everything from homeopathic medicine to how to cut your cocaine with a healthy substance. This collection is as much autobiography as it is a map of downtown New York in the early '80s—that moment before "Bright Lights, Big City," before the art world exploded, before New York changed into a yuppie metropolis, while it still had a glimmer of bohemian life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
About a third of the pieces in this collection of work by late wild-woman-cum-actress-cum-art-critic-cum-advice-columnist Mueller have not been published before. The rest derive from small-press books and from her columns in Details and the East Village Eye. Mueller was exposed to several zeitgeists, and here she provides interesting glimpses of San Francisco in the '60s, Provincetown in the '70s and New York in the '80s. She has a certain hipness (augmented here by an introduction from John Waters), but following her scatterbrained style is trying, and ultimately she is never quite as funny or original as she thinks she is. In an essay about her appearances in Waters's films, Mueller takes her artistic persona a little too seriously and tells how she picked up acting technique by watching Divine at work. An essay about dropping acid in San Francisco meanders along with cameo appearances by Charles Manson and the Grateful Dead. She is easily impressed by bad behavior, thrilling to a Brooklyn man's confession of murder or excitedly recalling how she smuggled drugs into Germany in 1981 by stashing them in a padded bra. In her health column, which ran in the East Village Eye during the '80s, Mueller doled out advice and information, instructing a reformed drug user to take up painting to make money and revealing that cocaine can be lethal; but learning in the preface that she wrote her own questions is disappointing. Her self-conscious art reviews from Details are amusing in that they rarely mention the work under consideration. Mueller died of AIDS-related complications in 1989. (Mar.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Mueller (1949-89) was a writer, underground actress, and world vagabond. Having come of age in the late Sixties, she did drugs, cruised the New York City art scene, and bummed rides. This compilation of Mueller's semiautobiographical essays, columns, and fiction begins with nine previously unpublished pieces and includes stories from an earlier collection, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black (Autonomedia, 1990). There are also excerpts from a humorous, unorthodox medical-advice column that Mueller fabricated for readers of the East Village Eye and reprints of an anecdotal column she wrote as an art commentator for Details magazine. Her unabashed reflections reveal her to be a talented social critic made wise by her subcultural life. Her stories are amusing, unpretentious, and sometimes lewd, providing insight into a risky, bygone lifestyle that the more adventurous baby-boomers will recall with nostalgia. Recommended for all general collections.-Carol A. McAllister, Coll. of William & Mary Lib., Williamsburg, Va.
Kirkus Reviews
Engaging, depressing, and remarkably free of artifice, these vignettes of 1980s low life by the late downtown actress and performance artist may not succeed in capturing her scene as well Henry Miller did his—but they make an impressive attempt.

Mueller died in 1989 of AIDS, but she left behind a considerable body of fiction and journalism on the wildly inventive, indulgent (and frequently self-destructive) '70s and '80s. A nice suburban girl from Maryland, she dropped out early and in the mid-1960s ran away to Haight-Ashbury. After some time there (and in a few mental wards), she came back to Baltimore and began hanging out with John Waters, who was just then starting to set up one of the strangest shops the movie world had yet to see. Mueller's career in show business began with Pink Flamingoes, Waters's masterpiece of tasteless excess that seems, with its coprophiliac climax, to have lost none of its shock value in the intervening years. After that, she became a part of Waters's entourage, moving with Divine and the rest of his crew to New York or Provincetown or farther afield as their whims or fortunes suited them. Most of Mueller's account is a straightforward autobiography, and even the fictionalized segments (with such titles as "Abduction & Rape—1969" or "Sam's Party—1979") seem to be narratives of actual events. For a while Mueller wrote pieces for Details and the East Village Eye, and some of those included here—like an advice column on how to shoot up properly—could have been consigned to oblivion without much loss. But the portrait of the author that emerges in general—a humorous, self-destructive, intelligent, self-sufficient, strangely likable young woman—is compelling enough to overcome the many gaps in this spotty and rambling narrative.

Essential reading for bohos, dropouts, and poseurs of every stripe and era.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781852423315
Publisher:
Serpent's Tail Publishing Ltd
Publication date:
02/28/1996
Series:
High Risk Books Series
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.01(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.95(d)

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