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Before Steven Cojocaru was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, he could never have imagined himself living anything other than a high-glam Hollywood lifestyle. A bon vivant on two coasts, he held jobs as both the red carpet guru for Entertainment Tonight and the fashion correspondent for the Today show, hauling his suitcase full of flat irons and designer boots from New York to Los Angeles and back again, every week. He was Cojo, professional glamour boy with a barbed tongue who went shopping with J.Lo and ...
Before Steven Cojocaru was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, he could never have imagined himself living anything other than a high-glam Hollywood lifestyle. A bon vivant on two coasts, he held jobs as both the red carpet guru for Entertainment Tonight and the fashion correspondent for the Today show, hauling his suitcase full of flat irons and designer boots from New York to Los Angeles and back again, every week. He was Cojo, professional glamour boy with a barbed tongue who went shopping with J.Lo and traded fashion tips with Gwyneth.
But a painful and ironically unglamorous reality would begin to form itself around his life, and Cojo found himself with a new Rolodex of A-List friends: The kidney team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
In a memoir that moves beyond the celebrity, Glamour, Interrupted is an inspiring and darkly humorous story about how, in the midst of a world obsessed with youth and beauty, Cojo survived what turned out to be the fight of his life. From drug-induced meltdowns to waking up in the hospital on life support, Cojo recounts his desperate hunt for a new kidney—after a failed transplant and months of dialysis—that ended with a twist of fate and forged an even stronger bond with his mother.
With a bit of eye cream, a little concealer, and just a touch of bronzer, he found a strength he didn't know he had, and used his unfaltering sense of humor to help him survive.
Cojocaru, a "red carpet" correspondent for Entertainment Tonightand the Insider, was enjoying a fabulous, glamorous life, making a living by trading drinks and naughty secrets with all the Hollywood hotties. "Cojo" would talk "pig latin with Shakira," advise Gwyneth on her cleavage or needle Jude Law about his eyelash extensions to see if he'd blush. But then Cojo's campy, air-kissed lifestyle came to an abrupt halt when his doctor discovered he had PKD, polycystic kidney disease. At first, denial seemed his only option, since telling his family would unleash a major emotional tsunami and telling his friends would trigger the usual Hollywood avoidance of the diseased. Clueless about how to handle a major life problem, he self-medicated with old movies, picturing himself as Garbo in Camille, until he had no choice but to start treatment. His first kidney transplant failed; he learned to do peritoneal dialysis awaiting his second transplant, a gift from his mother. After all this, he also was beginning to understand how to live a healthier life, both physically and spiritually. Such a disease-recovery story could be utterly sappy, but Cojo is too funny, too aware of how ridiculous he is, to get maudlin. His story's a great pick-me-up for any girlfriend (male or female) facing serious unpleasantness. (Feb.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
If My Kidney Had Handles, It Would Be a Marc Jacobs Bag
"Are you wearing eyelash extensions?"
I'm in the middle of one of my signature probing interviews, and sitting across from me is Jude Law and his hypnotically azure orbs. I've already told him that he looks like something out of Old Hollywood, shrieking: "You're the new Errol Flynn, so retro, swashbuckling matinee idol!" But he isn't the slightest bit amused by my interviewing style.
"Um, eyelashes? I don't understand?"
"You have the most beautiful eyelashes I've ever seen," I continue. "I have eyelash envy. They can't possibly be real: They are the eyelashes of Aphrodite."
"I thought we were going to talk about my new movie," Jude says, his face slowly turning red.
"OK—why don't you tell me about your eyelashes in the movie, then."
Jude and I are sitting in a suite in the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, with two cameras trained on our faces. Off-camera, a production assistant is on duty, holding my Gatorade at the ready with a straw in it so that I don't smudge my hydrating lip balm. My T-shirt has been embroidered with a skull of purple antique Austrian crystals left over from the Ottoman Empire. My superskinny jeans are so tight I'm beginning to sound like Jamie Lynn Spears.
But such are the supreme sacrifices one makes when you are Cojo, Professional Featherweight. It is 2004, and my life in Hollywood is fraught with special complications. My personal spray tanner keeps getting called away onemergency because Mariah's elbows have smeared. Linds at the Chateau has stolen my hairdresser, and I'm dying for a blowout. I have to send threats to Will and Jada, warning them that if they don't stop hogging our car detailer, I'm going to put them on my Worst Dressed List.
I think I live a life of high drama, but I have no idea.
When you are a member in good standing of the Professional Gadflies of America Association—PGAA for short—you are bound by strict rules. You must go to at least five parties a week (check). You can't sleep in your own bed for more than ten nights in a row (check). Your tailor is British, your cobbler is Italian, and you fly to Zurich to get your black market sheep-cell face-rejuvenating shots (check).
Growing up in the suburbs of Montreal, I had been a glam-obsessed junior fashionista: I kept my eyes glued to all three channels on our television, devouring every image delivered from the red carpet. It was a parallel universe, and by the age of six or seven I knew the difference between a one-shoulder, a halter and a scoop neck. When I was invited to a friend's house and instructed to "Go play trains with Jeremy," I would instead dart upstairs to the mother's closet hoping to play with yards of carpet-dragging tulle and chiffon.
In Montreal, the most legendary fashion editor was Iona Monahan of the Montreal Gazette. The picture on her column showed her in a chignon and oversized glasses for theatrical flair: To me, she was larger than life, and terrifying, sort of a Canuck Anna Wintour. I was writing in my spare time. My English teacher had really encouraged me to develop my talents, and by the age of sixteen, I knew I wanted to write about fashion. Ms. Monahan was the only game in town, so I cold-called her to introduce myself. I never expected her to answer her own phone, and when she did, with her gruff Lauren Bacall voice, I stammered out how I was Montreal's biggest fashion fan. I suggested that she start covering men's fashion and toiletries. "Why don't I do a survey of local celebrities—radio jocks, sports figures—and ask them their favorite colognes?" I asked.
After concluding that the vast majority of Montreal males enjoyed dousing themselves with Drakkar Noir, a petit career was born. I didn't even have my driver's learning permit, but soon I was writing about fashion and everything glam for a top Canadian fashion magazine. By my early 20s, a raw, primitive version of "Cojo" had emerged, making waves in journalism and hitting every party in Montreal that wasn't canceled due to a snow storm. But I knew that print wouldn't be able to contain me: I was going to be a television talk show superstar, and eventually have my line of hair gels and loofah sponges.
Somehow, accidentally, I segued into doing public relations for the Just For Laughs Comedy festival, where comics from all over the world—especially Hollywood—perform. Through the festival I met a young Hollywood couple, agent Steve Levine and his singer wife Linda. They saw something in me that even I didn't, and kept encouraging me to move to Los Angeles to try my hand at my dream of being on TV. In the early 1990s, to their chagrin, shock, and amazement, I finally did. I packed up my collection of barrettes and moved to Los Angeles, a city whose denizens I just knew were panting for the opportunity to hear my opinions on such matters as sequinned sheaths and silky column dresses. I arrived on Steve and Linda's doorstep, and asked them to be my adopted family. Luckily, they didn't slam the door in my face.
The Levines were my shock absorbers. But besides them I was all alone. I starved, working as a temp at Disney, spritzing Opium cologne at Robinson's May, and working as a personal assistant for a publicist who had me hand-plucking the coarse hair from her chin. I was beginning to realize that my looks could only take me as far as . . . nowhere. Being a trophy boy was probably not in the cards for me. But my Hollywood dream was still alive.
Everything changed when I began to write freelance about celebrity fashion for People magazine's "Style Watch" column. "Style Watch" was only half a page and it didn't even have my name on it—I was just a contributor. But eventually I climbed my way up the People ladder: As celebrity fashion grew more popular, I was granted a full bylined column.Glamour, Interrupted