New Jersey in the 1980s had everything Jancee Dunn wanted: trips down the shore, Bruce Springsteen, a tantalizing array of malls. To music lover Jancee, New York City was a foreign country. So it was with bleak expectations that she submitted her résumé to Rolling Stone magazine. And before she knew it, she was backstage and behind the scenes with the most famous people in the world—hiking in Canada with Brad Pitt, snacking on Velveeta with Dolly Parton, dancing drunkenly onstage with the Beastie Boys—trading her good-girl suburban past for late nights, hipster guys, and the booze-soaked rock 'n' roll life.
Riotously funny and tremendously touching, But Enough About Me is the amazing true story of an outsider who couldn't quite bring herself to become an insider.
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About the Author
A writer for Rolling Stone since 1989, Jancee Dunn was a correspondent for Good Morning America and an MTV veejay. She has written for GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, the New York Times, and other publications.
Read an Excerpt
But Enough About Me
How a Small-Town Girl Went from Shag Carpet to the Red Carpet
I am fifteen. I am going to my first concert unaccompanied by my parents. This is thrilling for a number of reasons. One, because I was invited by Cindy Patzau, the most glamorous girl in my sophomore class, still glinting with stardust after a recent performance during a school assembly in which she did a dramatic interpretive dance to Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." She wore a clingy black bodysuit in front of the whole school. She was my hero.
"You want me to go with you?" I squeaked when she called. I sat with the popular kids in our high school cafeteria, but I certainly wasn't A-list. When I got my braces off that year, no one noticed for a week, whereas when Liz Kincaid had hers removed, there was much squealing and jubilation in the halls. During senior year I was voted Class Clown when I desperately wanted Best Legs (won by a girl with the movie-star moniker of Jill Shores). As the clown, I was the peripheral Don Rickles figure to the bronzed, carefree Dean Martins and Frank Sinatras, bristling with sour flop sweat, one bad joke away from being banished from the Sands. At the time of Cindy's call, I was on unsteady social ground due to a recent gaffe at a party. I was leaning against a wall, waiting in the bathroom line, when a senior named Mark, a hip soccer player who wore Adidas Sambas and liked the Clash, materialized behind me. He smirked. "Holding up the wall?" he asked.
Tell me, what is the sharp, snappy rejoinder to "Holding up the wall?" I gawped at him as everyone in the line nudged each other, waiting for my trademarklightning comeback. Holding up the wall. Holding up the wall. Seasons passed. The leaves on the trees outside withered, dropped, bloomed, and withered again. Holding. Wall. Mark abruptly turned away from me and started chatting up another girl. Good-bye, Rat Pack, hello, dinner theater in Jupiter, Florida.
"This show," I said to Cindy. My words came out in a high-pitched, phlegmy squawk: Zhis gghow. I hurriedly cleared my throat. "Is it just you and me?" Surely there would be others.
"Yes," Cindy said calmly. "I know you have good taste in music, so the ticket won't be wasted." While I was processing this, I heard the click of a phone being picked up in my parents' bedroom. It was my younger sister Dinah. I could tell by her breathing. If I didn't play this phone call right, it could be my Waterloo, and I was frantic that Dinah shouldn't hear any bumbling. I needed to scare her. I inched toward the hallway in order to get a view of the bedrooms upstairs. Because there were three girls in our family, the phone cord in our kitchen had been stretched until it was ten yards long in our efforts to have a little privacy. Recently, my youngest sister, Heather, had managed to reach the hall closet, and conducted her preteen business with the door shut and key words muffled by the coats. I stretched the cord, gently but firmly, and crept over to where I could just glimpse Dinah in my parents' room. I waved furiously and her head jerked up. Goddamn you, I mouthed, affecting a tough squint. She froze like a snowshoe hare out of fear, or stubbornness, I couldn't tell but she didn't hang up.
While I fought rising hysteria, Cindy detonated this: The concert was to take place at a college. We would have to cross the New Jersey state line to Haverford College in Pennsylvania. With her older sister! And we'd spend the night! In a dorm room!
"Cool," I said, elaborately casual. "I'm in." I could hear Dinah's sharp intake of breath. She knew as well as I that it would take a typhoon of tears to persuade my strict father to let me go. Hear me out, old man, I thought grimly (he was thirty-nine at the time). I am going. Oh yes. I am going.
A week later, after frenzied negotiations with my parents that rivaled the SALT talks in length and intensity, I was allowed to accompany Cindy to Haverford. The night before I left, after a bout of gastrointestinal distress at the thought of hanging around a VIP like Cindy for a sustained length of time (this would become a lifelong pattern), I retired to my room to pack.
Soon enough, there was a timid knock on the door. Dinah and Heather stood silently, knowing that they must be invited in. "Hey, can we watch you pack?" asked Dinah. At fifteen, I still held powerful sway over my younger sisters, and I carefully polished my mystique. Usually when they were allowed to enter the sanctum, it was so that I could extort their cash. My "garage sales" were a frequent scheme. "Garage sale in my room, five o'clock," I would announce briskly as they raced to their rooms to scrounge for money or begged the folks for a forward on their allowance. Meanwhile, I rummaged through my drawers for tchotchkes to unload: a frayed collection of Wacky Pacs, a half-empty bottle of Enjoli, a trio of black rubber Madonna bracelets. As they waited by the door, twitching with eagerness, I would build momentum by popping my head out every once in a while with updates. "Five more minutes," I'd bark. "Lotta good stuff in here, lotta good stuff. I really shouldn't be selling some of this." Finally I would fling open the door and they would push over each other, running.
During one of these bazaars, my mother watched from the doorway, arms folded, lips pursed. "You should be ashamed of yourself," she said.
"Why?" I asked coolly, shutting the door on her. "For bringing color and excitement into my sisters' lives?"
I also gave various lessons. Ballet instruction cost fifty cents, seventy-five cents for the deluxe. For that particular con, I . . .But Enough About Me
How a Small-Town Girl Went from Shag Carpet to the Red Carpet. Copyright © by Jancee Dunn. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
What People are Saying About This
“Hilarious you won’t be able to keep from reading the whole thing.”
“I loved this book from start to finish ... Jancee Dunn is a wonderful storyteller.”
Reading Group Guide
ABOUT: With her impenetrable Rick James perm, her plaid interview suit, and her state school education, there was no way Jancee Dunn was going to land a job at one of the hippest magazines around. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, Jancee not only got her dream job at Rolling Stone, but quickly became one of their top reporters, interviewing such mega-stars as Brad Pitt, Madonna, Barry White, and Ben Affleck. But when this suburban New Jersey girl from a conservative middle-class family gets caught up in the rock-and-roll lifestyle, she turns in her good-girl past for late nights and hipster guys. Booze-soaked nights turn into years, and Jancee wakes up one day to discover she's the oldest Rock Chick at the magazine. A chance meeting helps Jancee appreciate where she came from, who she was, and what she wanted to be.
Questions for Discussion
QUESTION: 1 How did Jancee's feeling of being an outsider early on in her life actually help her interviewing skills?
2. Do you think Jancee's job influenced her rock-and-roll lifestyle, or do you think the men she met had more influence over her choices?
3. Jancee's family plays a big role in her life. One day Jancee finally "interviews" her mother and discovers there's so much about her own family she doesn't even know. How does this event begin to turn Jancee's life around?
4. Barry White's advice to Jancee was "Love as hard as you can, and as strong as you can, but never, ever fall in love." Why was this an important piece of advice for Jancee to heed?
5. "The more it was apparent that my days as a Rock Chick were waning, the harder I clung to the crumbling identity I had built up so carefully" (page 199, HC). Did Jancee still see herself as an outsider playing a role? Why do you think she never fully became that Rock Chick person?
6. The Dunn family could not be more hopelessly conservative and retro while Jancee's life spirals in the complete opposite direction. Why does Jancee call her father when life with the famous begins to get too surreal?
7. Near the end of the book, Jancee visits Rolling Stone and realizes that she had become one of the magazine's older people that the younger staffers tolerated. Did you agree that it was time for her to find another line of work? Is rock and roll a younger person's game?
8. Jancee has interviewed Patti Scialfa, but never one of her childhood idols, Bruce Springsteen. Many people never want to meet their idols in person in case they might be disappointed. Do you agree with this line of thinking?
9. Do you think that people pay too much attention to celebrities? What is the danger of celebrity worship? What need does this seem to fulfill in our own lives? With the rise of internet celebrity coverage, we are turned into a collective high school, as we comment on stars and condemn or celebrate their behavior. Do you think that candid photographs are an invasion of their privacy, or is everything fair game when you're a public figure?
10. Jancee has rules for engaging celebrities in conversation, such as 'never begin with 'I' . . . Leading off with something about yourself is deadly.' Are there rules in the book that could apply to everyday conversations with others?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Meeting celebrities on a regular basis working for Rolling Stone magazine is one exciting job. It certain runs rings around my 9 to 5. I thoroughly enjoyed the ups and downs and nuances of a a job like this as described by Ms. Dunn. A quick and very absorbing read.
I picked this book up, thinking it would be like an extended version of US magazine. Not so, but in the good way. I read it in two days and actually laughed out loud. By the end, I felt like I knew how exciting/awful it truly is to hang out with celebrities. Plus, Jancee's life provides a great counter- balance to the world of red carpets.