Nasty: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints

Nasty: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints

by Simon Doonan


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416586340
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/09/2007
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Simon Doonan is the bestselling author of Wacky Chicks and Confessions of a Window Dresser. In addition to his role as creative director of Barneys New York, Simon writes the "Simon Says" column for The New York Observer. He frequently contributes observations and opinions to myriad other publications and television shows. He is a regular commentator on VH1, the Trio network, and Full Frontal Fashion. He lives in New York City with his partner, Jonathan Adler, and his Norwich terrier, Liberace.

Read an Excerpt


When I was six years old, my mother sneezed and her dentures flew out. They hit the kitchen door with a sharp clack! and then rattled sideways across the linoleum floor like a fleeing crustacean. I have absolutely no recollection of graduation day, or my twenty-first birthday, or what I did last Christmas, but as long as I live, I will never forget those fugitive dentures.

Am I strange? Quite possibly.

I was born in 1952, the same year that Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. In 2002, fifty years later, Queen Elizabeth and I both celebrated our golden jubilees. Naturally, we both took strolls down our respective memory lanes. While hers was doubtless strewn with ermine capes, bejeweled accessories, sparkling crystal toasting goblets, and well-fed corgis, mine was not.

As I wandered through the windmills and filing cabinets of my mind, I was taken aback by what I found, and did not find.

Where were the Hawaiian sunsets, the Easter bunnies, and the fluffy kittens? Where were those dreamy summer afternoons spent chasing butterflies through fields of daisies? Had they slipped my memory? Or did they ever exist?

What about all those romantic candlelit dinners sipping Rémy Martin with that special someone? Maybe I was too sloshed to remember.

Though devoid of Hallmark moments, my memory banks were, I hasten to add, by no means empty. Au contraire! They were teeming with vivid recollections. It's just that none of them were particularly pleasant.

Instead of heartwarming memories, what I found were fifty years of jarring occurrences, freakish individuals, deranged obsessions, public embarrassments, kamikazeoutfits, unsavory types, varmints, vermin, and a ridiculous, lifelong quest to locate that mystical and elusive tribe, the Beautiful People. There were also hernias and food poisonings, cringe-making encounters with law enforcement, and stomach-churning regrets.

It was all quite nasty.

Woven throughout this tapestry, like a gaudy strand of hot pink silk, was my family, immediate and extended, in all its raw majesty. My mother, the feisty glamour-puss, my troubled and anarchic grandmother Narg, my blind aunt Phyllis, and Biddie, my showbiz-crazed childhood best friend.

Donning mental rubber gloves, I cautiously began to inspect this material and reacquaint myself with the events and the dramatis personae of my past. Here, preserved in aspic, were all the tarts, the trolls, the twinkies, and the trouts who had ever crisscrossed my path and left their nasty tire tracks on my psyche.

"Turn us into a confessional memoir!" they screeched like a goading Greek chorus.

My psychotherapist gave the thumbs-up. "Examining one's nasty memories is a complex and challenging psychological process," opined my shrink of eighteen years encouragingly. "Avoidance is a primary mechanism. Examining one's nasty memories and facing them head-on presents many opportunities for growth!"

Enthusiastically, I began to type. (At five feet four and a half inches, I am in no position to ignore any opportunities for growth.)

Revisiting my temps perdu proved both cathartic and entertaining. Sometimes I wept, but more often I chuckled. Before I was halfway through I had completely changed my attitude toward my nasty memories and nastiness in general. I now saw it for what it is: a vastly underrated commodity.

Nastiness is rich. Nastiness is fun. Who needs all that boring, cliché Hallmark stuff when you've got flying dentures? Nastiness has texture. Nastiness has the power to transform. Describing and embracing my nasty memories, as opposed to camouflaging them with baby's breath and doilies, has helped me integrate my past with my present and made me a more jolly and contented individual. I thoroughly recommend it.

By the time I handed in my manuscript I felt as if I had been the fortunate recipient of a massively purging psychological enema.

Hopefully my recollections will have the same effect on you!

Here, therefore, I proudly offer up, for your delectation, my nasty memoir.

Copyright © 2005 by Simon Doonan

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Tarts

Chapter 2 Fun

Chapter 3 Bleach

Chapter 4 Nuts

Chapter 5 Eyeballs

Chapter 6 Camp

Chapter 7 Guts

Chapter 8 Gifts

Chapter 9 Vermin

Chapter 10 Daughters!

Chapter 11 Pudding

Chapter 12 No Knickers

Chapter 13 Punks

Chapter 14 My Willie

Chapter 15 Hollywood

Chapter 16 Crevice Nozzles

Chapter 17 Blanche


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Nasty: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
hbrush More than 1 year ago
I didn't read the whole thing. I couldn't. I am so sick of reading how one-sided narrators/authors think they are. OK, you're gay, great, move on. I'm sure everything past chapter 3 is fierce and fabulous, but I was promised a book of terrible memories and horrible people and I found neither. The first five pages sets the tone of any book, and I did not feel drawn in whatsoever. It all felt self-involved and braggy/whiney. I didn't care about anyone in the piece, and I kept wanting something terrible to happen to someone, just for a moment of dramatic tension. Gah! one star feels generous.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I laughed! I cried! I ran out and bought a large, brightly colored floor pillow!! Nasty is a fascinating and incredibly sensitive look into the humble upbringing and ravaged psyche of style maven Simon Doonan. Ever wonder where the fabulous and frightening windows at Barneys came from? This will give you some idea. It also includes many insightful observations of the world around us. I highly recommend this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. How could you not laugh out loud when he describes breaking the skull of his blind aunt (sounds sick, I know, but taken in context...). I recommend this book to anyone who needs a light read. Sorry the first reviewer had such a disappointing experience. I think this book is quite good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excited for yet another, real life, David Sedaris-isk read, I was totally and completely disappointed in this book! The text contains nothing of the boastingly funny family belly-laughing content that the jacket promises. Instead, the author portrays a boring bio of homosexual life, where seriousness comes to the forefront and humor is just an afterthought. I was disappointed by page 50, yet kept reading waiting for the big brew-ha. I horribly regret reading this book in its entirety!