Saturday, January 7, 2023

Pretty Mess by Erika Jayne


I was kind of surprised when my sister gave me this book because I don't like Real Housewives. Something about the idea of watching a bunch of ladies who are too rich to function throwing wine at each other while screaming obscenities never really appealed to me. I figured their memoirs would basically be more of the same, and I'm not about that life. But I'm also nosy as fuck, and the idea of being able to peer into a life that I am totally not about did have a bit of masochistic appeal. Plus, there were a bunch of full color photographs in the middle and I LOVE it when memoirs do that.

To my surprise, I actually really enjoyed PRETTY MESS. Well, most of it. The book starts out with her upbringing in Georgia as a lower middle class girl from an unconventional family (divorce before divorce was cool, absentee dad, hot mess mother). From there, she talks about her love of the stage, and all the different forms "the stage" took for her: bit roles on Hollywood TV show, exotic dance clubs, Vegas performances, working at a restaurant in Beverly Hills, etc.

I think my favorite parts of this book were the descriptions of New York's seedy club scene in the '80s and her rationale for getting married to a many thirty-three years her senior. She talks about the judgement she gets for that, but how looks fade, and beautiful guys can be hard to be in a relationship with, and how much she loves being with a man who is intellectual, stable, and has a real zest for life. And yes, who also has enough money that she doesn't really have to give a fuck about the things that most normal mortals who aren't married to high-powered lawyers do. I get it-- she had a kid, and she'd already been through one shitty marriage that forced her through a revolving door of shitty jobs to keep herself afloat. The descriptions of her husband made it sound like she really does love him and that they're in the relationship as equals, with boundaries, and I think this is the first memoir I've read that really talks about the mechanics of a marriage with a big age gap, so I really appreciated that.

Overall, PRETTY MESS was a pretty decent read. She lost me a little with her descriptions of her current projects and dancing and her very odd religious views, but I guess it was necessary to kind of wrap up her journey and talk about where she ended up. I'd probably even recommend this book to people who aren't fans of Real Housewives if they enjoy memoirs written by women because Erika Jayne is surprisingly grounded and has such a larger-than-life personality. I think it would be so fun to have a drink with her and pick her mind.

4 out of 5 stars

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