How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life
How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life: Reluctant Confessions Of A Big-Butted Star
by Kirstie Alley Rodale, $186
I find it difficult to understand how an actress with stellar TV credentials and serious populist clout - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Look Who's Talking, Deconstructing Harry, Cheers, Veronica's Closet, Fat Actress - can acknowledge authorship of a book that includes the line 'I decided to take the onus off of something by out-creating it', but Kirstie Alley has no such qualms. She is so proud of this thin hambone stew that she posed (sober) for its cover.
Far from being an inspiration to 'big-bottomed girls out there who are not always treated like queens', How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life is a disorganised series of sad and badly written anecdotes by a 54-year-old woman who appears to perceive herself as a cross between a garbage disposal unit and the town bike. Page 25: 'I may have been nothing, but now I'm a coke whore!' Page 48: 'I said casually, as if I'd experienced this kind of thing hundreds of times in my work as a prostitute.' Page 54: 'I was in Nirvana, eyes closed, pumping my legs like a little hooker.' Page 149: 'Showtime made possible for me. Need to remind self to give head to Showtime head.' Page 162: 'Want to thank him for new kitchen with token sex acts.'
Herculinary indulgences are equally grotesque. On New Year's Eve in 2003, she gorged on 'massive quantities of Santa-head frosted sugar cookies, cheese fondue, steak tartare, Key lime pie, homemade chicken and noodles, with Cinnabon chaser, and 50 or 60 other mystery foods. Then went to dinner.' Thanksgiving, 2004? 'Went to fancy restaurant and ate. Back to house and new kitchen and several thousand cookies. Ate dessert of pumpkin pie, pecan pie, hot fudge sundaes, and turkey cake. Later in evening, snacked on sausage gravy and biscuits and Pillsbury croissants.'
Why Alley should degrade herself in such a fashion is never explained. In the place of insight and compassion is relentless self-abuse, hot shame, and unsteady anecdotes of kitchens and emotional abuse at the hands of men.
Emotionally adolescent, she refuses to accept responsibility for poor choices, preferring to defame an entire gender. She mentally addresses a suicidal boy: 'Just do it. You think the rest of us haven't been through anything awful? You think we've never felt any pain? ... I'm tired of desperately trying to get people to love me - especially men - so, go ahead and jump ... represent for all the assholes everywhere who have broken young girls'
hearts for sport.'
Alley's ass measurement is the decoy that distracts others from the chaos within. That yen for oblivion, for example, is never explicitly addressed. 'My ass became an independent entity ... It's sort of like the reverse vector of an unsuccessful liposuction surgery ... But - oops - the patient is dead.' A portrait caption? 'I'm pretty and skinny and so very happy - or am I dead? I always get those two confused.' And after an orgy of indiscriminate consumption: 'Give thanks for children and prayed to close new Jenny Craig deal to become spokesperson before eating self to death.'
Amusingly, she lists the selective eating programmes she abandoned while staying at the Pierre - the Scarsdale Diet, Zone, Master Cleanse, Water Fast, Egg and Grapefruit Diet, Fit for Life, Sugarless Caramel Marshmallow Cremes Diet, Spirulina Diet, Optifast, fruit juice fast, vegetable juice fast, and Atkins - in addition to the Raw Food and Beverly Hills diets. How did she recover from her cocaine addiction? Scientology. How did she minimise her ass? Scientology. And yet she never explains exactly how Scientology converted her water into wine.
Her greatest grief remains the loss of a baby. Pregnant in 1990, Alley 'began to get a little fat. And for the first time in my life and career, I did not care. All I cared about was a healthy, beautiful baby, so I ate'. A spontaneous abortion led to tests: she could not bear children. Her response? 'Why is it that crack whores can bang out kids like Pez dispensers and then there's me who did everything 'right' and lost her child?'
A richly talented comic and the new spokesperson for Jenny Craig, Alley's real intent appears to be to capitalise on her new upsurge in profile; there is little in How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life to suggest otherwise.