Troublemaker by Leah Remini

Entertainment, Expose, Gossip, Memoir, Tell-all, Uncategorized

One of the things that most surprised me when I read this book was that Leah Remini was a scientologist from childhood. For some reason, I thought she became one after she became an actress. Remini starts of the book with an interesting backstory and although I relate to some of her childhood tales of not having the nicest toys or the luxury of some of her neighbors, I just couldn’t buy the conclusion that her mom brought them into scientology as the only escape from Brooklyn life. Although not a luxurious neighborhood, Bensonhurst is a pretty nice diverse family area. I thought it was pretty clear from the beginning her mom garnered an interest in scientology after the man she was dating introduced her to it. It is easy to see why, since she thought he was a well spoken man who communicated well. I could see how a religion that promoted that much communication in a relationship would be appealing to a woman. Does she mean that her mom was hoping scientology would offer a chance at social climbing? I feel like people should just be clear about these things instead of dramatisizing their backgrounds.  And if her mom was so concerned about them living the Brooklyn life why would she be leaving them home along the whole time before they expressed interest in Scientology.

So it seemed plausible to me that her mom would be interested in bringing her daughters to a religion that would focus on strengthening relationships. Even Leah’s descriptions at first made Scientology sound appealing. Then of course she got to the nitty gritty and you start to see scientology as a pyramid scheme. She did a good job of introducing it as a newcomer and slowly progressing into the mess someone would find themselves in.

Some of the things she uses to reference Tom’s craziness doesn’t seem that crazy to me. For example, she criticizes his wanting to play hide and seek because he is an adult. I don’t think that’s so strange, unless it is followed up by something strange. Why is it normal for adults to play beer pong or some other party game but not hide n seek? Then she called up the church annoyed when Tom jumped on the couch on the Oprah show. I didn’t think that was so strange! Sorry but he is an artist. They are loud and spontaneous and not at all as self conscious as the rest of us about the space around them. That is what makes a good performer, especially in comedy. I have many performer friends who do random things. That’s what makes them the life of the party. Of course she did get to some weird parts about him like when he insulted his assistant but I felt the other incidents were nitpicking on someone she just didn’t like overall. I thought her description of Sharon Osborne sounded realistic and impartial enough. She seemed hurt by her attitude but let it go and moved on from it.

When she finally left scientology, her therapist sounded great and I loved the advice she got to just keep the good things of Scientology with her. It is a shame that there is so much corruption and that some people use religion to manipulate others.

I do recommend the book if you are looking for a tell all and behind the curtain look at scientology. I did enjoy it, I just had an opinion about some of her descriptions.

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Down The Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison

Entertainment, Expose, Gossip, Memoir, Tell-all

I picked up Down the Rabbit Hole after all the back and forth comments on blogs between Holly and Hef. I only ever saw two episodes of the Girl Next Door but I had a friend who was obsessed with the Playboy brand so I am aware of the backstory and tidbits. Overall it was a nice distraction. Both entertaining and filled with just the right amount of scandal.They did a decent job of finding the right quotes from Lewis Carroll’s works that described the coming chapter.

Of course I had my fair share of thoughts. First Holly mentions that around the millennium it became fashionable for women to be stupid, taking a jab at Jessica Simpson. Hmm didn’t she ever she watch Saved by the Bell or Fresh Prince where Lisa and Hilary were the popular and lovable airheads? Clueless? Even her idol Marilyn’s baby voice reeked of airhead. Somehow I don’t think this is a new thing. But maybe with fame seekers on social media it is more noticeable.

Holly opens by explaining how her intrigue with Playboy began. Someone gave her a Marilyn Monroe paper doll. Note to self Never give a little girl a Marilyn Monroe paper doll. Maybe a Marie Curie lab set? She wanted to be in Playboy because Marilyn was her idol and she was the first to grace the pages of Playboy. I’m surprised by this comment because Marilyn didn’t willingly grace the very first issue of Playboy. She had taken nude shots before becoming famous and when Hef launched the magazine he bought the images from a photographer. Marilyn Monroe did not chase the opportunity to be in Playboy.

Holly gets into ridiculous credit card debt for beast implants, all to end up working in Hooters and doing a brand ambassador gig for Hawaiian Tropic. Do I think she would have made it to the mansion without the surgery? Yes! After all, the Shannon Twins weren’t very busty.

Twice in the book, she compares Hef to Gatsby. No! Gatsby was in love with one woman only. He may have thrown great parties but he was a one woman man.

After scoring an invitation to a mansion party, she continues attending parties, harboring the hope she can land a pictorial in the magazine. Slowly as Holly is reeled in by Hefner’s girlfriends, she says, “As an LA transplant the concept of being fake was still a bit lost on me. Don’t get me wrong. I was familiar with fake tans, fake nails and of course fake boobs having already undergone my breast enhancement surgery but I didn’t have any idea how insincere and calculated people can be. It never dawned on me that the girls I was about to be spending a lot of time with had ulterior motives beyond simply being friendly and that all of their encouragement was just for show. As I’d come to learn, they saw me as a useful pawn in their twisted game of Playboy chess.”

Finally Holly finds herself in a tough situation where she may be left without an apartment. This is what encourages her to try to find a way to become one of Hef’s girlfriend, since one of the perks is free rent. She is surprised to find out she has have to have sex with him, because the other girlfriends always glossed over that bit of information. They made themselves seem like they were simple eye candy.

On the topic of reaching the inner girlfriend circle, she mentions that, “Vicky had quickly figured out that recruiting new girls effectively achieved two goals at once. not only would she most likely avoid having to have sex with Hef but she’d also earn his favor by bringing around pretty new young things for his enjoyment.” Holly had thought the girls were only nice to her because she was “plain looking” and non-threatening which I found surprising. I would think the reason is as she mentioned, getting Hef more girls made their job easier.

Later on as Holly moves into the mansion, I am surprised to find out Hefner wasn’t even divorced. All this time I thought he was divorced form his wife. The girlfriends perks include a weekly clothing allowance of 1000.00. That seems pretty fair considering, they also get free stuff. Hugh Hefner also pays for a nose job that I’m sure Holly didn’t even need. She even admits it gives her a short lived surge of confidence.

Amongst other big reveals in the first half of the book are that the Playboy necklaces are cubic zirconia and Hefner hates red lipstick. She wears it once, only to have him berate her, “You look old, hard and cheap.” Okay so the wording is really mean but the wrong shade of red can make you look all of those things at a time. I like red lipstick in theory but I feel like it doesn’t actually look great most of the time. Very rarely does it look classy.  I always fall into the habit of putting on red lipstick for a night out because I love it so much but am always horribly disappointed in the pictures.

Later on Holly divulges that many Playboy models worked as escorts on the side. This is not too much of a shocker considering I’ve heard a lot of girls who don’t make it as models end up doing this. The fact is modeling salaries aren’t high at all. So if struggling models have a crazy amount of money for travel and brand name merchandise, there is usually a sugar daddy or work as an escort involved.

Between cracking down on Playmates who worked as escorts and girlfriends using him for fame, Hef stops allowing his girlfriends to be in the magazine. Eventually Holly works up the nerve to ask if she can ever be in it but Hef tells her she doesn’t photograph well. Obviously Hef told her she didn’t photograph well to make her think she was lucky to be with him, but even if that was the case it wouldn’t mean she is unattractive! Some people don’t know their angles or most flattering poses. It has nothing to do with how they look in real life.

Holly and Bridget become really good friends and tire of the other mean girlfriends who are bullies and hustlers. This is when they try to recruit a third girlfriend and Kendra comes into the picture. The most interesting thing Holly mentions is that Kendra lied when she narrated her meeting with Hefner. Apparently Kendra said in her book that Hefner just handed her the keys to the mansion when he met her. She didn’t even have to sleep with him. Of course, this seems unlikely and I haven’t read Kendra’s book but if she did lie, I’m glad Holly tells the truth. Too many young girls follow cheap paths to fame expecting a life full of glamour because people in those circles make it seem that way. And when they don’t get “discovered” the way their favorite celebrity mentions in an interview, young girls think it’s because they’re not beautiful or talented enough.

Once the Girls Next Door begins shooting, each girl is assigned a character. Holly’s character is supposed to be the “one who cared for Hef” in the show. I would think that would make it seem like she didn’t actually care about him, which she did. The girls are exploited on the show and told they are replaceable. This is pretty painful to read. I wish they had locked down and refused to do the show.

The girls seem to develop a nice bond throughout the show until the time comes to part ways. Holly reveals that Kendra secretly started dating Hank while living with Hef. Holly leaves Hefner too, growing tired of his controlling ways. She starts dating Criss who sounds more trouble in the short time they were together than Hef ever was!

Hefner moves on and Holly describes the changes in his life with his new more volatile and jealous girlfriend. I can’t help but feel bad for Hef at one moment in particular, when Holly talks about how confused he was when his new girlfriend suddenly ordered the guards to whisk him out of the club, without even giving him notice.

Later on there is some drama between Holly and Crystal. Crystal does a photoshoot exactly like Holly’s and Holly makes what she calls a “generic” comment on Twitter about hating copy cats. That seems a little mean, especially if she knew how much pressure there was to emulate Hef’s girlfriends. Why make that comment at all? It seems so High School of someone that has moved on and grown up. Just resist the urge! Yes, it is annoying when someone copies you but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is the sort of thing you vent to your friends about not on Twitter. Besides, maybe the creative team was the one that copied Holly and Crystal just didn’t know any better. Give the girl a break! You’re already more recognized than her and it can’t be easy for her to have fans pointing it out constantly.

She refuses to apologize because she thinks engaging in the battle makes Hefner feel fought over. Then why aren’t you keeping the peace? You’re doing what he wants, not the opposite.

Holly describes her falling out with Kendra. Although I think Kendra was definitely rude to Holly, Holly also fueled the fire. It is one thing to say it didn’t interest her to have Kendra work as her understudy for the live Vegas show but somewhat unfair to rant about her flaws. We can see all those things for ourselves. We all have a Kendra in our lives. Once Holly gets pregnant, her role is replaced by Coco. Really, isn’t that a much worse choice than Kendra? No wonder the show closed.

In the end, I am pleased that Holly found happiness and true love. On finding a man ready for commitment, she includes, “This is an important note. A man has to know what he wants. Don’t waste your time trying to change someone’s mind. It never works.” The book had a great moral of the story.

Side notes
It is such a creepy coincidence Bill Cosby confessed to using Quaaludes to drug women this week because Holly reveals that the first time she went out with the girlfriends and Hef he offered her one saying that in his day they were called “thigh openers”.

I wondered a few things during this book such as why there isn’t a girls next door type series about a muslim man with many wives? I’d like that! It would be interesting wouldn’t it? Why were people so grossed out Big Brother but not by Girls Next Door? I never watched Big Brother but is seems like a similar premise…One guy with too many women. Can we get a tell-all from the Playboy mansion butlers? Is it a hard job to get? Is the competition fierce?

Lastly, as soon as Holly began to talk about her insecurity with her breasts I could feel myself getting annoyed. I swear every book I’ve read lately about women striving for fame brings this up. Karrine Steffans, Bobbi Brown, Pamela des Barres… I mean is low self-esteem a common factor amongst fame seekers? I work in fashion and the models who obsess over the size of their breasts are the most obnoxious to work with! They bring their self-esteem issues to the shoot instead of being professional. Everyone has an asset, everyone has good and bad angles that plastic surgery plays no part in and when you squander time and money on one single feature you’re convinced is deficient, you don’t learn to show your unique assets to their full advantage.

Vixen Diaries by Karrine Steffans

Entertainment, Expose, Gossip, Memoir, Tell-all

I got around to reading the Vixen Diaries recently, years after Confessions of a Video Vixen. I realize that I’m late on this book but after watching Empire, I’ve been on music industry tell-all book binge and Vixen Diaries made the cut. I find it funny that Karrine mentions Pamela Des Barres’ book in her first chapter because I could not even finish the heinous thing and wow is it horrible. Karrine’s book has a way of pulling you in while Pamela’s bored me to death. Sure Pamela has great descriptive writing and uses wonderful vocabulary but in an attempt to gloss over the so called “salacious” details of her story she really bores the crap out of you with all the purple prose.
Karrine’s description of Hollywood is perfect and matches that of another great read, Bobbi Brown’s book. I love how she points out that even though it may seem slow paced and quiet, it can still suck you in. She is honest and warns other girls. I like the feel that the book is trying to teach us something already, have young girls learn from her mistakes and watch out for themselves should they choose to take that path rather than feed them illusions and brag about herself.

My only issue with her descriptions of the downside of Hollywood is that she comes back to it often in the book. As an east coaster I’ve never been mystified by Hollywood myself, so I’ve never felt like the threat of being lured in that she talks about. So it makes me wonder, if she really wants to keep to herself, doesn’t trust anyone, and dislikes the scene over there then why does she remain there?

The topic of jealousy arises through the book. Yes it’s real but Karrine seems to think it is exclusive to fame. I’m sure its magnified when fame is involved but I think in every industry, in every social circle, even in families you feel the sting of jealousy. One thing I found surprising, is when she describes the social hierarchy in a popular club on the Sunset strip. She divides people from least famous to most famous and then calls regular non-famous people “wall flowers” who are jealous of her and other celebrities. Unless this is an exclusive LA thing that I have no experience with I really think she is in a bubble here. Everyone doesn’t care care about celebrities nor are they aspiring to be one. If they are fans they might stare for a bit, some might want to talk to them and then some may even find them obnoxious! And jealous stares? Well yes, anytime someone is rich or beautiful they may encounter jealous stares, famous or not. Sometimes men can’t even see an average guy with a gorgeous girl without immediately measuring him up and whispering about what it is he might do. I think there is a level of delusion here with famous people.

On her relationships with men:
One thing that irritated me from her last book is how flattering she is in her descriptions of most of the leading men. There is a lot of love between her and the men in her life, that is clear but she never seems to just grow tired of their instability enough to say, “I’m done. Biggest mistake of my life. Never looking back.” Another thing that bothers me is how aggressive they seem to be. For example, in this book the nameless Baby Boy just grabs her in her bathroom during a tour of the house and immediately begins to undress without having been given any signals that I can interpret. I get that this is supposed to be somewhat of a scene from a romance novel but…I would be turned off by this approach. It reminds me of her encounters with Jay Z and Vin Diesel in the first book.
I also seriously began to wonder about Baby Boy’s age. I thought he might have been a few years younger until she said his family would lock him up and throw away the key if they knew about her. How old could he be that grounding him was an option?
Her relationship with her ex-boyfriend turned best friend Bill Maher did make me happy. It makes me think more highly of him that he remained her best friend despite their ups and downs in the relationship and hopeful that if someone as open and honest as she is was able to find acceptance in a man then maybe we all can. I appreciate when ex-lovers are able to a maintain platonic relationships. It’s hard to find that with the sensitive male ego!

The relationship she described with the boxer Antonio, how she went out but always made sure to be home in time when he got there reminded me of something Bobbi Brown said in her book. She said it never occurred to her it wasn’t a good idea to give a guy her all. It sounds wrong because you shouldn’t play games in love, but it seems you lose a part of yourself if you give everything.

At the conclusion of the book, I guess I still find her to be surprisingly naive despite everything she’s been through. While I value her honesty I find it surprising that she can describe how openly she feels about these men while also describing her romantic and sexual relationships with others. It seems to me that when men know so much about your relationships with other males, they value any confessions of your feelings less. I mean she’s talking about how in love she was with Bill and how much she still wanted to be with Papa. Did Bill want to know this? Did he still value her friendship after hearing about this? I hope so and like I said, the fact that he remains her best friend makes me happy. Lastly I never expected Papa to be Method Mad. From the descriptions, I was sure he was LL Cool J. Maybe I was shipping.

One of my favorite quotes in the book:
“The inevitable truth about life, especially life in our 20s is that we are bound to change and change again.” – So true and comforting.

A career minded woman finds romance and scandal in the music industry

A career minded woman finds romance and scandal in the music industry