I was milling around B2S in Central World a couple of weeks ago and I started pulling one cheap book after another without really considering that I still have a MAJOR book backlog. In the memoirs section, I was already holding Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking when I chanced upon I am Not Myself These Days. I checked the back cover and the words drag queen and male escort caught my eyes. I did not have any idea who the author is, but on account of those two key words Joan Didion was shoved back into the shelf and I ran straight to the cashier with the gay book instead.
I am Not Myself These Days is Josh Kilmer Purcel's (see official website here and Wikipedia entry here) memoir of living a double life: that of being an advertising executive by day and a drag queen by night. His alter-ego is called Aquadisiac (Aqua for short), famed for the two gold fish-bearing domes that serve as his breasts.
In one of his gigs, he meets Jack, a gorgeous professional male escort who goes by the name of Aidan. Purcel describes the perfect match as: "He's a perfectly together person with a long successful prostitution career ahead of him. I'm a wreck of a drag queen with a day job that doesn't cover my rent and a rapidly developing alcohol problem."
Shortly after meeting, he moves to Jack's New York penthouse apartment as the rather unlikely pairing blossomed into a relationship. Purcel notes, "I try to imagine how everyone envisions Jack and me as a couple. I like how we look. We're the Kennedys of Kinkiness. The Rockefellers of Wrongness. Maybe not the American Dream, but certainly a few people's American Fantasy".
As you can probably tell by now, the strength of the book lies in its kick-ass wit and energetic language. Parcel's view of his life as a drag queen is drenched in fantasy (with a lot of help from swigs from a vodka bottle), and a lot of times, surreal. It has enough hilarious lines that sent me cackling all over the place. I can remember only David Sedaris having that effect on me. But the book is not so much about the life of a drag queen but more about a portrait of a guy making sense of his relationship. Rather than just freaking out people, Purcel's writing has a heart at its core.
I hardly read memoirs, but I am Not Myself These Days surprisingly unfolds like a novel. It is certainly not a work of a literary genius, but Purcel's manic sarcasm and honesty bewitched me well enough all the way to its closing pages.