In light of the following recent text exchange …
… between Mitchell and myself, I would like to announce the publication of two books, which will be sold as companion volumes:
I Miss Sluts, by Sheila O’Malley
Where’s Mary Fucking Astor When We Need Her?, by Mitchell Fain
Coming to your local bookstore soon.
This announcement could not be more timely, since Mary Astor has been all over the news (well, sort of) lately. Now Mary Astor is always “news” among my group of friends (witness that text exchange) because we adore her and are slightly obsessed with her.
BUT one of the books I am most excited to read in 2017 (I just bought it yesterday), is the totally sui generis:
Edward Sorel is an illustrator and has been so for decades. He started out with political satire stuff during the Vietnam War era, and has since worked all over the place, and you will definitely recognize his work if you read Vanity Fair. So turns out, he has had a 50-year obsession with Mary Astor – ignited by his discovery that she was the star of a gigantic sex scandal in 1936, through which she lost custody of her children, fought to get custody back, and all of this played out in courtrooms, on the front page, and in the court of public opinion. If you know about Mary Astor, then you know about this scandal. Most explosive, though, and what makes the scandal somewhat unique, is that Mary Astor (deflowered by John Barrymore) kept a diary, in which she wrote – in great great detail – about her sex trysts with George Kaufmann (a married man), describing their hours-long fucking sessions (she didn’t use euphemisms), and how many times she came, and how amazing it was, all in breathless “purple” prose. The press got a hold of the diary, she was raked over the coals for being a harlot. And it was sensational, in general, because she had such a pure virginal image. The press referred to it as her “lavender” or “purple” diary.
What’s even more extraordinary is that Mary Astor came back from all of this and had a whole second career playing warm-hearted matronly types. Good for her.
So anyway, Sorel was obsessed with this whole thing, which then led him into a more far-reaching obsession with Mary Astor. Who was she? What was her background? How did she FEEL about all of this?
The result of his obsession is Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936, the story of that sex scandal, accompanied by funny and beautiful illustrations by Sorel.
Like, I can’t even believe this book exists now. It’s not just the story of Mary Astor. It’s the story of one man’s obsession with her. I cannot wait to read it.
So Where’s Mary Fucking Astor When You Need Her? She’s right here.