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In the go-go '90s, Kilmer-Purcell spent his days as an advertising grunt and his nights hopping around Manhattan's gay clubs as "Aquadisiac," over seven feet tall in a wig and heels with goldfish swimming in transparent bubbles covering "her" breasts. (Not that Kilmer-Purcell wanted to actually become a woman; as he explains to his mother, a drag queen is "a celebrity trapped in a normal person's body.") He meets a cute guy, and soon he's moved into Jack's penthouse apartment—which he pays for by working as a male escort. Kilmer-Purcell gives much of his story a Sex and the City-ish spin, finding comedy in the contrast between his and Jack's sweet, cuddly relationship and the sexual demimonde of drag queens, hookers and masochists they count among their friends. But there's always a dark undercurrent: before the two get serious, Kilmer-Purcell's alcohol-impaired judgment frequently puts him in dangerous situations, but things get worse when Jack starts smoking crack during sex parties and becomes addicted. The exact, unpitying detail with which Kilmer-Purcell depicts his downward spiral makes it impossible to look away, especially since it's not until the final scenes that he allows himself to succumb to sentimentality. (Feb.)
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To say Kilmer-Purcell lived a double life is an understatement. If his memoir can be believed--and even if it can't be, it's a very entertaining read--he lived double lives within double lives. A talented advertising copywriter by day and a popular drag queen by night, he was also a major alcohol and cocaine abuser and the inamorato/a of a professional male escort. Over the course of six months or so, his complicated life spun out of control as fussy clients, impatient coworkers, clingy drag groupies, love problems, and multiple chemical dependencies got the best of him, not to mention his lover. Parts of his autobiography are as tart and funny as a Noel Coward play, for Kilmer-Purcell is especially good at dialogue, and as in Coward's best plays, under the comedy lies the sad truth that even at our best, we are all weak, fallible fools. Again and again in this rich, adventure-filled book, Kilmer-Purcell illustrates the truth of Blake's proverb, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." Jack Helbig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.