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Thing of Beauty
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on December 26, 1999
After I saw the HBO movie "Gia" I found myself yearning to know more about this woman's life. "Thing of Beauty" not only presents the real and compelling story of Gia from her troubled upper middle class adolescence in suburban Phillie to her rise as the "first supermodel" to her downfall to heroin, which led to her untimely death from AIDS, but is also a great historical/pop culture account of the late '70s and early '80s. Instead of giving a one dimensional look at Gia and getting caught up in the whole sapphic side of her personality like the movie, the book presents a full view of a complex and very tragic woman literally eaten alive by the world of fashion. Had I not picked up this book I never would have known that Cindy Crawford, refered to in the early stages of her career as "Baby Gia," literally owes her success to Gia. (The pictures show an uncanny resemblance.) This book was over 400 pages of tiny text and I devoured it in two days.
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on May 27, 2002
This book is basically the only sound source on Gia Carangi, except a few documentaries aired on American television and a few websites. As the only book exclusively on her, even though as has been previously mentioned, the book deals with rather ridiculous fashion industry issues, it deserves a great deal of credit.
I don't think that the fashion industry per se had anything to do with Gia's tragedy, we should instead doubt her taste in friends and lovers. But most of all, she was for some reson incredibly susceptible to heroin, and that is the true source of her misery. Chances are that Gia was manic depressive with a great deal of mania thrown in there, and received great relief from this sedating/seductive drug.
To my thinking - absolutely nobody - not even Marilyn Monroe herself could compare to this outstandingly beautiful woman. She should have been an actress, definitely, and I'm surprised that nobody seems to have taken her on for such a project. Perhaps her being a lesbian (and less interested in convincing directors) and a rebel prevented her from this. Perhaps she wasn't interested. She did say in one "interview"/home-made movie with a very stoned twitching Gia, that she wanted to "make a big splash in scenography".
Take home message: This book is adequately well-written, deals with fashion industry in a simplistic way but despite this it's great because it's got pictures of Gia in it as well as some good research on her life. One thing would be better than this: A compilation of Gia photos.
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on February 5, 1998
This is a novel for all mothers and daughters to read -- together. The passion Gia threw forth only to be greeted by betrayal was meant for her mother...the mother Gia wanted more then anything to love her. The sad thing was that Gia's mother only wanted the same thing. A beautifully intriguing story that makes one want to cry and actually do end up crying....Gia was something special and only wanted love from one person...a person she never believed she received it from. It was only at the end of her life that she realized what she wanted and that was her mother. This tale will anger you...make you want to hold all young models in your arms and make them see that their is more to love then sex...that it is also about acceptance. For the people portrayed in the novel...I would think they would be ashamed. To know that they could have reached out in the beginning and said..."I love you" instead of accepting Gia's attempts at pushing them away. I have never been moved by a novel such as this and the horrible thing is was that it was true...that Gia was abused and ignored...only wanted for her beauty. Not only should all mothers and daughters read this novel but all young girls wanting to be models.
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on April 27, 1999
I am writing this to say that Gia has spoken loud and clear from the grave. Before I saw the movie or read the book, I felt that the AIDS victims were to blame for their ailment and " it was their problem, why should I care!" Well, Gia's story Slapped me in the face! It was painful! She put a face on AIDS. I have since decided to help AIDS victims any way I can. That is the silent promise I made to her. If only she were alive to hear it. Gia touched me so much I can hardly explain it. She taught me a lesson. I love her and appreciate her for that. That same year(1986), I lost a very dear cousin to alcohol and drugs. We know the pain of her family because we were going through the same type of loss. I hurts like hell!! To Gia's family and friends my heart goes out to all of you!! May God bless and be with all of you!! Sincerely, Carla Marie Lovato From Las cruces, New Mexico P.S If I could obtain the e-mail of Mr. Fried It would be deeply appreciated,or even a family member of Gia's It would be most appreciated!! Thank You!!!
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on November 5, 2003
This is the book that launched my interest in Gia. Stephen Fried compiles an unbelievable amout of research and creates a necessary book, particularly for young people.
However, "Tragedy" portrays just the surface of Gia. I finished reading the book not really able to imagine how the real person must have been. The book chronicles the fashion world of that time period, and at times creates much more vivid portraits of supporting figures in Gia's life than of Gia herself.
"Why" is the unanswered question here: why was Gia the way she was? I don't understand how life's everyday traumas (which most of us can experience and handle normally) could propel Gia to destroy her life. She made it to a place that millions dream of, and squandered it so swiftly and horrifically. I think it's a cop-out to blame most of Gia's behavior on the mother, though "Mom" seemed to have a particular preoccupation with herself and her own material gain. This was a disadvantage to the kids, who could have been more, shall we say, properly guided during their younger years.
I found the workings and anecdotes of the fashion industry completely fascinating thanks to Fried's exhaustive research. However, I am critical of the author's numerous shots at The Reagans, which came across as transparent, patronizing propaganda.
All criticism aside, this is must-read material.
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on November 21, 2001
I can remember when I was in elementary school and I saw Gia on the cover of Cosmopolitan and I thought to myself, " I wish I could grow up to look like her." I was completely stunned when I found out years later that Gia, the model I had wanted so desperately to look like, had died in horrifically.
I bought the book because of that memory, to see if I couldn't learn something about the woman beyond the image on the glossy cover of the magazine and I found myself mourning for a girl who was lost and had no chance of finding her way out the darkness she was mired in.
The book introduces you to Gia's mother, father, her siblings,and the people she loved most in her life. It was amazing to me that someone so gifted at birth with beauty saw nothing beautiful in herself and spent her life trying to escape the world she created around herself. I got a sense that her mother never realized the damage she did to her daughter by abandoning her children to her ex-husband and she would never accept the responsibility for the pain she inflicted on her daughter. She manipulated her daughter whenever she could. She wanted to live through Gia and in doing so she sucked the joy from her daughter's life.
Having lived the life of an manipulated, stifled child, I could clearly see where the darkness began to seal around Gia. I think that she would have been able to traverse the pitfalls alot better if she had had a friend or two who had wanted only her best interests to be served and not grab a piece of Gia for themselves.
She was a fractured young woman in need of stability and it was only offered to her in segments and at a very high cost. The people around her only brokered the bits and pieces they knew about her. Unfortunately, the one left with the tab was Gia, who died young, in anonymity and without any of her dazzling beauty left. What she found in the end was the fragments of a dream that she truly wanted to pursue, but her chance to grasp the shooting star was lost.
You can never judge a book by its cover and never a person by their physical beauty or lack of it. What makes a person unique is their spirit and the trials and triumphs that they have endured in their lives. Gia didn't have a chance from the start. It didn't matter how beautiful she was, there was no fairy tale ending for her, despite the brilliance of her arrival and short stay in the glittering world of the wealthy and trendy.
This book is great for those who forget that money and beauty can't buy happiness. Gia's couldn't. This book should be a warning and a legacy. A disturbing read but clearly worthwhile.
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on May 18, 2001
I personally read this book on,"Super Model,"Gia Marie Carangi",and also have the Movie,"Gia",Too beautiful to die,too wild too live,if I got it close without looking. But,this book,is a excellent book,on "Gia's",life,I know a lot of people say,well she was a model,who was a junkie,but I dont agree.Gia was abused,mentally,sexually,and physically,in her early life,and having to go through what she did,with the abuse,neglect,being ignorned mostly by her own mother!!!!! I believe if Gia's family cared about what was happening,I believe she still might have made it,she tried to tell her mother,she was crying out for her mother,and family,but it was too late for Gia.See I also Model,so I know,it isnt what it seem's!!!!!! Dont be fooled,no body look's like that,not even you,from the movie,when Gia was in rehab,that is soo true!!!!!And once you are Modeling,you think Ill never do what she did,well when that time come's,girl's sadly change their mind's.Ive learned a lot from Gia's life,and I have not subcombed to taking drug's to numb my inner pain,that's my difference from Gia.A MUST READ,A VERY WELL WRITTEN BIOGRAPHY,FROM,STEPHEN M.FRIED,on the life of,"Super Model,Gia Marie Carangi".I just wished someone wouldive helped her,I think a lot of GIA,and the same or almost same life,Ive been there too!!!!!! A MUST READ,5 star's,a excellent book.Thank's,Teresa Tomsic
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on August 21, 2001
This book is amazing in its extensive detail. As thoroughly researched as any textbook, the facts and interviews are almost mindboggling. Anything you wanted to know about Gia's life is presented here in excruciating journalistic detail. . .but not everything you wanted to know, and the journalistic detail is as cold and detatched as a robot.
There is no emotional image, no living picture, no mythological resonnance, no romantic thread to hold together the parade of facts.
The author tangents so much on the lives and careers of the other players in Gia's life that in many chapters she becomes secondary, or even tertiary. This book might better be titled: Gia: The Lives of Those Who Knew Her."
The .. movie (which was supposedly unoffically based on this book) managed to take the raw facts of Gia's life and mythologize them into a meanigful story, if a bit lacking in cold hard facts, that gave us a rotund image of the flaming fluid life of Gia. The film takes the facts and the remeniscents of those who knew her and weaves these threads into a living tapestry which this book can not achieve.
And yet, I can't close without giving credit to the authors amazingly detailed work. He is, after all, a journalist, and not a novelist. He's not a myth weaver, he's a fact reporter. And so I can't really say that he failed in his mission, as the mission of any journalist is to provide as clear and concise a body of facts as she/he can. I can only say that I wanted more poetry and more litarature in this book. So, I say buy it if you are in any way interseted in Gia or in anyway intersted in the fashion world/industry. But if you want to taste Gia's fire, rent the .. movie.
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on August 7, 1998
At 19 Gia was a top model in the highly competitive world of beauty marketing, earning $100,000 in 1980, and was in constant demand. Industry experts expected her to hit the pinnacle of the business by age 21and earn the highest salary available to only a few models in the world - $500,000 per year. Other models envied her; her family and friends rejoiced for her good fortune.
However, the surface beauty hid an emotionally distraught young woman. Raised in a clearly dysfunctional family, Gia had begun regularly burying her intense emotional pain with regular drug use and all night partying at wild clubs while in her teens. Her craving for artificial escape from life continued during her modeling career, where drugs and all night clubbing were routine and well tolerated within the industry.
Her search for the solution to her emotional insecurities and enormous need for love was filled by heavy heroin use before she turned 21, but the industry became her enabler, hid! ing the track marks on her arms and hand with poses and airbrushing. Only when she stopped showing up to photo shootings was her drug addiction viewed as a problem, but she was still offered sporadic work.
As Gia's consumption of heroin grew to massive amounts, she finally lost her career, money, and dignity, descending into the netherworld of sleazy heroin clubs, borrowing and stealing money from friends and family, and destroying her professional and personal relationships.
She died at age 26 from AIDS - one of the first American women to be diagnosed and die from the plague that decimated the beauty marketing industry.
Whether one feels sorry for her or that she brought all her problems on herself, one cannot read this book without feeling touched by her life and struggles. The sheer tragedy of her wasted life and her intense emotional fragility leaves one feeling "Why couldn't something have been done to save her?'
Gia is dead, but not forgott! en.
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on March 26, 2002
This book took me awhile to get through, but the more time I spent with it, the more I appreciated the tremendous amount of time and research that the author went through to put it together. I have not been able to find much else that documents the time period and the industry so well. Although it is focused on the life of 1 person, it provides an interesting commentary on the late 70's and early 80's. Stephen Fried deserves praise for preserving the memories of interesting and influential people who otherwise could be forgotten by many.
On another level it would be easy to say that the story of Gia was one of fame and fortune that came too quickly and went unchecked and without a mentor, but Gia seemed too smart for that. With all the turmoil in her life, she always seemed to know what was going on and what she was doing to herself. She just chose to ignor it. Just like so many people, it appears that she never found her true calling and in her frustration/boredom turned to escapist activities which eventually contributed to her death.
If you enjoy reading well researched and detailed biographies, then I highly recommend this book. You will leave with a different perspective of the fashion industry, and if you are like me, this book will spark your curiousity as to what became of some of the other celebrities of the period.
Had she survived her drug use, I can not help but wonder where she would be today. Would she have devoted herself to working in the rehabilitation industry, or perhaps become an activist in the gay and lesbian community. I was interested to learn that some popular actors began their careers as her peers in the modeling business. We will never know, but through this work we will always remember her.
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