I was picked up by a Hummer limo at LAX. There was a bar inside that changed color illuminating the glasses neatly stacked overtop the mini-fridge like a trashy disco. I was just trying to get my breathing under control. Was I really about to be on a nationwide TV show to talk about a book I had written while hanging out in a metaphoric trashy disco not metaphorically drinking too much alcohol more than five years ago? I rode in my repurposed military vehicle wondering if it was too early to drink heavily, and if not, could I navigate the minibar? But by the time I had fumbled around looking for the right combination of liquids, the limo had pulled into the same film studio where Judy Garland had sung Over the Rainbow in 1939, so I’d have to live with whatever Judy Garland alcohol fumes still wafted in the air.
The driver and I waited for the producer and a PA to walk to the car, he for a tip, me for an answer to the question, “What the hell am I doing here?” When they arrived, both the driver and I left empty handed (I am generally a good tipper, but I didn’t know the etiquette and I was sweating in places I didn’t know had sweat glands…). I was led to my dressing room where there was no time to come up with pithy (and somewhat legal) answers to questions like, “Why did you write The Purity Test in the first place?”
Someone did my hair, someone else smeared on a bunch of make up. Back in my dressing room I was re-outfitted in a cute red blouse with black pants. I looked like a preschool teacher who had written a book about weird sex stuff. Luckily I had remembered to wear hoop earrings. I don’t know why that feels important but I had held onto my gold hoop earrings like they were the last train to coolsville and I was willing to fight the pregnant and physically impaired to get a seat.
Finally I was alone. I sat down and started running through my hilarious replies:
Famous Talk Show Host: So, Joselin, why did you write the purity test?
Joselin: Because I figured someone needed to come up with a way to score human depravity.
Famous Talk Show Host: How did you write it?
Joselin: With a lot of booze and a pot brownie.
I knew these were great answers because in this famous talk show host’s old show in the 1980’s, she had a lot of episodes about cross-dressers who used vegetables in foreplay. This was going to be great.
Then the producer came in and asked me to go over my answers with her –
Producer: So, Joselin, what made you think to write a purity test?
Joselin: I really think they are so much fun, I mean, who doesn’t love to compare their filth and depravity against their best friends? I used to love taking them at summer camp- of course, we didn’t know about Furry Fandom then.
Silence. Then cautiously:
Producer: How did you write The Purity Test?
Joselin: With a lot of booze and a pot brownie.
We looked at each other. She blinked. I blinked. Then she just, almost invisibly, shook her head. That was it.
Producer: You didn’t really write it with a lot of booze and a pot brownie, did you?
I hadn’t. It was all bravado. I had taken the gig as the writer of The Purity Test because I wanted to be a writer. That was the whole boring truth. I wanted to be one so badly I would have written it in my own blood if that had been in the contract. Before hearing about the project via my agent I didn’t even know what a purity test was. I had never taken one. I had created a persona of a person who had taken these tests at summer camp and who thought they were AWESOME because I knew a girl who had taken them at summer camp and thought they were sort of fun. But I didn’t really get why anyone would read through 2,000 questions about sexual perversion, violence and drug use only to figure out if they were grosser or less gross than someone else. Not that I judge people who would. It’s just that I really like Little House on the Prairie. That’s just me.
But I wrote the book because St. Martins was buying and I wanted St. Martins to like me.
The producer tried not to let me see the terror in her eyes. The idea that she had just flown a total idiot out to LA to be on her national TV show was not supposed to be as plain on her face as it was.
She said, in a last ditch attempt to salvage what would be the fifth episode of a brand new show by a famous Broadway actress turned talk show host turned Dancing With the Star Alum turned documentary film maker, trying to have an Oprah-like comeback, “Just try to be honest.” As she opned the door she had one final thing to say, “And if you ever want to use this footage to get on other shows, you seriously need to look less like you are on drugs. Calm down. Don’t hit anyone with your spazzy jazz hands.”
She didn’t say that, but that’s what I heard because she said something like that. I didn’t vomit as I sat on the couch alone with my shame, wanting to vomit.
The show started. I was the last guest so I was left alone for about twenty minutes. When they came to get me, no one had the heart to look me in the eye. I was pretty sure the producer had told them to avoid eye contact in case I was a biter. I was given water and a retouch on the fake eyelashes. Then I was called out to the stage. It was during a commercial break so I was seated in the center of an enormous white couch. I had a mic. The room was huge and the lights were bright. The audience, including one of my high school besties was really calming and welcoming. My heart rate slowed. I focused on keeping my hands on my lap. I was asked two, maybe three questions. I have no idea what they were or what I said, but at the end I made a point of hugging the host even though it was clear she was going for the handshake.
After the show no one said anything to me. I don’t know what this means but it probably isn’t good.
The show airs in September. I will be sure to let everyone know who and what and when the show is as soon as I know, that is if they don’t cut me. But since this really happened to me, I thought I’d share the story.
I think in the end I did okay. But it doesn’t totally matter. I got to sleep in a hotel that housed all the Munchkins during the shoot. Rumor has it they were wild drunks who liked to sleep together. So, yeah, they would have LOVED The Purity Test.