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This memoir from the bestselling author of Postcards from the Edge and Wishful Drinking gives you an intimate, gossip-filled look at what it’s like to be the daughter of Hollywood royalty.
Told with the same intimate style, brutal honesty, and uproarious wisdom that locked Wishful Drinking on the New York Times bestseller list for months, Shockaholic is the juicy account of Carrie Fisher’s life. Covering a broad range of topics—from never-before-heard tales of Hollywood gossip to outrageous moments of celebrity desperation; from alcoholism to illegal drug use; from the familial relationships of Hollywood royalty to scandalous run-ins with noteworthy politicians; from shock therapy to talk therapy—Carrie Fisher gives an intimate portrait of herself, and she’s one of the most indelible and powerful forces in culture at large today. Just as she has said of playing Princess Leia—“It isn’t all sweetness and light sabers”—Fisher takes readers on a no-holds-barred narrative adventure, both laugh-out-loud funny and poignant.
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Carrie Fisher (1956-2016) became a cultural icon as Princess Leia in the first Star Wars trilogy. She starred in countless films, including Shampoo and When Harry Met Sally. She is the author of Shockaholic; Wishful Drinking (which became a hit Broadway production); and four bestselling novels, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, and Postcards from the Edge.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Oy! My Pa - Pa
I didn’t see my father all that much growing up, which resulted in him becoming a kind of mythic figure to me. I probably knew as much about him as some of his more rabid fans. I’d been told stories by other relatives of ours about how he would make plans to come pick up Todd and me and then not show up. This apparently occurred enough so that by the time I was three, when someone would tell me, “Your dad’s coming!” I would shrug as near to indifferently as possible and say, “Maybe.”
Several years later, after his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor had come to an end, he was living in an Asian-looking house in a development called Beverly Estates, located up on a hill overlooking, of all things, other Asian-looking houses in what is now part of Benedict Canyon. Now, my father was not what you might think of as an industrious type person. I mean, if you could get something done for you by someone else, my dad would have it done (obviously with the exception of having sex), so, to assist him in his very basic existence, he had this very capable, imposing black man named Willard, a man who he referred to as his “butler” as people still did in those days. Willard, who actually dressed like a butler, in a white jacket and black pants, pretty much took care of my dad for about twenty years. You might say he made my father—an extremely charming womanizing drug enthusiast—possible. He looked after him and cleaned up after him and even sometimes fed him (on the rare occasions that he ate, because by then he was shooting speed, courtesy of the original Dr. Feelgood, Dr. Max Jacobson).
I remember this one time, when my father was living with this beautiful Scandinavian Playboy model named Ula, my brother and I were going to spend the night. Amazing, right!? A sleepover at Dad’s! But somehow my mom found out that he was living in sin with Ula, who also happened to be a Playboy model. So, when the four of us got back from the movies, there was my mom’s Cadillac in the driveway, with her leaning against it, furiously smoking a cigarette. Then she waited while we gathered up our overnight bags and drove us home in uncomfortable silence, Todd and I staring gloomily into our laps.
On another occasion, when I was about thirteen, I remember taking a walk with him down the road near his home. So, you know, what do you say to someone who really didn’t know how to ask questions and coincidentally happened to be your father? I mean, our exchanges never really went much beyond an assortment of, “How are you?” or “What grade are you in now?” or “What’s your favorite subject?” This time though he turned to me quite casually and said, “I see you’re developing breasts.”
Naturally, I didn’t really know how to respond to this. I mean, maybe it would have been different if he’d been more of a . . . well, a more present sort of parent, you know? Like where there are a sufficient assortment of other subjects that we could discuss that might, say, provide us with any kind of context where that exchange could maybe occur, right? But all out there on its own . . . I have to say, well, it was awkward, to say the least.
Here’s the thing. Very early on in my father’s life it became obvious that he possessed a beautiful singing voice. Untrained, undeveloped, it just emerged—strong, pure, remarkable. So, from a very early age he was singing professionally, performing initially at bar mitzvahs. And somehow there wasn’t a huge leap from being the most gifted bar mitzvah boy to headlining in the Catskills.
I could go back and check one of his two autobiographies, but from what I can recall, my father was winning talent contests and appearing on local radio shows beginning at the age of twelve or thirteen, so that by the time he was fifteen, he had officially been “discovered” by none other than Eddie Cantor.
The upshot of this early career download is, my father was treated like a celebrity from a very early age. He had six siblings, but his mother doted on him. Clearly, he was her favorite, her Sonny Boy, dark haired and adorable. And it did not stop with his mom. No, from the first, all the girls loved him. And as such, whatever rules there were simply didn’t apply to him. He was young, he was talented, he was handsome, and he was Jewish. What more could you ask for? So by the time he was eighteen, my father was making more money than his father, and by the time he was twenty-one, he was making more than his father ever had. So what all this came tumbling down to was that my father could do no wrong, or if he did do what might ordinarily be considered “wrong” for someone else, for him these were just some of the quirks that might be found in the very blessed and gifted.
In his universe, from the very earliest of formative years, his every gesture, every utterance, every otherwise inappropriate action was not only indulged but in many cases celebrated. I don’t say this to excuse him, but in a way he was somehow guileless. I don’t know how else to describe it. I mean, he just . . . he always seemed to be able to assume the best about others—especially women, of course—and he was always ALWAYS up for a good time.
After the developing breasts talk, I think there was a seven-year gap where, instead of merely having no relationship, we had no relationship at all. Then, suddenly somehow it was 1977, the year everything changed. I was living in New York on the Upper West Side. Star Wars had opened recently, and I happened to be in it, and my life . . . I mean, what can you say after that? No, I’m really asking you? What can you say? Well, whatever it is, there’s every chance it would be said in a very weird robotic voice. Coincidentally, this happened at almost the exact same time when my term as a teenager was up. But because I had been in Star Wars, for the first time I could afford my very own apartment. I paid the rent with checks that had my name on them, money I’d earned by playing Princess Leia Organa in a movie that was so popular—so unbelievably popular—that it took whatever my life had been up to that point and transformed it into this very different thing. I mean, sure I’d spent my whole life around fame. Who hasn’t, right? But that fame was generated by my parents. This shine was mine.
Well, sort of mine anyway. And by that, I mean that Princess Leia was famous. And I just happened to look amazingly like her—I mean aside from her hair. But this was not dissimilar to the associative fame I’d lucked into with my scandal-generating folks. I now had this new and super-attenuated, dialed-up sci-fi fame and if that wasn’t enough, this fame came with Leia Organa’s salary. And it was with that salary that I rented my very own semi-private apartment between 90th and 91st on Central Park West—300 CPW. Yes, that’s right, the El Dorado. Apartment 12J1 with its actual terrace quietly overlooking . . . other buildings. No, it wasn’t big or fancy, but whatever it was, it was mine. Mine not only to live in, but to decorate and even invite people to. My life had begun, and gosh darn it all to Pete, it was gonna have all the earmarks of adventure and all the Groucho Ear Marx of fun. So there it was—spread out all around me. So, what else could I do but hunker down and live it? Naturally, one of my first stops on this new life’s journey of mine was yes, that’s right—dropping acid.
Acid had become my new best friend, my drug of choice, my companion in chief. It agreed with me—whoever I happened to be at that not so sharp point. Something about it was more of the same for me—but in a way that sameness was oh so very far from redundant. My experience of almost everything and everyone I encountered had always been intense, but I found it difficult to believe that everyone else’s was, too. But I found that when I took acid with whatever friend I was lucky enough to take it with, I knew with an almost sufficient amount of certainty that we felt something close to exactly the same way.
So, it was a hot summer night in Manhattan, one of those nights just made for hallucinating that my friend (and Jerry Garcia’s friend) Mike and I dropped some liquid Owsley LSD and we lay out on a blanket on my terrace, gazing rapturously up at the night sky listening to Keith Jarrett, the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan playing on the turntable, with the volume turned up high, realizing our way to morning.
That summer, with an ever-increasing appetite for closures—random and otherwise—my open mind stretching ever wider, wider, reveling out there, shimmering in the distance . . . Who was that? It appeared to be—why, yes, it was a man—that was it! A silver-haired, half pajama-clad, plum-eating and Kent-smoking . . . WAS it!?!! YES! It was! It was my stepfather. That flatulent albeit well-groomed shoe tycoon.
Harry Karl, the man who had disappeared from our lives—1for very, very good reason—more than five years earlier, and to whom I’d never actually said goodbye. Wow . . . yes . . . it was all too crystal clear. Now would be the perfect time to correct this oversight.
So, with the acid as my guide, I picked up the phone and dialed the inexplicably remembered ten numbers that would deliver me back to Harry. (God, remember dialing?) After enough rings to convince me I’d woken him, he picked up the phone and growled in his five-packs-a-day voice, “Yeah, hello?” prompting me to cheerily say something along the lines of, “Listen, I just wanted to call you because, you know, we did actually live together for twelve years or so and, even though you and my mom got divorced, you never did anything specifically awful to me, I mean, not really at all, right? So I just wanted to say, you know, I’m not mad at you or anything and I’m, you know, I’m sorry I never spoke to you for so many years up until now.” I may have even thrown in some version of “You were always good to us,” which, I mean, he really kind of had been, in his nonverbal, having-sex-with-manicurists-who-turned-out-to-be-whores-and-taking-all-of-our-mother’s-money sort of way. Hey, at least he’d been present, right? Even though that presence included not wearing pajama bottoms and passing gas incessantly.
I don’t actually recall the ensuing conversation much beyond this point, but ultimately I know I was glad I’d called him, because soon after that we received word that he’d suddenly and quite unexpectedly passed away. And not surprisingly, it was a fairly goofy, rarely heard-of type of death.
Apparently late one afternoon, while he was shuffling and wheezing his way through the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel, a man approached him, smiling and holding out his hand, saying cheerily, “Hey, Harry, how the hell are you? Long time no see!!!” and gave him a friendly punch in the arm. It was several hours later that same night, that Harry was rushed to the hospital. It seemed that a blood clot had formed in his recently punched arm, which then subsequently continued on to a place it didn’t belong at all, leaving Harry very, very dead and subsequently leaving me very, very grateful that I’d dropped acid that night with Mike, inspiring me to talk, however briefly, to Harry before he’d passed on to that great shoe store in the sky.
Anyway, having called Harry, I found myself working backwards through my mother’s husbands, leaving me to now call my actual and very own father, Eddie Fisher.
Well, as luck would have it, by now the acid was peaking, and I found a person very like myself saying something like, “Hey, Dad, you know, whatever, I love you, and I’m sorry we never actually connected that much, and, you know, maybe one day you could, I don’t know, maybe one day you’d like to come visit me here in New York sometime or whatever.”
Well, wouldn’t you know it? Eighteen hours later the doorbell rang and there, having caught the first flight out from LAX to JFK, was my long-lost papa, a grin on his face and a knockoff Louis Vuitton bag in his hand. Well, what could I say—however unconvincingly—but, “Come on in! Welcome!”
As it happened, I had very recently begun living with Paul Simon at that point, but I was still spending time in my apartment. Especially when Paul and I would break up, as we periodically were wont to do. But as a result of my acid-induced reach-out, I was no longer able to move back to my place when Paul and I had our little difficulties. Like other couples, we remained living together in our very own, very comfortable hell.
Eventually (and/or after a year) my father moved to an apartment around the corner from Paul. And it was not too long after that that he began sneaking drugs to me. This was when, like most fathers and daughters, we began doing coke together. Our relationship had started with me longing for him to visit, eventually evolving into my being desperate for him to leave, settling finally and comfortably into us being drug buddies. As I’ve been known to say, in my family, the apple doesn’t fall down far from the tree.
After our New York inbred incarnation had run its delightfully inappropriate course, he managed to relocate to San Francisco, remarrying yet again. Only this time his wife was neither a beauty nor a celebrity, but was a lovely, wealthy Asian woman named Betty Lin. In addition to her wealth, Betty’s ample attractions included her being very much a family person. And so, it was in large part due to her that I began to see my father more regularly. And not only me, but my brother and my two half-sisters from his marriage to Connie Stevens, Joely and Trisha, also enjoyed this resurgence in our no longer neglected relations. As if all this weren’t enough, Betty turned out to be an enormous Debbie Reynolds fan! So my very estranged parents occasionally found themselves once more at the mercy of one another’s company.
But for all of that, my father was this unbelievably lovable person. I mean, you know those people that for some inexplicable reason are just a pleasure to be around? Well, maybe you don’t, but I do, and my father was very much one of these endearing humans. Even after everything he both did and didn’t do, I somehow couldn’t help but enjoy spending time with him.
My father wasn’t successful with women because he had been rich and famous, though that didn’t hurt. People gravitated toward him because he enjoyed them. He had a way of making you feel special. Because when you stepped into his sphere, you were all but guaranteed a good time. And though you knew with every part of your being that time with him couldn’t be scheduled or relied on, all that was somehow forgotten within minutes of finding yourself in his company. There you were yet again, the chump that couldn’t seem to resist his playful charisma. Not even after promising yourself that the next time you found yourself succumbing to his eternally boyish charm—you’d remember, you wouldn’t be that innocent putz who would buy into anything he promised. You would never again end up going through the withdrawals after, inevitably, once more finding yourself being denied access to that incredible way he had of making you feel not only special but necessary, even essential, to him.
And all of this was as true to him as it was to you while it was happening. You can’t counterfeit feelings like that, right? Again, I’m really asking. In my opinion though—in the well-appointed interim, until you get back to me—the answer is absolutely and unequivocally NO!
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I had workshopped my show Wishful Drinking at the Geffen Theatre in Westwood, California, for a number of months before moving it up to the Berkeley Rep theatre in 2008. This was where...
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Book Description Simon & Schuster UK, 2011. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1847370322
Book Description Simon & Schuster UK, 2011. Hardcover. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB1847370322
Book Description Simon & Schuster UK. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1847370322 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0776300