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NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A poignant and hilarious memoir from the cultural icon, gay rights activist, and four-time Tony Award–winning actor and playwright, revealing never-before-told stories of his personal struggles and conflict, of sex and romance, and of his fabled career
Harvey Fierstein’s legendary career has transported him from community theater in Brooklyn, to the lights of Broadway, to the absurd excesses of Hollywood and back. He’s received accolades and awards for acting in and/or writing an incredible string of hit plays, films, and TV shows: Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, Mrs. Doubtfire, Independence Day, Cheers, La Cage Aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy, Newsies, and Kinky Boots. While he has never shied away from the spotlight, Mr. Fierstein says that even those closest to him have never heard most of the tales—of personal struggles and conflict, of sex and romance, of his fabled career—revealed in these wildly entertaining pages.
I Was Better Last Night bares the inner life of this eccentric nonconforming child from his roots in 1952 Brooklyn, to the experimental worlds of Andy Warhol and the Theatre of the Ridiculous, to the gay rights movements of the seventies and the tumultuous AIDS crisis of the eighties, through decades of addiction, despair, and ultimate triumph.
Mr. Fierstein’s candid recollections provide a rich window into downtown New York City life, gay culture, and the evolution of theater (of which he has been a defining figure), as well as a moving account of his family’s journey of acceptance. I Was Better Last Night is filled with wisdom gained, mistakes made, and stories that come together to describe an astonishingly colorful and meaningful life. Lucky for us all, his unique and recognizable voice is as engaging, outrageously funny, and vulnerable on the page.
Fierstein, author and star of the Broadway hit Torch Song Trilogy, looks back on his show-biz travails and the struggle for gay rights in this raucous debut memoir. He recaps his parts in theater, movies, and TV from an early turn as an asthmatic, coprophiliac, lesbian maid in Andy Warhol's Pork to a portrayal of Congresswoman Bella Abzug and his playwrighting achievements in groundbreaking gay-themed blockbusters like Torch Song and the musical La Cage aux Folles. Along the way, Fierstein spotlights celebrity japes he threatened to crush comedian Jon Stewart's genitalia in a movie scene but praised singer-songwriter James Taylor's endowment when they shared a hot tub as well as lurid episodes from New York's gay demimonde of the 1970s and '80s, and a bout with alcoholism that ended with a suicide attempt. Readers will appreciate his blunt takes on anti-gay discrimination in matters small ("Why do the straight guys always get laid in movies while the gay characters almost never do?") and large ("The heterosexual community... let us die," he writes of the AIDS crisis, "issuing sighs of relief that they had nothing to worry about"). Defined by a campy yet bittersweet comic sensibility, Fierstein's vivid writing about the pratfalls, exhilaration, and painstaking craft of a life in theater beguiles. Photos.