A wickedly funny memoir with echoes of David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, Beautiful People (originally published in hardcover as Nasty) is now a BBC comedy hit series from the producer of Ab Fab and The Office.
Proclaimed "the most brilliant, brash thing in type" by Liz Smith, Simon Doonan's saucy prose has established him as an emerging star among literary humorists. In this break-through memoir, reminiscent of both Sedaris and Burroughs, he revisits the landscape of his youth, and displays the irresistible charm that earned him his dedicated audience.
Long before he became a celebrity in his own right--as the author of best-selling books, as the style arbiter of VH1 and America's Top Model, and the marketing genius behind Barney's New York--Simon Doonan was a "scabby knee'd troll" in Reading, England. In Beautiful People, Doonan returns to the working-class neighborhood of his youth, and chronicles the misadventures of the Doonan clan in all their wacky glory. Readers meet his mother Betty, whose gravity-defying, peroxide hairdo signified her natural glamour; his father Terry, an amateur vintner who turned parsnips into the legendary Chateau Doonan; his grandfather D.C., a hard-drinking betting man who plotted to win his fortune by turning Simon into a jockey; and his demented grandma Narg and schizophrenic Uncle Ken, both of whom lived upstairs.
Fearing he would fall victim to the insanity that runs in his family, or, worse, the banality of suburban life, Doonan decamps with his flamboyant best-friend Biddie to London, where they hope to find the Beautiful People, that elusive clan who luxuriate on floor pillows and amuse each other with bon mots. Throughout the memoir--in essays about family holidays, the tart who lived next door, his first job--Doonan continues his bumbling pursuit of the fabulous life, only to learn, in the end, that perhaps the Beautiful People were the ones he left behind.
"Nastiness is rich. Nastiness is fun." And in this colorful memoir, nasty is also quite enjoyable. Doonan (Wacky Chicks), creative director of Barney's New York, was raised in the industrial wasteland of 1950s and '60s Reading, England. He craved glamour and excitement; what he had instead were two cheeky working-class parents: the fabulous Betty, who sported peroxide-yellow hair and spike heels; and Terry, who embraced amateur wine-making with near-religious fervor. After all, in an "extended family of assorted lodgers and mentally ill relatives," alcohol helped. "It was all quite nasty," Doonan explains, so he and his drag performer friend Biddie headed to London in search of the Beautiful People. Instead, they found crazy characters and lowly prostitutes, people Doonan recalls with unabashed glee. Armed with a relentless joie de vivre, Doonan takes readers on a breezy joyride through his life, focusing less on his career trajectory than on his kooky formative years. Humor is his ultimate weapon, and whether Doonan's in Los Angeles getting arrested in Vivienne Westwood plaid bondage trousers or coping with a gay-bashing policeman in Blackpool, he keeps his comic cool. This endearing book pays tribute to a madcap childhood and the power of familial love. Photos.