DG Q & A: Anna David
Anna David has packed a lot of living into her years—she's been a staff writer for glossy magazines such as Premiere, a prolific freelancer, and a professional sex and love expert. She has investigated meth use in Hollywood, produced a TV show, written a roman à clef novel about a party-girl reporter. She appears regularly as the thinking man's pop culture pundit, and blogs, twitters, flickrs, and all the rest of whatever it is that modern media types do. She's also clean, sober, cheerful, pretty, and nice. We'd hate her if we didn't know her, and we'd be wrong. She's just great. And thus, she answered our questions.
DG: To coin a not-very-original phrase, you've looked at celebrity from both sides, now. Is show biz still glamorous (if it ever was) for you?
AD: Well, if I'm a celebrity, then I'm at best a D-list one and considering how mean I've occasionally been about mere C-listers, that's sort of frightening. As for the glamour—well, I think living in L.A. for a decade certainly cures you of any notions that being a celebrity is terribly glamorous. When I first got there, I positively worshiped at the altar of celebrity—I thought the most amazing thing that could happen to someone was to become a celebrity's confidante or girlfriend. But I was absolutely fetishizing their fame and really, when it came down to it, using whoever I was interacting with in that way because I wasn't interested in who they were as people but in what I thought their choosing to be around me meant about me. It started to make me feel terrible about myself and I could never really feel comfortable in those situations anyway.
DG: And now that you're no longer a civilian, do you regret any of your journalistic ways?
AD: I try not to regret a lot but I'm slightly embarrassed by some of the writing I did about sex before I understood exactly what I needed and didn't need to share about my personal life with complete strangers. I've always lacked that filter that stops thoughts from coming out as sentences and looking back, I see there are times where I didn't have to reveal so much or be that graphic. And I allowed editors to make my material more risqué than what I turned in because I thought I had to in order to get more work, rather than sticking to what I felt comfortable with. And it was the same situation when I started answering sex and relationship questions on TV—I thought I had to say everything I could about myself. I've now gotten to the point—with TV, with magazine stories, with my blog and Facebook and twitter and even, say, this—where I know how much to reveal without feeling like beating myself up about it later.
DG: Your new book, Bought, explores the demi-monde of modern Hollywood—the professional girlfriend. You'd reported on top-dollar prostitution in Details—what's the lure for these women? Just money? Or is that too simple?
AD: I think it's more about power and control than it is about money. Most of the girls that I met when I was doing the Details piece were either porn stars or had been in Penthouse; prostitution was their side job, something they were able to make a significant amount of money from because of their "fame." In the world of the book, the main prostitute character is masking massive insecurity and an inferiority complex with her beauty, airs and controlling personality: she tells herself and everyone else that she does what she does because it allows her to be in control of her life and to control her clients but it's clear from how quickly she gets agitated and defensive whenever she feels someone judging her and how much of herself she gives away in order to please her main client that she's full of it. In both the real world I saw and the world of the book, the girls are also doing so many drugs that they're able to blot out a lot of the reality of what they're doing and convince themselves that they're powerful when on some level they know they're not.
[Take the Can You Be Bought? quiz. Read the first chapter.]
The DG Dozen
1) How do you define glamour? To me, it's a pair of Christian Louboutin heels getting out of a town car, perfectly applied fake lashes, the right kind of European accents. And I'll tell you what it's not: writing novels. Unless, of course, you're Danielle Steele.
2) Who or what is your glamorous icon? I think Diane Von Furstenberg is pretty fabulous. I love it when someone who appears to not need to work not only busts her ass for a career but also thrives while doing so.
3) Is glamour a luxury or a necessity? It's not so much a luxury as it is reserved for certain times. It's wonderful to have a glamorous night now and again but eating fried chicken in sweats also has its appeal.
4) Favorite glamorous movie? To me, it's Pulp Fiction. The wardrobes. The drugs. The music. The dancing. So glam.
5) What was your most glamorous moment? I've had a few. What feels like 1000 years ago, I dated a struggling actor named Matt Damon, who then of course became a major movie star. But I went to the premiere of his first movie, School Ties, with him at the Rainbow Room in New York.
6) Favorite glamorous object? iPhone
7) Most glamorous place? It's been a while since I've been there but Seville, Spain seemed pretty glamorous to me. The streets smelled like flowers and what's more glamorous than that?
8) Most glamorous job? I think the TV stuff I get to do is pretty glamorous. I literally get to go in, try on clothes that someone went out and bought specifically for me, have amazing hair and makeup people make me look as good as I can and then say things that are televised. I'm just a writer who happened to stumble into that seat and I often marvel at how different that is than, say, having a Maxim editor tell me that my third rewrite on the sex positions story isn't quite up to their standards.
9) Something or someone that other people find glamorous and you don't? Writing novels and writing for magazines. I can't tell you how many people tell me they'd love to have my writing career. I always want to say: Um, do you understand that it involves killing yourself to make editors happy and spending something like 10 hours a day in front of a computer with only cats for company?
10) Something or someone that you find glamorous whose glamour is unrecognized? One of the cats that keeps me company. She's a mutt who came for free from a pet store but her fur is deliciously decadent and she's perfected the "Oh, you've finally arrived to tend to my needs" Joan Crawford expression.
11) Can glamour survive? I think we'll always need it to balance out the mundane.
2) Is glamour something you're born with? In my cat's case, yes.
1) Angelina Jolie or Cate Blanchett? Angelina because unpredictable and unhinged will always appeal to me more than stately and together.
2) Paris or Venice? Paris, because I still semi speak the language.
3) New York or Los Angeles? New York for spring and fall, L.A. for summer and winter.
4) Princess Diana or Princess Grace? Di, if only because she was more of a cultural figure to me than Princess Grace. I still remember coming home from school one day and my mom said, "You're never going to believe this but Princess Grace died!" I was like, "Princess who?"
5) Tokyo or Kyoto? Japan
6) Boots or stilettos? Boots because, as a former ballerina, I have too many sprained ankles in my past to really do the stilettos thing.
7) Art Deco or Art Nouveau? Art Deco
8) Jaguar or Astin Martin? Jaguar
9) Armani or Versace? Armani. I think Versace is pretty over-the-top a lot of the time.
10) Diana Vreeland or Anna Wintour? Anna Wintour, possibly only out of my own egomania since we share the same first name.
11) Champagne or single malt? Formerly: champagne—specifically, Bellinis. Currently: neither.
12) 1960s or 1980s? The 80s because I was around for them.
13) Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds. Pearls are very Westport, Connecticut to me. Diamonds—so long as they're not huge and ostentatious—are lovely.
14) Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell? Kate Moss because I'm mystified by the whole Dorian Gray thing she has going. How can she possibly live the way she's rumored to live and still look so good? While Naomi obviously still looks great as well, she's almost become a cartoon character in my mind.
15) Sean Connery or Daniel Craig? Neither—not a James Bond girl, I'm afraid. In fact, I twittered during the Oscars this year that Craig left me cold and got hate tweets for it!