ASK DR. MUELLER by Cookie Mueller


The Writings of Cookie Mueller
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 Engaging, depressing, and remarkably free of artifice, these vignettes of 1980s low life by the late downtown actress and performance artist may not succeed in capturing her scene as well Henry Miller did his--but they make an impressive attempt. Mueller died in 1989 of AIDS, but she left behind a considerable body of fiction and journalism on the wildly inventive, indulgent (and frequently self-destructive) '70s and '80s. A nice suburban girl from Maryland, she dropped out early and in the mid-1960s ran away to Haight-Ashbury. After some time there (and in a few mental wards), she came back to Baltimore and began hanging out with John Waters, who was just then starting to set up one of the strangest shops the movie world had yet to see. Mueller's career in show business began with Pink Flamingoes, Waters's masterpiece of tasteless excess that seems, with its coprophiliac climax, to have lost none of its shock value in the intervening years. After that, she became a part of Waters's entourage, moving with Divine and the rest of his crew to New York or Provincetown or farther afield as their whims or fortunes suited them. Most of Mueller's account is a straightforward autobiography, and even the fictionalized segments (with such titles as ``Abduction & Rape--1969'' or ``Sam's Party--1979'') seem to be narratives of actual events. For a while Mueller wrote pieces for Details and the East Village Eye, and some of those included here- -like an advice column on how to shoot up properly--could have been consigned to oblivion without much loss. But the portrait of the author that emerges in general--a humorous, self-destructive, intelligent, self-sufficient, strangely likable young woman--is compelling enough to overcome the many gaps in this spotty and rambling narrative. Essential reading for bohos, dropouts, and poseurs of every stripe and era.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-85242-331-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997


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