A diverting traipse through the world of fashion and film also reveals the struggles of a modern working woman.
Born in Oakland, former model Bing (A Wrongful Death: One Child’s Fatal Encounter with Public Health and Private Greed, 1997, etc.) grew up privileged in most ways, attending boarding school and then embarking on a successful modeling career in New York and Los Angeles. She spends a large part of the book discussing her friendships and acquaintances with big names like Mickey Cohen (the famous West Coast gangster), David Merrick (the Tony Award–winning theater producer) and Edward Ruscha (the successful pop artist). Though it’s entertaining to read about Cher’s baby shower, her brush with Warren Beatty at the Troubadour or her close friendship with Cass Elliot, this aspect of the book rings somewhat hollow, as though she is telling her audience what she thinks they want to hear from a famous model. Amid the name-dropping and mentions of casual drug use, however, there are profound, poignant moments as well, such as her discussion of her close-knit yet unconventional family; her open fascination with the lives of street kids and gangsters, which helped inspire her writing career; and her heart-wrenching chronicle of her once-vibrant and stylish mother’s decline into sweatsuit-wearing self-starvation. In these recollections, the author’s writing finds a steady rhythm that effectively conveys her passion, trepidation and love—what seems to be the real Bing underneath the famous model exterior.
Worth reading not for its revelations about famous names, but for the author’s ability to trace her journey through the many joys and obstacles of life in the modern era.