There is nothing unmistakable about Pam Gaslow. The author, whose droll humor, knife-edge prose, and blunt honesty have made her a literary star on the rise, as well as an up-and-coming comedian who slays the stage with the delivery that hovers between acidic wit and ironic self-reflection.
Her writing has spread like wildfire, from contributions to The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project to The Times of Israel and Newsbreak. A private collection of short works she wrote— The Poodlette Chronicles and Girls are Weird—put her on the map several years ago, as did her blog Depressed Hot Girl. Now, the writer is about to go big time with a comedic confessional so saucy you’ll have to keep reading to learn more.
“I have always been this way,” she says dryly. “I write what I know or from experience. Although I have a wild imagination, I prefer to pull from reallife experience because I love and believe the expression ‘you can’t make this *** up.’ People relate to and respect honesty and straightforwardness even though many people are afraid to express themselves that way. Someone recently told me I’m a combination of Dr. Ruth and Howard Stern.”
Gaslow’s odd humor and eventful life brought her to this moment. Raised in Hewlett Harbor on Long Island, she spent her young adult years on the Upper East Side, where her obeat perspective and proclivities began to form.
“Growing up in New York exposed me to seeing way too much of everything because there simply is too much of everything,” she says. “It made me jaded, impossible to impress, and unable to be shocked. This does come through in my writing as I think I have that ‘nothing surprises me’ attitude. Not sure this is a good thing, but it’s just how I developed.”
What followed was an oddball collection of careers. She designed catalogs for J. Crew, performed stand-up, and even worked as Henri Bendel’s only female security guard (“I thought it would be sexy, cool, and glamorous,” but found it “boring, exhausting and completely uninteresting.”) At the time, she chronicled her life on a blog. Her family threatened to disown her if she continued.
Simply the Best caught up with Gaslow to talk about her career, works, and the book whose title is so provocative, we’ll only run it once!
Your book has a very naughty title. Don’t Bring Your Vibrator to Rehab is gaining a lot of buzz for your absurd humor and brutal honesty.
An emotionally frenzied memoir reveals addiction’s terrifying and lonely world. After a decade of sobriety, I relapsed into a life of dependency on marijuana, which nearly destroyed me. This book is a raw portrait of me being held hostage by substance abuse. I was the twenty-four-hour defunct addict living without purpose and barely able to function. And while I was aware that pot wouldn’t kill me, I couldn’t feel more dead inside. Eventually, becoming sick from marijuana toxicity, I finally found the courage to seek treatment. My journey in rehab is a journey from an entirely checked-out, lethargic, hopeless, and suicidally depressed pothead. It results in a sober woman with clarity and gratitude being told with honesty, intelligence, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.
How hard was it to write about this?
It was very easy to write about because I lived through it, and I didn’t need to embellish or try to make things up. I hope that my story will help others.
What did you learn from this experience?
Rehab made me realize that I never want to go back to rehab. It gave me a lot of awareness about how I treat myself and how I think about myself and that those negative perceptions were destructive thought patterns that needed to be changed. It all starts with our thinking. What we think we believe. Staying sober in and of itself is a positive for anyone’s self-esteem, so it all starts there for me. I learned to treat myself how I would treat others.
You’re a seasoned writer. What other topics interest you?
I enjoy writing about any topic I can find humor in, whether trying to learn Hebrew on Zoom with a handsome teacher and ten strangers from around the world or telling a story about how a llama spit in my face in a vineyard in Argentina. I also like writing about relationships/men/ sex and the humor/insanity/tragedy that comes with that territory.
What’s next for you?
I will, of course, continue to write, explore, travel, and hopefully, be inspired by the absurd humor of life’s daily nonsense. I am contemplating authoring a book about the men in my life, so I apologize in advance if you’ve had the misfortune of affecting me to the point of needing to write about you.