Guilty pleasures: why I love celebrity memoirs

Why are so many of us fascinated by celebrities?

Movie stars and musicians are often just regular people like us who happened to get famous, yet they are still so intriguing. And clearly, some of them have lived pretty epic lives.

I’ll admit that I’m a little celeb-obsessed. I like seeing the stars’ homes and learning their stories. That’s why one of my guilty pleasures happens to be reading celebrity tell-all autobiographies – the trashier, the better.

I’ll pick up a celebrity autobiography even if I don’t know much about the star in question. It can be fun to read about how the ultra-wealthy live, plus rock stars and famous people can be rather entertaining train wrecks.

Here are some of my favorite celebrity memoirs so far: the good, the bad and the trashy.

  • Howard Stern’s Private Parts was an entertaining enough autobiography that they actually made a feature film out of it. I’m by no means Stern’s biggest fan, but I will admit to listening to his morning radio show in NYC back when I was a young professional with a long commute. His shockjockery made those hours on the train and subway go by quicker – and with a lot more laughs. This book is full of highly inappropriate, sexist and salacious moments, but it is definitely an entertaining read if you’re okay with that sort of thing.
  • Anthony Kiedis’ Scar Tissue gets two thumbs up from me. The lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has always interested me, especially after learning that he had kicked a bad heroin habit. The RHCPs are one of my favorite bands so I was eager to read this autobiography and it did not disappoint. From his early childhood in the Midwest to leading one of the world’s biggest rock bands, AK has certainly had a rollercoaster of a ride and is still rocking out.
  • Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star wins for best memoir title. I mean, who wouldn’t be curious to read this book? In it, the famous adult film star shares many jaw-dropping stories but above all comes across as a very real and authentic human being. With women’s sexuality and pleasure being such a controversial topic even in today’s modern times, I couldn’t resist this one. The book cover promises “This intimate memoir is a shocking sexual history, an insider’s guide to the secret workings of the billion-dollar adult film industry, and a gripping thriller that probes deeply into Jenna’s dark past.” It’s a wild read.
  • Mariah Carey’s The Meaning of Mariah Carey made me love my favorite singer even more. As I wrote in my recent roundup of favorite reads, as a fellow Long Islander, I’ve always had a fondness for Mariah and her incredible voice. I had never truly understood or appreciated her “diva” thing, but now that I know about her childhood and early experiences, I agree she deserves to be treated like a queen. She’s been through it all. This is especially a poignant read because of the way race – and being biracial – has impacted Mariah’s story.
  • Billy Porter’s Unprotected is the heartbreaking and inspiring autobiography of an extraordinarily talented young gay black boy who grew up to become an award-winning Broadway, TV and film actor, singer, director, composer and so much more. In Billy’s words, “It’s easy to be yourself when who and what you are is in vogue. But growing up Black and gay in America has never been easy.” This book gave me insight, empathy and understanding into someone with very different life experiences – and way more talent! – than me.
  • Jennifer Saginor’s Playground: A Childhood Lost Inside the Playboy Mansion. Jennifer Saginor may not be a familiar name, but Hugh Hefner certainly was for decades. Around the time when Hef’s three girlfriends had their wacky “Girls Next Door” show on E, I picked up this memoir in an airport bookstore. It was un-putdown-able. Jennifer was the daughter of Hef’s personal physician and basically grew up in the Playboy Mansion. Let’s just say it was not a childhood anyone would want for their child.
  • Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? felt like sitting down to dish the dirt with your best friend. I actually missed her once I finished it, because she’s that likable and it was that enjoyable reading her book. I know she has at least one other book and I need to get my hands on it.

Have you read any good autobiographies lately? Is there a star you wish would write one so you could learn more about them? I’ve heard great things about Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights so that one is definitely on my to-read list.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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