The misadventures of Kelly Oxford
At 35, Kelly Oxford is Hollywood’s latest “It” girl, a Twitter superstar with a following of more than 460,000, who last year sold her first screenplay to Warner Bros. (Drew Barrymore is in talks to direct) and will soon begin work on a television pilot. Now the Canadian-born mother of three has published a book of essays, “Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar” (It Books: 318 pp., $25.99), which chronicles her misadventures growing up in Edmonton.
Oxford’s writing is marked by the same wry voice that’s made her a social media sensation. From an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles to lure a pre-"Titanic” Leonardo DiCaprio to be her boyfriend to the outrageous tale of her first date with now-husband James, she tells stories few would share. In junior high school, she accidentally accused a sexually promiscuous friend of contracting AIDS; on another occasion, an open letter to an emergency ward nurse led to Oxford giving herself an enema while high on morphine.
Recently, Oxford sat down over a brisket sandwich to discuss “Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar.”
Is any of this fictionalized?
None of it. And my mom is going to hate that. I wanted to write about the times when I was messing up because I was just doing what I wanted to do. Those memories are easy to keep because I was constantly saying, “What am I thinking?” Those were the most marked times/events in my life.
You wanted to be a writer early on. Were you always collecting stories?
I always felt like the child actor playing myself in the biography from the future. I did really dramatic things all the time. But most were so humiliating — especially the peeing the pants and the barfing at the party — I never thought I’d tell anybody.
Did you hesitate about putting any stories in the book?
I don’t think so. In fact, the things I didn’t want to share before, I was excited to get out there. It was so liberating. Even “The Terrible Horrible” (which involves a scam Oxford pulled with her best friend while traveling around Canada in a camper van with a lot of marijuana) ... when I read it, I thought, that’s a really good story and it makes me a terrible person, which is kind of the point of all this.
So it’s about creating a persona of Kelly Oxford?
It is a persona, but it is exactly me. Everyone’s always like, “Oh, she’s so soft-spoken and nice and she isn’t mean at all.” But I am. I also can be a nice, normal person, but I’m a bit antagonistic so I like stoking the fire because I like seeing people’s reactions.
How have your memories remained so vivid?
When I was a kid, I loved going to bed because I was a total weirdo and I would lay there for hours retelling all the crazy things that happened to me. I would also go into the future and think, “How am I going to get that guy to be my boyfriend?” I would act out all the conversations we were going to have. Basically, I was writing dialogue, writing scripts and trying to figure out how people worked. Playing all those conversations out in my head where they sounded real and not prompted and not fake.
I remember everything. In junior high school with the AIDS thing, I remember everyone was mad at me. And I thought, “This is going to happen my whole life, I’m going to be really honest and people are going to think I’m a gossip but I’m just talking. And I can’t stop talking.” That’s what was going through my head: I’m going to be cornered by women when I’m 40 — “You said this and I heard that you said this.”
Now that you live in Los Angeles, have you met Leo DiCaprio?
No, and I don’t want to meet him. It would ruin the facade. Now that I’ve revealed the story, I’m too weak. It’s put me in a weak position. I’m not used to going into a relationship/friendship from such a weak position. So I don’t want to meet him at all.
Have your kids read the book?
I’ve let them read the enema one and the modeling one. The kids aren’t allowed to read the one when I met James. I remember going into work the next day and they asked me how my date was. And I said, “I really like the guy, but how do you rebound from that date? How am I ever going to face this guy again?” One, I had sex with him in a park — who does that on a first date? That’s never going to work out. Two, somebody thought I was a dude and threw rocks at our heads, so that’s not going to work either.
Have any reactions to the book surprised you?
A lady said the book stressed her out. I feel sorry for her. My life didn’t stress me out, and I lived it. I hope people feel a little more relaxed and human when they read my book because I think we are all kind of awful creatures but we are very good at disguising it. Maybe if they read it, they won’t feel so bad about sharing what goes on in their lives.
Festival of Books
What: Humor: Vastly Inappropriate, with Ophira Eisenberg, Heather McDonald, Kelly Oxford and Lizz Winstead. Moderator: Adrian Todd Zuniga.
Where: Davidson Continuing Education Center, USC
When: 3 p.m. Saturday, April 20
Price: Free. Tickets will be available online starting at 9 a.m. Sunday. There is a $1 service fee applied to each ticket reserved.
More info: latimes.com/festivalofbooks
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