while you were sleeping

July 5, 2012

I met Roger Gastman in Chicago at a book trade show in June 2000.  He was in the next booth, Soft Skull, with a copy of his first book, Free Agents. He also had a magazine, While You Were Sleeping. It was looking good for both of us.

I had been a publicist. Or rather, I had just become one, a couple of months earlier. My job was to make connections, put together the perfect pair like Chuck Woolery on Love Connection. I showed Roger a book by Polly Borland called The Babies, photographs of adult infantilists (that is, men with a penchant for wearing diapers, being breast, bottle, and spoon fed, wearing little girl clothes—the whole bit). He was horrified. I was thrilled. Another Love Connection.

We began to work together. I’d pitch books. He’d duck. Sometimes he’d say yes. He liked the shots of teenage girls drinking water from a cooler on their knees. He gave them two pages. That’s when I had my dream.


I thought I’d look gorgeous on the pages of the magazine. See, cause I wasn’t just a shameless self promoter, I was a ~*~ FAAAAN ~*~ and I wanted to be where the action was, in those pages, with all those distinct personalities that delight in the perverse, subversive, and immature things in this world… So I mentioned this idea I had of Me. Once or twice or three times. I no longer know. Only thing I remember was he always seemed to act like he didn’t hear me.

It was not to be, I never made the magazine but I eventually got copies of them all, determining if I could not be on the cover (who said cover?) then I would hold them captive on my bookshelves. Until that fateful day, I spilled iced coffee. I’m usually quite good, but sometimes I’m not. The magazines weren’t destroyed but they were a little worse for wear, and that got me thinking…

My then-boyfriend took a trip to Berlin. We were never apart, and I missed him. So I whipped out the weed, scissors, tape. I whipped out While You Were Sleeping and I carved up every copy, turning it into a 40-page Christmas card. And even though my boyfriend is now an ex, he still has that book cause it’s amazing. (I think?)  (I’ve forgotten nearly all the spreads.) So I had him unearth them for this essay I wrote for the publication of The Worst of While You Were Sleeping, Roger’s newest book. And I just got a copy in the mail and it takes me all the way back.

The circle of life isn’t just The Lion King—it’s the ability to self-reference yourself into oblivion. Cheers Roger!  Long Live WYWS!

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