#289: Alissa Bennett
Alissa Bennett on Fucking with Injections, Cemeteries, Edith Wharton, and more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked Alissa Bennett to share a taste of her taste on Perfectly Imperfect.
Alissa Bennett is a New York City-based writer and legendary zine maker, and she co-hosts “The C-Word” podcast with Lena Dunham. She’s been mentioned on this newsletter by Zach, Ivy, and Lena, which probably makes her the most recommended person to also be a guest 🏆, iconic. Alissa recently wrote the foreword for McNally Edition’s forthcoming reprint of Ursula Parrott’s 1929 novel Ex-Wife, which she says is “for real for real not to miss”. Bennet also has a great Instagram (@regret_counter) that she calls “The Museum of Bad Behavior” and it’s full of regret lists from anonymous submitters’ last hard night out. Lucky for us, Alissa is here to tell us what she’s been into.
Without further ado
Alissa Bennett (instagram, twitter)
👩🏫 Historian of Bad Behavior Shit
If there are two things my work is nothing without, they are my Newspapers.com subscription and my extensive collection of what I like to refer to as “pile of shit celebrity biographies.” There are a number of basic qualities that you should look for if you want to build a museum-worthy library of gossip: low print run , publishers you’ve never heard of, a relationship to The National Enquirer, and 20 point type. These books are usually written by deranged fans , disgruntled former associates , or alienated family members, and they are often accompanied by CDs that you will never listen to. Be careful not to get duped by the self-published literature that comes out in the immediate aftermath of a celebrity death: these books are often less than 20 pages long, and you are going to be disappointed! I’ve been had by these unscrupulous death scammers more than once and it always gives me a laugh, but beware the novice collector.
📚 Edith Wharton
Society’s punitive cruelties are meted out by women in Jacques Doucet gowns and condemnation is served over terrapin with a Roman Punch chaser, but don’t let Edith Wharton’s antique references distract from what is really being offered here: a soul-crushing buffet of confessional gossip more contemporary in texture than one might think. Masterpieces like The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth often get shunted over to the retirement village section of the bookstore (those shitty rotating racks of classics that are tucked discreetly in a corner so they don’t offend culture’s youthful sensibilities), but if you can’t find them there, don’t be afraid to march right up to the counter and ask in your loudest and most self-righteous voice what kind of establishment doesn’t carry Edith Wharton. Read The Custom of The Country for Edith’s eviscerating portrait of Gilded Age venality and follow it up with a couple of her ghost stories.
My true passion is whatever fucked up combination of drugs and alcohol you consumed the last time you woke up and said “never again.” The Instagram account @regret_counter serves as an archive for your bad nights out, and though I am its humble bureaucrat, I am mostly just a fan of your fortitude, your bad choices, and your capacity for White Claw.
I love cemeteries, and living in New York gives us proximity to some of the east coast’s great jewels. Deliver your regards and a Coca Cola to spendthrift heiress Barbara Hutton at the Woolworth family’s sphinx-guarded mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery, have a picnic in Sleepy Hollow, or spend a day at The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery , America’s oldest and greatest eternal resting place for rich people’s animals. If you are of a mind to travel, do not miss the spookiest family plot in all of America, Stockbridge Massachusetts’ Sedgwick Pie (it’s also just a stone’s throw from Edith Wharton’s house), or skip over to Rhode Island (my ancestral homeland) and take a tour of our little state’s notorious smattering of vampire graveyards.
Frank Haines’ Witch Hotline is the best zine I’ve seen in 20 years. It is psychotic and scary and funny and great, and there is no one else on our planet Earth who could have made it. 10 out of 10, truly nothing could be improved. Check out the witches in action on the hotline’s dedicated Instagram account.
💄 Taking care of your face
You have to haul your face around for your entire life, and there’s just no getting around it. As someone who is lurching perilously toward what us old people refer to as “the wrong side of 40,” I am here from your future to tell you not to be afraid, because you can retain your hotness with a little planning! Ever since my very best stage mother and personal BFF Lena Dunham publicly called me out for my elaborate skin care regimen, I’ve been getting questions, so let’s start at the basics and move into the baroque… I don’t think expensive products really make a difference, but if you love them and they make you feel good, by all means waste the money you should be saving for treatments (more on that in a minute) on a 50 step routine—it’s your life! I prefer to streamline because I am old and tired, so while I have definitely tried all of those ritzy oil cleansers and I DO LIKE THEM, in general I think Cetaphil and a microfiber cloth is fine. I usually only wash my face at night and follow it up with some Retin A mixed with a nice heavy moisturizer or oil, and I seal the whole shit in with Aquaphor before going to sleep on a special pillow that doesn’t deform my face. The morning is when things get complicated, because I am a firm believer in all of those gadgets that dermatologists tell you don’t work: I like a red light mask followed by either microcurrent, a muscle stimulation device, or radio frequency, and I follow that up with a CE ferulic serum, hyaluronic acid, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Take your collagen and a vitamin D-K supplement every day, and stay the fuck out of the sun!
💉👄 Fucking with injections
If you’re a young lady and you want gigantic lips, I say go for it, but I also subscribe to the philosophy that you shouldn’t fuck around with your face until after 38 (at which point you should find a good dermatologist who is not afraid to tell you no). All the money you saved on products is going to come in handy here, because doing Morpheus8 or Ultherapy once a year is expensive, but it also keeps you from looking like a shoe that has been left out in the rain. If you still feel like shit, put on a headscarf and pair of sunglasses and everyone will be so dazzled by your mystery that they won’t even look at your skin. And don’t forget to stay the fuck out of the sun!
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