Laurie Notaro on Overlooked Women in History, Real Housewives, and Bringing Funyuns to Lit Lounge in Phoenix
Laurie Notaro: Bestselling author, potty mouth, and lover of funyuns.
Courtesy of Laurie Notaro
Chances are, you're familiar with Laurie Notaro. If not, just type her name into that little search bar above, and you'll find a smattering of pieces written by and about this hilarious bestselling author with a mouth like a 10-year-old sailor.
Notaro joins some of Phoenix's most entertaining storytellers on Thursday, September 25, for Lit Lounge: The Best of Phoenix Edition at Crescent Ballroom. We caught up with Notaro before she made the trip from the much cooler Eugene, Oregon, back to Phoenix and discussed everything from pus-colored crayons to her hatred for Alanis Morissette.
What occasion do you wish there was a greeting card for that there isn't? I would have to say, I wish there was a greeting card for Biggest Asshole of the Day, and I would buy 365 of them, and I would be able to give them out just by going to Safeway. Just by driving to Safeway, I'd be able to give them all out in a day.
Or "You could really use a bra, lady." I would like that greeting card as well. Where I live, I think I'm the only one here who wears a bra. A bra is your friend, not your enemy. It can only help you, it will never hurt you.
What are you most proud of? My dog is awesome. My dog is awesome because we took her to puppy class, and I took her to training for four different levels, and she has reached the good citizen award. Yes, I'm very proud of that. She can sit on command. I'm also very proud that she hasn't bit a small child yet. I'm very proud of that.
I do have to admit that we got kicked out of agility class because she stopped during two different tricks and peed on the course so we were not allowed to come back. That's frowned upon, apparently.
What are you most excited about right now? I am most excited about the book I just finished and the book that will be published in January 2016 [Her Horses Invariably Galloped]. It's historical fiction, so it's something very different for me. It was a vast undertaking, and it's about the female pilots who tried to make the trans-Atlantic crossing in 1927-1928. This was all pre-Amelia Earhart because she was literally the last person on the scene, and she actually did not fly that plane. These women were actually pilots, and their stories are incredible and amazing and jaw-dropping. So it was just the best thing I've ever done, and it was just an awesome experience to work on that book.
How long did it take you to research for that book? I researched it on and off for about four years and then two years consecutively. They were awesome women in the '20s, and just beautiful, and man, they had balls.
Everyday I would find stuff out that would make my jaw drop. And when you see these cockpits, they are at the most four or maybe four and a half feet wide. They're crazy, crazy tiny. And women were certainly smaller then. It wasn't like I had to fit my fat ass in that cockpit, but still, it was like you were literally rattling above the Atlantic in a coffin. It was crazy small.
If you could name a new crayon, what would its name be and what color would it be? I have to admit that the first ting that pops into my head is pus. It would be a milky yellow, and you could use it for zombies, coloring pictures of zombies and mortal wounds and operations gone terribly wrong. Gangrene. It could be for all the gangrene coloring books. I will fully admit that is disgusting, but that how my mind works, I guess. I'm ashamed of that. I'm sorry I couldn't say "daisy" or something like that.
What are you reading right now? I am in the middle of a book about women who fought in the French Resistance -- more women who we don't know about. There were 230 of them, and they were women who were in France in the occupied zone who were fighting against the Nazis. There were 230 of them who pretty much all went to prison together and then were all sent to Birkenau and Auschwitz together. And I think 40 of them survived. Such an uplifting book! What are you reading, Laurie? Oh, just about the rise and fall of the Third Reich.
It is called A Train in Winter. It is a phenomenal book. It's a book that should be taught in every women's studies class.
You're 5 years old, and you have a babysitter but she's fallen asleep. Also, you don't have a TV. What do you do? Is she drunk? If she's drunk, I would draw on her. Let's say she's drunk. I would draw bad things on her. That's exactly what I'd do. And in Sharpie so it would be there for a while.
If you never had to hear one song again, what song would it be? Anything by Alanis Morissette. It could be any song. I could pull my own fingernails out to distract myself from the misery that's going on audio-wise.
What is the first thing that came to mind when I say paisley? Is there something called the paisley pig or the Paisley Violin or something? I think it's a place in downtown Phoenix. I've never been there, but I have no other context spot for paisley.
I picture a little pig, standing up on its hind legs, all paisley-ized, playing a violin -- about to become bacon.
In the last 24 hours, what is something you were glad no one saw, or someone did see, but you wish they hadn't seen? Oh, I tripped over the same carpet three times yesterday. That carpet's going to kill me. I'm going to trip down the stairs and then trip on the carpet, and then I'll be dead.
I also did fart in the driveway, but nobody saw that!
Do you have a TV show guilty pleasure? Yeah, I do. Any of the Real Housewives. I prefer New York or New Jersey. New Jersey especially because it's a "what if" kind of program for me. That's what I probably would have turned into had my parents stayed in Brooklyn.
See, if I hadn't moved to Phoenix, I would probably be going to jail for fraud because of my baboon husband who won't pay the government. I'd be wearing leopard skin and some tight leather, and that's not a good look for anyone.
If you could take a selfie with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Probably Janis Joplin because she has worse hair than me, worse skin than me, and worse teeth than me. But she rocks! She pulled it off; she rocks.
On average, how many hours per week do you spend on Pinterest? That's easy; it's part of my daily ritual. It usually takes about 20 minutes, so 7x20, whatever that is.
But I only pin three things: I pin clothes, recipes for bread, and recipes that look like vomit. There are a lot of recipes that look like vomit. How do people not know that? It's like you made vomit! You put vomit on noodles, you put vomit on a bun. You made barf in a crockpot, which I can actually do in five minutes. It took you eight hours to make that barf. It's disgusting!
That's my most favorite [Pinterest] board.
If you had to pick a pseudonym, what would it be? That may take me some time to think about. Oh, I know -- J.K. Rowling. I'd like to pay off my taxes -- J.K. Rowling. It would be the shittiest book ever by J.K. Rowling.
We heard a rumor you were going to throw Funyuns into the crowd. Will you have Funyuns at Lit Lounge? Sure, I'll bring Funyuns, Twinkies, whatever people want. Absolutely! Funyuns are great, and they are the most disparaged snack food ever. I mean, listen. There can't be any fat in them because they're not real -- they're chemicals plus salt. And they're crunchy, and they're in rings, so you can wear them.
And that was my thing during the last book. I probably ate, I'm thinking, 20 bags of Funyuns. That was my thing. I was like I'm not going to be hungry when I'm writing this book. So I ate a lot of Funyuns.
What are you doing next? I am coming to Lit Lounge, which I am very excited about, and I am researching a new book, which takes place in Phoenix. I'm very excited about that, so I'll be spending a lot of time in Phoenix this winter. It's another historical fiction book, but it's about something that actually happened.
Is there one place you really want to make sure you visit when you come to Phoenix? Yes, Rosita's. Rosita's is my favorite place in the world. They do something magic to their re-fried beans, which gives them a bacony, smoky flavor. They make their own tortillas. They're awesome! So all my friends know, when I come to town, everyone knows we're going to Rosita's.
Laurie Notaro performs Thursday, September 25, at Lit Lounge: Best of Phoenix Edition at Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Avenue. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at crescentphx.com.
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