When I first met David Sedaris, in Manhattan in the ’80s, he was still cleaning apartments for a living. His boyfriend, Hugh, was a tromp l’oeil painter who had done the sets for a performance piece I was in. Celebrating opening night in Chelsea, I sat next to David, who gazed wide-eyed at me and asked, “Are you in soap operas?” I couldn’t stop laughing at the ludicrousness of an East Village performer doing soaps. He was completely serious.
I watched David from afar as he began to get famous — partly from writing about cleaning New York apartments, but most notably about being an Elf in Macy’s “Santaland.” His first book, Barrel Fever, was published and his stories were appearing in The New Yorker and Esquire; his “Santaland Diaries” premiered on National Public Radio, launching a broadcast career to parallel his publishing.
Ten years passed and I got a message on my machine from him. He had tracked me down to Texas, and asked me to return the call. I figured it was about some censorship issue he was facing, as that had become my expertise. I was on the road — L.A., Columbus, and New York — and didn’t get back to him right away. About a week later, I returned the call — from Grand Central Station. He answered and said, “I don’t know what you’re doing with your life right now, but I’ve been writing your name in this script I’ve been writing the past several weeks ... ”
That night I was at his sister’s apartment reading a script whose characters consisted of “Amy, Penny, Rackoff, and Chuck.” Rackoff is David Rackoff, now also an essayist heralded by Sedaris. Chuck was an actor friend of mine who had also been in that play we were celebrating when I first encountered Sedaris. And Amy, of course, is Amy Sedaris, of cult-Comedy-Central-show-movie, Strangers With Candy. The play we all did together, written by David while we rehearsed, was called The Little Freida Mysteries. I played Little Freida and the diminuitive Amy played my aunt, also named Freida. Little Freida had two broken arms. We got an extension on our off-Broadway run. We had fun. David’s book Naked was released during the run. I met his father and siblings — who you’ve also met if you’ve read any Sedaris.
Naked and his subsequent essay anthologies, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, have made it onto the New York Times bestseller lists (non-fiction), sometimes simultaneously and usually for months on end. He’s been dubbed the “Rock Star of the Literary World.” He’s a regular on David Letterman where he talks and reads (really!) and NPR’s This American Life. He lives in Paris and writes. He’s finishing up a new book. Hugh’s still his boyfriend. David will be making his second appearance to San Antonio this week. His last time here he sold out at the Empire. He’s not to be missed. Good luck getting tickets. •
7:30pm, Oct 22
224 E. Houston St