In a world where reality TV “celebrities” constantly complain about how they’re edited, I had no idea what to expect when I went to see Kelly Cutrone speak and sign her best-selling book, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside, in Atlanta last Wednesday. When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised: not only is Kelly Cutrone exactly the same in person as she is on TV, but she’s also generous with her cupcakes.
I’ve been to a lot of book-signings before, but never to one where the featured guest had anything before “writer” on his or her resumÃ©, and they’re usually pretty boring affairs. Not this one – Kelly came in with one of her spiritual advisors and immediately started re-arranging the crowd of over 700 people so that everyone had a decent view, dismantling part of the set that Border’s had created in the process. It was more or less exactly like watching her re-arrange the crowd at a fashion show on Kell on Earth, except this time, she didn’t kick anyone out. She did send a store employee running for a latte, however, and that was almost as good.
After speaking for a few minutes (she didn’t want to, but the crowd demanded and she gamely appeased us), Kelly took questions for nearly an hour and a half, ranging from her thoughts on marriage (“I don’t want to make you a sandwich and hear about how your day was, I’m BUSY”) to what’s expected of young women (“It’s like a really nasty Stepford Wives version of Grand Theft Auto“), and then she did an impression of Ava’s dad and made fun of Audrina. The bigger-than-expected crowd erupted into cheers and applause several times – as book signings go, it was even more entertaining than her show indicated it would be.
The more she talked, the more I felt good about not only showing up to the signing and buying her book, but also about watching her show and writing about it every week. She admitted that she didn’t like her book cover and didn’t think that it represented her, and when asked if she saw her public persona as a sort of activism, she said that yes, she was dressing in all black and wearing no makeup on television on purpose, and that women need to be more aware of the negative body image that they display for their daughters. The idea that a woman on reality television might actually care about doing something that’s positive for women as a whole is kind of stupefyingly awesome, and also, sadly rare.
Things only got better when we Q&A ended and we lined up to have our books signed. I saw a friend from college, Valentina, and pulled her into line with me even though she didn’t have a wrist band (yes, you had to get a wrist band when you bought the book in order to line up to meet Kelly) or a copy of the book. When it was my turn, I got my book signed and got in a little PurseBlog plug (of course I did), and when I commented that the cupcake that she was eating looked fantastic, she told me to take one. Had Kelly Cutrone just given me a cupcake? I think she had.
And then it got better: Kelly noticed that my friend didn’t have a book or a wrist band and asked her why. After explaining that she had interned for Teen Vogue and The Colbert Report and STILL couldn’t find a media job in this market and therefore couldn’t afford to buy a book, Kelly not only gave her some career advice, but she whipped out a credit card and bought her a copy of her own book. And then signed it. And then she got a cupcake too.
Not only that, but Kelly let the girl in line before me user her Blackberry to make a call and more or less seemed as cool as you could expect anyone to be while hundreds of people lined up to get a little bit of face time. She didn’t mind holding up the line for a couple of minutes to talk business with me, and I totally got the Mother Hen vibe that she seems to project over her young employees on Kell on Earth. In the end, it was less like meeting a reality TV star and more like meeting a real person that has just so happened to have a fantastically interesting life, and it was totally worth the several hours that I spent in Border’s to meet her and get my book signed.
Plus, you know…free cupcake.
Oh, and she also gave as a juicy little piece of Kell on Earth gossip: remember the Irish intern? Tim, I think it was? They had to fire him because he was claiming to have slept with Kelly and Emily.