Thursday, May 3, 2012

Celebrity Bio - A Book Review

BlogHer paid me to read this book and write a review. The words and thoughts are my own, as if you couldn't tell.


So.  What's the first thing you think of when you hear "Vanessa Williams"?


Desperate Housewives?

Ugly Betty?


Miss America?


By reading You Have No Idea, by Vanessa Williams and her mom Helen Williams, [as well as by asking the husband] I found out that most people think one of the first five things and then immediately their minds go to the last on the list. I've not seen the Penthouse pictures [yet], but they are evidently as integral a part of American history as the moon landing.

And to their credit, Ms. and Mrs. Williams get that, and they touch on that issue first thing.  There are explanations and honesty and humor about what could have been the end of Vanessa Williams' career and what was a very shitty time. They explain how it happened and how it affected them, warts and all, and I have to give them credit for that.

I was surprised at how entertaining this book was - both Williams are almost painfully honest throughout.  Plus, there are lots and lots of pictures, which I love.  

The things I loved best?  

The fact that Helen Williams has The List of people who have done her and her family wrong, and once you are on it? You are screwed.  

The fact that Vanessa Williams had an abortion and discusses it simply.

The fact that Helen Williams thinks every young woman should live on her own and make something of herself before settling down.

The fact that Vanessa Williams was very "Whatever, scholarship money" about winning Miss America until she realized it was a huge deal, at which point she totally threw herself into it.

So, a pretty entertaining celebrity bio.  I'd definitely recommend reading it while working out.  Check out the conversation at BlogHer.


  1. Man! Paid to read AND write! Bonus! This is actually the perfect book review. I like it when book reviews are shorter than the book itself.

  2. I read it faster than I thought I would and enjoyed it immensely. Their mother/daughter dynamic is amazing. It's not hard to see why Vanessa is so successful. My kids are doomed.

  3. she took Jack Grapes "Method Writing" class which is probably why her writing is engaging. i need to take his class because my story is boring. i just fell asleep editing it.

    um, what's this about getting paid to write? how does that work? please email me:

  4. By talking about the Penthouse scandal first, she didn't save the best for last. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

  5. Wow! paid to read an excellent book and write a review. Great gig! That book is actually on my reading list.

  6. I loved the book and really enjoyed reading it. I think I'm going to start my own "LIST" however NOT on it ;) xo

  7. I absolutely loved Rob Lowe's autobiography, so now I'll need to check this out . . . fluff pieces are awesome. Especially if they talk about nakedness.

    I remember reading one of Klosterman's books, where he was present when Britney Spears was having photographs taken . . . and there was a question about whether the photographer would be allowed to be in the room while she changed - because you weren't supposed to see Britney naked.

    Of course, Klosterman had to come back with "and now, I'd be surprised if there was anyone reading this book who hasn't seen pictures of Britney's vagina."

    Because you need to look for things like that /makes mental note to look up Penthouse pictures of Vanessa Williams.

  8. I've been a fan of hers ever since the Penthouse debacle where she showed much class.

    - I just read over that sentence and realized it sounds sarcastic (or at least ironic) but I'm being sincere.

  9. I don't think that much about Vanessa Williams but I find it ironic that she is probably one of the best-known and successful Miss Americas despite the big scandal. Ironic, isn't it?

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  11. Vanessa Williams makes me think of Rat Bastard. Her shitty ballad was our wedding our song. Blech. Though her Penthouse pictures were hot.

  12. I totally remember the pictures. They were grainy. Or maybe that's my brain. I will read this based on your recommendation and the 'you done me wrong' list


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