The Andy Cohen Diaries

Having already written the best-selling ‘Most Talkative’, Andy Cohen knows his way around book, and his latest literary venture is an enthralling, saucy, dishy good read. ‘The Andy Cohen Diaries’ takes its inspiration and namesake from another famous Andy ~ Mr. Warhol ~ and the result is a page-turning romp where names are named, Housewives are tamed, and Kevin Spacey is shamed.

An effervescent, light-hearted and admittedly shallow recounting of a year in his life, Cohen punctuates the proceedings with a surprisingly introspective look at fame, celebrity, and pop culture. He’s become a pop fixture in his own right, having propelled the Bravo network into a water-cooler topic with the ever-expansive Real Housewives’ shows and his own ‘Watch What Happens Live!’ which has injected new life into the rather tired late-night talk-show format. He remains, at heart, a pop culture fan, and that’s why his television show – and this book – work so wonderfully. His love for celebrities is authentic, and his excitement over getting to play with them is contagious and palpable.

The Warholian flourishes and fixation of all things famous, along with the endless name-dropping (the guy’s on a first-name basis with Madonna for fuck’s sake) seems like it would get dull after a while, but to Cohen’s credit (and the sly conversational skill with which the book is crafted) it never deteriorates into a one-note affair. The ebb and flow of a single year churns along, as Cohen alternately seeks and dismisses the quest for love, which arrives unexpectedly in the form of his dog Wacha. It may not be romantic, but love is love – and the relationship between dog and man is sweet and fully-realized here.

Cohen has managed to tame the fickle beast of fame by remaining grounded in some surprising ways. Rather than take the vain stab to the heart that a handsome but uninterested guy’s dismissal of him might produce in a needy freak like myself, he takes it all in stride and moves on to an evening with his pooch, largely unaffected. Those moments are the ones that work the best – the oddball side of charm and endearing vulnerability, coupled with a matter-of-fact stoner’s philosopher that life is still all good, for the most part.

Further stabilizing what could have been an exercise in self-obsession heavy on indulgent massaging (literally) is his core cast of characters – Kelly and Mark Consuelos, Anderson Cooper, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jimmy Fallon, and his own mother (whose capitalized emphasis of certain words is not only REMARKABLY EFFECTIVE, but riotously HILARIOUS). Together, with his beloved New York City, and newly-found love of his life Wacha, this is in some ways an ensemble piece, and Cohen’s love for all of the supporting characters lends a depth lacking from more self-obsessed celebrity diaries.

There is some serious behind the scenes dish that we’re likely not getting, as Cohen is clever and shrewd enough to understand that he can’t quite bite off the hand that feeds him, but he does get to nibble (Kevin Spacey and Rachel Ray might have some marks on them) and while he doesn’t get too deep or specific about his infamous Real Housewives franchise, there is some unsaid stuff that keen Bravo viewers will be able to figure out.

Fame and celebrity do come at a cost, and in the social-media world that Cohen (in his popular Twitter and Instagram incarnations) has himself celebrated and used to great advantage, there is also something to be reviled. In opening up the platform to everybody, you open yourself up to attack, and if anything seems to dampen the otherwise pretty affable Andy front, it’s the comments and attacks that come out of nowhere.

“After all these years of putting myself out there, I am pretty thick skinned, but the shit gay people say about me is, wow. I am apparently a lecherous, disgusting, old, crazy, cliche, star-fucking, ladylike, bossy bottom. That’s it in a nutshell,” he writes. And if you’ve ever made the mistake of reading the comments on any given website that allows them, you’ll know exactly what he’s talking about.

He also ruminates on the changing world around him, lamenting the quickened whitewashing of New York, as greedy landlords drive out individual restaurants and one-of-a-kind bookshops. The new world order of dating habits also makes him wary: “I am from the generation of meeting on the street and connecting – there was nowhere else to do it, but Grindr and Tinder killed that. I still look at everybody. I dig eye contact!”

That sort of longing for connection drives the narrative, and like most engaging celebrities, Cohen is as interested in others as he is in himself. You need both to properly connect to an audience – and thanks to this charming addition to his oeuvre, Cohen can now count readers among that group. His world is rarefied yet accessible, and his all-inclusive recounting of an enchanting year makes for a compelling and magical read.

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