Who knew in August 2006 when I agreed to cat sit for my partner’s co-worker’s two cats that my TV-watching and diva-stalking life would be changed forever. I agreed to help Betty and Ernest’s parents (I don’t remember their names) for two reasons #1: I love cats and #2: they had cable and air conditioning, which my condo lacked. Betty was shy and reserved, she would glare at me from twenty feet away, while playful and rambunctious Ernest would claw himself onto my leg upside down and bite my foot. Was cable and air conditioning worth all that? Definitely! It was a hot August in Connecticut and I became obsessed with the reality fashion design competition show Project Runway which started it’s third season. The TV was set to Bravo because the couple enjoyed Project Runway, as did Betty who broke her social distancing rule to sit with me on the couch.
Upon returning home, I figured out how to watch the previous as well as future seasons of Project Runway. I quit my sixteen season addiction when host Heidi Klum and mentor Tim Gunn left the show but not before falling in love with judge Nina Garcia and six time guest fashion designer Betsey Johnson. In 2016, Nina came to our local casino for a free Girls Night Out event. I went with my sister who had my back when the female security guard gave me a hard time about admittance. I was more lady than she could ever be and she caved when she realized we weren’t leaving. We also paved the way for the other fashion fags who almost out-numbered the women. Unfortunately, meeting Betsey Johnson wouldn’t be so easy.
A butch cisgender female security guard on a power trip is nothing compared to the Coronavirus. This month, in honor of the release of her autobiography “Betsey: A Memoir,” Betsey Johnson was doing a ticketed photo-op event at The Strand Bookstore in New York City. I bought a ticket the minute they went on sale. I was going to get a signed copy of the book and finally get to meet Betsey Johnson. However, the event was canceled due to the pandemic and my dreams of a pic with Betsey were dashed.
Luckily all wasn’t lost, I was still able to get an autographed copy of Betsey’s book on Barnes & Nobel’s website. “Betsey: A Memoir” follows her life from wholesome New England dance student, to New York art student and cheerleader, and finally fashion icon. Most of Betsey’s life was a series of kismet moments that she transformed into success with her determined work ethic. Betsey is classy in her book, only dishing the dirt when it comes to her three ex-husbands. She’s very forthcoming about hard times, like closing her stores and having breast cancer, but she persevered with blinders on.
I dived in to the book not knowing anything about Betsey besides her fun-loving persona, her cartwheeling and leg splitting runway shows, and her flashy fashion style. The thing that surprised me the most, it probably shouldn’t have, is what an incredible artist she is. Her fashion sketches are mind blowing. Maybe I’ll finally get to meet her at a future exhibit or a coffee table book signing of her art.
The greatest thing I took away from reading “Betsey: A Memoir” is that Betsey and I are practically the same person. We’re Connecticut babes born and raised, our first love was New York City, and we see the world through hot pink colored glasses. The only difference, in my gay opinion, is that I have the penis and she’s got the balls.