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Review: I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

I’ve read some fabulous books in my time, but I’ve never before had to answer the “what are you currently reading?” question with: oh, it’s the memoir of a retired alcoholic drag queen who ignores the warning signs and falls in love with a crack-addicted male escort. What the hell, I fancied a glamorous read.


As far as autobiographies go, I don’t just pick up books written by or about celebrities I like. Rather, I tend to go for stories by authors who have led very interesting lives; the further away from my own the better. I’d say Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s life definitely qualifies.

“The hardest part about cooking the perfect Thanksgiving dinner is avoiding the splinters of broken crack pipes that collect in the crevices of the kitchen floor.”

Josh is an instantly likable guy. He writes humorously and honestly about his time with his alter ego Aqua, who favours leopard-print catsuits and clear plastic bras with live goldfish inside. Josh’s life is far from glamorous: he lives what some would call a depraved existence feeding off the nightlife in New York, unhappy with himself and fully aware. Is it any surprise he would fall into a toxic relationship?

“Aiden is really good at what he does,” Houdini says. “I’ve tried a lot of people. Masters, Mistresses. All around the world. He’s the best.”
This makes me proud. The best dominating, humiliating, physically abusive whore in the world is mine. All mine. Almost makes me wish I were into getting into beat up, just to take full advantage of his talents.”

But what I love is that the story is told in such a light-hearted way. It’s all written in hindsight, a look back at a difficult period, but almost nostalgically. As if Josh is saying throughout: “I was who I was, I am who I am, these are the things I had to go through, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

It’s funny and moving, engaging and poignant. It’s a story about a social outcast going through a rough time and trying to find his way. And if we’re going through a rough time too, it’s always a comfort to know there are others out there making their own mistakes and trying to find their way, just like us. Though some can do it in six-inch stilettos and a goldfish bra.


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