Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark insist they’re lazy, despite all evidence to the contrary.
“All I want in life is to be allowed to be lazy,” Hardstark says. “So, I’m working my (butt) off so I can do it some day and not feel bad about it.”
That last part is certainly true, evident in the success of “My Favorite Murder,” Kilgariff and Hardstark’s beloved true-crime comedy podcast, which has been a hit since it debuted in 2016. More than a podcast, “My Favorite Murder” has become a community for super fans (known as Murderinos), a large listenership of mostly women who share a dark sense of humor, morbid curiosity and more than a little anxiety about the dangers of the world.
And now they have a book to add to their bursting resume: “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide” (out Tuesday).
The book’s introduction warns: “It’s kinda personal and it’s kinda messy.” It’s also a lot of fun.
“Stay Sexy” is a strange hybrid of a book, part joint autobiography, part self-help manual, entirely profane and funny. It seems like it shouldn’t work; Kilgariff and Hardstark, admit as much. Kilgariff, 49, has long been a television writer, working on shows including “Portlandia,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Pete Holmes Show.” Hardstark, 38, got her start as a blogger and Cooking Channel personality.
But “Stay Sexy” was a first for both women, and they struggled to figure out how to translate their podcast magic to the written page. Kilgariff says the idea was, “Why don’t we just do the book the way we do the show?”
If you’ve ever listened to an episode of “My Favorite Murder,” you know that means Kilgariff and Hardstark telling each other stories (though this time about themselves and not their favorite murders), wild tangents, personal anecdotes, inside jokes and lots of swearing.
Chapters are titled after their most popular catchphrases: “You’re in a Cult, Call Your Dad,” “Get a Job” and “Stay out of the Forest” (advice that is both literal and metaphorical). Asides include a guide on swearing (again, there’s a lot), an incomplete list of items Hardstark shoplifted as a teen, advice on practicing self-care and a recipe for toast (really).
It feels less like reading a book and more like hanging out with your cool aunts, who will slip you a wine cooler or two and listen without judgment while you spill your guts.
There’s a lot of gut-spilling in “Stay Sexy.” Kilgariff and Hardstark share deeply of their personal lives and write intimately about their experiences with drug abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, career failures and bad relationships. Hardstark’s path was especially difficult and included a stint in rehab for doing meth – when she was 13.
“I also went to a lot of extra therapy while we were writing the book,” Hardstark says. “I was surprised by how much it brought up inside of me. You have to write more than just the memory. You have to bring yourself back to that time and place. It’s definitely scary.”
“Stay Sexy” opens with a harrowing true story of the time Hardstark ended up in a car with a virtual stranger, who drove her to a remote area and scared her into posing topless for photographs. “I was less embarrassed about letting someone take topless photos of me than I was about letting myself get into a situation I couldn’t control,” she writes. “It didn’t fit with the strong, feminist persona I was trying so hard to shroud myself in.”
The opening chapter (titled “(Expletive) Politeness,” one of their winning catch phrases) ends with some salient life advice: “We barely get any time on this planet. Do not spend it pleasing other people. (Expletive) politeness. Live life exactly how you want to live it so you can love the life you make for yourself.”
Reading “Stay Sexy,” it becomes clear how hard-won Kilgariff and Hardstark’s success is. It took them decades to find the stability and confidence necessary to live life on their terms. The true achievement of “Stay Sexy” is you walk away from the book feeling like, whatever your mistakes, you’ll get there someday, too.
“The only way we can learn from each other’s stories is if we tell those stories,” Hardstark says. “Nobody’s perfect. Why not be vulnerable and admit that?”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com. Twitter.com/BabsVan.
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