Kevin Sessums had a hit with his memoir Mississippi Sissy, and he follows it up with I Left It on the Mountain (St. Martin's Press), a confessional about being HIV-positive, a crystal meth addict, and his trips to Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Camino de Santiago to find some sort of spiritual solace. Along the way, his stories span his career as a journalist at Interview, rubbing elbows with Andy Warhol (and the shoulders, literally, of Brigid Berlin), before he went to Vanity Fair to profile celebrities--Madonna, Jessica Lange, and Courtney Love are his blond muses--followed by Daniel Radcliffe, Diane Sawyer, and other notables -- who all seem to be guiding him with answers to his queries.
One of the most pivotal comes while sitting down with Hugh Jackman. After Sessums confided to Jackman about a serendipitous meeting with a young man whom he calls "an angel named Love," Wolverine says: "I love that idea of animalistic chaos and following our desires."
Then he turns the table on the author with his own augury: "I want to ask you a question, Kevin. I hope you don't mind. But I feel I must, in all seriousness, ask you this. Have you fucked the angel?"
It's a query that would make any man's heart beat faster--and spurs Sessums on to more introspective adventures. Below, the dishiest bits on the fair-haired divas who've shaped his life.
On Jessica Lange, after her 1994 Oscar win: " 'It's really your birthday? Okay. Here,' she said, handing me her Oscar as if it were some last-minute gift she'd gotten for me. 'Happy birthday. Hold this. It's getting too heavy anyway.' "
On Courtney Love: "I picked up a bit of the contents with my fingers and felt the coarseness of the crinkled thread-like stuff I was holding. As I more closely inspected it -- even giving it a whiff -- Love entered the living room behind me and I heard, for the first time, a voice. Low. Hoarse. Hers. 'What are you doing with Kurt's pubic hair?' "
On Madonna: "Even the straggly strands of dirty hair streaming from under the cap were surprisingly dark, for she had planned, slyly so, to end our time together that day in her kitchen as I watched her eat a bag of barbecue potato chips...while getting her hair washed in the kitchen sink, then dyed yet again back to the blond color that was her showbiz shade."