Last summer Robert Rave made waves with his novel Spin, based upon his real life experience working for notorious publicist Lizzie Grubman. Gawker even dubbed the book The Devil Reps Prada. Now on the heels of Spins success, Rave is back with a new novel, Waxed, about three New York sisters, the bikini waxing salon they work in, and the crazy world it creates.
Out: Where did you get the inspiration for Waxed?
Robert Rave: I started writing these three women characters, and I wasnt sure what the backdrop was going to be initially. But I had an idea for these three characters, and I knew I wanted to write them, and then the actual idea didnt come until later when I was doing the broad strokes of the book. The reason I chose that is just that I thought it was so out there and personal. I remember when I was living in New York and my girlfriends would be like, No, I have to go to the famous J. Sisters Salon. Those people have cult followings, these bikini waxers, and its so fascinating to me. You would have such an interesting cast of characters weaving in and out of those types of places.
How is this book different from your first novel, Spin?
Its kind of my version of -- not chick lit -- but its my way of telling a story from a female perspective whereas Spin was a little more aggressive and a little more snarky. This is not, and I think its more accessible to people. I love them both equally, but for me theyre just completely different. I mean, I definitely kept some of the tone, because I think thats just my writing style, but I think they definitely seem like the same arena in terms of New York. I think the stories are much more layered in an interesting way.
Did you enjoy writing one more than the other?
Of course Im going to say I enjoyed this one more because its fresher for me, and I think any time youre writing something, by the time youre doing edits and rewrites, youre ready to pull your hair out. Its probably the same thing when you write articles, or whatever creative writing youre doing, by the time youre really going over it, youre ready to burn it. So, Spin was my like my first love. Youre always going to love your first love, but you move on. Im really happy with Waxed just because its a fresh, fun summer book.
Spin was really rooted in your experiences. Is Waxed as well?
I have a lot of good girlfriends that have influenced some of these character traits and personality traits. But other than that, there was nothing based in real experience. This was just kind of a story I created.
You live in L.A., so whyd you choose New York as a setting again?
I still have not accepted the fact that Im living in L.A. L.A. is a fantastic city, but its so weird. A friend of mine the other day was like, "You should meet up with some friends of mine." And the way he introduced me was, Hes from LA. And for whatever reason, it just gave me a visceral reaction. I was like, No, Im still a New Yorker! And my friend was like, You havent lived in New York for five years. And I was like, But, but Listen, I think New York is just so rich in story and character -- and I know that sounds like such a stock answer. But Im originally from the Midwest and I have friends from the Midwest that will say to me, I dont understand, why cant you write about people in the Midwest? I feel like the Midwest gets glazed over in these types of books. Guess what? So many people from the Midwest or all over the United States or all over the world go to New York to go after that dream.
Waxed includes some scenes of drug-fueled gay nightlife. Is that something you think is critical to gay life in New York?
I dont think its critical. I wouldnt say I have experience with it. I mean, I would be lying if I said I havent been to parties where people are doing drugs. I think what I was trying to show with this particular character is that this guy Dennis is that really kind of fun -- Lets go out, lets do this. And hes kind of what Sofia feels shes missing -- maybe did I get married too young? Am I missing out on this life? A maybe-I-shouldnt-have-done-it-kind-of-thing. I dont think it necessarily has anything to do with him being gay and drugs being connected to gay people. I just think its more about nightlife in general, and shes kind of mesmerized by it. Maybe Im just out of it, but I feel like among younger gay people, drugs are not as big of a part of the scene as they once were maybe ten years ago. But again, Im saying that probably from a nave place.
You also including a mother raising a child born a boy and living as a girl. What made you decide to include that?
I feel like the more people are exposed to all different kinds of people, whether its young trans kids of gay people or lesbians or drags queens or whatever, the better its going to be for all of us. In so much as, I feel like the primary audience of this book is going to be Midwestern moms and urban moms and I just feel like why not bring something like this into a genre of book that its not normally in? I felt like it was also a really interesting twist to Annas story. I liked exploring the emotions behind it. Ive seen a lot of documentaries on kids who are transitioning and the impact it has on families, and these are real families and real emotions. I felt like it would be a really interesting story to jump into.
Is the term beach read offensive to you?
Listen, I embrace it. You can call this anything you want, as long as youre reading. The fact is a lot of people arent reading in general today. Lets be honest, we dont have the attention span that we once did. Most people cant even watch a four minute YouTube clip without getting bored and clicking out of it. I dont really care how they categorize it, just as long as people are reading. I know this book is not Water for Elephants. Its an escape read, and thats really the point of it.
Whats up next for you? Last time we talked you were working on your third book proposal.
Well, the third book is actually done. I turned that in -- actually my hard drive crashed last week so Im trying to recover that to send it back to St. Martins and thats a nonfiction book. Its very in the vein of Chelsea Handler, David Sedaris, and that kind of storytelling. And right now Im in the process of writing a whole sort of book series.
Finally, I have to ask: Have you ever been waxed downtown?
Wow. I mean, for full disclosure, I have. Did I really just admit that?
Robert Raves Waxed is available in bookstores now.Send a letter to the editor about this article.