This month I discovered myself in a genuine analysis funk. I’d been bashing my head with books I must have check out in college however didn’t and trying to play catch-up through every one of the “notables” of 2016. Nopoint was provoking a lot delight. I necessary a delicious cheeseburger of a book and also discovered satiation in Barbara Payton’s memoir I Am Not Ashamed.

Payton’s voice rose off the web page like a gale, blowing my hair right ago. The book begins through a casual forthrightness that renders it impossible to speak reading:

Today, appropriate now I live in a rat-roach (they’re friends) infested apartment through not a bean to my name and I drink as well much Rosé wine. I don’t choose what the range tells me. The bit money I execute accumulate to pay the rent comes from old residuals, poetry and favors to guys.

A famous 1950’s Hollywood actress, Payton’s name was as soon as discussed in the exact same breath as Debbie Reynolds, Ava Gardner and Lana Turner. “I understand it sounds unbelievable,” she writes, “however it’s true that Gregory Peck, Guy Madiboy, Howard Hughes and various other substantial names were dating me.” She went from making ten grand also a week, wearing furs and “dripping ice (diamonds)” to marketing her body for simply sufficient money to buy booze. 

Payton calls her life story a rollercoaster ride—this is true, maybe even an understatement; she also deems the book “a kind of detective story,” one that attempts to piece together the reason(s) for her loss from marquee glory. How can a womale through beauty, power, money, and talent end up disgraced at thirty-five, and also dead at thirty-eight? The answer’s heartbreaking to peer right into. Payton knows this; she writes:

I had actually a body once I was a young boy that raised temperatures wherever I went. Today I have 3 long knife wounds on my solid frame.

Memoir today is often telescoped on one experience, divorce, addiction, grief. Payton stirs the pot, bringing in all the ingredients of her remarkable life as an actress, poet, mom, and an expat in Mexico, wright here she spent two years. There’s no overthinking things, the scenes arise naturally as if she were talking to you at a bar, a dressing room, or her squalid apartment. Her story is so immediate and her voice is so solid that it simply pours out through ease and originality, creating a natural balance between vignettes and also introspection. Before the term “radical self-acceptance” existed, Payton was living by its premier code.

I simply desire to be myself. If I’m a disreputable harridan, then tough, that’s what I am. I don’t want to be personalities on film. I just desire to be me. I think I discovered out who I am and also that’s the method it’s going to be.


After finishing the book, I hungrily googled imperiods of Payton, both when she remained in her prime, on the optimal of the human being, and also after her life hit the skids and also she’d had 4 failed marriperiods under her belt and had been busted for creating a negative inspect to buy wine. Somepoint she wrote around how woguys are recognized and also understood by males appeared to sting through truth:

A woguy is favor an iceberg. Only a facade mirrors. The rest is covert and it takes months, even years, to uncover out the mysteries of what’s underneath. 

Payton does not emerge on the various other side cleansed or purified or transcreated. Nor does she ascend the ladder of success aget. That’s exactly how this book renders its note, it foregrounds the uncrushable humale spirit.

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At its heart,
I Am Not Ashamed is a good story—told by a woman that led a complete life, multiple stays, really, in one, and also despite ending up destitute, Payton’s message is still a hopeful one—live, and also perform so without regret, without shame.