Monday, April 12, 2010


Not unlike most people I know, I have my share of Guilty Pleasures. Guilty Pleasures are those things that we know we should not like, but do, sometimes secretly, sometimes openly. They generally fall into at least one of the following three categories:

1. Socially Unacceptable: Socially unacceptable guilty pleasures are things (and sometimes, people) that society has decided we should not like, much less admit to liking. Socially unacceptable guilty pleasures are openly mocked and ridiculed, but ironically, in some cases, may have at one point been socially (emphasis) acceptable, but have since fallen into the cruel and unforgiving unacceptable category.

My socially unacceptable guilty pleasure are the Bee Gees. Everyone (at least everyone who was alive in the 70's) know who these chaps are (or were, as the case may be [RIP, Andy Gibb]), and most of those people probably even liked them (or knew the words to at least one of their songs). In fact, the Bee Gees record sales have totaled more than 200 million, making them one of the best selling artists of all time.

So what happened? How did the Bee Gees go from being so far on top to being a socially unacceptable guilty pleasure? The answer , I believe, lies in the deadly combination of feathered hair, revealing shiny man-pants, impossibly hairy chests, a falsetto voice that could crack a window and, the killer of all things cool, disco.

But I love them. When their music comes on, my hips start swaying, my fingers start snapping, my head starts boppin' , and if it’s “Jive Talkin’”, I’ll pull out my air synthesizer for good measure. And for the record, most of you people secretly like The Bee Gees, too. You're just too cool to admit it.

(PS- In September 2009, Robin Gibb revealed that he and Barry Gibb would reunite and perform again. And when they do, I’ll be there.)

2. Unexplainable Attraction: Guilty pleasures, by definition, are embarrassing. Otherwise, why would we be afraid, ashamed or otherwise hesitant to admit having them? But sometimes, we can't help it. Sometimes, there is something about whatever our guilty pleasure is that inexplicably draws us to it, like a gravitational pull that we cannot fight. Movies, I find, are the easiest of guilty pleasures to classify in this category of unexplainable attraction. How often have you found yourself liking a movie but not really understanding why it is that you like it so much? Or seen a movie that you know is so silly, so ridiculous, so utterly BAD, that you would rather die than to be seen owning it, but have it secretly recorded on your TiVo so you can watch it over and over again in the privacy of your own home? My two guilty pleasure movies could not be more different. One is a cheesy 80's musical (and a sequel, at that), and the second is a 70's B-rated horror movie about nature gone wild.

Grease 2: When I was 12 years old, my friends and I used to watch Grease 2 and act and sing it out. Sandy, the cute blonde in our group, always got to be Michelle Pfeiffer's character, Stephanie, which pissed me off to no end. I always got stuck being Frenchy, the funny, loyal and loving, but definitely NOT cute, Pink Lady. I should've asserted myself and demanded to be Stephanie, but I didn't. And I'm still bitter about it.

25 years later, I still love Grease 2. I know the words and dance steps to every single song. I can recite all of Michelle Pfeiffer's lines and I still have a crush on Michael Carrington (the heartthrob). The story line is similar, of course, to that of the original Grease, but it is the girl this time who is cool, and the guy who is the dork. There are numerous great song and dance sequences (including "Reproduction" and "Let's Do It For Our Country" both of which are about (wink wink) sex) and to this day I cannot go bowling without wanting to sway my hips, do a little jig at the end of the aisle and belt out "we're gonna bo-o-owl tonight." I do not own a copy of Grease 2, but I will stop whatever I'm doing when it comes on Cinemax, and I will not rest until I find myself a gen-u-ine shiny Pink Lady jacket.

(Brief Digression) Every year, I go to a very exclusive "Bad Movie Party," hosted by my husband's best friend's parents. The guest list is extremely limited, with the same 10 or so people invited every year. The premise of the party is quite simple. Every person picks his or her entry for what he or she believe is the worst movie. The only rule is that the movie must have been shown in some sort of a theatre at some point in time. Everyone presenting a film shows up in a costume representative of their film (see right). Entrants show a five minute clip of their worst movie and discuss why they believes it is worthy of "The Andre,' (see left) which is the name of the award for the best bad movie (named appropriately for the original bad movie, My Dinner with Andre). The winning movie (which is decided on by blind vote of all participants) is glued to the bottom of the stack of prior films, and the winner gets to keep The Andre, prominently displayed of course, for the entire year. I myself have won the Best Costume Award three times, and the Best Worst Movie award only once.

I mention the Bad Movie party because my next guilty pleasure would most certainly win if it were entered. But year after year, I refuse. Although The Andre is calling my name and I long to have it back on my mantle, I cannot bear to see my movie publicly ridiculed.

Frogs: I am willing to bet that at least 99% (if not 100%) of you have never heard of Frogs. It was made in 1972 and stars Ray Milland, Sam Elliot and Joan Van Ark (of Knots Landing fame). The movie is about a family of wealthy Southerners who suffer horrible, gruesome deaths at the claws and teeth of their private island's reptilian and amphibian inhabitants (salamanders, crocs, snakes, and yes, frogs). One poor guy even gets it via tarantula, a scene so horrific that even I have to turn my head. Sounds awful, right? Arguably, yes, it does. But it is so campy and so ridiculous that it has been on my list of top 10 movies since I first saw it, 20 years ago. It's not for the squeamish, especially those who cannot handle seeing snakes and the like, and it is most certainly full of terrible acting. But it is a classic B movie and one that I proudly and unapologetically own. Oh, and yes, it is available on Netflix (so go ahead - you know you want to).

3. The Gross Outs: My daughter Vivian came home the other day begging me never to pack an avocado in her lunchbox again. Avocados, especially the way I prepare them (cut in half, pitted, and swimming in a sauce made with lime juice, Maggi (a Mexican soy sauce-ish condiment), Worcestershire, pepper and salt) are among her favorite snacks. I grew up on them and was proud to have passed the taste for them down to my children. As it turns out, liking avocados, especially the way I make them, is evidently an invitation for playground ridicule.

My daughter is a normal and well-adjusted 8 year old little girl, but all the "Eeewwww, what is that?" and "Does your mother not like you or something?" comments had simply become too much for her. She asked that I pack her "normal food, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches” - stuff the other kids wouldn't make fun of. Problem is, Vivian hates peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Which leads me to Guilty Pleasure Category Number 3: The Gross Outs - quite simply, the stuff (or foods) we love, but others hate. Not unlike Vivian's avocado, my gross out guilty pleasure is straight out my childhood: Corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, crumbled Mexican cheese and chili powder. I fully recognize that it sounds vile, and as a result, I usually won't ask my host or hostess to pull out a jar of mayo at a barbecue, but I have invited many a friend to try it in the comfort of my own home. Admittedly, most politely (and sometimes, not so politely) decline, opting instead for the standard melted butter and sprinkling of salt. Believe me, it is their loss.

I'm also a huge fan of tuna noodle casserole, something that doesn't seem to me should be a guilty pleasure, but apparently is. I've done some research on this and have polled several friends. With very, very few exceptions, the general consensus is that hot tuna smothered in mayo and cheese, is quite simply, vomitous. I honestly cannot see why - after all, my mother used to make it for me when I was a child and it is was then (and now) the absolute best comfort food.

Fear not though, dear friends. While I am not ashamed to share my gross out guilty pleasures with you and invite you to try them out, I promise you I will respect the unspoken rule of formal dinner parties, and never, ever put them on the menu.

(P.S. - For the record, I counseled Vivian to tell all those kids who were making fun of her avocado to take a long walk off a short pier. So she still gets avocados in her lunchbox. And she eats them every time.

In Closing: I mean no disrespect to the writers, producers, directors and actors of The English Patient and Eyes Wide Shut. I'm sure they are good movies in their own right. But damn it, I wish more people would own up to the fact that they'd rather watch The Three Amigos or Friday the 13th, Part II. Those of you who secretly love ABBA (especially "Dancing Queen" and "Super Trouper"), I guarantee you are not alone. And to those who will drive for two hours to a carnival three counties away to anonymously buy a deep fried Twinkie, remember that most people who claim to love caviar would rather choke on a chicken bone than to admit that it makes them gag.

I hope I have inspired you to admit to your Guilty Pleasures. If only one of you is willing to stand up and shout “I LOVE AIR SUPPLY!”, or invite a friend over to sing “If I Were a Rich Man” while watching Fiddler on the Roof, then I have done my job. And if not, well, I encourage you to go make yourself one of those lychee-tinis you know you love and drown your sorrows away.


  1. My name is Cristina and I LOVE AIR SUPPLY!!!!!

  2. Atta girl, Cristina. Let's give her a hand, everyone. Bravo.

  3. Whew...I am SO glad someone else mentioned the elephant in the room--you know I have some sick, guilty pleasures...shh..we don't talk about them...Love Gimore Girls(I own the collection) Missed a whole week of college to stay in bed and watch a "My So Called Life" marthon and...a movie is not a movie w/o popcorn, layered every few inches with butter...none of this one pump crap! That's like $%& without the forplay--why bother...?

  4. My new guilty pleasure...especially when I am having BAD days at ready your blog. I love it! Oh, and I love Air Supply, Chicago, George Michael, the Bee Gees, etc etc etc. And the corn you mention above....O M G. IT"S to die for!