In 1966, Gay Talese applied several thick layers of metaphor, imagination, and turgid, masculine prose to a decidedly thin story for Esquire about a celebrity subject that refused to be interviewed. The resulting piece,"Frank Sinatra Has A Cold," ending up spawning a genre, and even now, 44 entire years later, the magazine's writers still work in it. Only now, the resulting stories read like actual parody. Witness the following excerpt from this month's issue, in which writer Ryan D'Agostino bakes a pie with Gossip Girl's Blake Lively.
She's so into it, really trying to make this pie great. She tinkers endlessly — a pinch of the special salt she buys online, some more cinnamon, a fingerful of flour. (She has long fingers.) She talks while she tinkers. Sometimes it looks like she's talking to the apples, but usually she stops cooking when she's making a point, then returns to seasoning her fruit.
She's talking about career choices, which you'd think would seem monumental to her at this point.
"I surround myself with people I trust, but ultimately it's my gut. That's what I trust. Because I could be swayed any which way — I'm not saying I'm a person who can be swayed easily, but one can be swayed any which way. People will talk to me and something that I'm against at first will then seem like a good idea, but I always end up saying no to that thing, because — "
She jams a few fingers into the hot apples and licks them.
(You can already see the flaws here. Like really they should have baked a cherry pie, which would have allowed the writer a nice, sprawling digression on Warrant's influence on Blake Lively's hair in Gossip Girl and American music in general. But ad sales aren't what they used to be, perhaps they didn't have the space. Anyway, moving on.)
She never stops moving in this kitchen, pinballing from the stove to the sink to the cupboard to the fridge on pointy high heels. Her legs, which are becoming famous along with her, scissor in skintight jeans; a gray V-neck sweater, with the V bottoming out closer to her navel than her neck, hangs loosely on her shoulders. She looks in control.
Jon Hamm, the Mad Men star, plays an FBI agent in The Town. When I later ask him about Blake Lively, among the first words out of his mouth are "She's a very self-confident person. And I think a big part of that comes from being on a TV show and getting that experience of acting every day. It's a long slog. You realize, 'Okay, I'm either going to be professional and diligent about this, or I'm just going to use this as a stepping stone to something else,' and I think she's chosen wisely in that respect. I'm certainly not the ultimate marker of what is a good actor and what is a bad actor, but I know what I'm up against and what I'm acting with, and she was fantastic. She's in it to win it."
Lively looks at my apples, which I am peeling and chopping with a knife that could cut a bicycle in half. I've sliced my thumb a little bit, but I don't think she sees the little slit of blood. But then she stares at my hands. I ask her what's wrong.
"I'm just making sure you're doing it right."
She picks at my pile of sliced apples.
"By the way, I'm not having any of this nonsense," she says, pointing to a few flecks of peel that I missed. "No peel." Then she starts chopping, too, the two of us, with the sharpest knives you can imagine, side by side, chopping apples.
"I have a sex scene in this film, and that's never comfortable," she says as the knife blade bangs the plate she's using as a cutting board. "You think, Oh, that's going to be so awkward. But this scene isn't supposed to be a steamy one — it's sort of tragic, because this girl is so desperately trying to keep this man interested. It's more intimate than most sex scenes. I'm pretty much crying in it."
My thumb is bleeding more now, and I'm trying to stanch the flow with a paper towel without her noticing.
We're pretty sure that at this point, the bleeding thumb is not the only flow we're supposed to be trying to staunch. God. It's kind of like when Vivid takes a popular movie and makes a porno with a slightly different name, like Bright Lights, Big Titties.
Blake Lively's Last Interview [Esquire]