Saturday, November 13, 2010


How different would this story be if I said “Barbie died.”? Or if I said “Barbie killed herself.”? Or if I said “Barbie shot herself in the head with what she used to call her ladies gun”?

In the end, Barbie would still be dead.

Barbie. Anyone who’s read my memoir, Hats & Eyeglasses, knows exactly who she was--- Keith’s sassy wife. The poker dealer. The one who stood by her man through all kinds of crazy shit--- and did it while wearing mules and high heels so extreme that her calf muscles were forever flexed.

Barbie, who thought cigarettes, chocolate cake, and a Coke covered all the food groups.

Barbie, whose name was so fitting.

Barbie, who could out-drink even the biggest guys we knew, and still not have to go to sleep.

Barbie, who could stop you dead with one of her withering looks, and then call to say that she had her church group put your neighbor on their prayer list.

Barbie, who loved her man so much that when he dropped dead 2 years ago she began unraveling in earnest.

Barbie, who looked like a hooker but wore demure little aprons to prepare dinner.


Monday, August 2, 2010



Guest Blogger Martha Frankel Reporting LIVE From The Wedding Of The Year!
August 1, 2010

by Deb Amlen

Some journalistic scoops are just too good to pass up. When a big story comes your way, the best thing to do is to grab your artfully hidden-from-the-Secret-Service Blackberry and tell it like it is. That’s what the fabulous Martha Frankel did, and we couldn’t be more grateful that she sent her observations straight to us here at CYGAWA without any thought to her personal safety and security or, for that matter, her reputation as a journalist. Thank you, Martha, for helping us stay current and for revealing things about OMG FRICKING CHELSEA AND MARC’S WEDDING that probably went uncovered by other, nameless sources who were left to weep outside the door. Pfft. And they call themselves journalists. Kudos also to ace reporters Kitty Sheehan and Mark Cuddy for getting Martha into the wedding of the year in the first place.

Martha Frankel, breaking the news as only she can

Martha, of course, is the author of “Hats and Eyeglasses” (Tarcher/Penguin, 2009), an intriguing memoir about her childhood spent learning the game of poker from her father and her uncle, and more recently, “Brazilian Sexy” (Perigree/Penguin, 2010), co-written with one of the founders of the J Salon in NYC and which reveals the secrets to living a “gorgeous and confident life.” She’s wonderful, and I know you’ll love her and be just as grateful to her reporting skills as we are.

So here, without further ado, is a live report from the wedding of former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky:

Ssshhh. They’ll take my crackberry away if they know I have it. But Chelsea looks gorg. And it’s a very cool wedding.

They just threw out Ruth Bader Ginsburg for having a potty mouth! I’m hiding in the bushes so they don’t hear mine.

Omigod, Bill is fucking rocking out!

Better not be any crisis tomorrow — Hillary is druuunk!

Just danced with Henry Kissinger. Turns out he’s hawt…

Headed into an hour and a half of these fucking fireworks. Who knew even this could be boring? zzzzzzzzz….

A skunk just walked right through the crowd! Everyone went running.

Omigod, I think Chelsea's hiding a baby bump behind that bouquet! Stay tuned.

What the fuck? At 11 it turned into a cash bar 11!!! I’m gonna have to ask Oprah to buy me a drink. No, no, Gayle will do it.

Hillary got locked in the Port-A-Potty, and Bill is doing the Hokey Pokey.

First puker spotted — turns out to be one of the Bush twins! Who invited them?

Barbra Streisand and Kid Rock doing duet of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore” w/Bill on sax! Who knew Hil is a flautist? Best. Wedding. Ever.

Right in the middle of “The Electric Slide” they flicked the lights on and off. Last call!

Blackhawks waiting to ferry guests back to Rhinebeck. Will wait to get on the one w/Tom Hanks. Private party after at the Beek.

Forgot to tell you about the food — Chelsea fooled everyone. It was a total Woodstock thing; Joshua’s did the appetizers (delish!) And Yum Yum Noodle Bar did the dinner.

And the cake, which was to die for, was from Jabelli’s bakery (at Lori’s Creative cafe.) A pineapple and whipped cream thing. Wowza!

OK, off to the post-wedding, pre-brunch breakfast.

This is a room full of the most hung-over people I ever been with. Since yesterday. Thank god for mimosas.

OK, finally going to the brunch. Am so over this Chelsea-Marc thing. Just wanna go home to sleep it off.

Well, Chelsea and Marc LOVED my wedding gift (a cherry picture frame with the date and 2 birds carved in from Fabulous Furniture). Going home to sleep it off. Sorry, that should be file my report.

Might have to skip Weight Watchers this week because the wedding was a 2-day pig fest. Bill told me he’s already gained back 8 pounds.

Thanks again, Martha. This one will win us that Pulitzer for sure. Everyone else, head on over to and pick up Martha’s books. You will really love them.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Last year's Horse 'n' Around Saugerties included the work of 40 or so artist's, and at the auction (the horses spend the summer in saugerties, which is the town next to woodstock, and then get auctioned in september) i started dreaming of designing one of my own. i have never done 3D artwork, but i wondered if there was a medium where words and art could meld together and make sense. This year i talked with my husband, the artist steve heller and the guy who works with him, mike karpf , and they assured me that if i designed something they could make it a reality. i have been working on this new memoir called I KID YOU NOT, about my decision to have my tubes tied when i was 30, and what Woodstock was like in that great little window between the Pill and AIDS. I thought it would look great to decoupage some of the pages onto the fiberglass horse that they supply to artists. so i did design one, it was sponsored by my great friend daisy kramer bolle at as well as cafe tomayo and the partition street wine shop. i was so excited and mike e and i talked it through endlessly. i first printed out some sections in 18 point type, then 16, then 12, and eventually in 7 point. we decided that the words should be very very small, so it was more about style than substance. i vetted it to take out the explicit sex, and mike went to work on it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Brazilian Sexy makes Vanity Fair!

Bringing a Bit of Brazil to the Heart of New York
by Vanity Fair
May 28, 2010, 3:59 PM
Ladies (and, of course, you few gentleman), if you’ve ever waxed it all, then, by extension, you’ve been graced by the wisdom of Janea Padilha, founder of what’s popularly known as a Brazilian. Last month marked the debut of Brazilian Sexy, Janea Padilha’s humorous chronicle of the Brazilian bikini wax, a beauty treatment that, depending on your sense of modesty, is either famous or infamous. The setting for all this waxing is the J. Sisters Salon, an old-school New York beauty hot spot that Janea Padilha and her six sisters founded in 1987. Having moved from Brazil to the Land of the Free, the sisters soon found out that Americans were much less liberated than they seemed—at least when it came to waxing. The cosmetic procedure now considered beauty’s greatest breakthrough since, well, razors, wasn’t always so popular. Once the J. Sisters salon opened, it took Janea one full year to finally convince a very hesitant client to let her wax everything. The immediately converted client brought five of her friends to the salon that same afternoon. One of them was a writer for Elle, and the rest is history. Now, more than 20 years later, J. Sisters caters to an A-list clientele, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell, and Vanessa Williams, who is such a fan of Janea and her vision that she wrote the forward to Brazilian Sexy.

And so, in honor of Janea’s new book, V.F.’s roving beauty reporters (two waxing virgins), decided to check out this much hyped and, as Janea puts it, “liberating” experience.

The salon is situated on the top three floors of an elegant, century-old town house, squeezed in between bustling shops, office buildings, and restaurants. The procedure itself was quick, and, we kid you not, relatively painless. But be prepared—unlike most salons, technicians here don’t wear gloves, which, we’re told, can impede the accuracy and speed of hair removal.

If you aren’t comfortable with your body, then, we can assure you, after a humbling few sessions with Janea, you will be. Legs swing upward—one hitched across her shoulder and the other planted on the table. Rule No. 1: You have to relax. If you tense your muscles, pain is intensified. Rule No. 2: Talk to Janea—about friends, relationships, work, anything really—since it will help you relax. What makes J. Sisters so different from the hundreds of salons throughout the city isn’t so much the Victorian d├ęcor, fantastic waxing (which, we assure you, really is fantastic), or spiral staircases that run from floor to floor, but the people. During the 45 minutes we spent at the 57th Street oasis, we felt as if we had a sneak peak into a special club—of bubbly, happy, and wise Brazilian liberators. As the old saying goes: Once you go Brazilian, you don’t go back to anything else.

J. Sisters salon, 35 West 57th Street, third floor, New York City, 212-750-2485. The Brazilian Bikini Wax is $75.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm Naked in My Local Paper, The Daily Freeman!!!

Brazilians, local author redefine sexy

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Freeman staff

Sexiness, an American obsession, truly has less to do with showing acres of skin and a lot more to do with exuding sheer attitude with a capital “A.” That is the assured premise of “Brazilian Sexy - How to Live a Gorgeous and Confident Life” by Janea Padilha, written with local author Martha Frankel.

Padilha (whose first name is pronounced “Johnny”) is a member of the renowned J Sisters, who developed the Brazilian wax at their salon on 57th Street and Sixth Avenue in New York City. Frankel, an entertainment and humor writer living in West Shokan, is the filter through which Padilha’s voice emerges.

“I met Janea through my agent in New York. And, I have to say, I’ve never known anyone like her,” Frankel said in a recent candid, but laugher-infused interview in her Boiceville office. “Smiling, self-confident, magnanimous, generous in spirit. And — always — perfectly put together.”

“She was just lovely and I fell in love with her. I knew there was a book there,” she said of the meeting.

The 120-page book, published by the Penguin Group and in bookstores now, is the result of months of conversation between the author and the beauty entrepreneur. “The voice is hers. I’m the filter,” Frankel said.

That confidence, Frankel discovered, is the Brazilian secret to life. “Brazilians are confident in a way we don’t feel,” Frankel said. “We’re always comparing - who’s prettier, richer, thinner, doing better - or not - than me.”

She said Brazilians think, believe, and act the opposite. “Their self confidence is a very elusive thing to explain. It’s not about comparing yourself. It’s about feeling good with what you’ve got.” As Padilha says in one chapter: “No one else can make you feel bad about yourself - you are the only one who can do that.”

As one of 14 children, seven girls and seven boys, the book’s introduction is most telling as Padilha talks about growing up - one day rich, the next day poor as dirt - and what lessons she learned, particularly about the latter.

Her father suddenly lost his wealth, so the family left a beautiful home and piled into a tiny, dilapidated house in town with just three bedrooms, no stove and no hot water. Padilha remembers her mother’s words, “Yes, every meal we will cook on a wood stove in the yard. What an adventure that will be. … Oh, this will be so much fun.” Never, Padilha said, did her mother’s face reveal any fear or resentment at how her life abruptly changed, instead she remembers her mother’s laughter ringing through that little house.

The J Sisters Salon, Frankel said, attracts the rich, the famous, corporate executives, working women and just ordinary types, all sitting, gossiping, laughing, sharing their lives. They come to be made beautiful, but they also come for Padilha’s wisdom and advice.

When asked what she learned from Padilha that she did not put in the book, Frankel laughed and said, “I was born for this age. I love all the information — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube — that’s out there that I can get. But, not everyone is like that and it has made me impatient my whole life.”

Frankel said she has always, since a child, been able to do 15 things at once. “I was always tapping my foot, waiting for people to catch up. Janea taught me to be happy that I can do 15 things at once and to stop wasting time comparing myself to what others can’t do, or don’t want to do, even if they could.”

An important lesson that Frankel does write about is Padilha’s “cry therapy.” Her clients tell her they’re sad or they’re feeling blue and Padilha tells them to go home and cry for one hour, then get dressed up and go out. Do this every day for one week.

“So, they do, because Janea tells them to do it. And, after about five days, they’re crying for 10 minutes and going out. By the end of the week, the tears are over, and they’re going out,” Frankel said, adding that Padilha tells clients they need to give in to their feelings, stop pretending everything is great — and cry.

Frankel said, from her conversations with Padilha, she got the message that it’s possible to feel good no matter what’s going on. “Whether you’re heartbroken or dead, flat, broke, you need to figure out what makes you happy.”

Padilha dispenses advice as she makes her clients gorgeous. She’s asked about appearance, relationships and finances. “She’s told clients they’re wasting time with so and so. She never second guesses herself and she’s always right,” Frankel said.

Frankel said Amazon has the book listed under health and beauty, but she believes it’s closer to a self-help book.

“We have to learn to trust our instincts. That’s so easy to forget,” she said.

She said the book went together quickly, because it was so much fun to work with Padilha.

“Our families are very much alike,” she said. “A day doesn’t go by that I don’t talk to my sister, Helene, who also transcribes the tapes of my interviews.”

She said, at first, she read portions of what she had written to Padilha over the phone. “Finally, Janea told me: ‘You’re smart. You’re a writer. Do what you think you should do.’”

Frankel said a variety of factors in her life had converged to make her unhappy about her appearance and she and Padilha had a book signing coming up in New York City. Naturally, she wanted to look great.

“Facebook is a new opportunity to talk with strangers. People I didn’t know before, I know now.” She said she complained on Facebook about how she looked and got a surprising response — and an offer.

She said Daisy Kramer Bolle, who owns DIG in Saugerties, told her on Facebook to come in to the shop and she would dress her for the book signing. She said Kramer Bolle completely changed how she looked — tight jeans and tops — and offered tips on dressing well.

“I walked in (to DIG) dragging and a snappy, fashion plate walked out,” Frankel said. “I looked, and felt, like a million bucks.”

At the book signing and party, Frankel said, about 200 smiling, gracious Brazilians turned out, every one of them elegant and confident.

“And, I looked great and felt great. Like I owned the city,” she said.

For more information, visit

Blog I did with the great Cherie Rohn on

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Q & A with Martha Frankel

Martha Frankel—celebrity journalist, author, Woodstock Film Festival moderator, winner of a NYFFA Award in creative fiction…and former poker addict—does everything with a passion. To pigeonhole Martha as another in-your-face, heartless Paparazzi type in her role as celebrity journalist would totally miss the mark. On her website, the legendary arms of Bruce Willis, Katie Couric, Roman Polanski, Liam Neeson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Andy Garcia and Lindsey Lohan drape themselves affectionately over the shoulder of their blond interviewer. It’s clearly the genuine warmth and magic of Martha Frankel that makes even the super-wary let down their guard.

But who is this neat, funny woman? The following was taken directly from her website:

I know what you're thinking--- oh no, not her again. But yes, Martha Frankel here. Writer of books, interviewer of celebrities, recovering internet poker addict, lover of ethnic cooking, collector of beach glass.

I'm not quite as smart as you might think, but I am a lot smarter than I look. I'm a worrier and a procrastinator, a potentially lethal combo. Whatever I'm doing, I'd prefer to be doing it in my pajamas.

I dream of driving the Zamboni for the New Jersey Devils or coaching third base for the New York Yankees. I'm a part time radio host and full time bon vivant. I now know more about hair removal than most barbers.

I have zipped Jennifer Lopez into her wedding gown, gone CD shopping with Jeff Bridges, out-run the paparazzi with Sean Penn. I've traveled around the world, interviewing some of the greatest actors of our time. When I say "I have to go to work," I often mean that I have to lie on the couch and watch movies. I love my job.


Several years ago during her pinch-me-I must-be-dreaming life as a celebrity journalist, Martha spiraled downward into the black pit of online poker addiction. Sparing no details, she shared both the poignant and horrific events that led to her obsession in her autobiographical book, Hats & Eyeglasses. Those expecting a melodramatic foray into self-pity will be sorely disappointed. It’s one of the funniest, soul-baring books this interviewer has ever read.

After I reviewed Hats & Eyeglasses for The New York Post, Martha sent me an autographed canvass bag displaying her book’s cover. The bag now has that “lived-in” look and remains one of my most cherished possessions.

Martha Frankel received a phone call from Sir Anthony Hopkins two hours after receiving his Academy Award for best actor during which he said that her prediction of his winning the Oscar was right. I wondered what would cause a person to risk such an enviable life plus the love of family and friends?

I decided to find out.

Mob Speak: Let’s start right off with your autobiographical book, Hats & Eyeglasses. What possessed you to write the book Martha?

MF: I’d like to say that I wrote it because I was tired of hiding my secret, that I wanted to help others, that writing it would make me a better person. But that’s bullshit. I had been writing a story about my family and its penchant for gambling for years, but then when I became addicted to online poker I stopped writing it. I was mortified by my own behavior. It was one thing to write about them---quite another to write about me. I always thought I was above that kind of addiction. Plus, in order to write about it I’d have to shut the computer down and not play multiple hands of poker for 12 hours straight. Years after I had stopped playing online I met a new agent, and she asked me if I had any ideas for a book. I went through a bunch of things that I thought would make good stories, but none of the ideas seemed to really grab her. And then I said, “well, I played internet poker for a couple of years and lost tens of thousands of dollars, and not a soul in the world knows.” That got her attention. So I wrote a proposal, and within weeks she sold it. I really wrote the book because once they gave me the advance, there was no way I was giving it back! But the really funny thing is that it did help me when I exposed my secrets, and it helped other people, and it made me a much better person. So you never know.

Mob Speak: When you were in the throes of your poker addiction, how did you manage to meet assignment deadlines?

MF: In the beginning I played poker all day and then wrote furiously all night long to meet my deadlines. Then I started taking the people I was interviewing to the casinos with me. Then I started turning stories down. I told editors that I had to go to be with my aging mother (that made them feel really bad), or that I had this endless flu. I’m surprised that no one thought I had a coke addiction.

Mob Speak: For the record: No coke addiction. Okay…we all get the up side of being a celebrity interviewer. Is there a down side?

MF: I live in a small town near Woodstock NY. My stories are in magazines that sell in my local supermarket. Sometimes my neighbors think that my job is my life, that I am surrounded by glamorous people and that I would rather be at a big movie premiere than at a local softball game. But once they get over that, there really is no down side of being a celebrity interviewer! It’s a great job. And when I say I have to go to work, I often mean that I have to lie on the couch and watch movies. And they pay me for this. I’m still shaking my head in wonder.

Mob Speak: It took a lot of guts to come clean about your gambling problem. How difficult was it? Do you still have the urge to play online poker?

MF: Coming clean about it was hard, but nothing compared to how hard it was to stop playing online. Or how lousy my life was during that time. I can play live poker and have no problem, but as soon as I started to play online, I fell into a rabbit hole of hell. I rarely think about it any more. And when I do, I punch myself in my fucking head and go for a long long walk.

Mob Speak: Did writing your book help you in any way?

MF: Writing Hats & Eyeglasses was the most thrilling, frightening, wondrous experience. It changed me and helped me in ways I never could have predicted. When it came out and I started hearing from people who loved the book and felt like I was speaking right to them, that was so fabulous. People wrote to talk with me about gambling, which I expected. But the depth of their pain was a surprise. And people often write to talk about my mother, which is this little delight that never loses its power to thrill me.

Mob Speak: Moving on to another topic, here’s an excerpt from Martha’s new book Brazilian Sexy: Secrets to Living a Gorgeous and Confident Life:

“You know exactly who she is: the woman with the nowhere-near-perfect figure who walks into the party as if she owns it … and within seconds, she does. The rhythm-less girl next to you in dance class who is having more fun than anyone else in the room. That gal whose megawatt smile blinds you so you don’t even notice her two-inch roots. What these women have in common is that they’ve learned how to be Brazilian Sexy — which has nothing to do with a great tan or a perfect body, and everything to do with being at ease in your own skin. Here’s how to capture that spirit in a bottle:”

Sounds just like me…lol. Please tell us more about the book, Martha? For starters, where did the idea originate?

MF: That same fabulous agent, Lynn Johnston. She called one day and said, “You have to come to Manhattan and meet this amazing woman.” So I went in the next day and had lunch with Janea Padilha, who invented the Brazilian wax and is one of the co-owners of the J sisters Salon, which is world famous. Their clients are actresses, models, housewives, and regular people. People go in to the salon to get a manicure or a waxing, and they leave with Janea’s advice. She is the most self confident woman I have ever been around, and her way of being should be bottled. She has been around women her whole life, and she knows everything. Working on this book was pure joy.

Mob Speak: So what’s on the horizon for Martha? Any new projects?

MF: Oh yeah. I am writing a very dirty novel, about a middle aged couple and their wild sex life. I think it will shock some people. And another memoir, about Woodstock in the 70’s. Lots of sex, drugs, and attitude in that one too. Also working on two screenplays and a TV show idea. And trying to keep up with my own life.

Mob Speak: Sounds like a lot of projects on the table, Martha. I’ll tell you what. Let me know when the dirty novel is fait accompli and we’ll do a second interview, okay?

Congratulations on your new book, Brazilian Sexy, available at Amazon and brick-and-mortar stores, of course. Can’t wait to read it. May the gods smile on you, Martha Frankel!

Friday, April 9, 2010


A Blog I wrote for WowOwow

Fashion + Beauty
5 Ways to Channel Gisele Bundchen And Be Brazilian Sexy
Wed Apr 7, 2010 7:29am PDT

by Martha Frankel with J Sister Janea Padilha

You know exactly who she is: the woman with the nowhere-near-perfect figure who walks into the party as if she owns it … and within seconds, she does. The rhythm-less girl next to you in dance class who is having more fun than anyone else in the room. That gal whose megawatt smile blinds you so you don’t even notice her two-inch roots. What these women have in common is that they’ve learned how to be Brazilian Sexy — which has nothing to do with a great tan or a perfect body, and everything to do with being at ease in your own skin. Here’s how to capture that spirit in a bottle:

1. Remember that you’re perfect, just the way you are. Some people look in the mirror and see every flaw, every imperfection. They can’t get past the dark circles under their eyes, or those wrinkles that they’ve worked so hard for. Instead, look in the mirror and see the good person you are, remember how loved you are, how people enjoy your company. Stop putting yourself down. There are enough people out there who are ready to do that job for you.

2. Close your eyes to the whole world. Everyone has those days — the ones where no amount of self-confidence can make you feel good. No problem. Walk out in the morning and pretend that everyone in the world is blind. Stare them right in the face, but know that they can’t see you. Laugh at your own jokes; skip when you get close to the corner. You’ll see — no one will notice. And as soon as you don’t need their approval, you’ll get it.

3. Go with the flow. In Brazil, there’s a saying: "You cannot dance rock ‘n’ roll to a samba song." That means that if you dance to the right song, your life will be easier. Instead of fighting the current, go with it. Everyone has problems, from the president to the man who cleans his garage. But if you fight those problems, you lose. Instead, you have to embrace them, eat them for breakfast, gnaw on them like they’re the most delicious things you ever tasted. You’ll figure it out. And when you get out of this problem, you’ll take a look back and be so proud of how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished.

4. Cry yourself an Amazon river. When you’re feeling sad, don’t whimper and whine. No — cry yourself into a stupor. Set aside an hour, put on some sad music or a movie that makes you miserable, pour yourself a stiff drink, take out the favorite shirt of the boyfriend who left you or the husband who died, look through some pictures of your favorite vacation … and cry until your eyes are swollen shut. When the hour is up, wash your face and go on with your day. Rinse. Repeat every day until you’re not sad anymore. (You will be surprised at how quickly that happens.)

5. Just say yes, yes, yes! There’s a Brazilian expression: "You don’t know you’re hungry till you start to eat." Meaning that sometimes you don’t know what’s good for you, what it is you really need. Let’s talk about sex. Men can have sex anywhere, any time and pretty much with anyone. Women need to be wooed, enticed. But often what they need is to say "yes" instead of "no." So for a month or two, have sex with your man every time he wants it. And, of course, speak up and tell him what makes you happy. No excuses, no "maybe later." No, if he initiates it, you go with it. You embrace it. You shut off all those voices in your head and just let yourself go. What most women find is that they start looking forward to sex again, and that it gets better and better. They didn’t know they were hungry until they started to eat!

Healthy You Now

A Blog I Wrote for Healthy You Now

Lighten Up on Yourself
By Martha Frankel and Janea Padilha

Excerpt from BRAZILIAN SEXY: Secrets to Living a Gorgeous and Confident Life

It seems that we women are always killing ourselves over something. Is there one woman who doesn’t say, “My life will start to be good as soon as I…”? And then we have a dozen things that fit right in to complete that sentence. As soon as I lose ten pounds; as soon as I make some more money; as soon as I find the right man; as soon as I finish remodeling the kitchen; as soon as I start working out every day. As soon as… As soon as… As soon as… We give ourselves no leeway, no avenue to feel that everything is good just the way it is, right now. We seldom look around and think, Now is a good time in my life. Maybe not perfect, but pretty close.

If our kids don’t do well in first grade, we are already talking about the difficulty he or she will have getting accepted into a good college. If we sleep in, we feel like we have wasted the whole day. We are so rigid that sometimes it seems like we might just snap. And the truth is that all that stress does add up-that’s why women are so at risk for high blood pressure and stroke.
Image: Brazilian Sexy Book Cover

I had a client who came in one day in baggy pants and a huge shirt. I could see that she was feeling very bad about something. We started to talk and she finally told me that she couldn’t stand herself because she had gained a lot of weight after she stopped smoking. She told me that she didn’t want to buy any clothes in her new size because then she would be committing to being fat, that maybe she wasn’t going to lose the weight and she would always be that heavy. She could barely meet my eyes, and her diminished self confidence turned into tears and she was crying so hard. I told her that she had to stand up straight, not to hide her face, and embrace this great thing she had done. Although her physical appearance did not match the image she wanted, to stop smoking is a huge accomplishment. There are people who try for years and years and fail, but she had done it! I told her to be proud of her accomplishment, not ashamed of one of the effects; besides, her determination and discipline was her real beauty. The extra weight? It will go away.

I made her promise that she would go out and buy some pants that really fit her, some blouses that were not so big that two other people could be in there with her. Because oversized clothes do not make you look smaller, despite what a lot of women think. I wasn’t saying that she should wear skintight clothes, but she should wear something that really fit, that flattered her. Buying clothes in her size would only make her feel better, not worse.

When she walked into the salon a month later, she looked like she had lost half the weight. When I asked her how she did it, she admitted that she hadn’t lost one pound. Her clothes fit her properly and looked so much better on her that it made her seem as though she had slimmed down. And because she made the choice to focus on her accomplishment, she was standing straighter and no longer had big circles under her eyes. She looked like all the weight of the world had been lifted. She was finally able to see herself for the dynamic, wonderful woman she was. She stopped apologizing for being overweight, and she realized that when people saw her, they liked what they saw. No one was judging her the way she was judging herself. Isn’t that always the case?

If you are always uncomfortable in your own body, if you are spending all your time wishing you looked different or had different hair or a different body, well, that all comes through. Having faith in yourself, recognizing that you aren’t perfect but you are the best you can be for now will change the way you stand, the way you move, and the way you carry yourself. Believing in yourself is the foundation of real beauty.

Martha Frankel has interviewed actors (Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts), writers (Richard Ford, T.C. Boyle), directors (Spike Lee, Nicolas Roeg), musicians (Branford Marsalis, Mariah Carey), gods (Elizabeth Taylor, Robert De Niro), and supposed monsters (Lee Atwater, Mike Tyson), for magazines and newspapers all around the world. Her memoir, Hats & Eyeglasses, was called "Intimate and exuberant" by O, The Oprah Magazine. Visit her website:

Saturday, January 16, 2010


She knows every inch of his skin, every crease in his face. Once, on the phone, Jake mentioned that his doctor wanted to biopsy a mole he had just discovered on Jake’s leg. “Left leg?” she had asked. “Yes,” Jake answered. “Mid-calf, inside?” she went on. He laughed. “Yes...” “Well, you can let him do the biopsy, of course you should, but that mole isn’t new and it hasn’t changed shape or color. It’s exactly the way it was the day I met you.” “Okay, Doctor Lang,” he had kidded, but she heard the edge of fear leave his voice, and of course the biopsy turned out negative.
She knows what every little sound he makes means. She knows, from the next room, when he’s finished a book, because he’ll let out a long sigh. “Good?” she’ll ask, although that sigh usually signals his disappointment. “Could have been,” he’ll say.
She likes thrillers and medical mysteries, books that all hinge on plot, not character. He likes books by women, books about the interior life. In the mornings, while she’s drinking her coffee, he’ll ask her what’s going on in hers. She will take an hour or so, telling him in delicious detail about the killer’s lair and how the detective is being thrown off, going after the wrong man. She describes the locale and the food, the way the detective deals with his loneliness, whether or not she believes the red herrings. “What’s going on in yours?” she’ll ask. “Well,” he’ll say, thinking back to the hours he spent reading the night before, “Adrianna went to have lunch with her brother.” “And?” “They haven’t ordered yet,” he’ll say, and they’ll both laugh. He’ll reach for her book and start skimming. After two or three days he gives up on the books he’s brought and reads the ones she’s just finished. He starts predicting who the killer is on the third page, and looks deep in her eyes to see if he’s right. She never tells. And he’s always wrong. He doesn’t have enough practice with books that are really about nothing, the kind you read just to pass the time. But his excitement always makes those books seem better than they are.
She can tell when he’s having an orgasm, even if there’s no fluid. This happens quite frequently, and the way she knows is that a sound deep in his throat, guttural and animal-like, will reach her ears. “Did you come?” is a question she asks him often. It’s a question he has never had to ask her.
So now, when the enormous mahogany doors are swung open and Jake has an almost imperceptible intake of breath, Julia’s heart starts to race. He is the king of understatement, so this must be good. But she doesn’t look up, just continues to look at the ground as Jake leads her inside, and then up five concrete steps. She likes seeing things through his eyes, with him, and she knows he’ll take her to a good spot to get her first glimpse. Finally he squeezes her arm and she knows it’s her signal to look up.
She has never seen anything quite like this house. It doesn't so much sit near the ocean as hover right above it. She grabs Jake's arm and squeezes tight. This, she thinks, is going to be their best vacation yet.