Last week, the 33-year-old writer and recovering sex addict Benoit Denizet-Lewis stopped by an upscale halfway house in Williamsburg. He was selling his new book, covering years of reportage about compulsion and vice, called American Anonymous.
The well-heeled guests—most of them 12steppers—enjoyed nibbles from a large buffet table and the sounds of a DJ spinning light electronica. Michael, a strapping Irish fireman and so-called “sober-companion” gave me his treatment philosophy. “I don’t take a lot of bullshit,” he explained. “Men like drugs and alcohol, 90 percent of women are food addicts.” Minutes later, he reappeared when I was chatting—far from the food table—with Alissa, a tanned and bubbly brunette who gave her occupation as “watching television.” Grabbing us both by the shoulders and nudging us firmly in the direction of the lectern the sober buddy said, “Time to take your seats.”
Lecture time.The plan for a 1,000,000addict march on Washington was earnestly brought to the floor. Amazonian actress Kristen Johnston—most recently seen in Bride Wars—had her black calfskin boots kicked up on a plush couch; she lobbed zingers at the speakers. After Denizet-Lewis read a chapter, he talked about how notions of addiction have evolved over time.To drive his point clear he snorted, “Freud thought cocaine would cure all other addictions.”
“It does,” Johnston cracked. The author pushed a brown newsboy cap off his brow wearily and surrendered the mic to Johnston. “First off, my Bride Wars stinks, you guys. But I’ve been reading this guy’s dust-jacket and it looks amazing,” she announced. An older, balding gentleman behind me opined that more celebrities should identify their addictions publicly. “The problem with that is every major celebrity is a sex addict,” she replied. Swiveling her head in my direction she quipped, “Look at the reporter writing away. I’m going to need to have a talk with you.” The actress—who is laying the groundwork for a sober NYC public high school— explained to me that she didn’t want to get specific about her addiction even though it was well known she was in recovery. “It’s no one’s business what I’ve taken,” she added.
She complained adamantly about the coverage her weight loss has garnered chalking her allegedly smaller frame up to a stomach ailment. I thought she looked fine; but my new pal, Alissa, squeezed her way into the conversation and introduced herself by saying, “You look gaunt.” Lithe Johnston grimaced through her teeth icily and said, “I had an ulcer.” Then, leaning down, the sixfoot starlet whispered into my ear. “I think this girl is nuts.”