Run Catch Kiss

Mean Magazine

Amy Sohn by Jeremy Pickett

Issue #4

Stroke writer Amy Sohn has been titillating New Yorkers biweekly for the past few years with her autobiographical (and auto-erotic) column, Female Trouble, in the NYPress. This summer, courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Amy has the chance to develop a new legion of avid followers with the release of her book, Run Catch Kiss. Besides creepin’, one of Amy’s favorite pastimes has been insulting me, a kind and willing object of her cynicism. She loves my self-deprecating manner and I love her dominance. An interview conducted by me sounded like a fantastic way to make Amy look smart and witty in front of a national audience.

So did you read my book?

Yeah, I’m almost done with it.

At least you’re honest about it.

I’ve only had it for a week. I’ve been working on it real hard.

It shouldn’t be hard work.

It’s not hard work, but I have nine other books I got for Christmas that I haven’t finished.

What do you think of mine?

Overall, I think it’s fun to read, just as your columns are fun to read. But the weird part of it for me is that since Ariel seems to close to you, it’s hard to view her as her own person.

Because you know me, and you have read my columns, which are published as non-fiction. You’re having a hard time experiencing the character as a character. And instead, you’re imagining me in all those situations.

Yeah. The point where it actually gelled as a concept was where Ariel was having a flashback of taking a bike ride with her dad. That was really the point where I grasped the concept and became interested in the character Ariel Steiner. Before that, it just seemed like another pseudonym for Amy Sohn.

That makes sense. When you called to set up this interview, you said you wanted me to be eating breakfast while we talked. Why?

Well, my roommates are out of town, and every Sunday we have breakfast together, so I have no one to have breakfast with…

Do you have questions you want to ask me?

Sort of. You always felt like you were gonna be a writer, right?

No, that’s not true at all. Didn’t you read the book?

Yes, I read the book. But you’ve been writing now for a couple of years, right?

5. I started when I was 20.

Is this the first book you wanted to do, or did you have other ideas for it?

This is the first book I wanted to write because it’s about the divide between our fantasy selves and our real selves and that’s always been a huge issue in my life. I’ve always had this image of who I wanted to be and [it] was completely different from who I really was. I always wanted to be this mankiller, and in life I would try really hard to kill the men. But it didn’t work because I was too nice and needy. This book is about someone who has such a strong fantasy of herself that she starts to get confused about who she really is.

Do you ever find people relating to you in the basis of your public persona and not your true self?

I’ve been in a lot of situations where people start talking to me about their sex lives in this really explicit way. People feel safe talking about their ‘randy’ side, to borrow one of your words.

I’m glad you used it, ’cause I was going to work it into the conversation later.

I use it in the book and it’s an homage to you. Anyway, people feel like I won’t judge them for their experiences, so they start telling me these stories. But I feel my inner self is a lot more conservative than the persona I project in the column and the protagonist in the book. I always feel weird when someone says, ‘Amy, you’d understand the fact that I’m sleeping my way around L.A.’ I’m like, ‘What are you saying? Why do you think I’d understand?’

On several occasions in the book, Ariel deliberately seeks out strange sexual experiences just so she can write about them. Do you ever do that?

Yes. For example, I’m going on vacation in a few days and I want to hand in my column in advance. But the thing is I can’t think of anything to write about. So on Monday night, my friend is taking me to a movie screening and there’s a party afterwards – and there’s a part of me that’s like ‘Please let something exciting happen.’

So you’re gonna approach guys on purpose.

No. Don’t put words in my mouth, child.

Am I putting words into your mouth?

A little. To some extent all writers seek out experience, but I believe there are certain people, somebody like Spalding Gray, for example, whose stories find him. He gets himself in these situations because he’s kind of insane, but also because strange people just tend to approach him. I’ve always felt strange stories just happen to me. I don’t have a lot of trouble finding stuff to write about.

This has happened your whole life?


I know a lot of people that seem to attract high-drama.

And they don’t write columns.


So what’s your point?

I was just saying ‘Yeah, I understand what you’re saying.’

But don’t you also think there are people that don’t attract high-drama? Which are you? Are you a high-drama kind of person?

I think I’m a high-drama kind of person. But at the same time, I’m a highly delusional person, so I create a lot of the drama myself.

Exactly. When you take someone who has problems relating to the world, then you put them in a city that’s already crazy, there’s gonna be crisis and drama.

Yeah, it’s a real good cocktail for trouble…

What’s that song that begins ‘Trouble ahs brought me so much pain’? Is that the line?

I don’t know. I have severe lyricosis.

Oh you do? We are so alike! It’s unbelievable. I’m absolutely retarded in that way. Don’t you have any questions?

No. Back to the original criticism I had. In the book, you refer to all these bars as BarBie or BarBell, or Bar-BQ.

I don’t think there’s Bar-BQ. You just made that up.

Do you use those names to create an air of fictition?

Fictition. That’s a good word. As opposed to fiction?

I’m sorry. I’m not that educated, so I have to make up words here and there to describe my thoughts. Throughout the novel, you use fictitious places, so it’s obviously not real and these weren’t real places I could conjure up in my head.

The reason I did that is because there are always new bars in NY, and they all have these stupid names that are puns on the word ‘bar’. It’s strange to me you weren’t able to conjure them up because the descriptions of those bars are real, even thought he names are fake. Another reason I did that, is that when a book resorts to name-dropping, it becomes dated so quickly.

Maybe it’s just something I pick up – like there’s this Wyndham Lewis book that was written in Paris in the late teens, so when I went to Paris, I had the book with me and I tried to find all these places named in the book.

What happened?

I was so lost. I found the neighborhoods, but none of the places were there anymore.

So that’ll be cool. People will read Run Catch Kiss, come to New York, and go ‘There’s no bar called BarF on 5th between A and B.’

And in this Dan Wakefield novel, he talks about this bar, The Red Key, in Indy where I grew up and it’s this bar that I go to now. Or the Nelson Algren book, The Man With the Golden Arm, centers around this bar here in Chicago that I go to all the time. And because your book is semi-autobiographical, I want to be able to visualize the scene.

I’m sorry I disappointed you. Do you think we should wrap this up now?

Why? Do you think it’s going nowhere?

I have no comment for your criticism.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. I really like your book.

That’s great. I’m glad you did. Are you making money off of this?

Uh, probably. I haven’t talked about that yet.

I’d like you to profit off of my vagina.

OK. I’ll split the fee.