411 On The 212

It’s a “Wonderful” Life: Blogger Kenneth Walsh On His Memoir, His Fascination With Child Murders And Living With A Porn Star

WTW_headshot_coverKenneth M. Walsh is a douche. He’s an opinionated twit. He should be serving you your coffee, not telling you what to think about politics, fashion or the latest gay feud. At least, that’s what some of his anonymous online critics think. But for fans of his long-running Kenneth in the (212) blog, Walsh (who, full disclosure, is a friend of mine) is a fearless voice in favor of reason, a merciless decimator of pomposity (uh-oh, I’m skating on thin ice), a grammar Nazi and a true original in a field of aggravating aggregators.

His first book, the memoir Wasn’t TomorrowWonderful? (Magnus Books, $19.99), does showcase his trademark edgy take on pop culture (who else would pine, Happiness-style, to have been the victim of a child serial-murderer?), and it of course addresses his controversial outing of Thomas Roberts’s extra-fine booty, but the book is also surprisingly warm and vulnerable, detailing his disastrous first gay love affair, his unwitting living situation with pornstar Mike Henson and his battle with self-doubt. Walsh chatted with Queerty about his blogging and his debut book.

How long have you wanted to write a book?

Almost as long as I can remember. When I was 11 or 12, I wrote a book about my sixth-grade camp experience called Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. It was very Judy Blume-esque. I later had outlines for several others, including one called Sweetcheeks, based on my junior-high arch-nemesis. I hated this pudgy kid with the permaflushed cheeks because he stole this hot wrestler’s attention away from me. Twenty years later, I ran into Sweetcheeks in a bar in Hell’s Kitchen and we’ve been friends ever since.

kenny600_CleanupWhy is your first book a memoir and not fiction? 

Although I was a huge lover of classics when I was young, I just reached a point where I found I only liked reading things that were based on truth, so I followed my heart. People had also said, “You should write these stories down!” over the years, so it seemed natural.

How has your blogging informed your writing?

It’s made it very informal and conversational. People have been writing to say my book felt like spending the day with me. Hearing that makes me happy.

You have some unsparing, though never cruel, insights about your family in the book. Did you brace them?

No. In fact, my parents still have not seen the book. (All writers are procrastinators, right?) My sister and my oldest brother have now read it and given me high praise, which means a lot to me. I only told my mom about the book at all once a deal was inked. I told her it was a memoir and she was excited and proud at first, then she said, “What’s my pseudonym going to be?” When I reminded her it was a memoir and that she’d still be Molly, she said: “You brat! You’re not gonna tell the world what a crazy mom I was, are you?” I replied, “Well, you weren’t that crazy.”

How would you sum up your relationship today with your mom, which had been tumultuous at best at times? When did it turn a corner for you?

My relationship with my mom is great. I think it was at my brother’s wedding in Vegas in 2000 when she said how proud she was of all of us [Walsh has two older brothers and one younger sister]. When she said that she couldn’t help but wonder how much more successful we’d be today if she’d known what the hell she was doing, I think that was the turning point. Even her mea culpa was a backhanded compliment! Like most people, she has mellowed with age. In fact, when my new friends meet her, they are frequently disappointed that she doesn’t live up to the hype and say something outrageous.

kw3Do you think parents have any clue that any random, minute thing they say or do could stick in our brains forever and ever and color our entire lives? I’m thinking specifically of the classic moment when your mom sarcastically called you “woman” when you were a teen.

I’m sure they don’t — and I’m even more sure she will wish she could take that back.

Was there anyone you wanted to write about in the book but decided to spare because it would have been too pointed?

Honestly, no. In fact, I occasionally have panic attacks about having revealed too much too soon—I should have saved that for the next book!—but my goal was to be completely honest, so I’m proud that I was.