Sometimes–okay, a lot of the time–I feel as if I’m not really living in that way you imagine really living when you’re in high school: passionately, heart-first, consequences-be-damned. Reading Ask Dr. Mueller: The Writings Of Cookie Mueller, I was convinced that I wasn’t.

A sometimes “Dreamlander” player in John Waters’s company, Cookie traveled around the world, had a son, had multiple adventures and wrote and wrote and wrote. She gets locked in a Chinese restaurant overnight, she gets raped by an Iceberg Slim-book-carrying mugger, she comes thisclose to meeting the Manson Family…nothing can really get her down and nothing can get in her way.

She has great stories to tell about Divine (stealing Christmas trees, lifting overturned VW buses), traveling to Rome with no plans or money (and meeting her future husband) and her brief career as a go-go dancer (doing the dreaded “floorwork” and meeting a possible murderer). The best, most touching piece in the entire book is “Edith Massey: A Star,” a loving tribute to Edith that’s quiveringly alive. The book jacket has a fantastic portrait of Cookie by Nan Goldin, where she’s laughing, head thrown back, rings and bangle bracelets and full of life.

Sadly, like a majority of the colorful denizens of her New York, Cookie died of AIDS (despite giving some misguided medical advice about the subject as “Dr. Mueller.”). It’s a testament to the power of a voice, bizarre and unique, but strong and eloquent, that she never seems that far away while you’re reading her words.

John Waters wrote the touching intro, which begins:

Cookie Mueller was a writer, a mother, an outlaw, an actress, a fashion designer, a go-go dancer, a witch-doctor, an art-hag, and above all, a goddess. Boy, do I miss that girl.

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