The Fix Q&A with celebrity journalist Kevin Sessums on his terrific memoir I Left It On The Mountain, A-listers, homelessness, crystal meth and reinvention.
On a recent afternoon,The Fix sat down with Kevin Sessums in a West Village café in Manhattan to discuss his second memoir, I Left it on the Mountain—published this week by St. Martin’s Press—which details his rise as a celebrity journalist forVanity Fair and InterviewMagazine, and his fall from grace as a crystal meth addict. In between climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, trekking the Camino de Santiago, and interviewing the likes of Madonna, Courtney Love, Hugh Jackman, Diane Sawyer, and Daniel Radcliffe, Sessums went from Conde Nast limos and Oscar parties to a crystal meth habit that left him staying in a 100 foot room in Provincetown and working at a soup kitchen. He writes in the midst of his whirlwind that “glamor had become methodical,” but his addiction became even more brutally so. Now, two and a half years clean, Sessums tells The Fix why his sobriety is about humility, grace, service and staying fabulous.
How is being back in New York?
I love being back. I love the rooms here. I think it’s a very special place to get sober. If I lived here, I would be more tempted to use. I can walk a block from here and think, ‘I used in that building, I had sex over there.’ Now, I stay at a small hotel, a place where you have to shit and shower down the hall, because you can roll out of bed and go right across the street to this 7:30 a.m. meeting, and a couple blocks away is the 12:30 meeting that saved my life. I used to go to three meetings a day. And I’m lucky I liked them here, because in other cities I don’t like them. But, I go anyway. It’s about the commitment to the chair. But in New York, even stupid people are smart. That’s what you get in New York. Let’s qualify that. Stupid sober people are smart.
But you really bottomed out and got sober in Provincetown.
Provincetown is a big part of my story because that’s where I got sober. You go there to get sober or to use in the wintertime. January is when I moved there to get sober. There are a lot of meetings there, morning and night, and they don’t really mix. These meetings are very cliquish everywhere, like high school.
So much of this book is recent history, it’s as if you were writing it as you were getting high.
I was writing it all up on Facebook as it was happening. I’ve been very open about my struggles on Facebook, and I see that site as a literary experiment, like a meta-memoir. I post sort of addictively. I need a Facebook intervention.
Having written a memoir on the subject, how comfortable are you actually talking about your recovery?
I haven’t used all the aspects of recovery, and sometimes I feel guilty about talking about recovery at all because I’m not a poster boy for this. At all! I’m the opposite of a poster boy. In a way, I’ve written a published a 250 page inventory. But I do have someone in my life who offers advice, who I call my Zen master. I have a real problem with the aspect of recovery that says you should trust some stranger out of the blue. Read more “the fix”…