The Beauty Trip

Ken Siman, Author Pocket Books $14 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-89080-3
This arch and lively look at real-life responses to beauty renders some surprisingly intelligent insights into a subject of which superficiality is the essence. Siman combines dry humor and razor-sharp style with an acutely candid approach. A 30-something gay man who had a severe acne problem into his 20s (hence the name of his well-received first novel, Pizza Face), he explains that ``a lot of us preoccupied with beauty have been hurt by it,'' but he nevertheless decided that ``beauty was too wonderful to be resented or dismissed.'' In trying to reconcile this often painful paradox, he travels around the country chatting up supermodels, bodybuilders, Playboy-posing coeds, Sy Sperling (of Hair Club for Men fame), famous plastic surgeons and fashion photographers, discussing what beauty means to people and how it affects both the beautiful and the not-so. Topics range from bulimia to the ``ugly truth'' that ``there's nothing fair'' about beauty, to the stewardess-like style of Miss America contestants, of whom Siman says, ``I imagined their smiles staying in place even if a troublemaker stormed the stage and demanded a cocktail or almonds.'' Though clever, Siman avoids being coy by presenting voices with a host of different attitudes toward this most subjective of subjects, and he handles them all with an honest and empathetic touch. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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