My Obsession with Josh Kilmer-Purcell (don’t worry, it’s a healthy one!)

A fun post by guest reviewer Leslie


It all began innocently enough. Several weeks ago (or maybe months) K.Z. Snow mentioned—either here or on Goodreads, not sure which–that she was reading I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and said it was a “very unusual” memoir. That was enough to pique my curiosity so I downloaded the sample to my Kindle and then promptly forgot about it. Then, two weeks ago, on my birthday, my friend Geoffrey recommended the same book to me. Since it was my birthday, I decided to treat myself to a day of leisure reading so I bought the book and dived in.

“Very unusual” is putting it mildly. IANMTD covers about eight months in Josh’s life when he was 26 and first living in New York City. He was a mild mannered advertising executive by day and at night he was drag queen name Aquadisiac—Aqua for short—who was known for her towering hair, heels, and live goldfish in her breasts. Josh was madly in love with a sex worker named Jack and despite a rather bizarre lifestyle (and even more bizarre schedule), they made it work.

Josh as Aqua

They made it work, that is, until things started to fall apart. A relationship can only survive so long on zero hours sleep (day in and day out), cocaine, vodka, and squeezing a 30 inch waist into a 23 inch corset—laced so tight that Josh needed to be half-drunk to put it on and even then, he could feel his internal organs throb.

At about this point in the story, I started to worry about Josh. He seemed like a really nice guy despite his addictions and excesses and I hoped he wouldn’t end up in a coma—or worse—by the end of the book. I guessed he was still alive as the book was written in 2006 and the story he narrates took place in the mid-nineties but still, I was concerned.

I stopped reading for a minute and Googled his name and found out that in fact he is alive and well and living on a farm in upstate New York. Phew! In fact, he has a second memoir, published in 2010, that tells the story of this latest chapter in his life: The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers. The minute I finished IANMTD (which took me about five hours to read), I downloaded his new book and dived right in.

What a difference a decade makes! Aqua has been retired and Josh is in a long-term relationship with a guy named Brent. When the book opens, it is the fall of 2006 and they are on their annual apple picking expedition in upstate New York. They stumble upon the adorable little town of Sharon Springs and The American Hotel which is run by two good looking guys, one of whom wears a kilt. The next day, after a great dinner and a good night’s sleep, they set forth and discover The Beekman—a two-hundred year old farm that has been on the market for four years.

Naturally, they have to buy it. And that is how an ad exec (Josh) and VP for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (Brent) become gentleman farmers.

Similar to IANMTD, The Bucolic Plague has lots of funny parts, but there is an undercurrent of seriousness—even sadness. Running a farm is hard work and trying to do it two days a week (they commute between Manhattan and The Beekman) would put a strain on anyone’s relationship. Brent and Josh work hard to make a go of it but when Josh’s 39th birthday rolls around and he spends it alone, on the farm, while Brent is in New York—well, I had to stop reading and once more reassure myself that everything was okay for these two.

Google is my friend again and this time I discovered their website, Beekman1802.com. I started clicking here and there and then I found a blog post written by Josh for Brent’s birthday, wherein he says:

The day you were born is still the best day of my life. I may have only been three years old, and I certainly had no idea that my future best friend was coming into the world a thousand miles away. But I’m pretty sure it must have been a perfectly sunny day and that I couldn’t stop smiling.

Awww….

This is about the moment I became obsessed. I start clicking through the website, thinking about buying goat’s milk soap, Blaak Cheese (made from goat’s millk), and goat milk caramel for ice cream…I click some more and discover that they have opened a store to sell their stuff. Oh, boy! Road trip!

I decide to look at a map and see exactly where Sharon Springs is. It’s in Schoharie County, not far from Cooperstown and not far from where my son was living—until the day before. Seriously, my timing sucks! I am reading this book on July 2nd (my birthday) and my son moved home to Maine from New York literally the day before—July 1st. If I had discovered this book one week earlier I could have sent him off to buy me a jar of Beekman 1802 Cajeta. One week earlier and he could have gone and surreptitiously snapped some photos of the farm. One week earlier…but alas, an opportunity is lost.

Now I am obsessed with actually hearing and seeing Josh and Brent. Photos are good but I need more live action. Once again, I am in luck. In The Bucolic Plague they actually make a demo for a potential TV show. They thought they did a terrible job but obviously a TV exec didn’t agree because they landed a reality show (or maybe docu-drama is a better descriptor) on Planet Green called The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Season 1 is available on DVD and once again, Amazon is my friend. I one-clicked and the DVD is in my mailbox 48 hours later. (Someone tell me, please, how we lived without the instant gratification of the Internet. I don’t remember…LOL.)

The TV show is a nice accompaniment to The Bucolic Plague. All the things in the book: the goats, the 7500 sq. ft. heirloom garden, the beautiful home with 14 ft. hallways, all come to life. So do Brent and Josh and I have to say, after watching the show, I am as obsessed with Brent as I am with Josh. (Although to be honest, I don’t think Brent would be too pleased to learn of my obsession; Josh, on the other hand, I suspect would be thrilled!)

I’ve been savoring the show. My favorite episode (so far) is one in which they’ve made the farm available for a wedding. Brent has arranged to have a large tent set up (in case of rain, which did happen). Josh is not too happy about this because the wedding weekend coincides with his 40th birthday and he had always dreamed that the first wedding held at the farm would be his and Brent’s. It is a little bittersweet to see them standing on their porch, watching the bride and groom take their vows in the formal flower garden in front of them; when the bride and groom share a first kiss, so do Brent and Josh. Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York, I am hoping they are busy planning their own nuptials. No mention of it on their blog, yet, but I keep checking.

Once my obsession simmered to a manageable level (I read both IANMTD and The Bucolic Plague in one day), I lined up a few treats that I can enjoy in the coming weeks. First off is Josh’s first fiction novel, Candy Everybody Wants, published in 2008. It has mixed reviews on Goodreads so I am a little tentative to read it—but I know I will. Then in October, they have a cookbook coming out: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook which of course I have pre-ordered. (Maybe I’ll give it to my husband for Christmas…hmm….). Last but not least, seasons 2 and 3 of The Fabulous Beekman Boys are available on insta-watch on Amazon ($1.99/episode). Not the most cost-effective way to watch, but when you are obsessed, money is no object, right?

For those who want to dive into the wonderful world of Josh and Brent, here are some links. As for rating…I’d give the whole shebang five stars across the board.

I Am Not Myself These Days...Buy LinkAmazon:

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen FarmersBuy LinkAmazon:

The Fabulous Beekman Boys (DVD)…Buy LinkAmazon:

Candy Everybody WantsBuy LinkAmazon: (haven’t read yet so not rated)

The Beekman 1802 Heirloom CookbookBuy LinkAmazon Preorder link (haven’t read yet so not rated)

As for the road trip…I keep eyeing my calendar for the Harvest Festival…September 24th and 25th, at the farm. 😉

Brent (on the left) and Josh at the farm in the winter

 

 

30 comments

  • Leslie, thank you for your review. I have found myself obsessed with Josh & Brent as well. I read IANMTD and like you, I was frightened for the man but saw it through to the end. It made me sad in some respects, but overall, happy that he found Brent, and they’ve sustained their relationship.

    I also read Bucolic Plague and just the opening chapter describing the drive with the lambs to the Martha Stewart Show had me in tears. Now I faithfully watch their show, follow their blog, follow on Facebook and pretty much act like a benign stalker.

    BTW, I have ordered soap (excellent), truffles (even more so), and their Beekman 1802 Habanero Cajeta(beyond excellent–>sublime), which I had to stop myself from spooning directly out of the jar into my mouth on more than one occasion. Needless to say, my jar carefully hidden from my family, did not last very long.

    As you know,both Brent and Josh have done so much for the revival of Sharon Springs. Josh is a very talented writer. I encourage everyone to give Bucolic Plague a go but IANMTD is a wonderful read too.

    Reply
    • Janet, thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad to know I’m not the only “benign stalker” out there…LOL.

      I’ve been resisting the impulse to order some of that caramel sauce. Not sure how much longer I can hold out…

      L

      Reply
  • Oh Leslie, I love this show!! I didn’t, however know all about the other stuff which led up to it, so now I’m excited to go read the books 🙂

    Reply
    • I think you’ll enjoy the books very much, Cole, especially the second one since that has a lot of great stuff about food. I am really looking forward to the cookbook, too.

      L

      Reply
  • I just have to report in that I got hugs and kisses from my newest boyfriend…LOL. I just got this email from “beekman1802”

    thank you for all the nice compliments, leslie! glad you enjoy everything. xoxojkp

    Obviously, we all know who jkp is…SWOON!

    Reply
  • Wave, didn’t you post recently about gender-benders, cross-dressing and so on? I know you would *love* IANMTD, especially the chapter where Josh explains in great detail how he makes the transformation from Josh to Aqua. Go on…download and get reading!

    L

    Reply
  • Leslie
    You are one crazy woman. 🙂 This obsession has gone too far but I can understand why you’re so hung up on this writer after reading your post. Unfortunately the TV show is not available in Canada (at least I can’t find it anywhere yet).

    Much to my chagrin I’m very tempted to get at least IANMTD to start *can’t believe you’re sucking me into this* lol.

    Reply
  • Wow! Sounds like you’ve got it good! I know all about obsessions, and I’m thinking to myself … “Do I need another one right now?” 😕

    I’ll get back to you … 😉

    Reply
  • It was that damned charming TV show — “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” which everybody should watch — that led me to Josh K-P’s books. (The episode you mention, the one with the wedding, made me tear up.)

    And am I glad I looked further! The opening chapter of I Am Not Myself These Days has got to be one of the most irresistible I’ve ever read. I dare anybody to read that opening and not want to read more.

    I’m similarly torn about getting Candy Nobody Wants. After IANMTD, I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed.

    Reply
    • K.Z., have you read The Bucolic Plague yet? I’d advise diving into that before the fiction book (says the woman who hasn’t read the fiction book yet…LOL). But if you like the TV show you’ll like Josh’s second memoir, I am sure.

      He’s a great writer and I get pulled into everything he has written that I have read. No wonder he is successful in advertising…!

      L

      Reply
      • Haven’t read it yet, Leslie, but it’s on my list. I agree Kilmer-Purcell is a wonderful writer, and I’ve been hoping he can find the time to produce more fiction. (Have you become his “fan” on Goodreads? The Josh and Brent blog posts are delightful.)

        I would LOVE to attend the Harvest Festival. Sharon Springs seems like a gaytopia, doesn’t it?

        Reply
        • Can you believe it? The tickets to the Harvest Festival are already sold out!

          Gaytopia or…just an ordinary little town, with a mix of citizens, some gay, some straight, all working together, living and getting along. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right?

          L

          Reply
  • So happy to see this posted on here!! I have been a big fan of the Boys for awhile now. I’ve read the books and watched the TV show since the airing of the first episode. But I must say, their goat milk soap is AMAZING! Since I started using it a year ago I’ve stopped using moisturizer and no longer have itchy skin. I use the goat milk with honey soap. Seriously – life changing for my skin!

    Also, I’m 100% Team Brent. 😉 Adore him, but I think they balance each other out nicely too.

    Reply
    • Samantha, thanks for the mini-review of the soap. Tell me, does it have much of a scent? I can’t stand smelly things but I could use a life-changing soap. Thanks in advance for your answer!

      L

      Reply
      • Their regular/standard goat milk soap does not have a scent. Then they have ones with scents for each month of the year in addition to choose from for those who like that. If you get a bar to try, cut it into thirds and only use 1/3 at a time. It makes the entire bar last longer and makes the soap easier to handle because the bar is pretty big.

        Reply
  • Now you have me intrigued! I can’t afford a crazy obsession as of this moment but I definitely will keep an eye out for those books the next time I go to the bookstore. (Or maybe I could order them online? Hmmm…)

    Reply

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