Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Arts: The Bitch of Broad Street - Philadelphia Magazine -

At first, Zinman was flattered that I wanted to interview her. There were plans for dinner, for a show downtown. And then, she canceled. She called to explain.

“I’ve done my homework,” she said, launching into a de facto review of both this magazine and me. She’d read the magazine’s article in June about the allegations against Bill Cosby. (“What you did to him was atrocious.”) She’d read the personal essay I wrote in May about my difficult transition into motherhood. (“I was appalled. … I thought to myself, ‘If she’s willing to say all of that stuff about herself and her family, what is she going to do to me?’”)

“You also wrote about body piercing,” she said, referring to a piece I did for another magazine in 1994. “I don’t want to have anything to do with that.”

“But, Toby, you don’t have anything to do with that.”

“I do not want you to write about me,” she said, again.

And that was that.

Ironically, not a single other person I spoke to declined to be interviewed. And most of those people had far more to lose — their jobs, their theaters, their reputations. One would think the critic — in the position she has, with the support of her editors, with her national stature — had the least at stake. All she risked was being criticized herself.