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Wild Child

Memoir queen Anne Soffee on her hair-metal days and how she remembers it all.

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Think mosh pits, transvestite bars, backstage slut passes and tattoos. Imagine bailing your bouncer out of jail, having a heroin-addict boyfriend and engaging in a torrid affair with a big-name rock idol. Soffee did it all, saw it all and tells it all.

"When people ask, 'Did that really happen?' I say, 'Of course it did,'" Soffee says. "'This is nonfiction. I didn't embellish a thing.'" As in her first memoir, "Snake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love," Soffee writes with unapologetic self-awareness, and she manages to portray her hang-ups, foibles and the awe-inspiring insanity of her time in L.A. with hardly any judgment or editorializing.

In her self-professed "non-writerly" style of writing, Soffee says that shame is always the first thing to go and she hopes that other people who have had similarly horrible or embarrassing experiences will understand and appreciate her honesty. After some negative reaction from some of the subjects in "Snake Hips," she hung an autographed picture of '80s rocker Cherie Currie of the Runaways over her desk to remind her to be tough and not care what anyone thinks. Her parents have not read her books, and she has warned them that if they ever do, she doesn't want to hear about it.

Between guffaws, Soffee's readers are forced to wonder how she manages to write about her experiences in such stunning detail when they reek of alcohol, hair spray and prescription sedatives. Chalk it up to having a dual degree in English and Asian studies from William and Mary, earning a master of fine arts degree from the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University and, most important, being a hard-core pack rat. "I have every e-mail that's ever passed across my hard drive and every note ever passed in class," Soffee says. "My old boss from L.A., Andrew, who graciously agreed to be portrayed in this book, was shocked to find out I still have all of the Post-its he used to stick on my monitor."

Soffee says her priorities have changed since her hair-metal days and she cannot wait to leave her memoirs behind and write something that's fiction. She says her next book will be a novel based on her 13 years of experience working with adolescents at Charter Westbrook, Genesis Treatment Center and two group homes in Chesterfield County.

"I'm the same smart-assed little punk in a lot of ways, but I think I've mellowed," says Soffee of how she's changed since 1986. "I hope I've mellowed. Once you're married with a baby and a mortgage, a laminated backstage pass doesn't seem so all-important anymore." S



Anne Thomas Soffee will be reading at Fountain Bookstore Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m.

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