How I Escaped my Addiction to Hip

Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler figured out who she really was—but it took a while

| November-December 1997

Section Articles: 

Being True to Yourself in a World that's Losing its Cool

Hip Hot Spots
15 of the hippest neighborhoods in the U.S and Canada

Let Them Eat Lifestyle
From hip to hype -- the ultimate coporate takeover by The Baffler's Tom Frank

Beyond Hip
Looking for something better than the Next Big Thing

The Queen of Cool
Haysun Hahn gets paid to be hipper than the rest of us

Are Black People Cooler than White People?
Dumb Question.

How I Escaped My Addiction to Hip
by playwright and screenwriter Eve Ensler

It Took a Village 
There's nothing new about business co-opting hip life

Being hip almost killed me.

I grew up in Scarsdale, a grotesquely wealthy suburb of New York City, and I failed at striving early on. I always had the wrong clothes, and I never had a car, a phone, social skills, a nose job, a Bat Mitzvah, or a dot of confidence. My father began to sexually molest me when I was five. Then, guilty, he rejected me with a shocking vengeance: constantly criticizing me, cursing me, beating me. I was a terrified mess, hungry for love, desperate for friends. My peers smelled it and hated me for it. In junior high, they even formed an Eve-haters club. I felt dirty, ugly, suicidal. I lived in a continual state of longing and despair.

Then the '60s happened.

The '60s released me—or so I thought—from my crying need to fit in. For the first time, I could be who I really was—an outsider. It was hip, and hip was my refuge. Hip made me feel safe.

Grace Slick was my icon, everything I longed to be: outrageous and cool, beautiful and tough, a woman inventing her life, heeding her desires. I dressed like her, talked in a deep voice like her, and even became a singer in a rock band (despite being so tone deaf that the band leader secretly turned off my microphone during performances). When Grace came to New York, I snuck out to the late shows at the Fillmore East to bring her feathers, stones, and other trinkets.

My father became progressively more tyrannical and violent. But he could no longer reach me. I had become immune to his cruelty and disapproval. I had learned to disguise my hunger for love with a look, a style, and a dare.

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