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Pulp Politics

ANNA MARIE COX opens up about her new novel and alter ego, the WONKETTE

There is no in-between. Readers of the “Wonkette” blog either love Ana Marie Cox’s commentary about (shock, horror) politicians mis-behaving and her cutesy musings about Butterstick, the new panda at the National Zoo, or they balk because she proclaims to write hung-over, perhaps wishing they had her stamina, wit and cunning ability to both work and play. Her site, www.wonkette.com, is bookmarked by thousands of staffers on the Hill and is a much needed guilty pleasure read. Since its launch in early 2004, Wonkette has become one America’s most visited blogs, which she believes is due to “untapped interest in ass ******* [potty-mouthed snarkyness].” After a brief rumor she was going to be The Washington Post’s new “Reliable Source” columnist, which was sparked by a comment by Don Imus on his show, Cox’s prominence skyrocketed again on the gossip scene.

Though Wonkette has developed a controversial persona, the woman behind it, Ana Marie Cox is not what you might expect.

She’s a neat freak. She loves movies with talking animals, “Babe,” “Stuart Little,” and “Charlotte’s Web.”She grew up in Nebraska, her parents were academics, she went to the University of Chicago, and had a brief stint in grad school studying American history. She is a self-proclaimed liberal who voted for Nader and is not afraid to attack Democrats and Republicans alike. She favors national healthcare and loves taxes “Someone needs to build the roads and libraries and I believe in chipping in on that. I believe in the social contract,” Cox says. Her aphrodisiac is her husband cleaning naked. She also likes indie rock bands like Silkworm, Spoon, and Galaxy 500. While she shares that “Wonkette is my personality after a few too many margaritas,” it’s hard to imagine they are one and the same. Maybe that’s because she hasn’t allowed her personality to fully emerge until now.

Ana Marie Cox

This January, Cox will release her first novel, Dog Days (Riverhead) which traces Melanie Thorton’s political aspirations through the horrendously hot days of August as she works on Senator Hillman’s presidential campaign. Melanie, green and somewhat naïve, tries to prove herself in the “war room” as the campaign deals with numerous scandals, and later ends up having a wild affair with journalist, Rick Stossel.

Many local hotspots are mentioned including the Four Seasons and Local 16 in Adams Morgan, which she reveals has bathroom stalls with doors tall enough to have sex behind without others knowing.

Her characters appear to be more fact than fiction. Senator Hillman might as well be named Senator Kerry, and Cox acknowledges that the campaign she described was modeled after Kerry’s presidential effort. There are other special appearances, the Bromptons could pass as Washington lobbyists Jeffrey Weiss and Juleanna Glover Weiss, and the CNN terrorism reporter, an American with an English accent, is undoubtedly her version of Peter Bergen. Even the Bush twins make a cameo in the book at Smith Point, a local Georgetown watering hole they frequent.

Cox doesn’t want this to become a guessing game about who’s who in the book, “Who has reread Primary Colors? You read it once because you are trying to figure out who everybody is and you want to know the dirt. I would like Dog Days to stay on the shelf for more than fifteen minutes.”

Guessing games will no doubt be played, but Cox’s mix of fact/fiction helps to recreate the feverish passion of an election. Her characters communicate through Blackberry messages, known as “the berry,” from bathroom to bedroom, reminding readers how the campaign consumes every minute of the day as workers get swept up in a cause that overruns their lives.

Yes, there is sex. Cox admits it is easy to talk about sex, but much harder to write about it.

She relies on her wit. “During an election year D.C.’s standards of attractiveness—already graded on a generous curve—tracked more on availability than physical beauty. ‘It’s like the Special Olympics of sex,’ Melanie thought, everyone’s a winner.”

Dog Days, will no doubt satiate Wonkette fans, as it is everything you might expect from its author, and then some. It might surprise other readers to discover that there is much more to Cox than the Wonkette, who is depicted on the site as a geeky librarian with a cat. “That’s not me,” she proudly declares, “[but] it’s my pussy,” meaning her cat. Really.

Cox’s Rules to Live By
1. No candy until after the movie previews are over; popcorn is OK.

2. Don’t start a CD until on the highway; radio is OK.

3. No alcoholic drinks until you clean the coffee maker, so it’s ready for the morning after

4. No drinking cold beverages out of hot receptacles, but ice cream in a mug is OK.

5. No drinking martinis out of anything other than a martini glass. It wouldn’t be proper.


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