Picks and Pans Review: I'm Wild Again Snippets from My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts

updated 03/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Helen Gurley Brown

A savvy seductress, Brown, 78, wastes no time titillating her readers in this frisky, off-the-cuff memoir. She dishes about her fling in the escort business at 19 before even mentioning her southern upbringing in Little Rock and her acne-plagued adolescence ("I started as insecure as a jelly doughnut") in Los Angeles. By page 12 she comes clean for the first time about sleeping with her boss—a balding, middle-aged, married film studio exec—when she was 24. Not that there was anything wrong with that: Brown says the arrangement—which she describes as "freedom from hunger and want, bye-bye pinchies and scrimpies, farewell fiscal fright"—meant she could support her widowed mother and sister Mary, who had polio.

True liberation came in 1962 when, after 17 secretarial jobs, Brown, then 40, wrote Sex and the Single Girl, a publishing sensation that landed her at the helm of Cosmopolitan magazine. (Ousted in 1997, she still edits the international editions.) Brown drops names, bares breasts (a bout with cancer and, later, implants boosted her to a 34B) and serves up lots of clichéd advice: Wear dresses, not pants ("He can't get up, under them, through them, or into them"); stand up straight; diet and exercise religiously ("Skinny is sacred"); don't be "too choosy" about sex partners; don't play it "safe and skimpy" in love. Brown, who has been married and faithful for 40 years to producer David Brown (Jaws, Angela's Ashes), is refreshingly self-deprecating. After all, a Cosmo girl just wants to have fun. (St. Martin's, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Saucy romp

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