Page Turner: Gina Gershon
The actor shows a softer side when she goes in search of her lost kitty.
“So I lost my cat,” writes Gina Gershon in her new book, In Search of Cleo: How I Found My Pussy and Lost My Mind. The screen siren and gay icon best known for her roles in Bound and Showgirls knows firsthand about that special bond one can have with their pet—so much so that when her cat Cleo disappeared, she spent two and a half months scouring L.A. on one dire quest to find her feline friend.
“It was a very vulnerable time for me,” Gershon recalls, “Several close people to me had recently died and I had just broken up with my boyfriend of eight years.” She’s referring to her dear friend, director Ted Demme, her uncle Jack, and two other friends who passed away. It was that fragility that led Gershon into a wacky but heart-driven labyrinth where she became acquainted with a spectrum of characters: street people, prison inmates, psychics and cult leaders, and yes, even animal shelters.
Gershon and Cleo had been hanging tight for three years before he went missing that fateful day. Gershon’s eccentric assistant, whom she refers to as Cassandra (some names have been changed), was left in charge of all household duties while Gershon was away at the Cannes Film Festival, but she lost Cleo in her bundle of blankets when she tried to take him to the dog groomer. Yes, a dog groomer. Fuming with confusion, Gershon had little idea what lay ahead of her on her quest to find Cleo.
Writing In Search of Cleo is not Gershon’s first foray into exploring her love for her cat. In 2007, she recorded an album in honor of Cleo by the same name. Gershon, whose singing voice is velvety, deep, with that familiar rasp we’ve come to know and love, most recently finished recording the audio version of her book. She believes this journey has come full circle, since bassist Christian McBride, who played with her on the album, is also featured in the audio book. “Thematically [the album and the book are] very similar: what people go through in order to find true love.”
How Gershon and Cleo came to be is quite simple: Girl lives in New York; cat sits upon girl’s windowsill night after night hoping to be welcomed into her home. At first, Gershon was sure this kitty was a girl, so the name Cleopatra took form. After taking this black cat in, a visit to the vet proved her gender to be otherwise. And as Gershon records in her book, Cleopatra became Master Cleohold. Cleo for short. Three lovely years went by with the Master at her side.
Call it one big act of love. The extreme measures Gershon took to find Cleo included roaming the streets of West Hollywood with a tuna can and a knife (essential, since L.A. at dawn can be quite dodgy.) As with any missing person, posters went up offering a handsome reward. Gershon also put an ad in the newspaper. T-shirts were made, begging the question: “Got Cleo?” Along the way, she met soul-calming Arthur, a newspaper delivery man who would call upon her anytime he saw a black cat run near his route. Even Ellen DeGeneres had a hand in the search, accompanying Gershon through the streets yodeling her specific catcall, “You are no good!” In fact, it was DeGeneres who enlisted the help of a psychic named Sonia who instructed Gershon to pee in a jar and dribble it through her search for Cleo.
And so she did. Armed with a jar of her own urine, Gershon writes about getting caught in a woman’s backyard who recognized her in the wee morning hours. “She paused for a minute, cocked her head, and asked, ‘Aren’t you that lady from Showgirls?’ ”
In Search of Cleo is a lighthearted read that will take you through a maze of characters, animals, memories, dreams and revelations. Gershon is no stranger to writing: She released a children’s book in 2007, Camp Creepy Time and an album for little tykes two years later, The Good, The Bad, and The Hungry.
Gershon is optimistic that her lezzie fans won’t be too let down when they see her cheeky title on the bookshelves. “Hopefully they will get into the love story of the whole thing and not be too disappointed that my pussy tales are mainly about cats I’ve known.” With a story as cleverly written and rife with hilarious plot twists as this, she needn’t worry.