I just had a lovely chat with Isaac Mizrahi. Not really, but listening to Mizrahi read his memoir feels like having an intimate conversation with this actor and fashion icon. I.M. (2019) starts when Isaac is only 5 years old and living with his parents in a observant Jewish home. He attends yeshiva day school and a traditional shul. His father worked in the garment industry, his mother made a career of shopping for bargain clothes for herself and Isaac’s two older sisters. Isaac was drawn to the clothes. When the other neighborhood boys were playing basketball, Isaac was creating a puppet theater and doing impressions of Barbra Streisand. Not surprisingly, Isaac never felt like he fit into the close-knit Syrian Jewish Community where he was raised.
Mizrahi’s recollections of this community are not flattering. He cannot wait to leave the traditional Jewish lifestyle. The first section of the book is a fascinating look into Sephardic Judaism in New York. Mizrahi has recaptured his childhood in a way I wish I could do. He shares details that bring his childhood to life. Isaac remembers fantasizing about men all through his childhood. He recalls shame in being gay before he even knew what gay meant.
Things turn around for Isaac when he goes to The High School For The Performing Arts. He even has a brief spot in Fame the movie. As Isaac matures he enters the world of fashion. Fashion is not a big concern of mine but the book held my interest right until the very end. Show biz stars, supermodels and designers are all talked about. Mr. Mizrahi holds nothing back including his own mental health, sexual desires and his disdain for the community he left behind.
I.M. is inspiring. Mizrahi built a fashion label like no other. He did just because he wanted to. Money was never his driving factor. It was all about being the artist he wanted to be. When he became famous but the art no longer interested him, he closed the shop and went on to something else. It took courage, hard work and a true belief in his own self-worth.
On a much much smaller scale, I also am also pursuing art for art’s sake. In my case, it’s this blog. I’m writing not to make money but for the joy of it. When someone comments or reaches out to me about the blog I am always thrilled. This week I found out that http://mindythebookyenta.com has been included in Top 50 Jewish Blogs.
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