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July 13

Cat Marnell: The Biggest Mess in Beauty

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Cat Marnell, xoJane's infamous ex-beauty editor, has managed to find a way to be more honest. From the lady who details adventures with angel dust, a minor NyQuil dependence and a tricky old prescription speed addiction -- all while cluing you into the hottest beauty products on the market! -- she's relocated to Vice to get even more personal. Amphetamine Logic has hit. Cat almost single handedly addresses an underserved market: the female drug user. Society does not discuss the fact that women use drugs. And a lot of them -- a lot, a lot according to Cat -- do. She is unabashedly honest, and is not interested in your social norms. A postmodern feminist, Cat is fiercely intelligent with a razor sharp wit and hip bones to match. She began her editorial career with Conde Nast (a group that she refers to as Conde Nast-y in her latest piece) as an associate beauty editor with Lucky Magazine. She waxes poetic on how the interns fell in love with her time and time again, one in particular whom she ordered to fetch her a buffet of high grade concealer -- gotta cover up those track marks! The interns loved her for the same reason the public loves her: the girl is honest to a fault. “NOW. I’m going to teach you things you will never learn in other internships. I’ve been up all night shooting coke, and it is vile. I have never felt worse. I want to die! DIE!” Life lessons from Cat Marnell. [caption id="attachment_10129" align="aligncenter" width="426" caption="bedside tables are so telling, non?"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_10130" align="aligncenter" width="426" caption="skinny minny"][/caption] Her inability to give two fucks about most things led to her amicable break with xoJane, run by magazine world royalty Jane Pratt. Her stint at xoJane as senior beauty editor was something akin to performance art. She refused to let beauty be boring -- as it typically tends to be. "The Lip Gloss Round Up!" was not something she was going to write. "Gonna Wash That Angel Dust Right Outta My Hair!" discusses the finer points of passing a drug test...or "Trippy Terror Tuesday: Fantastic Hemp Based Beauty for Vaguely Consensual + Very Stoned Hippie Cult Orgies" where she details a number of hemp based beauty products and recommends using all of them for lube...that's more like it. Frequently she will ramble in the most captivating manner imaginable and then ultimately tie in a product. And you'll trust her. By squeezing the squeaky clean sheen from beauty editorials she made herself a trusted source. And a thoroughly entertaining one at that. Just the briefest glimpse into her life -- go follow her on Instagram. Now. @cat_marnell -- and you'll be hooked. She's mesmerizing. She's all your dirty secrets, your guilty pleasures rolled into one 98 lb bag of bones and glitter. [caption id="attachment_10131" align="aligncenter" width="426" caption="her instagram lets you peep her collection of vintage porno -- HUSTLER REJECTS to die!"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_10132" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="party monster"][/caption] But back to xoJane. Cat is addicted to speed -- legally. She has been prescribed to stimulants for coughcoughwinkwink ADHD since the age of 15. Her father saw her floundering in school and the pills magically appeared in her mailbox. With a manipulative, narcissistic psychiatrist father (one she compares to Lindsay Lohan's abusive sperm donor) and a diabetic, anorexic mother she had the odds stacked against her from the start to grow up into a well adjusted square. It just isn't in her DNA. The speed has been coursing through her veins for over a decade now, with no signs of letting up, but Cat is non-committal. Angel dust, heroin, a variety of benzos, Ambos, cocaine, etc etc etc could be her date for the evening. But with her bread and butter coming straight from the pharmacy and covered by health insurance, Cat doesn't have the typical junkie fears. She's fine on the money front and she's always managed to finagle the job scene. At xoJane her work got over 100,000 hits per month. Not that she gave even a passing thought to traffic though. She's a magazine girl at heart, through and through. She left Lucky to sit in the dark and "withdraw for a year" or in a nicer explanation, to end the lies and constant maneuvering it took to keep the mask of normalcy on her face. When she took up with Jane it appears they came out of the gates with an open and honest relationship. And Cat's been sneaking angel dust anecdotes into self tanner stories -- or is it the other way around? -- ever since. Well, that is until her 'scrips ran out. [caption id="attachment_10134" align="aligncenter" width="256" caption="bambi princess"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_10135" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="faces of pcp"][/caption] Cat is very talented at verbalizing the lifestyle of a drug addict. The seeming impossibility of the simplest of fixes, the inherent ability to crawl into isolation and darkness for an extended period of time, the disinterest in basic hygiene -- she describes in detail the grooming habits of the drug addled in her piece "Tangled Up (PLUS: The Secret Shampooing Rituals of Pillheads)":
"I had stopped taking care of myself physically and grooming-wise almost completely, save for the occasional bath (showers made me too woozy). I started washing my hair only in the bath tub, which incidentally Tinsley Mortimer told me that she does, too. But I didn’t do it in a glamorous way. I did it in a lazy junkie way!"
That scathing self-deprecation mixed with blazing narcissism makes for quite the show. She is intently self-aware and has no qualms about discussing her flaws for the public -- a quality that very few people have. She refers to herself as a lazy hedonist, and "THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE" written at the top of her bathroom mirror in YSL Rouge Volupte lipstick #17 serves as a daily reminder. Despite the laziness and aversion to soapy water though she exists in a cloud of John Galliano's Diptyque Essence, Ligne St Barths sunscreen oil and Bumble shampoo. With cinnamon gum on her breath and a Winston (??WHY??) perched at her lip, you could probably catch her strutting down Ave B chewing on a glow in the dark rosary on her way to fill a prescription. She is junky glamour. And as she vibrates -- noticeably -- at this mysterious frequency we can but watch as she works out the day to day in a haze of amphetamine logic. That's why when the orange bottle emptied and her phone was forgotten at work everything just came crashing down. [caption id="attachment_10136" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cat & Jane Pratt"][/caption] A sober, or relatively sober individual would haul their ass back to the office, grab the pesky iPhone and catch a cab to the pharmacy. But that's not what happened. Cat fell into a black hole, depressed the pill bottles were empty, too wrecked by the minor inconvenience to refill them. The phone? Yeah right. So she tacked up the black silk Helmut Lang sheets and existed in darkness, alone, with no form of communication for a week. It would have been longer but her sister came knocking, rustling her out of her zombie like state, bringing along a tornado of distress, relief and anger. Did she OD? Why wasn't she picking up the phone? I sent 20 emails. No tweets? That's so unlike her. This was the last straw for Jane, it seems it just became too much. But Cat felt the same way, she knew it was time to leave. It is unclear if she was fired or if she quit, but she is gone. MASTERING THE SMOKEY EYE WITH CAT MARNELL ASSOCIATE BEAUTY EDITOR AT LUCKY MAGAZINE [caption id="attachment_10137" align="aligncenter" width="685" caption="she's mastered other things as well"][/caption] She explained her leave to a journalist at New York Magazine, "I couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines behind a computer at night when I could be on the rooftop of Le Bain looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends." Her new project is with edgy, irreverent Vice and it seems they are giving her complete free reign. The column "Amphetamine Logic" is about Cat. Her mind, her misadventures, her men and her past. We get a clearer picture of her -- her Methadone name plate necklace, her relationship with her bodega man, her issues with Lindsay Lohan...all these little snapshots of a person without a place in society. We don't know what to do with female drug users. Particularly ones that aren't prostitutes. Cat does a killer job of discussing this issue in her piece "ON THE DEATH OF WHITNEY HOUSTON: WHY I WON'T EVER SHUT UP ABOUT MY DRUG USE." Citing Freud, she dissects the drug user's self-destruction as a death wish, a drive opposing life instincts. You choose one or the other -- the path to life or the path to death. As Cat works to quell her death drive she notes the importance of owning up to your actions. In a society where female drug users are invisible the need to override the death drive is overlooked. It's not addressed. So all those girls pretending it's all fine, they advance further and further down the path to death. But Cat explains all of this much better: "But I'm not going to shut up about this stuff; I'll keep mentioning drugs in my columns so long as they are in not only my life, but in the world all around us, which they always will be. In a big way. You call it oversharing; I call it a life instinct. Because look. Look how easy it is, even when you are Whitney fucking Houston, to withdraw your voice and pretend like you're a good girl and not mention that you're using. To slip silently into the water. To disappear." Read Amphetamine Logic every week at VICE.COM! Cat you rule.
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