At the tender age of 7, Holly ran into the kitchen and announced to her family, “I’m going to be a superstar.” Then she grabbed her brother’s Matchbox car and ran outside to play in the dirt. She kept this belief in her heart while doing the normal kid things- like dominating on the softball field, burning herself with her curling iron, and losing an epic battle with puberty- right up until college, where she made the natural choice to go to nursing school.
Holly spent years working at hospitals in and around Phoenix and realized that the bright lights of the ICU weren’t hot enough, and that giving a suppository didn’t bring her the applause she desired, so she moved to Austin and pursued stand up comedy.
Stand up was good to her. She spent several years on stages, making people laugh, landing gigs like the Boston Comedy Festival, Moontower Comedy Festival, and becoming a finalist in the Funniest Person in Austin contest. She once had a show at Kansas State University, because they didn’t Google her work beforehand. Whoops, Kansas!
After five years of comedy, Holly decided that staying up late and eating fried zucchini wasn’t fun anymore. She quit stand up and started writing stories about gender, shame, and sexuality. She began performing at storytelling shows and was surprised at the overwhelming support she received in doing so; audiences seemed to want to hear and learn more about her problems, so she continued to write and perform. She also kept having new problems, so WIN! Her work has been included in several podcasts, including Dan Savage’s Hot Mic, and in several collections, including the BedPost Confessions Anthology. People have told her numerous times that her stories have helped them to understand the complicated issue of gender fluidity. As a happy side effect, she’s also been asked to speak to high school kids about it, even after the schools Googled her work.
Holly Lorka lives in Austin with a cat who is an asshole, but has a cute face. She remains an ICU nurse, and currently works with the number one gender confirmation surgical team in the world (she gets to tell her dad that she makes dicks and vaginas). She has a side hustle as a wedding officiant, because her wardrobe needs fancy places to go. Her first book, Handsome, is a compilation of her stories, and she hopes it will make folks laugh, cry, and wonder why we ever thought bangs were a good idea.
As a horny little kid, Holly Lorka had no idea why God had put her in the wrong body and made her want to kiss girls. She had questions: Was she a monster? Would she ever be able to grow sideburns? And most importantly, where was her penis?
The problem was, it was the 1970s, so there were no answers yet.
Here, Lorka tells the story—by turns hilarious and poignant—of her romp through the first fifty years of her life searching for sex, love, acceptance, and answers to her questions. With a sharp wit, endearing innocence, and indelible sense of optimism, she struggles through the awkward years (spoiler: that’s all of them) and discovers that what she thought were mistakes are actually powerful tools to launch her into a magical—and ridiculous—life.
Oh, and she discovers that she can buy a penis at the store, too.
You can find the book at:
Thank you to Booksparks and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoy reading memoirs and especially LGBTQ+ memoirs because I get to see different people’s lived experience. I like seeing that there are people with similar identities to me but they come to that conclusion differently and they all have a different way of viewing themselves.
There were so many times in this story that I was laughing out loud because of something said of because of the cleaver titles of the chapters. I do need to let you all know that this book is sexually explicit which some may find hard to read. I found those moments funny and liked to see how those moments helped Holly figure out her sexuality and gender identity.
I really enjoyed the honesty that you get from Holly throughout this book and how vulnerable the author is in these moments. I think that getting a chance to read these essays/short stories really gives you another perspective on who the author is. I would love to hear some of these pieces on audio because I think that they would be even better heard out loud.
Writing Style: This memoir is told through multiple short essays that have some humor mixed into each chapter. I really liked the variation in length of each of these short essays and how they are not always in chronological order. I liked that sometimes the essays went back in time to connect some of Holly’s past to her present.