Book Article

Prepare For Takeoff

How ''Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch'' got its name -- And why people think the female writer is a he

Hollis Gillespie swears she didn't make any of it up: Her mom became a rocket scientist after failing as a beautician, her alcoholic dad wore a beer-can hat while insisting on designer shoes, and her friend drove around with giant plastic biblical characters in his backseat. And when Gillespie almost hit a stumbling intoxicated neighbor with her car in her downtrodden Atlanta hood, his reply provided the title for her raucous memoir: BLEACHY-HAIRED HONKY BITCH. We snagged a rare moment off with Gillespie, a 42-year-old ''NPR'' regular who's also a full-time Delta flight attendant.

Will you quit your day job soon? Flying keeps me grounded. I don't trust a buck unless I'm breaking my ass to make it. Labor's just always been my thing.

How do you describe your writing? Some people say it's like ''Sex and the City,'' but I'm not having any sex in it. It's not chick lit. A lot of people, because my name is androgynous, don't know I'm a girl. I have dude humor.

How would your old neighbor feel about the title? I doubt he's even alive. He looked like a walking cadaver at that time. But he'd probably be pissed. It's funny how some crackhead could sum me up so perfectly. But I'm not bleachy-haired anymore. I toned it down.

Originally posted Mar 05, 2004 Published in issue #754 Mar 05, 2004 Order article reprints