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Interview with Kathy Lette

Aired February 19, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Naughty novelist Kathy Lette has never been afraid to raise eyebrows. With titles such as "How To Kill Your Husband and Other Household Hints" and "Fetal Attraction," her books always provoke.

The Australian born author is often cited as the founder of chick lit, a genre of fiction that focuses on female lifestyle and romance.

Her first book, "Puberty Blues," was written with a friend when Lette was only 19. It went on to become a film that shocked audiences with its candid approach to teenaged sexuality.

Just this month, Lette released her newest book, entitled, "Men: A User's Guide."

An active political voice and philanthropist, Lette stops at nothing to get her opinions heard.

Kathy Lette is our Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: Well, if that got race -- your pulse racing, just wait until you hour what happened when I caught up with Kathy Lette just a little earlier on.

I kicked off by asking her for advice of the women of this world. This is what she said.


KATHY LETTE, AUTHOR: Women must stand on their own two stilettos. Never wait to be rescued by some knight in shining Armani, I would say.


LETTE: They're my top tips for girls.

ANDERSON: This is "Men: A User's Guide." This is your Connector of the Day today.

Jude11 writes and he says: "What men really want, Kathy, is for women to stop asking us what we really want."

Heard that before?

LETTE: Oh, yes, what a surprise. I know. Listen, women aren't asking for a lot.

What do we want?

We want to a man who knows that karma sutra is not an Indian takeaway. That would be quite nice. We'd like a man who does something sensitive with snow peas in the kitchen, because the way to a woman's heart is definitely through her stomach. That is not aiming too high. And we just like a man who communicates with us, because word play is foreplay for females.

ANDERSON: You live in London, of course, with your husband and two kids.

How does he cope with your scathing prose?

LETTE: The poor man. I know. I do feel a little sorry for him. But he's a feminist in theory, but not in practice. And we have these fights at home all the time about housework, because even though women make up 50 percent of the workforce, we're still doing 99.9 percent of all the -- all the housework and all -- all the childcare.

And I was -- I had this idea it was my husband who was going to help me more around the house. He's like, oh, I'd like to, but I'm a man and I can't multi-task. That is a biological copout.

Can you imagine any man having any trouble multi-tasking at, say, an orgy?

He'd have no trouble at that particular time, no.

But what's difficult about being married to him is that he's a human rights lawyer, so I can never get the high moral ground. You know, when I say to him, come in here and change this napkin, he says, oh, I have 350 people on death -- death row in Trinidad.

What can I say?

ANDERSON: RCN says: "Kathy, I don't really get it. A man with half a brain can easily figure out what a woman wants. But an incredibly smart woman, it seems, can't figure out what a man really wants.

LETTE: Ah-ha.


LETTE: Ha-ha. What I would say about that is that, you know, why -- the sex wars have been raging for 5,000 years. And I think it's time we called a truce, starting with men negotiating their terms of surrender.

Because why do men like intelligent women?

Because opposites attract. And the proof is there. Because what excites men, as he says, they're so easy -- food, football and the Playboy Channel. Oh, and beer.

The trouble is women get all excited about nothing and then we marry him. So, you know, we've really just got to train them a little bit better.

And it's very simple, a happy wife equals happy life. You know, it's real -- but be nice to us. The one thing we really want in bed is breakfast. Bring us breakfast in bed and (INAUDIBLE) just a little bit and all will be fine.

ANDERSON: In your experience, do men differ around the world?

And when I say experience, I'm -- you -- I think you understand what I mean.


LETTE: I'm named after a diary, Kathy Lette. I've had many entries. So, yes, I can relate to that. Go on.

ANDERSON: Do they differ?

LETTE: What, men and woman?

ANDERSON: No, no, no. Men around the world?

LETTE: Oh, men around the world?


LETTE: Oh, right. Well, the Australian men I grew up with a long time ago were surfy (ph) guys. And they disproved the theory of evolution. They were evolving into apes. And they all thought sex drive meant doing it in the car. I mean, I've got an imprint of a steering wheel on my back, actually.

But I've worked out why. It's because of that little sign on the rear vision mirror that says, "objects in this mirror may appear larger than they are."

It all makes sense, doesn't it?

So once I escaped those Australian guys, I went to live in L.A. for a while. Actually, I gave George Clooney his first job, you know, in television.

ANDERSON: Did you?

LETTE: Yes. This is a terrible story. He asked me out on a date. He was working on -- I cast him on "The Facts of Life." I was writing -- I was a sitcom writer. He asked me on a date. And I'm like, I'm a writer. I don't go out with actors. You put other people's words in your mouth when you never know where they've been.

You know, and then years later, I'm in London, covered in vomit, two small babies. One of my writer friends is visiting me. "E.R." Is on. I'm going, oh, look at Dr. Ross, you know. I'm swimming through a pool of my own drool to get to him.

And he goes, "That's the one you cast. That was Judy's boyfriend. That's George Clooney." I'm like ahhhhh! I lay in a fetal position on the floor and cried for two weeks. I'd better not ring him now and go, oh, George, well, as for that date, I had time to think it through.

That's obviously why I think I got married.

ANDERSON: You're watching CNN.

This is your Connector of the Day.

You've been banging these books out, Kathy, since your first success de scandal with "Puberty Blues."

LETTE: "Puberty Blues," yes.

ANDERSON: "Puberty Blues," as being a teenager.

Do you ever feel you're running out of material?

LETTE: Well, I've told my husband I have to have an affair to get some more material. It would be for literature, you know?


LETTE: He thinks he should have the affair because it would give me more angst, hence, a better book. So we're currently negotiating.

But the last book I wrote, oh, the book before this, called, "How To Kill Your Husband and Other Handy Household Hints," we're making that into a TV series now. So I'm going to be driving around town with a casting couch on my roof racks.

So, you know, I think perhaps I might find a little toy boy much more rejuvenating than a face cream, yes.


LETTE: I mean oh, yes, a cougar. Absolutely. I mean toy boys are a good idea. You know, the rules are they must adore me, not bore me and do all of my chores for me. Fabulous.

ANDERSON: Nathan asks: "Kathy, why think, talk, read and write about romance, why not just do it? Convince us that you're not trying to exploit others' neuroses for financial gain."

LETTE: Well, first of all, I only write because it's cheaper than therapy. So whatever is giving me angst, I write about.

I also, if I have any gift as a writer at all, it's to put into words what women are thinking but might not have the chutzpah to say out loud. And also to make them feel better about themselves, because it's still a man's world. I mean women don't have equal pay. We're still getting concussions hitting our head on the glass ceiling and we're supposed to, you know, Windex it while we're up there.

So any woman who calls herself a post-feminist has kept her Wonder Bra and burned her brains.

So all my books have been in the way of empowering women. Like "Nip and Tuck," for example, which I wrote before the series, was to say to women, don't, you know, ruin your face with the botox and the collagen and the silicon.

Why would you want a man who only wants you because you're silicon from, you know, teeth to -- to toenails?

You wouldn't. Let a man read between your lines. You know, and my mother told me to never pick my nose, I mean, especially from a catalog.


LETTE: Why do it?

No, no, no. Dimmer switch. The greatest beauty aid and sex aid known to womankind.

So, you know, I think if I can write about these things and get women laughing about it, it -- it makes them not so paranoid and angst ridden.

ANDERSON: Kathy Lette, our Connector of the Day.

And the new book, "Men: A User's Guide."