Actress, author, comedian, magazine writer, podcast regular: Annabelle Gurwitch is all of these things. One thing she’s not? A tech geek. When her laptop fails, she pays a visit to her local Apple Store. But while the computer gets repaired, her marriage threatens to break down when she meets a hunky Genius Bar staffer. This potential affair is the subject of Gurwitch’s true short story Autumn Leaves, available exclusively on Zola. To mark the story’s publication, she answered a few flirty questions about sex, books, and…more sex.
Zola: Since Autumn Leaves is about an imagined affair, first things first: Would you ever consider having an affair with David Petraeus?
Annabelle Gurwitch: I would absolutely have an affair with David Petraeus. Power is one of the biggest aphrodisiacs. Sadly, the only men who approach me about infidelity are short, funny, Jewish guys, and I’m already married to one of those.
Zola: Our research indicates that you’re the only actor ever to appear in Seinfeld, Dexter, Real Time with Bill Maher, and the Eddie Murphy film Daddy Day Care. How did you go from acting to writing?
AG: As a teenager, I fell in love with Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. I’d feign illness to stay home from school and read the Russians. Growing up in Miami Beach, I felt like an alien, and my growing affinity for absurdist and Dada art was further at odds with the year-round sunshine.
I started out in New York doing modern adaptations of Kafka short stories with experimental dance theatre companies. Once I was paid with a pineapple. I fell into TV and film work by accident and necessity.
I started writing and performing my own work in the late 90′s. But it was in 2003, when Woody Allen cast me in a one-act play he’d written only to call me “retarded” and fire me a few days into rehearsals, that I really found my voice, which I think of as “the comedy of humiliation.”
I am my happiest when I have the perfect mix of writing and acting. Acting is an extremely social activity and it satisfies my secret desire to run away with the circus and join another family. But my favorite thing in the world is still getting lost in a book—reading or writing one.
Zola: Let’s put you on the spot. What’s the one novel you’d say is a must-read?
AG: I’m going to go populist on this one—The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. With humor and self-deprecation, it explores themes unique to our species: the quest to understand our place in the universe, the woeful depletion of the resources we need to survive, and the talent for packing lightly. Grab a teenager and read it out loud. It’s infectious.
Zola: Given the setting of Autumn Leaves, we know you spend a lot of time at the Apple Store. Where else do you hang out?
AG: Writing at coffee shops can be fattening so I recently started renting a desk in a shared office. If I can get there for even two hours a day, I can get a lot done. The writers in the room include a group of fabulously smart, talented and scarily attractive women, including Heather Havrilesky (Disaster Preparedness) and Jillian Lauren (Some Girls: My Life in a Harem). We all live in the same part of L.A. You walk into our office and hear the constant clacking of fingers on keyboards. When I stray into Facebook or Googling bathroom fixtures, I look over and it snaps me back into my work.
Zola: How did your husband handle a) your crush, and b) your writing about it?
AG: My husband and sometimes writing partner and I have been married for 16 years—I think…I’m not good at these things—and maybe the only thing we can agree on is that that old adage about how you need to constantly be building intimacy is overrated. Give me a little mystery. We’re not even friends on Facebook.
He hasn’t read the story. After co-writing the book You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up, adapting it as a play, touring the country together, and writing a TV version for Lifetime this year, he’ll be happy enough to not read me. He will like the cover though, so I’ll send him a link.
Zola: Speaking of the cover—why go nude?
AG: Why nude? If you live in L.A. you will eventually be photographed nude. I had no idea it would be at this late date but it’s about time that the very few people who Google to see pictures of me nude on the Internet can now be satisfied. The truth is when I hit 50, I stopped knowing what to wear anymore. By the way, I’m happy to tell you, there was no retouching done on this photo. Of course, there are no pictures from behind. There will never be pictures from behind.