Most people know Gina Gershon as a prolific movie and television actress with such movies as Bound, Face Off, and Showgirls to her credit. But since the publication of her book, In Search of Cleo, Gina has also become known as a cat person.
In Search of Cleo: How I Found My Pussy and Lost My Mind is the story of Gina’s two-month search for her beloved cat Cleo, after her assistant lost the cat while taking her to a groomer in Los Angeles.
I had a chance to speak with Gina via telephone last week while she was on tour to promote her book in Miami.
My first question was, of course, about that two-month period in her life when Cleo was missing. I told Gina that I had an incredibly hard time reading those passages of her book, even though the quirky characters Gina encountered and the unorthodox methods she employed in her desperate search for her beloved cat provided some comic relief. “It was a miserable time,” said Gina. “Family and friends were really supportive, but I really didn’t see a lot of people during that time. I was single-minded about only one thing: I had to find Cleo.”
One of the only people who could calm her down during that awful time was Arthur, the newspaper man, who she first encountered at 4:30am one morning in a not so savory part of Los Angeles.
Suddenly, out of the darkness, a large man emerged. A big, black, slightly sweaty man. I should have been startled, but he had such a calming presence, with such a kind, beautiful, abeit moist, face, that I blurted out “I’m looking for my cat! You haven’t seen any black cats running around by any chance?”
“Ahhh, you the girl with the posters all around? That your kitty?”
He was so sweet that I just nodded and started to cry. His massive arms engulfed me as he warmly hugged me.
“There, there now. Don’t you worry, baby. We gonna find your kitty.”
Thankfully, ten years later, 15-year-old Cleo is living the good life. I asked what a typical day looks like for him. “He wakes me or my boyfriend sometime between 4 and 5 in the morning,” said Gina. “Then he goes back to sleep. After he’s had his breakfast, of course.” Cleo will eat a second breakfast when Gina and her boyfriend get up. “Cleo sleeps a lot during the day. He’s getting older, and he’s slowed down a lot.” In between naps, Cleo likes hanging out with people he knows.
It’s no secret that I’m not fond of the term “cat lady,” and I asked Gina how she felt about it. She agrees with me that the term is misused. “It conjures up an image of this woman who lives with hundreds of cats, and things aren’t all that clean, and she never talks to anyone but her cats,” said Gina. She added “you never hear people who love their dogs called ‘crazy dog lady.’ I’m not a cat lady. I’m a cat person. I love cats. I’m someone cats recognize as one of their own.”
I asked about Gina’s cd, also titled “In Search of Cleo.” The cd came out of Gina’s one woman show, and was originally supposed to be titled “Midnight Girl.” “The music is about screwed up relationships, and about looking for love,” said Gina. “I started telling the story (of the search for Cleo) at my shows, and people really got into it. My agent suggested I should write it as a short story for Kindle Singles, or something like that, so I did.” Her agent really liked the story, and showed it to Gotham Books. Shortly afterwards, Gina found herself with a book deal.
Gina is currently on tour to promote her book – but without Cleo. He does not like to travel, and prefers waiting for Gina at home in New York when her work takes her to Los Angeles or other places.
What is next for Gina and Cleo? “I’d like to find a job in New York,” said Gina. New York has been home for the actress for many years. “I’d like to be able to stay in one place.” I’m pretty sure Cleo would like that, too.
For more information about Gina, please visit GinaGershon.com.
Photo credit: Deborah Anderson Photography, used with permission.