Okay, let's just get this out of the way: "Benincasa" is a pretty funny name for someone who's agoraphobic. Sara Benincasa, who has gobs of credits as a comic, sex-chat show host and TV performer, signs her book on her bout with the anxiety disorder, Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom.
L.A. WEEKLY: You deal with a serious subject — mental illness — with great humor. That takes courage — but is there anything in the book that you wish you hadn't included?
SARA BENINCASA: I tried really hard to be fair to the other characters and hardest on my own character. I'm pretty cool with everything I included. Maybe I would've written even more about pissing in bowls when I was afraid of my toilet. That's the sort of thing that could really take up an entire book. And in certain fetish circles, it'd be quite the hit.
Is there a high point in the course of an average day as an agoraphobic?
Getting out of bed is a pretty high point. Well, it feels like a low point while I'm forcing myself to do it, but later I'm psyched that I did it. During the times when I've experienced acute agoraphobia, walking out of the house was a real cause for celebration. And driving in a car? Major pride right there.
What part of your life did you most profoundly miss out on because of your illness?
I probably missed some killer parties back in college, but I've never been much of a party girl. I think I might have discovered and embraced comedy and performance earlier if not for my struggles with mental illness. Then again, my experiences with mental illness have enhanced and enriched my work as a comedian, so I don't feel too bad about it.
Are there "good" agoraphobics" and "bad" agoraphobics? In other words, are some agoraphobics just better at avoiding the outside world?
Well, I'd say agoraphobes with Internet access have a major advantage over those without it. I mean, folks of my tribe can even order groceries without picking up the phone! Thank you, World Wide Web!
What's next for you?
I'm working on a young-adult novel that is an update of The Great Gatsby set among teenagers in the Hamptons. And Gatsby is a girl. But Daisy is still a girl. Cue Sapphic teen lust! I'm pretty psyched about it.
Sara Benincasa with Kevin Avery, Rob Delany, Sarah Thyre at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues., Feb. 21, 7 p.m.; free, book is $24.99. (310) 659-3110. —Libby Molyneaux