“The literary equivalent of a summer night, a good friend and a gin-and-tonic: Shannon is a deft writer; a natural storyteller with a wicked turn of phrase and frighteningly specific memory...”

Download Shannon's story, "Beautiful Boy, Brandon Lee," in its full length, excerpted from her book, Smash, Crash & Burn.

6 Pieces of Advice to my Former Self; An INXS Suicide Blonde

Roman Coppola

Me and Roman Coppola circa 1989 in a promotional still for a heavy metal movie called “Smash, Crash and Burn,” which molders on a shelf somewhere in Zoetrope Studios.

1. Throwing your expensive bachelors degree in journalism out the window to pursue acting despite everyone’s doubts will be the best thing that ever happened to you. (Portraying wild and dangerous characters helps you find your voice)

2. Failing to make a consistent living as an actress will be the best thing that ever happened to you. (You realize failure doesn’t kill you.)

3. Having not one, but two long-term relationships end in stalemate will be the best thing that ever happened to you. (You realize sometimes failure sets you free).

4. Going back to school at 30 to get your masters degree in screenwriting will be the best thing that ever happened to you. (You meet your husband, have beautiful babies and find your Home).

5. Selling your first screenplay will be the best thing that ever happened to you. (You enter the business world and a whole new archipelago of unchartered mishegas that forces you to dig deeper into your character).

6. Failing to reach meteoric heights as a screenwriter will be the best thing that ever happened to you. (You start to lose your fear of failure and you start this blog. You think, “Who knows what will happen next?” And it doesn’t scare you).

Less lofty but equally important Tips:

1. Don’t feel annoyed when the entire male cast and crew of the indie film you’re starring in fall for your make-up artist instead of you.

2. Don’t decide to argue with a male director about feminism when you’re trying to be cast in his Jean Claude Van Damme action movie where your character dies by being electrocuted through her bare nipples.

3. While on a no-budget film shoot, don’t leave your wallet on top of a slot machine at a whorehouse in Beatty, Nevada.

4. Don’t believe anything a Danish boom operator tells you.

5. Don’t get into a limousine with Oliver Stone and his female entourage in the parking lot at Universal Studios at 1 a.m. when you can’t find your car after you’ve danced as an INXS Suicide Blonde at the VMAs where your platinum wig fell off your head mid-performance.

6.When you’re the 5th re-writer of a D-film on location in South Africa don’t be surprised when the tiny French cinematographer gets away with saying things to you like, “Your mouth says no, but your body says yes.”  You can slap him, but he’ll like it.

7. Don’t perform in a theater workshop called “Pimp and Whores.” You will not be cast as the pimp and you will get bitch-slapped.

8. Quit becoming smitten with your leading men, they’re as broke as you are.

9. For Godsakes wax your eyebrows.

10. Don’t be offended when a casting director crunchily devours his Taco Bell while  you emote as the screaming victim of a monster in a movie called Under The Car.

11. Don’t be hurt when you audition for The Bold and The Beautiful and the casting agent tells your agent you’re not beautiful enough.  She will eventually get a severe case of shingles on her face.  Karma!

12.  Finally, go easy on yourself kid. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

You can read a bit more about my years as a Wacktress (waiter/actress) in my auto-biographical tome, Smash, Crash and Burn: Tales From the Edge of Celebrity.