Beth Lisick: New York Times-bestselling author, actress and banana

December 10, 2018 — by Kaitlyn Wang

Dressed in a full-body, foam banana costume and trying to maintain a smile, 1987 alumna Beth Lisick hands out bananas at a plaza in San Francisco. Helping a friend with The Fruit Guys, a fruit delivery service, is one of the many odd jobs Lisick describes in her books.

An actress and author, Lisick has written two short story collections and three nonfiction works full of self-deprecating humor, including content for mature readers. Her memoir “Everybody Into the Pool” (2005) was a New York Times bestseller.

"I didn't write it for any other reason than to write funny stories," Lisick said in an interview with Metroactive about “Everybody Into the Pool.” "I love hearing people's personal stories and I think if I have stories to write about, everybody does."

In her books and in an interview, she describes her high school self as a jock — who set the school record for the long jump in 1987 — honor student, freshman Homecoming princess, member of the school newspaper staff and class vice president.

Lisick attended UC Santa Cruz and majored in American Studies. Her boyfriend in college was a painter, and she remembers wondering: “Who gave you permission to think that you could make art? Like, why does anybody care? I mean, I care what he painted — I loved what he painted — but I just thought, how did he get that self-confidence to think that anybody would care?”

After speaking at an open mic for the first time in San Jose in the early ‘90s, Lisick discovered her talent for spoken word.

In 1994, Lisick toured with the Lollapalooza rock festival, which paid her free beer for performing spoken word and slam poetry. She also performed on tour across the U.S. and Europe as a member of the roadshow Sister Spit, “a group of queer-centric, feminist, irreverent artists … performing mainly at universities and art centers.”

Lisick’s work was published in “The Best American Poetry 1997” and “Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Movement,” among other publications.

Being an artist does not guarantee a steady income, and at times it was difficult for Lisick’s family financially. Lisick describes the shift from her childhood in the suburbs to her life in a part of Berkeley nicknamed “Brokeley,” reflecting on how her “yearly income hovered right near the poverty line” when she was 35. A Bay Area native, she moved from “Brokeley” to Brooklyn, N.Y. with her husband Eli Crews — a musician, music producer and engineer — and their son Gus in 2012.

Identified as an actress, writer, producer and director on IMDb, Lisick has acted in 22 films and shows. Most recently, she has starred in the comedy “39 and a Half.”

Grateful for writers who are “brave and generous enough to share” their work, Lisick emphasizes that she enjoys storytelling on the page and screen.

“There aren’t many things I love in life more than reading and watching and listening to stories,” she said in an interview with The Rumpus.

1 view this week