Cat Marnell Makes Amends for Her Hard Partying Past

By McCarton Ackerman 12/13/16

The once infamous party girl and former xoJane editor reflects on her past life in a new memoir.

Cat Marnell Makes Amends for Her Hard Partying Past

After gaining fame for glorifying her drug use and wild partying, former xoJane editor Cat Marnell is now bringing the same unflinching honesty to her sobriety in a new memoir.

How to Murder Your Life isn’t available until Jan. 31, but it's already gaining buzz for being one of the most no-holds-barred memoirs to be released next year. After leaving her somewhat ironic role as xoJane’s beauty and health director in June 2012, the following years saw Marnell pen a column for Vice chronicling her debauchery throughout NYC, overdose on heroin and attend rehab in Thailand. 

After laying low for a couple of years, she returned to xoJane in October with a contributing editor post and a sense of regret over her past behavior.

“That shit wasn’t cool, but I tried to make it look cool,” she wrote. “While I was being praised over and over again in the press for my ‘unflinching honesty,’ the truth was, I was controlling my image the whole time.” 

The New York Daily News reported that Marnell’s drug use began at age 15 while attending a posh boarding school in Massachusetts, where crushing Ritalin pills eventually led to cocaine and heroin addictions. Although she was still able to land an associate editor role at Conde Nast’s Lucky by age 25, she remained her own worst enemy in the form of substance abuse, eating disorders and self-mutilation. Marnell quit the gig in 2010 and an unsuccessful suicide attempt followed shortly after.

“My ambition and my addiction had been duking it out like two boxers in a ring for years. My ambition was bloodied,” she wrote in the new memoir.

Marnell landed her editor role at xoJane just one year later after founder Jane Pratt decided she wanted a “health editor that wasn’t healthy.” Although her tales of drug excess and NYC nightlife captivated readers, her wild nights soon carried over to her day job and daily life.

“I took baths every morning because I was too weak to stand in the shower. I wrote rent checks in highlighter; I had three prescribing psychiatrists and zero OB-GYNs or dentists,” wrote Marnell in the new book. “I kept such insane hours that I never knew whether to put on day cream or night cream, and I never, ever called my grandma.”

Pratt sent Marnell to rehab in April 2012, but she quit the gig shortly after and explained to Page Six that “I couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines behind a computer at night when I could be on the rooftop of Le Bain looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends and writing a book, which is what I’m doing next.” She signed a reported $500,000 book deal in 2013, but overdosed on heroin that same year.

It wasn’t until a trip to a Thai rehab last year that sobriety finally took for Marnell. She has almost entirely stayed away from drugs and alcohol, save for an occasional Adderall to help her work, and credits workouts at Barry’s Boot Camp with allowing her to replace her illicit highs for ones created by endorphins. 

Marnell is hopeful that the new memoir will serve as the turning point to create a new chapter in her story, allowing her to still captivate readers without damaging her health or reputation. 

“I was an abusive, manipulative, entitled asshole,” she admitted. “[I] worked one thousand times less than everyone else, collected a salary without coming into the office, was high on PCP constantly ... and yet got hugely and wildly rewarded for it because I was good at making myself look like a cool rebel in the press.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.