The late author and actor Spalding Gray’s 1991 monologue “Terrors of Pleasure” is a hilarious and horrifying document of his obsession with home ownership. No one involved in the uncomfortable process of selling Gray the “little house that cried” is spared skewering, nor are his Catskills neighbors or the crusty New England workmen who attempt (or avoid) repairing the cabin’s defects.
Spalding Gray recorded this monologue in 1991. A short film – with fewer asides – was also made from this material, but is very difficult to find. Below is a clip from the audio recording.
At this point in the monologue, Gray has met with realtor Jamie d’Angelo at least once to investigate purchasing a decrepit cabin in the mountains, thinking that it would make an ideal, rustic setting, perfect for inspiring his writing career. Upon closer inspection, the house is rife with serious problems, including – but not limited to – a furnace in the attic, a shifting foundation, and a porch that is travelling away from the building. Gray has expressed his intentions to buy the property, contingent on d’Angelo arranging repairs to the home. D’Angelo is unaware that Gray has spoken to some of the same people about doing the work.
excerpt from “Terrors of Pleasure” (1991) by Spalding Gray
Unfamiliar with Spalding Gray’s work? Here’s a short clip (just under six minutes) from the Jonathan Demme film of his monologue, Swimming to Cambodia, in which he recounts his experiences while filming The Killing Fields: