Top 20 Jews In The Arts - Mara Altman

Thanks For Coming author ,Mara Altman, shares intimate personal details for Day 5 of our feature.

Published: April 14th 2011
in Culture » Books

Mara Altman

Over the next 20 days, ShalomLife will be presenting the Top 20 Jews In The Arts. One artist will be featured a day from various disciplines including visual arts, acting, writing, comedy, and music.


We sent the participating artists the same 30 questions with instructions to answer all, or just a few. Have fun learning about these fascinating individuals, and please check back daily to compare their answers. Enjoy!




Mara Altman


Mara Altman is a freelance author and journalist. In 2009, she published her first book through Harper Collins titled “Thanks For Coming: One Woman’s Quest For an Orgasm”. The title is relatively self-explanatory, but this innovative memoir is poignant, funny, honest and touching. In the summer of 2010, “Thanks For Coming” was optioned by HBO.


As a journalist, Altman has written articles for First Things, New York Magazine, and The New York Times. She won a bronze Eddie Award for a piece published in Inside Jersey, The Star-Ledger’s Monthly magazine, entitled “The Pleasure Lab”.


Before writing and freelancing, Altman was a staff writer at The Village Voice and for dailies in both India and Thailand. Most recently, she penned “Sparkle”, a Kindle single about her engagement and engagement rings.


For more information on Mara Altman, visit her website at




Where do you go when your lacking inspiration?


The bathroom or the refrigerator.


What's your favorite place to travel to?


India. I lived there for about seven months when I was 22. I learned a lot in those seven months. I will always feel special tingly feelings for India.


Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.


I don’t have any pets. I used to have pets, mostly lizards. A bearded dragon named Velcro and a leopard gecko named Gershwin. They ate live crickets and so wherever I lived, it always sounded like a chunk of wilderness. I also raised pigs for Future Farmers of America. My parents thought it’d be a good lesson about the lifecycle. People ate my pigs and now I have problems maintaining relationships with mammals.


What's your favorite dish? Where do you normally get it?


I love a turkey sandwich on sourdough with a lot of mustard. The turkey has to be the kind that doesn’t actually look like turkey anymore - it’s meat rolled up into a ball of beige. It tastes like sliced salt. And I make the sandwich myself. I try to be frugal.


Who, in your opinion, is the most beautiful person on earth?




What's your biggest pet peeve?


I have two that I can think of at the moment. I hate it when I’m a pedestrian and cars cut too close to me. I also hate being a driver when pedestrians get too close to my car.


Are you religious? Spiritual? Nothing at all?


I’m something, but I’m not sure what exactly.


What's your favorite movie?


I’ve been saying Spaceballs since I was about 7 and it has become a tradition I can’t break.


TV Show?


I watch Top Chef. Padma talks like she’s a robot, but I think Tom Colicchio is fair and thoughtful. I’d like him to critique my turkey sandwich.


If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?


I’d be a vagabond who had portable skills like ear candling, house building, latrine digging, cross-stitching and brunch making.


Can you offer a piece of advice to aspiring artists?


Write. Write. Write. Don’t question yourself (too much).


Who's your best friend?


Her name is Chandra Schwartz. We met in Kindergarten. We both got a time out for talking during a lesson and then spent the recess sticking out various body parts - our butts, our tongues – at the teacher who condemned us. We’ve been close ever since.


Do you play any sports?


I like to play Ulitmate Frisbee sometimes, but mostly I like solitary activities. I’m not a patient person and do not do particularly well in team sports.


Related articles: (Mara Altman, Thanks For Coming, HBO, Village Voice, New York Times, Sparkle, Jersey Shore, Top Chef)
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