Author Archives: GemmaBurgess

On… crazy skin

If you are here to read about writing or movies or TV shows, move along to the next post.

If you’re here to read about lovely shallow things, come on in! Take a seat. Let me get you a drink and tell you a story about how my skin went batshit crazy.

[Dramatic pause, while we all sip our drinks.]

You guys, I over-exfoliated.

I woke up one morning and boom, my face was in a weird perma-goosebump, skin-of-a-lemon, shiny-and-hypersensitive mode. I’m talking about the strangest skin you’ve ever seen: scratchy, painful, red and dull yet puffy and shiny… terrible. It was like my skin was scared of me. And it had good reason to be: I damaged it, like a moron, by using REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask followed by a nice firm swipe of Biologique Recherche P50 followed by Korres Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. I don’t know what I was thinking, I guess I was just playing with all the pretty shit in my bathroom cabinet one night, the way you do when you’re thinking about a story but your ass hurts from sitting at your laptop.

All of those products are, by the way, really good – the best! – at making your skin look like angels-in-a-fresco-perfection when used properly. But when you use them all together, it’s like… it’s like… okay, I can’t think of a good metaphor. Pretend I did and smile knowingly. It’s like a thing on a thing that does the same thing on another thing that also does the exact same thing. It’s like stabbing someone to death and then shooting them and then running them over with a truck. There we go. Metaphor, accomplished.

Anyway, so my skin was bad. And I was pissed. My entire personality is like 90% good skin and 10% skirts that are too short.

But, like the intrepid amateur dermatologist that I am, I decided to fix myself.


I tried my usual standbys: Trilogy Roseship Oil. Nope.


I tried the best moisturizer ever La Roche Posay Hydraphase Riche. Nope.


I tried the workhorse. Nope. Nothing. The internet didn’t help. Nothing helped. Then I tried this and this and this, none of them helped and I returned each with a long-suffering sigh. My face looked and felt like one of those jute rugs.



That is a jute rug.


 I tried Avene Skin Recovery Cream, and it helped a tiny bit.


Then I unearthed an ancient tube of Biafine, bought on a trip to France years ago, and hello miracle lover let me lick your feet with joy. This stuff was formulated for burn victims or people recovering from chemical peels, and though I have nfi about those specific problems, if your skin is scared of you, this is the answer. I put on a big thick mask one night, woke up and my skin was significantly better. Another day of wearing it as a mask (this is the best thing about writing from home: you can literally work all day wearing a unicorn horn on each boob and a face mask made of pink frosting and crushed goji berries and no one would know) and my skin was almost normal.


I also got this Ceramide Gel Rosette stuff, just because some Reddit post raved about it for healing and soothing skin and at $13, who cares if it ends up elbow salve, and I kind of love it. It absorbs faster than the Biafine, which means you can put it on before SPF and your skin feels poreless and lovely all day.

So then life was perfect again and when I woke up birds chirped happy songs to me and bunnies hopped up to wrinkle their noses at me and I was like, whoa, wtf is a bunny doing in New York City, whatever man, it’s all good, just like Gwyneth says, and so on.

Enough about skin. This happened a month ago, I’ve just been too nuts with writing scripts (yay!) to sit down and properly write about it. But I figured this is a PSA: if you over-exfoliate your skin, GemGem has the answer, and it is French.

Let’s talk about Harvey, huh? What a fucking monster. Have you read this?






On… from Samantha Bee via Medium

Workplace Etiquette FAQ for Harvey Weinstein or Any Other Giant Piece of Shit

The modern workplace can be confusing what with our seemingly ever-changing norms and customs. At Full Frontal, we know you want to do a good job and get along with your coworkers, even the ones of a different gender. So we put together the following list of Frequently Asked Questions to help you successfully navigate even the trickiest office interactions.

Where is an appropriate place for a meeting?
Meetings can be conducted in many places, for example: conference rooms, offices, and coffeeshops. Meetings should NOT be conducted in places where there are showers.

How should I refer to my female worker?
By her name.

But what if I want to call her “honey” or “sugartits”?
Do not do that.

When can I rub a woman’s back?
1. If the woman has said “Can you please give me a massage?” and you are not at work.
2. If you are a massage therapist who has been paid in exchange for a massage.

What clothing is work appropriate?
Professional work clothes. Never a bathrobe.

Should I touch my coworkers?

Not even a little bit?

What about just a butt tap?

How do you give a woman a promotion?
Tell her she has earned a promotion without any physical contact whatsoever.

Even if the woman I want to give a promotion to is hot?
Yes, even then.

My coworker is a celebrity, can I touch her?

My coworker is a nobody, can I touch her?

Where and when can I place my hands on my coworker?
You may not.

When should I show my female coworker my penis?
Never. Unless you are a doctor and your female coworker is a Urologist and you have made an appointment to see her as a patient because she has the best ZocDoc rating, and while in her examination room she very specifically tells you to let her examine your penis. Only then.

Women always complain about men NOT performing oral sex on them, so I should just do it whenever the mood strikes me, right?

I am a big-name producer and Sweaty Beef Boy.
That’s not a question.

What if I’m dumb as absolute ever-living fuck?
That’s fine, just don’t fucking touch women.

What if my wife and I don’t have sex enough and men have “needs”?
Have a frank and open discussion with your wife and come up with a solution that is acceptable to both of you that does not involve you preying on other women. You could also jerk off. Your wife probably does.

Oh, cool, I can jerk off. When’s the best time to jerk off in front of my coworker?
Do NOT jerk off in front of your coworker. Jerk off in private or with a consenting adult who you haven’t trapped in your hotel room.

What if my dogs are barkin’? May I ask my coworker to rub my feet?
It is always inappropriate to have a coworker rub your feet.

What if I am naked? Can the coworker touch my feet when I am naked?No.

Ok, we will both be naked then. For equality.
Never be naked with a coworker. Please do not take your shoes off.

What if I want to tell a joke about how a hot dog looks like my penis?
We’ve heard the joke and it is not funny. Also, not work appropriate.

If I have a meeting alone with a woman is it sexual harassment?
Depends on what you do and say in the meeting.

OK, say I’m just talking about, like, business stuff.
That’s fine.

And then I very professionally compliment her boobs…
Yes, that’s harassment.

What if I don’t have daughters and therefore have no way of knowing that women are people?
Good news, all women are people all the time, not just when assholes have daughters.

But I was born in a different time.
We just did a quick check and there is no scientific or philosophical definition of “time” that reads, “A thing that stopped happening the moment you first ejaculated and decided you should be able to do that whenever and however you wanted no matter what.” Time is ongoing, your career is not. Fuck you, you stubble-crusted swamp orc.

On… some books for you

Here are some new discoveries for you. No particular theme. Some are old. Some are new. Some are read-in-three-nights. Some are dive-in-for-a-fortnight. All are interesting and life-enriching, in one way or another.

I’m not going to write reviews, because, ugh, book reviews, amirite? (Seriously, though. I never read my own book reviews back when I was an author. I always figured: well, if I read something mean, it’ll feed my insecurity and give me writer’s block and I’ll wail and gnash my teeth for hours and never get that time back. And if I read something positive and believe it, then I might become smug and stare out the window thinking how jolly clever I am. Either way, it’s not productive. Far better to just continue skipping through life, daydreaming stories to tell you, fueled only by my happy workaholic mix of all-consuming ambition and stomach-clenching fear of failure. I have a feeling I’ve said this before. Where was I? Oh yes. Books.)



Must You Go?  My Life With Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser.


The Wives Of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser.


Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser.


The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser.

(Yes, I was on a bit of an Antonia Fraser binge for a month.)


A Scandalous Life by Mary S Lovell.


How To Stop Time by Matt Haig.


Plus One by Christopher Moxon.


White Trash by Nancy Isenburg.


Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing by Stephen Galloway






















I sold a TV show to ABC.

It’s called MAVERICKS. It’s a soapy drama (sex! secrets! scandals!) set in the cut-throat world of New York City start-ups, with my uuuuuuuuuuuuuutterly delightful tone of voice (feminist! sharp! optimistic! i wish these were alliterative!).

I sold it in the room on a trip to LA about six weeks ago. I’ve never sold something literally in the room before – I usually find out a couple of anxious days after the pitch. Not this time: there I was in a windowless conference room in a big building on the Disney lot, with about nine people: the Mandeville producers (who had heard the pitch about nine times before this, maybe more), the ABC Studio executives (who had heard the pitch about four times, maybe more), and the ABC Network execs (who had never heard the pitch before, obvs). After I spoke for an excruciatingly long amount of time, and answered a couple of questions, Brian Morewitz, the head of drama at ABC, said: “We’d love to do it.” And my brain went zzzzzzzzzzzzzip like a record skipping, and everyone began smiling, and that was that.

So now I’m writing it.

I hope it’s good.

(Of COURSE it’s good.)

More soon. x

On… some new (old) songs

The Sweater Song – Weezer

(Fun fact: this video was shot with the band playing the song at twice the speed, then slowed down, so the end result is sort of funky and dreamy. Fun fact 2: this is one of Spike Jonze’s first music videos.)

Pepper – Butthole Surfers

Mother Mother – Tracy Bonham

Movies – Alien Ant Farm

Turning Japanese – Kirsten Dunst (!)

Nothin’ – NORE

Ramble On – Led Zeppelin

(Okay, there’s no video. But it’s still a great song.)

X Gon Give To Ya – DMX

California Sun – Ramones

Do You Wanna Dance – Ramones

Ugh. The Ramones are the best.


On… stupid ol’ sunshine

Sunshine makes me anxious.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a monster. I love vacations. I love that bursting tingly feeling when you dive into a cold swimming pool before breakfast. I love bobbing in the sea, staring up at the sky, for very long periods of time. I love pastel sunsets and matching cocktails. I love the whole thing. But when my vacation is over, I want hot weather to be over, too.

My antipathy for sunshine is now at the point where, on a rare grey NYC August day, I feel a delicious sense of relief, and I think to myself, oh I can’t wait for winter.

I hate squinting and sweating. I hate feeling that I should be outside ‘enjoying’ the sunshine when I want to be inside, writing or eating or talking or drinking or sleeping. I hate that my skin is always paper-dry from chlorine and excessive SPF. I hate hog-tying my tiny translucent red-headed children to douse them in excessive SPF, too. I hate that the air never feels crisp, unless you’re in air-con, and then it feels fake-crisp. I hate not being able to wear leather pants. And tweed jackets and fake fur and tight jeans and boots and dark lipstick. I hate getting into cars and enduring that thick, hot airlessness until the aircon kicks in. I hate not being able to wear my beloved eleven-year-old eyeglasses because I have to wear contacts because I have to wear sunglasses because of the SUN and I don’t have prescription sunglasses because who has the time because one day we’ll all be dead probably soon because a fascist madman is in charge and I hate wondering if this summer is the summer that will make me finally get Botox because my face officially turned into Miracle Max even though I really don’t want Botox and frowning is super fucking important to me SEE I HAVE ANXIETY ABOUT IT ALL.

But let’s not be self-indulgent!

The point is that I can’t control sunshine. I can’t control the seasons. The only part of any of this that I can do anything about right now is dry skin. And so can you. Even if you love summer. That means moisturizing so heavily and so frequently that you could sit on your bathroom floor tiles and slide around, pinging off the walls like a pinball for hours.

In order for moisturizer to work, you need to exfoliate first, get rid of the dry, dull old skin. Now: unless it is the most joyful part of your day and the only reason you get up in the morning, please don’t use a liquid or cream body exfoliator. It is literally money down the drain. (The exception is Bliss Hot Salt Scrub. It is patented magic and warms up and tingles on your epidermis in the most delightful way. It also has oily unguents that moisturize while you scrub. It’s soul-cheering to use in the bath when it’s snowing outside. But it is not snowing outside right now. It is sunny. Sigh.) Be French, and use a gant de toilette, or be Korean, and use a scratchy towel thing, with any old shower gel or soap. (I used to use almond oil, but then it kept spilling everywhere and really annoyed me, so I stopped.)


This is the Korean scratchy towel thing. Look how happy she is! That is a woman who knows the joy of soft skin.


After your morning shower, apply this lovely L’Occitane moisturizer to your whole entire body. It’s shea butter. (I assume shea butter is made with milk from some kind of really hydrated cow in the land of Shea, yes?)

Because it’s summer, you can dance around naked for a while while it soaks in. (Darn, I forgot that you can’t really dance around naked for long in winter. Maybe summer DOES have some positives. Hmm.)


On your face, apply some hyaluronic acid and wait a few minutes, then apply your SPF (or this one if you’re going swimming). I don’t know how hyaluronic acid works and I don’t care enough to get a chemistry degree and find out, but I believe scientists describe hyaluronic acid as “kind of like a turbo hydration watery nothing that is also EVERYTHING?” I’ve been using that insanely cheap Ordinaries one because well, it seems just as good as the others (though on the whole I have a ‘the fuck am I supposed to do with SQUALENE?’ reaction to The Ordinaries no-frills skin brand). Once your SPF soaks in, apply whatever make-up blows your skirt up today, and get out there and kick some ass. And walk on the shady side of the street.


Then at night, things get serious. Clean your face. Aderma Oat Milk Soap Free Soothing Cleansing Gel is my favorite right now. I have used it on-and-off for years. I get bored of it and flirt with other cleansers, but I always come back to it. It forgives me because it has low self-esteem. I dry my face with a tiny white cotton face towel that I only use once before throwing in the washing basket. I bought a stack of them a year or so ago because eh, something about bacteria. It makes me feel fantastically profligate. Which is so tragic.

Then shower and exfoliate again, you filthy animal.


Then apply a little Cerave SA Lotion to your whole body (but not your face). The salicylic acid helps with clogged sweaty pores, inflammation, blah blah ask a dermatologist or Allure if you need to know everything so much. As you stand there in your naked glory, waiting for the Cerave to soak in, you can contemplate the meaning of life and/or the relative symmetry of your boobs while smearing something unguenty all over your face.


This Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask stuff is quite the little charmer. It’s a GIANT pot, and it’s pretty cheap. Gloop on a nice mask of it a couple of times a week and go to sleep. It feels sort of hot and sparky. You’ll know what I mean when you do it. You’ll wake with your skin all sticky and plump. Normally waking up sticky and plump would freak me the fuck out, but trust me, it’s a good thing.



Other nights, I use La Roche Posay Hydraphase Riche, which has replaced my beloved Korres – for the moment – as my moisturizer under dear old Yu-Be. I like to try new moisturizers now and again. It keeps my old favorites on their toes. Only Yu-Be is irreplaceable. It’s the salt of skin care: boring, but makes everything else better. Sometimes you don’t even know how much better it makes things until you go without for a while and then go back to it and say ‘SALT! Yes. I like you.’


THEN, because your Cerave stuff is all soaked in to your limbs by now, apply a layer of – yup – Yu-Be Body. It’s yellow and weird, like the face cream, but nothing else compares for moisturizing dryer-than-dry skin. Then go to bed. Unless you are tired and bored of everything. Then skip all of the above steps and go and have a drink with your best friends, watching a beautiful summer sunset, because that will make you feel better than any moisturizer ever could. I love sunset. (Darn, that’s TWO things I like about summer. Wait I also like sunrise. THREE. Three things that I like about summer. Okay, let’s just forget the whole thing.)