Jessica Simpson set herself a high bar by naming her memoir Open Book, with the potential for over-promising and under-delivering incredibly likely. From page one, however, it’s clear that the title is no misnomer. She comes out of the proverbial gate armed with revelations: Her addiction issues and current sobriety are front and center, followed by a heartbreaking discussion of childhood sexual abuse that she suffered at the hands of a young family friend. Practically every page is rife with fully formed headlines, whether she’s taking down the church leaders who body-shamed Simpson as a teenager or…the pundits and bloggers who body-shamed her as an adult.
But in reflecting on the 400-plus pages as a whole, the overwhelming revelatory theme is love and marriage — and sex. Simpson is about as vocal about her love life in Open Book as she was about her abstinence when she first got famous. Which is to say: very vocal. Below are the six most fascinating (and disturbing) plot points of her memoir.
Nick and Jessica’s wedding was kind of a nightmare
Let’s get out of the way the fact that Simpson was 22 years old at the time this marriage was sanctified and look at, simply, the event itself. They entered the celebration on the heels of a heated prenup discussion — ironically, it was Nick Lachey who pressed for the paperwork since he was the more successful one at that point. The 300-person soirée (“we kept it small,” Simpson writes with no sarcasm whatsoever) was officiated by her father, Joe Simpson, who, for lack of a better phrase, threw a weekend-long wedding-related temper tantrum. He “moped” throughout the rehearsal dinner, fought with Simpson’s mother about said moping, and right as they walked down the aisle asked Jessica, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
And then, at the end of the night, as the newly-betrothed retired to their honeymoon suite to consummate their marriage, well, that part seems like it was just okay. “What I didn’t know then is that everyone’s first time is awkward,” writes Simpson. “And that is part of it. And that it’s okay, but at the time, it’s tough to understand. I had joined a long line of virgins in my family who said yes to forever for that one experience.”
Nick fought with Jessica over her success
Look away, 98 Degrees stans, because we’re about to drop some potentially shocking news: Their success did not last forever. When Lachey and Simpson first became a couple, she played the adoring fan to his industry mentor role. A few years into their marriage, SoulO — his debut solo album — totally bombed, the joint magazine cover requests stopped coming, and even the Newlyweds fans learned the limits of suspension of disbelief.
Jessica had an emotional affair with Johnny Knoxville
Yes, the guy from Jackass. Sometimes lust is nonsensical. They fell into like with each other while making Dukes of Hazzard (“I immediately felt something I didn’t understand, something literally attracting him to me,” she writes) and began confiding in each other about the constrictions of their individual marriages. Simpson referred to him as “the boy from Tennessee” in her diary and the two wrote “flowery love letters” back and forth to each other after filming wrapped.
Nick received a veritable boatload of money in the divorce settlement
Open Book doesn’t disclose actual financial figures but Simpson admits that Lachey fought with her father over the final amount (they never got around to the prenup Nick wanted). Jessica finally instructed her team to simply give him the amount he was asking for, calling it the price of her freedom and promising to earn it back someday. “And then I did,” she writes. “Give or take a billion.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a zinger.
John Mayer was as bad of a boyfriend as his Rolling Stone interview made him out to be
There was a time when we collectively afforded John Mayer the benefit of the doubt when it came to his misogynistic quotes, but it’s clear after reading this memoir that sexual napalm really tracks.
Among a myriad of disturbing revelations-slash-accusations leveled against him in these pages: He developed his initial crush on Jessica after her late-night Proactiv commercials “kept him company”; he broke up with her dozens of times and always over email; he made Simpson feel so self-conscious about her text messages that she had to crowd-source the wording before hitting send; he introduced her to Xanax, which she would continue to use and occasionally abuse (“Don’t drink, take this pill,” he told her); he routinely re-initiated contact after a breakup because he needed material; he used to hang out with her parents while trying to win her back, showing up at their house and serenading them with his new songs like some sort of, well, John Mayer.
Eric Johnson is Jessica’s sexual shaman
John Mayer and Jessica Simpson’s sex life walked so that Eric Johnson and Jessica Simpson‘s sex life could run. She is as open about the latter as she is coy about the Nick Lachey divorce settlement figures. The entire final section of Open Book is dedicated to discussing, without qualm or embarrassment, the sex-positivity that the former football player-turned-professional Eastern medicine enthusiast awoke within. It’s easy to read the chapters dedicated to their relationship and family-building and come out of it believing that we’re all just one Marianne Williamson seminar away from life-changing intercourse.
Simpson regales readers with tales of their first night in bed together (he left her “naked in bed” the next morning to attend a daylong lesson about “how to apply spiritual principles to your career”) and the Memorial Day weekend the following week in which “we came home and made love” and Johnson just never left, spending his mornings meditating next to her koi pond. She tells of a group trip to Capri for her 30th birthday, where he did half-naked qigong (we’ll save you the Google: it’s like much slower tai chi) that allowed them to have sex that was “spiritually explosive,” the kind “that makes miracles happen.” And lest the reader think their sexual encounters that aren’t preceded by qigong are mundane, she points out that “our sex was always powerful, because we were both very present in our bodies.” When Simpson and Johnson found out they were pregnant with their second child, son Ace, she told her doctor: “I think it was some pretty powerful sex, Eric must have meditated right before.”
The innuendo is so strong and un-innuendo-like that when, during the book’s final pages of acknowledgment notes as she thanks her husband, it comes as quite literally no surprise that she utters the phrase “My sexual shaman, I give myself to you, fully.”