Review Fix chats with author April L. Kirkwood, who discusses her new tell-all, “Big Girls Do Cry,” which chronicles her 40-plus year relationship with Four Seasons frontman Frankie Valli. In the vein of tell-all’s by rock groupie loyalty the likes of Bebe Buell, Pamela des Barres, and Pattie Floyd, Kirkwood’s book goes more than in-depth, taking readers from her first meeting with Valli at eight to several other moments in their relationship, which lasted through multiple mistresses and marriages.
Review Fix: What was the writing process for this book?
April L. Kirkwood: After I saw the Broadway show, Jersey Boys, crying my eyes out the entire way through watching my daughter in shock because she already knew the story, I began to realize how very much I was a background part of this story, at least from my perspective. Life is all about perspective isn’t it! I then mentally began to slowly piece together circumstances of my present life that connected me to this ongoing secret passion. A love of sorts that I had pretended to have transcended years ago. I discovered just how many lies I told to myself and others. I grew sad with this understanding and had what many would describe as a mental break down. I, on the other hand, proudly label it as my personal mental awakening. During those months, I wrote everything and anything that poured out of me. It eventually transformed into a very small essay of sorts and thought a local magazine may be interested in it. Those who read it responded, “ Honey, You’ve got a story.” Write, write, write.” The rest is history.
Review Fix: What originally attracted you to the music of The Four Seasons and Frankie Valli?
Kirkwood: At the age of six years old, I fell in love with Frankie Valli. End of story or so I thought. But, I admit, the entire thing is weird and defies logical explanation. I’m from a blue-collar family in the woods of a mid west town in Ohio with no connections to anyone in show business. The only possible answer that this illogical meeting is Frankie Valli is part of my destiny. Confirmations are everywhere when we are ready. Someone read my palm recently. She said I fell for someone as a young person and no one else would ever come close to those feelings. No comment.
Review Fix: How has your relationship with Valli affected your life positively?
Kirkwood: I am today in part due to the great advice Frankie always gave me after we were intimate. Each time, his role would switch to that of loving father and I was his obedient child. Some of his wisdom included but was not limited to these phrases: “Just because we did it, don’t have sex with other guys.” “Always keep yourself up; men don’t like it when a woman lets herself go.” “Never do drugs.” I respected him. I believed him. I followed his advice.
Review Fix: Why do you think you stayed a part of Mr. Valli’s life for so long?
Kirkwood: I believe we both felt that we grew up together going through the ups and downs of life and that knowing allowed us to continue a kindred type of relationship. I believe he knew how much I cared for him and that softened his heart a bit. I believe as a little girl I probably reminded him of his little girls. I believe this was part of my life’s lesson and he and I agreed to join together in this experience on some other level before we were both born into these bodies for learning. PS The Kabbalah states that equal amounts of light attract equal amounts of denseness. No comment.
Review Fix: You’re such a proponent of love, despite all that’s happened to you. Why?
Kirkwood: My mother was physically and mentally abused and suffered emotionally struggling to find peace. When I was young we would go to church and she would cry for what seemed hours as the sermon touched her broken spirit. My mother, though very private, shared with me her feelings about those in our lives who were often mean and cruel. Sitting on my bed weary from her day’s work at a factory she said: “April Lynn, LOVE is the only healer and LOVE is what we are here to do; nothing more, nothing less. We must learn to forgive those who hurt us the most. That is the only real gift you can offer to others.” I believe most people are merely victims of their environments regretting more than they care to admit. I see the human condition being lost in a dream, not remembering God, love, tenderness replacing those emotions with fear, judgment, and self-loathing. On a personal note, it is more important for me to love rather than be loved. Although, the little girl inside of me still envisions a relationship that is blissful, romantic, and magical. Dreams do come true if you believe!
Review Fix: How do you want this book to affect people?
Kirkwood: Big Girls Do Cry is NOT about placing a target on Frankie’s back; after all, I love him although I am furious at him at this moment. Big Girls Do Cry is a cautionary tale about the effects of imprinting during developmental age periods be we all travel through. It is one rarely talked about explanation why, though you may have a wonderful mate, are discontent with a sense of longing for something or someone else. Big Girls Do Cry is NOT about blaming our parents, our lovers, or the time we were born. These elements serve only as guideposts for self-discovery on a cognitive level until we are ready for the next step of personal self-investigation on a soul level. My memoir humbly serves as a metaphor to possibly explain the many factors that contribute to the possible reasons you have had such a tough time finding true romantic love or fulfilling relationships of other kinds. It is much bigger than Frankie or myself. It is an epidemic. Big Girls Do Cry is the first step hoping to encourage others to delve below into what is not seen by your eyes but must be felt by your spirit. Surely our present perceptions of relationships are lacking. My workshop, The Logic of Illogical Love, shares the steps of investigation, self-understanding, and healing empowering you to climb out of the dark waters of your consciousness into the light of higher understanding empowering you to arrive from a water bug into a beautiful dragonfly.
Review Fix: Where do you think you’d be in your life without Frankie Valli?
Kirkwood: I have realized in the last few weeks I am nothing to him, but I can’t honestly imagine my world without his iconic presence in it. Just as I cannot imagine life without the sun or the stars to gaze at a night he is truly under my skin and has altered my DNA. Though I am very hurt about what has happened recently when I reached out to him, I still know there is a reason for this. I am deeply shaken by his actions and cannot in good consciousness answer when my heart is still bleeding.
Review Fix: What next?
Kirkwood: I am going to continue to share my story, Big Girls Do Cry as a woman who has been there and done that, as a counselor, as a spokesperson for love spreading the news: Love is real. Love is here for you. You can find love. I mentor a love changing workshop entitled, The Logic of Illogical Love, co-creating a roadmap with others that will empower and transform the hearts of those who are ready to dispel the myths of their love lives and discover healing, understanding, and bliss. Each day I grow more open finding out more about who I was and who I am and who I want to be in the presence of love. My Mantra: “I will follow my heart as long as it’s NOT above my head.”