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Correction to This Article
This Style & Arts article about the film "Juno" incorrectly identified its director as Ivan Reitman. The director is his son, Jason Reitman. In addition, a photo caption incorrectly identified Diablo Cody as the director. She is the film's screenwriter.

Diablo Cody: From G-String to A-List

Screenwriter Diablo Cody takes your questions.
Screenwriter Diablo Cody takes your questions. (By Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)

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By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 9, 2007

As Hollywood success stories go, Diablo Cody's is a postmodern doozy.

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It goes like this: Midwestern misfit decides -- on what-the-hell impulse -- to try stripping. Blogs about it. Hollywood talent manager reads her witty, provocative postings, encourages a tell-all book. Out comes "Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper." She does Letterman. Jokes that she felt anthropological about her lap dancing, like a "naked Margaret Mead."

She then writes "Juno," a screenplay about a teen whose wisecracking life is suddenly beset by an unplanned pregnancy. Fox Searchlight makes the movie. It becomes the buzz of festivals from Toronto to Stockholm. An award, a nomination. More Hollywood deals follow. She finds herself on the phone with Steven Spielberg, who's asking her to write the pilot for a Showtime series . . . .

Cody, 29, isn't hard to spot at a Georgetown hotel restaurant: Leopard-skin coat. Cleopatra-meets-Chrissie Hynde bangs. Addams Family mascara. Purple tunic. Black leggings. Riding boots. A sort of elegant dominatrix despite the "Hello Kitty" medallion and chewed nails, with tattoos everywhere you look -- or care to imagine.

She doesn't make eye contact at first and comes across as some combination of shy and mellow.

That Zen vibe is her ultimate trump card, she says, at Hollywood power meetings where she has already successfully pitched several post-"Juno" scripts, including "Jennifer's Body" (female cannibal rampages at college; eats boys) and "Girly Style" (three nerdy college gals take a gonzo road trip -- her answer to "Superbad"). And yes, she admits, going one-on-one with those (usually) middle-aged men does have its echoes in the pole gyrations she honed at various Minneapolis strip clubs.

"I was never good at selling my body," she says, warming up to full eye contact. "It's one of my failings as a woman. But I'm excellent at selling my shtick."

Her big secret? Nonchalance.

"I'm always very relaxed. I think -- especially out there [in Hollywood] -- people are attracted to a lack of desperation."

They're also attracted to her writing style: She's this year's pop-culture-referencing Wit Girl, a wannabe Dorothy Parker of the blogosphere, whose shock-value, droll postings make readers feel wickedly hip for appreciating them.

Her blog -- we won't print its raunchy name -- reflects the willy-nilly, gonzo momentum of her personal life. Under a nude glamour photo of herself, for instance, she writes her idea of what her breasts might be saying: "Follow me, Diablo! I will locate a storehouse of carrots and Bloussant [herbal enhancer]! We will find a way to stimulate my juvenile tissues and make me grow!"

She might recount a trip to Las Vegas ("the Labyrinthine Republic of Ding-Ding-Ding"), recommend a sex toy or revel in bad-hair lamentation ("I'm like a masochistic little duck that's been paddling in the wake of the Exxon Valdez," she mourns, after a disastrous session involving glued-in hair extensions and "some evil, viscous oily stuff").


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