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Devil's Advocate

Tell-all memoirs aren't exactly a rarity these days, but few of them begin, as Elizabeth Hayt's "I'm No Saint" does.

Elizabeth Hayt

Elizabeth Hayt

Photo By Talaya Centeno

NEW YORK — Tell-all memoirs aren't exactly a rarity these days, but few of them begin, as Elizabeth Hayt's "I'm No Saint" does, with the admission that she performed oral sex on one of her bridesmaids mere hours before her wedding. Hayt's not a lesbian; it was just a last hurrah before her walk down the aisle — and the first in a string of sexual exploits detailed rather sensationally in the following 292 pages.

A freelance writer for The New York Times, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, Hayt is no stranger to fashion, either. Impeccably dressed in Yves Saint Laurent ("Different seasons," she says. "Tom," pointing to the skirt, and "Stefano, Stefano," for the belt and blouse), the petite and gutsy author teeters into Via Quadrono on the Upper East Side eager to dish on her less-than-angelic past, including infidelity, abortion and addictions to the de rigueur vices of choice, alcohol and cocaine.

Writing the book "felt like sh--," Hayt says, straight off the bat. "It was not cathartic. Reliving it felt bad, writing and reading it over felt bad. I don't feel in any way unburdened. I feel very powerful that I succeeded in completing a very challenging task, but whatever has made me sad or has motivated me, whether negative or positive, is still there."

Still, for someone who's battled demons as she has, Hayt, 44, looks none the worse for wear. "Dr. Fred Brandt," she explains, completely deadpan and continually candid. "He does my [facial] injections."

Hayt grew up in Great Neck on Long Island, the daughter of a doctor and an artist. Her mischievous antics began as an early teenager when, among other things, she smoked pot and was promiscuous. ("You didn't have to be a member of the Freudian Institute to figure out that my running around with boys was an attempt to escape household tension and capture Daddy's attention," she writes.)

She met her ex-husband, intellectual property lawyer Robert A. Atkins, while attending Barnard; he was a student at Columbia. They eventually married, but by the time their son was born, there were already signs of stress within the marriage. Atkins was a workaholic and Hayt began having affairs. After 10 years, the two split up.
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