The Way We Get By: Rose McGowan Recommends Love in the Time of Cholera (and Visiting Planet 9)

Sequestered in the Mexican jungle, the activist, writer and now musician prescribes Gabriel Garcia Marquez's classic novel, and her debut album.

Most of us are sequestered in our homes, doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. That includes some of our favorite artists, so we’re asking them to tell us about one thing — a book, a movie, a record, whatever — that’s helping them get through this difficult time.

I’m in Mexico now at an undisclosed location, in the jungle about an hour outside Tulum. In early March, I was giving a speech in Norway, and at that point northern Italy had been locked down and I realized, This is happening. My lease was up in New York and I was planning to move to Mexico City in May anyway, but I didn’t want to be in a city … so I came here.

I’m in a good place at the moment. I’m re-reading some of my favorite books, because I do that a lot. Words have always been my savior. At 14, I read a lot of great books that have stuck with me and I tend to reread them once a year, or once every couple years. I reread The Count of Monte Cristo every year. I’ll reread three books for every new book I read. It’s like getting to hang out with old friends, and I’m like that with movies too. I just watched Night of the Hunter again – it’s my all-time favorite film. I love Robert Mitchum. When I was 15, I had a framed photo of his mugshot when he was arrested for smoking weed. He was so handsome and looked like he could give two fucks.

I read Love in the Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for the first time when I was 14, and it’s very apt for this moment. I love it so much and I know other people will too. That book is just beauty on the page. It’s joyous. It’s about a great strong woman and an absurd, wonderful man and their decades-spanning, on-off love affair which goes on well into their eighties. Marquez was such a master of language and he paints so beautifully with words. Love in the Cholera is joy, pain, life, cholera, living, trying to find yourself, being strong, and talking to ghosts, all in the time of … essentially what we’re experiencing now. It gets you right away, and the imagery is fantastic.

I read it first when I’d just spent a year as a runaway street kid, when I’d wound up crashing with a stripper named Tina. When I read Love in the Cholera, though, I was in Seattle; my father had just gotten a divorce in Montreal, and we were living together for the first time in quite a few years. We didn’t know each other and it was just the two of us. At this point, he had untreated mental illness issues, but was also fantastical, a divine artist and a wild utopian. I got my love of books from my mother; from my father, I learned how to paint with words, because I didn’t know what else to do but apply his technique to the words my mom had taught me. After his divorce, he had a lot of rage against women, so I would read only books with strong female characters and then leave them lying about the apartment, with certain pages highlighted.

I decided a couple weeks ago to release my album Planet 9. It is named after a planet I created for myself when I was 10. I didn’t like where I was, because, after living in Tuscany in a utopian group, America was a totally alien reality to me. I made Planet 9 for healing, and we need that right now. We can’t travel globally, but this album is for travel inside. The recommended dosage for use is this: the first time you listen, lay on the floor or your bed with your eyes shut, preferably with headphones, and just let yourself be transported for the whole 40 minutes. After that, you can dance or do whatever the hell you want, but it’s important to go on the journey that first time.

I’ve been fine-tuning Planet 9 for the past three years while I was fighting fuckheads and writing Brave. I worked around the clock, and also finished two screenplays I’d been commissioned to write because I knew after I did what I did, I would have no career, no money, no anything. When I was writing Brave and making Planet 9, I felt nobody knew my actual voice or my thoughts. This is my voice for the first time. It’s not meant to be a showcase for my vocal abilities, it’s me using my voice as an instrument to effect human change.

I wanted Planet 9 to be an antidote, to make an album at a different frequency that would relax and massage the left and the right brain. Ultimately, it’s my gift to people because I know it saved me during one of the most traumatic periods of my life. It was relentless, and the only antidote I had was this music. I’m now giving back to people who went through three years of being triggered so much by all the #MeToo stuff and seeing Harvey Weinstein’s gross face every day. Right now, people are experiencing a lot of trauma and a lot of unusual things they’ve never had to deal with. I know this record can heal people; it’s like prescription music.

If you buy the album for $9 on Bandcamp (which has better audio quality than Spotify), 20% of those proceeds go to COVID relief and helping women in need. I’ve already donated $1,000, which allowed four women and their children to get away from their abusers. I know it’s a hard time for people, but if people can spare $9 for Planet 9, it will make a big difference to the lives of a lot of women and children right now.

We all need healing, we all need help. If you need to scream, scream. If you need to cry, cry. If you want to laugh, that’s OK, too, but don’t forget to dance. Music is what I can offer at this time. Please go to to learn more about Planet 9; it’s natural medicine for the mind. And please, stay safe. We need you on this planet.