Mélanie Berliet

Writer. Producer. Human.

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About Mélanie

melanie berliet

Mélanie Berliet (est. Charlottesville, Virginia, 1981) is a New York City based writer and producer whose work is best described as immersive, experiential, or gonzo journalism. Berliet specializes in going undercover to infiltrate fascinating subcultures so she can report on her insider experiences. So far, she has taken turns as a naked body sushi model, a drug dealer, a sugar baby, a phone sex operator, and more.

The intrepid writer’s work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Elle, Cosmopolitan, The New York Observer, New York Magazine, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Esquire, Playboy, Thought Catalog, Quote Catalog, and other major publications. Many of Berliet’s stories have gone viral, and she is frequently invited to discuss her work and her unique investigative approach on national television (20/20, The Insider, Raising McCain). As a producer, Berliet consulted on MTV’s hit unscripted show, The Buried Life. She also creates original programming for both the web and television.

But none of the above PR-friendly word barf says much about who Mélanie is as a person. For the billions completely uninterested in the topic of Mélanie as a person, that’s all well and good. But Mélanie’s ego won’t allow her to discount the possibility that there’s at least one human out there aching to know more. In the name of revealing something you might not already know from reading her memoir and all of the first-person stories chronicling her journalistic endeavors, here are Mélanie’s responses to the Proust Questionnaire, and her answers to a few frequently asked questions.


Mélanie’s writing is honest and thought provoking, but also entertaining. Without a doubt, she keeps it interesting.

JARED COHEN, Director of Google Ideas, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Author of The New Digital Age


My Work

Melanies favorites
vanity fair
vanity fair
The Atlantic
new york observer
pacific standard
New York
Thought catalog
The huffington post
Daily Beast
date report
The Fix
The Awl
Daily news
xo jane

Berliet went on to triumph as a journalist who has gone undercover as a plastic-surgery patient, a wayward wife, and a naked sushi model.

New York Magazine


Melanie book top

In Surviving In Spirit, Mélanie Berliet explores how witnessing her older sister’s prolonged struggle with alcoholism and eventual death informed her own unprecedented choices in life and love.

What prompts a young woman to abandon the safe bounds of convention for the unknown? At first, all Mélanie understood was that she’d lost her sense of what ‘supposed to’ meant. And that her older sister Céline was sick.

While it’s tough to understand what leads a person into addiction–to witness someone you love kind of kill herself–the truth is that you can learn from it. By the time Céline died at age 30, she was Kermit The Frog green and she vomited blood more frequently than she was able to eat. In less than a decade, she had gone from summa cum laude Columbia graduate to NYU PhD student to unemployed, rambling, stumbling drunk saddled with a cirrhotic liver beyond repair. By the time Céline died, Mélanie was no longer a Miss Goody Two Shoes from a waspy Connecticut suburb trotting down the sensible path. She was an adult who had abandoned a secure job on Wall Street to establish a career as a writer committed to exploring fascinating subcultures.

As Céline’s illness escalated, you see, a basic lesson crept up on Mélanie: Life is beautifully short, and fragile as hell. Life happens. Gradually, Mélanie stopped agonizing over what she was supposed to do/think/know/read/listen to/watch/feel, or who she was supposed to be/befriend/love/like/learn from. So she pitched projects that sounded crazy and/or dangerous to most, but which gave her a thrill and helped her establish a career as an immersive journalist. She grew some balls, so to speak, after freeing herself from caring about what others might think.

The devastating beauty of what happened to Céline forced Mélanie to question who she is. However unwittingly, in dying, Céline empowered her younger sister to take risks–to live. This is their story.


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Mélanie Berliet researched the phone-sex industry by actually joining it.

ABC News



On Camera

Mélanie Berliet volunteered to be a research subject at the pioneering Kinsey Institute — and discovered that what turns you on isn’t always what you think.



Connect with the Author

Dear readers and anyone else who’s stumbled across this website. Don’t be bashful. I would absolutely love to hear from you—whether you’re an Internet troll intent on disparaging my work from the confines of a cubby in your high school library, a toothless fugitive in California, or an admiring fan with a knack for flattery. So select your digital channel of choice and reach out to me already! I’m waiting for you. Seriously. Still waiting…