New Jersey born poet Maggie Estep had been sharing her pieces of short fiction with audiences at New York nightspots that included the Nuyorican Poets' Café and Café Bustelo when MTV scouts caught one of her readings. Enthused by what they heard, they booked her onto the network. Her subsequent MTV appearances brought about great career changes for the fledgling poet. Appearances on the Lollapalooza tour followed, as well as the release of two spoken-word recordings. Imago put out Estep's No More Mr. Nice Girl CD in 1994 and Mercury issued Love Is a Dog From Hell in 1997. That same year, Harmony Books published Diary of an Emotional Idiot, her debut novel, in the U.S. It was released in Italy and Germany two years later and she followed up with Soft Maniacs from Simon & Schuster. Estep's works also have been published in Israel. Venues that have hosted her readings include the Frankfurt Book Fair and Lincoln Center in New York. Her magazine credits are extensive and include the Village Voice, Shout, Harpers Bazaar, Spin, Elle, and Black Book.
A child of the '60s, the spoken-word poet spent her youth shuttling between two parents who were vastly different from each other. Her strait-laced mother settled in France, and when Estep lived there she attended the country's expensive and conservative Catholic academies. Periods at home in the U.S. were spent following the decidedly less sophisticated and vastly nomadic horse-trainer circuit followed by her father. She continued her education at the State University of New York and Colorado's Naropa Institute, where she was enrolled in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. In 1981, Estep settled in New York's Lower East Side. Not yet in her twenties, she got involved with punk rock and drugs. Her heroin use led to a stint in a drug rehab center, where her writing voice blossomed. Before MTV offered Estep the gig that started it all for her, she worked as a go-go dancer, a maid, and a clerk, among other jobs.