Jackie Collins: Why Bad Girls Finish First
By Josie Brown
If you want a really great on-the-edge-of-your-seat page-turner, then yes, it takes one to know one.
Collins admits she was a wild child growing up. “I’d climb out of windows to go out and party at night.”
Those hair-raising formative years were spent in London. But by the time she was teenager, she’d come to Los Angeles, following in older sister Joan Collins’ footsteps.
Today she calls it home. “It’s where I belong. I love it here.”
As in London, the crowd she hung with on this side of the pond anything but tame—and certainly famous. In fact she had an affair with Marlon Brando at the tender age of fifteen. “He saw me at a party and sent someone over with a message: ‘Marlon thinks you’re the most beautiful woman in the room.’ The line worked. Of course, he was beautiful, too, at the time,” she hastens to add.
Ah yes: sex and celebrity. Both sell books. In Collins’ case, her twenty-seven bestselling books have sold over four hundred million copies around the world.
To write about it sex and celebrity, you have to live it, like Collins does. “I don’t have my nose pressed up against the windows of these mansions here in Beverly Hills. I’m in the drawing room.”
In her latest book, Poor Little Bitch Girl [St. Martin’s Press] Collins has pulled out all the scintillating stops. There is not just one heroine, but three: Annabelle Maestro, the daughter of two movie stars, who plays madam to a bevy of stunningly beautiful Manhattan call girls; Denver Jones, a high-priced Los Angeles-based defense attorney, who’s all woman, but approaches love — make that lust — like a man: sometimes one lover just isn’t enough; and Carolyn Henderson, a senate aide who presumes her pregnancy will encourage her married lover to leave his wife (who also happens to be his largest contributor).
So which of these lovely ladies is the title character?
Collins gives a husky purr. “Annabelle, of course! But don’t blame her; she was raised in Hollywood.”
Collins insists that children are no more than accessories in many of Tinseltown’s renowned marriages. “It’s why so many adult children of celebrities commit suicide. As tots they are trotted out for the paparazzi, brought up into luxury. They learn early, to shop at stores such as Fred Segal. They get new Porsches at the age of sixteen.”
And because stars’ lives are filled with illusion, so are the lives of their children.
She gives one example. “Los Angeles doesn’t get snow, but we knew one family who would line their walk with fake snow. I wrote that into the book. They see their parents being admired, and they can’t help but be tied up in their parents’ identities. But once they become teens, they make their moms and dads feel old — and resentful. As soon as they can, their parents are pushing them out of their lives: ‘Go out and make it on your own.'”
In Annabelle’s case, her profession may be the oldest and one of the most lucrative, but it certainly isn’t the most honorable.
She’s also got a bad boy for a lover: Frankie, who pimps her girls between gigs as a deejay in their friend Bobby Santangelo Stanislopolous’ hot spot, Mood.
In fact, Bobby’s mother, Lucky Santangelo, is one of Collins’ most popular heroines. “I love inspiring women. My motto is ‘girls can do anything.’ Lucky embodies that. She always takes things into her own hands. No one said a negative word about her revenge killing [Vendetta: Lucky’s Revenge]. My fans can’t get enough of her. I’ve written her into six books, and two television series.”
The first, Lucky Chances, starred Nicollette Sheridan. In the second, called Boss Lady, Lucky was played by Kim Delaney. Ironically both went on to Desperate Housewife fame.
Obviously playing a bitch can pay off.
As does writing about naughty guys. “I have so much fun writing about bad boys. And in Hollywood, you meet so many of them. I’ve taken notes, believe me. I see myself as an anthropologist in Los Angeles, just watching the natives.”
New York and Washington D.C. holds some titillating secrets as well—and Collins spins them as well into her intricate plots. Annabelle’s storyline follows Elliott Spitzer’s fall from grace, whereas Carolyn’s plot pays homage to the Chandra Levy tragedy.
What Collins doesn’t see firsthand, others are quick to point out to her. “Everyone comes to me with stories: limo drivers, make-up artists—even studio heads! Believe me, I don’t have to make these things up.”
Click here to order a copy of Jackie Collins’ latest book, Poor Little Bitch Girl.
Click here to go to Jackie Collins’ website: www.jackiecollins.com