OK Magazine (2009)
‘I had a brief, fabulous affair with Brando’
THE LEGENDARY AUTHOR ON HER SHOWBIZ LOVES, MAFIA LINKS, THE ‘RIFT’ WITH SISTER JOAN AND HOLLYWOOD’S DARKEST SECRETS.
Jackie Collins is reclining at her desk beneath a large painting of a prowling leopard, in the office of her Beverly Hills home. Slender and elegant in head-totoe black with gold bracelets clasped around each wrist, she speaks with frankness, warmth and passion – and no subject is off limits. She frequently laughs, throwing back her wild chestnut mane, and her hazel eyes flash and soften as she speaks, reflecting back on her arrival in Los Angeles: ‘I was thrown out of school at 15 and came to America by myself,’ she tells us. ‘I had a movie star sister here but she just p****d off and left me! She went on location and left me a list of her friends who I could call. They would invite me to a party and it would be the Mamas & The Papas there, and lots of psychedelic things going on.’ This was just the beginning of Jackie’s life in LA and over the years it has provided her not just with material for her 27 best-selling novels but enough wild and wonderful stories to fill a library of autobiographies. Here she chats to us about the biggest celebrity secrets, being held up at gunpoint, mixing with the Mafi a and her affair with Marlon Brando… You came to LA when you were very young, how come you weren’t chewed up and spat out like so many others? I was street smart. My friend and I would skip school every day and go down to Leicester Square and see movies. It was a great education of life on the streets.
And you had a liaison with Marlon Brando…
I did. He was in his early thirties and I was about to be 16. He sent someone over to me at a party to say: ‘Marlon thinks you’re great looking and have a great body and would love to meet you.’ We had an incredible very brief, fabulous affair. He was at the height of his fame and he was gorgeous.
What changes have you seen in the industry since that time?
There aren’t as many creative types as there used to be. There are a few of them left like Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone. You keep on seeing Jennifer Aniston in the same movie with the same hairstyle and the same nice little jeans and you’re just thinking, God girl, this must be big business that’s saying to you, you’ve got to keep doing the same movie over and over again. I’ve just seen the movie Love Happens and it’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen!
Your Lucky books feature Mafi a storylines – how do you research those?
I love writing about gangsters – I have a lot of friends who may not be on the straight and narrow. I had this girlfriend Judy and she had this boyfriend that none of us ever met called Slim. One day she and Slim broke up. I had just bought my first car from two brothers. I was dating both of them but neither of them knew it so I got a great deal on the car! Anyway, Judy asked if I would take her up to his house to pick up her television. So up we wentto this very imposing mansion and I was like: ‘S**t, what does this Slim do?’ As we opened the back window to climb in, alarms go off, dogs come running, Slim appeared and he was screaming at her. But he took a shine to me in a very platonic way and he became my godfather. It turns out his father was a Mafi a thingummy in New York. I kind of based Gino Santangelo on him. In my mind I was Lucky and he was Gino.
What else have you used from your own life and written about?
I was taking Sidney Poitier’s wife Joanna home from a party. We were in her driveway and I couldn’t get her security code right so we were laughing and she suddenly started screaming. I turned around and there was a guy at my window with an ouzi in my face and a ski mask on and he said: ‘Don’t move bitch or I’ll blow your f**king head off.’ I was thinking to myself, what a corny line! If I wrote it nobody would believe it. Luckily enough at the time I was writing the script for the miniseries of Lucky and so I was in total Lucky mode. Somehow I managed to put the car in reverse and take off. For a solid year I couldn’t stop anywhere in my car because I thought someone would come up with a gun.
You must hear a lot of gossip – what are some of the most shocking things you’ve heard recently?
There are so many – actors cheating on their wives with men, pregnant girls who will not name the right father. So many with sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes is rampant. Drugs are rampant. Cocaine and heroin. It’s so sad.
Are there big stars who have serious drug problems?
Yes. They are depicted a certain way and then they have this dark underbelly.
People like to speculate about who’s gay – do you think it’ll ever change and people will be able to come out more freely?
It’s very dangerous for an actor to come out. The smart way to do it is to say you’re bisexual.
There’s a saying: ‘Bi now, gay later…’
Ha! True. No one’s really bisexual, they all have a preference. It’s the kiss of death – you can’t be a
leading man. If Mel Gibson came out and said he was gay, nobody would want to see him. Nobody
wants to see him anyway, but you get my point.
What advice would you give to girls like Lindsay Lohan and Mischa Barton?
Stop drinking. Take control of your life. It’s musical beds – I’m sure they’re all sleeping with the same people. Scarlett Johannson – who is the same age as them – is never seen stumbling out of a club with no knickers on.
How have the Beckhams done in LA?
I don’t think they’ve made too much of an impact here. I know they’re the king and queen in England but in America not so much.
Living in a town where having surgery is like having a facial for the rest of us, have you had any work done?
I’ve never had plastic surgery but I feel like I can’t say that because people will go ‘Sure!’ If I was going to have plastic surgery I would have my neck done. I like lines on my face – it’s a European thing. I like the way I look, I don’t want to look different.
Rumours persist that you and your sister Joan don’t get on…
It’s so ridiculous. We laugh about it. We’re very different but we’re sisters and we’re the best of friends. When she’s here she calls me everyday and when she’s in the South Of France I never hear from her! But that’s fine – we can pickup from where we left off. And I adore [Joan’s husband] Percy, he is the perfect man for her.
Do you ever get the chance to hang out just the two of you?
Percy is always there! So they’ll come over or we’ll go out to watch a movie or have spare ribs somewhere. I took her to Target one morning and she got lost! I love Target – it’s like Marks & Spencer but it’s better, you can get everything and it’s so cheap!
Which celebrities are good party guests?
Sharon Stone is a great one. I remember once she came and she had a fantastic fake fur Valentino coat. I said your coat is so beautiful and the next day she sent me one. Frank Sinatra was great because everyone wanted to meet him. I had this party here and it was the year before he died. He was a little slow, but he’s Frank Sinatra so you’re thrilled to have him in your house. I’m always taking photos and I thought, my tables look so pretty, so I took a photo. Frank leaped up from
his chair screaming: ‘The f***ing paparazzi are out there! Get them out of here!’ It was so awful. I had to go over and say: ‘Frank, I’m so sorry, it was me. I was just taking a picture of the tables!’
Are you dating at the moment?
Well I have a man for every occasion! I have my gay friends for certain occasions and I have my straight ones for other occasions. I’ve been married or with somebody my whole life. Now I don’t ever want to live with someone again – I love the freedom of living by myself. I do have so many friends and I do have guys I can use for… I live my life like an affluent single man!