Beverly Hills By Jackie Collins: The Best Of Everything (Moxie Q)
Long before there was a series called The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or even a Bravo network, Jackie Collins had already mined gold from the lives of the women that call America’s most exclusive zip code home with her best-selling novels like Hollywood Wives, Rock Star and Hollywood Kids. Even her latest chart-topping tome, Poor Little Bitch Girl, which is also set in Beverly Hills, among other locales, predated the launch of the Beverly Hills Housewives franchise.
Quite frankly, there is no one who knows the ins and outs of Beverly Hills better than Jackie Collins. So there was no better person I could think of to dish about the best of Beverly Hills with than the iconic author who has sold more than 400 million books about the lives of the rich, the famous and the infamous and taken us all on one helluva ride through the swank mansions, shops, hot spots and clubs they love in the process.
But before we get down to the brass tacks about Jackie’s fave places in the 90210, a bit of gossip.
I love chatting with Jackie Collins because I’m secretly (or not so secretly as it were) the biggest gossip monger around and Jackie Collins is like an encyclopedia of dish when it comes to talking about what’s really going on, in and behind-the-scenes in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Don’t just take my word for it. Ask Oprah. Back before the Oprah show, when O was still Oprah Winfrey and hosting a local program called AM Chicago, Collins and La Winfrey would hop into a stretch limo and cruise famous avenues with names like Rodeo, Canon and Beverly. Along the way, Collins would point out all the Beverly Hills hot spots to the then green, soon-to-be queen of all media.
Is it no wonder then that I jokingly described Jackie as “the oracle” during our recent chat? Joke as I might, the moniker isn’t really far from the truth.
This time when I got on the phone with Jackie, I couldn’t wait to get her take on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and whether the show had gotten it right. I wanted to know if she thought, in her expert opinion, that the portrait of Beverly Hills the hit Bravo show had painted was accurate. True to form, Miss Collins, like many of her ballsy, silver-tongued heroines, did not hold back.
“Well Hollywood wives they ain’t,” Collins says with a hearty laugh of Bravo’s newest upstarts. “Because first of all, Hollywood wives would never call themselves housewives. It’s far too plebeian. And secondly where are the power players? I think the Maloof [Adrienne] woman is definitely a power player in Vegas. But if you’re going to have the real housewives of Beverly Hills, where’s the wife of the movie star? Where’s the wife of the studio executive? Where is the wife of the TV mogul? Half of them don’t even live in Beverly Hills! They‘re interesting to watch but I don‘t see them being Hollywood wives by any means. They might have the money which they flash around a bit too much but they don‘t have the power and the clout. One wonders if the jewelry is real.”
That said, Collins does think that some of the housewives were pretty close to the real deal, though the ones she has in mind certainly weren’t fan favorites or the ones that might immediately come to mind,
“Camille [Grammer] was very Hollywood Wives. She was the genuine article,” Collins offers when asked about one of the most hated housewives in the history of the franchise. “And the Maloof couple are kind of amusing in a kind of crazy way. I like Adrienne. I think she’s got spunk and she’s a businesswoman. I love a woman that can kick ass and I think she can kick ass pretty well.”
Not so shockingly Collins was also a fan of the show’s bitchy, so-called seventh housewife and resident houseboy.
“I love Cedric [Martinez]…he’s so great! Cedric is totally Hollywood Wives. He needs his own show!” She says with a conspiratorial laugh. “You know Hollywood Wives opens with a pool boy pissing in the pool and I can just imagine Cedric doing that when he’s pissed at Lisa Vanderpump!”
Now that’s the Beverly Hills you didn’t see on the show folks, but that is exactly the one that Jackie Collins knows to be utterly real and completely unscripted. So if the Real Housewives wasn’t completely on point in its depiction of Beverly Hills, then what are the real hot spots?
“I love Beverly Hills as you know. I think it’s the most fantastic place. As a writer, I feel like an anthologist crawling up the hot walls of Hollywood watching what’s going on,” Collins reminds me with all the exuberance of a new arrival in town, though she’s anything but. That said, with the spirit of climbing Hollywood walls in mind, I asked Jackie to scale some of the most exclusive ones and reel off a few of her favorite insider hot spots.
“I love The Grill for lunch or the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge…if you want to people watch…and Mr. Chow or Cecconi’s for dinner,” she offers without missing a beat. “And the best view [of Beverly Hills] would be from the bar of the Soho House…[that is] if you can get in because you have to be a member. You can look out over the whole of Los Angeles and it’s staggeringly beautiful.”
When it comes to the best place for a clandestine meeting or affair, “Geoffrey’s at the beach” is Collins’ hands down choice. “It’s very romantic. You sit out on the beach and you’ve got the waves and the ocean and the lights and the great food. It’s very sexy.”
For shopping, Jackie is a fan of Neiman-Marcus in Beverly Hills along with a few of its equally upscale neighbors. “I love Neiman’s. I have lunch at Neiman’s every Saturday,” she says. “I love drifting around the makeup department and the jewelry department and the shoes…it’s really a great place to shop if you’re not going to go down Melrose Avenue where there are lots of little shops which are really great. And then I’m also a big fan of Century City where you’ve got a Bloomingdale’s and you’ve got a Sephora and you’ve got a Macy’s and it’s great. You can wander around there all day.”
Since Collins is a well known purveyor of sometimes thinly-veiled secrets, I couldn’t resist asking her about Beverly Hills’ best and worst kept secrets. To my surprise what she offered in response was not a list of places or destinations but instead an indictment of a current trend that is as much a part of life in Beverly Hills as the palm trees that line its golden boulevards.
“The worst kept secret [in Beverly Hills] is what these women are doing to their faces lately!” She digs with a laugh. “They’ve all got chubby cheeks. They all look like chipmunks. That’s the worst kept secret.”
And what about the best kept secret?
“I think the best kept secret [in Beverly Hills] is the secret homosexuality that goes on with women,” Collins demurs, obviously holding back for the first time in our interview. Try as I might to prod her to give a little hint as to who she might be referring to, the best I could get out of her was the following innocuous blind item:
“What famous housewife is having an affair with another famous housewife?”
Of course she burst into laughter after sharing that tidbit, knowing full well that I could guess no more from that blind item than I knew before. Still I was intrigued. Perhaps we’ll all learn more details in Jackie’s new book Goddess of Vengeance which she only just completed recently. Stay tuned. It’s slated to hit stores this fall.
Before I hung up with Jackie, I asked her to put together the quintessential Beverly Hills tour for an uninitiated visitor to the 90210 because who wouldn’t want to know what would be included on a Jackie Collins sanctioned Beverly Hills itinerary.
“People love to come here and they want to go to Spago and have lunch and see if any stars drop in. And then they want to go down Rodeo Drive. The want to visit the Beverly Wilshire Hotel because they know that’s where Pretty Woman was made and so they might have a little bite to eat at Cut, which is the famous Wolfgang Puck restaurant and then they’ll walk down Rodeo Drive. That’s what I used to do with Oprah.”
And so the oracle has spoken. If it’s good enough for O, I think it’s good enough for me. Besides if that day doesn’t sound like Living Wells then I don’t know what does.
The trade paperback for Jackie Collins’ 27th novel Poor Little Bitch Girl is out now. The Mass Market Paperback goes out March 29, 2011.
Find out more about Jackie Collins at www.JackieCollins.com.
Until next time…Cheers!