Doll of the Valley (NYPost)
This post originally appeared in the NYPost. By ERIC HEGEDUS
No one paints a more tawdry — and delicious — portrait of Hollywood than prolific novelist Jackie Collins.
With more than two dozen books under her belt — selling upwards of 400 million copies worldwide — Collins has culled two decades of her own glamorous life in Los Angeles to entertain a fan base that appreciates soapy, scandal-plagued scenarios with the most heroic of glamazons and the most loathsome of lotharios.
Her latest novel, “Goddess of Vengeance,” out this week, further documents the life of entertainment and hotel mogul Lucky Santangelo, whose travails have unraveled in six previous books and two television mini-series. Collins, 73, talked to The Post about the downfalls of celebrity culture, the power of her critics and her voracious television viewing habits.
Your stories are laced with society types. Do you consider yourself a socialite?
No, I would call myself an observer. I always feel like an anthropologist crawling through the jungles of Hollywood, watching what goes on. I have observed rich and famous people — or people who have nothing and then get everything — all my life. The important thing for writers is to write about what you know. Do not try to make things up. If you’ve never been to Hollywood, don’t try to write about it. I know characters like the characters I’ve written about.
You know a lot of the Hollywood in-crowd. Do they often come up to you and say, “Pssst, guess what I just heard …”?
Oh, yeah, they tell me things. I’m constantly amazed. They’re always telling me things, so I do know where every body is buried. And I have to tell you this: The truth is so much stranger than fiction. So many things I can’t write because nobody would believe me; I’d be laughed off the page. Think about what’s gone on in New York — think about (former Rep. Anthony) Weiner. Could you imagine if I had a character like Weiner? He was in an important position, photographing his junk and sending it out to women. It’s, like, incredible! How could he do that? On Twitter?!
What has gone wrong with the aura of celebrity?
What happens is a kid comes to Hollywood on the bus with 200 bucks. He scores himself a pilot on television. The pilot becomes a huge success. He becomes a huge star, suddenly getting millions of dollars, women falling at his feet. And it goes to their head. They surround themselves with gophers, people who will do anything for them, they laugh at their jokes, tell them they’re wonderful, they spend their money, put most of it up their nose. And then suddenly the money dries up, and they’re going, “What the f— happened?” Everybody does whatever they want to do.
One of the more troubled people in Hollywood is Lindsay Lohan. How do you think she can evolve from her issues?
I think she really needs to find a great guy in her life. That would immediately straighten her out. You know, you can’t slip from guy to guy and expect to be happy. I think if she finds a great guy …
… or gal.
[Laughs] Oh, yes — nothing wrong with that! And she’s a really good actress — I would love to see her get her career back on track. That’s what she should concentrate on more than anything, more than being photographed, more than going to parties. Look at somebody like Scarlett Johannson, who’s basically the same age and even though she’s just gone through a divorce, you see that she’s really dedicated to her career. That’s so important for a woman, especially an attractive woman who has so many other temptations.
You seem to have many critics in the book world. Does it bug you that you may not get the credit you deserve?
My biggest critics are the people who’ve never read me. It doesn’t bother me at all. You know what? With the advent of social media, I’m very big on Twitter, tons of followers. So why would I care about one critic’s opinion when I’ve got all of these people on Twitter going, “Oh, it was fabulous, couldn’t put it down, we love Lucky, she’s the greatest character ever”?
You also tweet a lot about television.
Oh. My. God. [laughs] I have four TiVos in my bedroom. It’s insane! It’s my relaxation. I really love television — and good television is so much better than any movies today. I have televisions all around. When I finish writing for the day, I’ll put them all on in different rooms, all on the same program. And I’ll be doing something else but watching the show at the same time. So I can multitask!
In interviews, you’ve called yourself a bachelor.
I do. I was married for most of my life, and then I was engaged for another six years. I love the single life — I really do because you can do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. You don’t have to answer to anybody. And I love that if I want to get up at 3 in the morning, I don’t have somebody, you know, moaning beside me, telling me to turn the television off.