Catching Up with Jackie Collins
By Dustin Fitzharris
Speaking of your sister, are you two close?
We're very close. For a while she lived in Europe only. Now she's come back to Los Angeles and loves it here again. I'm so pleased because she didn't have a home here for a while. Now she has an apartment and spends a lot of time here with her -- I think it's her sixth husband, Percy. He is divine. He's the absolute best of the bunch. He's a really great guy. [Ed.'s note: Not that we're counting, but Percy Gibson is Joan's fifth husband.]
I know women, and of course gay men, don't like to talk age. You, however, are 72 years old and look amazing. What is your secret?
Oh, thank you so much! I think the late Mark Twain made a wonderful quote. He said, 'Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
And you don't mind?
No, I don't. When I think of the alternative, my God, I'm thrilled I'm here. I don't chase beauty or look hard on fashion or anything like that. I'm just myself and follow my own style. I think I have great genes. My mother was a beautiful blonde and my father was tall, dark, and handsome like most of my heroes. I have a brother. He is fantastic looking. And an older sister, of course. I don't particularly love hearing my age said out loud because it sounds kind of ancient, but then I think that in my mind I feel 32.
And look it.
Oh, thank you darling. You made my day. I think people who obsess about age are kind of sad because it is so much better than the alternative. I mean, would you like to be gone like Elvis Presley or James Dean or Marilyn Monroe just because they look great? I'm sure they'd rather be around.
There are no signs of you going anywhere or even slowing down. You're working on a new book called Goddess of Vengeance.
Yeah! And I'm bringing back Lucky!
That's going to make a lot of people happy. You first introduced the character of Lucky Santangelo in your 1981 book Chances.
It is absolutely crazy! People tell me they love my books, and then they say, 'Bring back Lucky!' Then they say, 'How old is Lucky now?' I say, 'Well, she's the same age as Madonna and Sharon Stone.'
Will Lucky play a big part in your next book?
She's coming back in a big way. I'll tell you about Lucky. She does all the things women would like to say but don't have the nerve to say. In one of the books Lucky actually kills somebody, but nobody ever says anything about that, which is quite interesting. She did it in self defense. But, it was a revenge move. She killed the man who ordered the hit on her brother, her mother, and her fianc'.
And what is Lucky up to now in your next book?
Lucky owns this huge complex in Las Vegas now. It's fabulous and along comes this fictional Arab prince from a fictional Arab land. Well, you know how a lot of people treat women in those countries. Of course he comes up against Lucky. It's going to be full of great things that women are going to love. Lucky is going to stand up for women everywhere.
If Lucky went up against the character your sister played on Dynasty, Alexis Carrington, who would win?
Well, I created Alexis Carrington, so you can't do that!
You created Alexis?
I'll tell you how I created her. I wrote a book called The Stud, and eventually I produced it as a movie that starred my sister. She starred as Fontaine Khaled, the beautiful, jet-setting nymphomaniac. Get a copy of The Stud and you will see Alexis Carrington. Aaron Spelling saw the movie, stole the character, changed the name and Alexis Carrington Colby was born.
Did he acknowledge that?
Yes, he said it to me often. He would laugh about it, especially when they brought Alexis's sister on the show, a novelist. I said, 'Oh, thanks a lot, Aaron!' I used to find that they would mirror a lot of my plot lines from my books. For instance, they brought on Diahann Carroll, a black sister. Well, Lucky had a black brother. Interesting, huh?
Not to dwell on age, but one of the things that does come from age is wisdom. Looking back is there anything where you say, 'If I knew then what I know now?'
No, because the great thing about the journey of life is that you gain by every experience you have. You have your heart broken. You have your successes. You have your failures. You go through those terrible things that happen to you. I nursed two men through terminal illnesses and that's not exactly a picnic, but I've had fantastic successes with my books. I've probably been writing longer than anybody who is on the bestseller list, which is a great achievement for a school dropout. I dropped out of school at 15.
So, no regrets?
No. I just love everything I've done, and I love everything I'm going to do.
Which brings me to all of the others out there. On your website it says, 'There have been many imitators, but only Jackie Collins can tell you what really goes on in the fastest lane of all.' Love that!
I love that too. It's because every single year along comes somebody and they go, 'this is the new Jackie Collins.' It makes me laugh because it's taken me all this time to be who I am anyway. I write what I want to write. I don't write what a publisher tells me to write. I think that has been the secret to my success. My characters speak like we all speak. They have right from the beginning. My first book, The World is Full of Married Men, was banned all over the world because I turned a double standard on its head. I've always written gay characters too. And they're not there just because they're there. They are there because they are part of life.
The gay community adores you.
I love my gay audience! I did a gay event in Atlanta last year with my book Married Lovers. It was the most fun ever. They were the most fabulous audience. Of course I wore a lot of diamonds for them, and after that there was a Jackie Collins look-alike competition in the bar next door.
Did they look like you?
Some of them.
Now you're going to be a judge on the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Oh! I've already filmed it, and it was so funny. You've got to tune in. It will be on sometime in February. I love Ru. She is so divine to work with. I just gaze at her in admiration. First of all, she's eight feet tall. Santino [Rice] from Project Runway was on the show too. He was great. I sat next to him. Then you have to judge all of these drag queens. They say to you that you don't have to be nice. So, I was a little bitchy about one of them, and then in the commercial break 'she' came up to me and hissed, 'You're such a bitch!'