Catching Up With Joan Collins
By Dustin Fitzharris
Did you ever wonder what one night with Joan Collins would be like? Would it be glitz and glam? Would she be anything like the scheming Alexis Carrington, the part she played to perfection on Dynasty for nine years? And just how many younger men would you have to fight off?
The mystery is about to end. From November 16'27 Joan (as she asked me to call her) will be appearing at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in New York City in her one-woman show One Night with Joan.
Since Dynasty ended with a reunion movie in 1991, Joan has not strayed from the spotlight -- making memorable guest appearances on various television shows, performing in the theater, and penning several books. In August she received the best actress award at the New York City International Film Festival for her role as an aging sex symbol in the short dark comedy Fetish.
We caught up with 77-year-old icon, wife (her husband is 32 years her junior), mother, and grandmother to chat about her new show, mourning the death of sophistication, and being the ultimate cougar.
Outi>: You named your show One Night with Joan. What can we expect from a night with you?
Joan Collins: What can you expect from it? Well, I think you can expect that you're going to be very entertained. I'm going to hopefully make the audience laugh, and I hope people are going to go away feeling that they've had a really good evening. It's the story of my life. It's a story about survival in a business that people don't survive in for that long. I've had so many ups and downs -- both in my life and in Hollywood. Then behind me is a screen that portrays all of these many events in my life with people like Bette Davis, Paul Newman, Richard Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor. So, it's a non-stop visual of things that have gone on with newsreels, magazine covers, and clips from Dynasty.
You mentioned your ups and downs in your life and in Hollywood. What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
About me? I don't really know. What do you think?
You're turning the tables here!
Well, it's good to know.
Well, first off, that you're a vamp.
Yes, and that you're just about beauty, glam, and image.
And what's wrong with that? I mean, I don't exactly wear sequins all the time, and I've been happily married for 10 years, so I'm not really a vamp. So, I would say sequins and a vamp are definitely misconceptions [laughs].
You have such a big gay following.
I know! That's great.
Why do you think gay men love you?
I think it's extremely flattering. I know that the gay community has a lot of people that are my fans, and I think that they like me maybe because I'm a survivor and because I don't take life too seriously. Maybe because I have had a lot of ups and downs. I think the glamour has a lot to do with it as well.
You recently wrote a piece for the Daily Mail in the U.K. on how sad you were to learn that you could now wear jeans to the Ritz in London.
Do you feel society has lost sophistication?
Totally! Where was I at two nights ago? Oh, we were at the Beverly Hilton. I was doing the COLA Awards (California On Location Awards) with Linda Gray. Percy [Collins's husband] and I went down afterward to sit in this very sophisticated bar downstairs, and people were there in shorts at 9:00 at night! I think that people don't care anymore.
Why is that so important to you?
Well, I was brought up being well-groomed and well-dressed and to present to the world the face that I wanted the world to see. I always want to look as good as I can in whatever circumstance. Even when I go to the supermarket -- I won't wear makeup particularly. Well, just a touch perhaps!
Do you ever have to go 'Alexis' on people?
Yes, I do. In fact, one of things that I talk about in the one-woman show is I have a clip of a very serious problem that I had some years ago where I was sued by Random House. I have the newsreel where I'm being completely bullied by this lawyer for the other team. He was being really horrible to me, and I was sitting there, almost cowering. That night I had a call from a lawyer, who is a friend, and he said, 'Don't let him intimidate you. If you've got something to say, say it, and if you don't understand what he's saying, say you don't understand it. Just be -- why don't you be Alexis?' So the next day I put on my most powerful suit with shoulder pads and I had the lipstick and the earrings, and I didn't let him get away with a thing! But, I'm not really like her at all.
There has been a lot of talk these days about the word cougar. Are you the original cougar?
Probably! [Laughs.] Yeah. Yeah. I don't particularly look for men who are younger than me. They look for me.
[Percy chimes in: 'Exactly!']
Oh! There he is! My husband!
You are currently writing a new book called The World According to Joan. Tell us about it.
Well, that's all my most outrageous statements and opinions all in one book. I'm writing it right now. There are about 12 chapters on men, morals, marriage, manners, and fashion.
Can you give us one of your most outrageous statements?
No, because I'm right in the middle of writing. You'll have to see my most outrageous opinions when you come and see the show.
I'm not pushing my own trumpet here, but I do think people are going to have fun. It's very original. It's totally different from any other one-woman show. People say, 'Oh, you don't sing.' I say, 'You'll see me singing with Bing Crosby. You'll see me singing with Debbie Reynolds and Shirley MacLaine.'
And you sang on Dynasty.
Yeah, I know I can sing.
Are you having a ball doing this show?
Oh, yes. We did it in England in about 30 or 40 different venues and then we've done it a couple of times in America, but this the first time I've done it in New York City. I know New York is pretty sophisticated and posh, so I'm just going to do the best that I can.
After everything you've done, what are you the most proud of?
Oh ' oh '. Woooh ' Probably surviving in this business that has a tendency to eat people up and spit them out and then shuck them in the breadlines. The fact that I've still survived and I'm still here and working on things that I truly enjoy is really a good accomplishment.
And you're keeping up with the times. You're tweeting!
Oh yes, what else am I going to do? Sit in my rocking chair with my knitting? Don't go back to the 1950s, please!
What are three things you can't live without?
My husband and my children. But that's more than three.
For more on Joan Collins, your link text here visit her website and follow her on Twitter. Collins plays Feinstein's at the Loews Regency in New York City from November 16-27 with the following schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 8:30 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. No show on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25. To get tickets, click here.