Thursday, September 8th, 2011

'Hollywood Wives': Shagging Movie Stars In Their Luxurious Mansions

I know, I said we were doing Fear of Flying. I said! But, I'm gonna level with you, I figured it would wind up in an Unpleasant Internet Scuffle, because Erica Jong is more likely to get squiffy with me than Jackie Collins. She just is! And I'm a little gun-shy after the MacGyver Rage Incident. Also, whenever I think about Fear of Flying, I think about her husband always leaving skid marks in his underwear (or was it on the sheets? I think it was on her sheets), and, ew.


I first read Hollywood Wives when I was eight years old, because it was at my grandmother's house. Not the nurturing-cooking-earth-mother grandmother. The chain-smoking-vodka-swilling-bigamously-married grandmother with trashier books. She also rented The Silence of the Lambs for my little brother and I when we were twelve and eight. My parents were not super-stoked, even though we were pretty much "what's a woman-suit? Is it like a clown suit?" And now I write a column about Classic Trash. Draw your own conclusions.

My trash expectations for Hollywood Wives were pretty high on reread, due to crystal-clear (possibly false) memories of four scenes from 21 years ago.

Remembered Scene the First: Some movie star and his precariously-held-together wife run into each other at their house following an estrangement. She's "let herself go," which means she's put on about four pounds, let her roots grow out, and is wearing less makeup. This means she actually looks better, and the two of them "fall silently to the carpet and begin to make love."

Actual Scene: "They circled each other warily, then Ross blurted, 'I'll tell you something — you look damn sexy.' And he had pounced, surprising both of them, Silently they began to consummate their reunion on the living-room floor."

Remembered Scene the Second: Creepazoid twin brother of movie star remembers having sex with his creepazoid mother.

Actual Scene: It wasn't the creepazoid twin! It was actually the movie star. "She climbed on top of him and guided his penis into a warm wetness."

Remembered Scene the Third: Movie star is humping some lower-level lackey in his trailer, she uses his first name, he gets pissy and loses his erection.

Actual Scene: "He hadn't said she could call him by his first name. Mr. Conti would do nicely. Women. Give them nine inches and they frigging moved in."

Remembered Scene the Fourth The precariously-held-together Hollywood wife reminisces about being a fat child who didn't know about carbs. And she had a nickname, which was some kind of large animal (hippo, or elephant, or manatee).

Actual Scene: "When I was thirteen I was the fattest girl in school. Etta the Elephant they called me. And I deserved the nickname. Only how could a kid of thirteen know about nutrition and diet and exercise and all that stuff? How could a kid of thirteen help it when Grandma Steinberg stuffed her with cakes and latkes, lox and bagels, strudel and chicken dumplings?"

Wow, okay, so the moral of that experiment is that your children will totally remember and internalize the things you tell them when they're eight, and then talk about it on the Internet.

The book starts with two pages about an unknown crazy person hacking his family to death with machetes. And you're all, oh, wow, this is… intense. And then you're immediately in Hollywood, with the wives, and it's all "wait, machetes? I have to assume that dude with the machetes is eventually gonna hack up some Hollywood wives, right?" WAIT AND SEE, readers. Wait and see. And, for serious, buy the book, it's just as much fun as you think it might be. Minus the incest memories and the machetes. Or, I don't know, maybe that's what grabbed your attention in the first place. Classic Trash is not here to judge you.

Context-Free Excerpts From Hollywood Wives

• "Elaine Conti awoke in her luxurious bed in her luxurious Beverly Hills mansion, pressed a button to open the electrically controlled drapes, and was confronted by the sight of a young man clad in a white T-shirt and dirty jeans pissing a perfect arc into her mosaic-tiled swimming pool."

• "She remembered the day well, because he had climaxed all over her new Sonia Rykiel skirt."

• "You'll never need anyone else but Mommy now, will you, Buddy? Will you?"

• "The cutting-down process had been painful. First the chauffeur had gone, then the live-in housekeeper and her staff of two, next the gardeners and poolman. Now it was just Lina, who came in daily, except weekends. And Miguel, who was a combination gardener, poolman, and chauffeur."

• "He wished he knew something about the role in the movie. Should he be aggressively sexual? Boyish? Charming? Dustin Hoffman with looks?"

• "'You see,' she continued earnestly, 'the whole of my career I've been typecast. Cunty dumb blondes with hearts of gold — and that kind of part is not the real me.' She paused for breath, then plunged on, her huge bosom heaving with emotion."

• "'This is Thiou-Ling,' said Gina. 'My present for us. She speaks no English, but she understands. She has been trained in the art of making love since childhood. We shall celebrate our contract, Neil. And then we will go to the party.'"

• "'Goddammit, Gina,' snapped Thiou-Ling, who had suddenly developed a fierce New York street accent. 'Cut the fuckin' hysterics an' tell me what you want me to do.'"

Discussion Questions!

• I never watched the miniseries. How was it? Was it Spelling-tastic? Should I buy the DVD and then talk about it with you?

• Whose Hollywood wife would you be? And would you rather be a beard, and just spend all of your time getting massages and buying things and then having fun platonic dinners with your husband, Hugh Jackman? Because that's what I would want. Because, otherwise, I think the straight ones are probably dicks.

• Which books would be improved by the inclusion of a machete-wielding madman who drops in and out of the action? A Separate Peace? The Mill On The Floss? The Very Hungry Caterpillar?

• Should we just go ahead and do Fear of Flying next? Or should we do Confessions of a Shopaholic? Is that Classic yet?

• Why is it so disconcerting to read Hollywood Wives, written in 1983, and to have the constant urge to tell the wives about the advances in skincare? Like, "Bitch, you don't need to get your eyes done. You want some FILLERS. Be back on the street on the same day." "You probably don't even have a prescription retinoid!"

• Do you get the sense that Hollywood Wives is like a really bad version of Postcards from the Edge, which is a DOPE-ASS BOOK? You are correct. This is not really a question.

• Dustin Hoffman is "Dustin Hoffman with looks." Yes or no?

Nicole Cliffe is the proprietress of Lazy Self-Indulgent Book Reviews.

Photo of Collins by Helga Esteb, via Shutterstock.

29 Comments / Post A Comment

mrschem (#1,757)

Wow. We must have the same grandma and all I can remember from this book (read it about the same age as you did) are the Buddy and Angel bits.

dietcock@twitter (#64,482)

The miniseries based on this book is a revelation. It's available on You Tube in several parts and has a theme song by LAURA BRANIGAN:

Tully Mills (#6,486)

@dietcock@twitter Yeah but does it have Space Dog?

Pop Socket (#187)

Is this the book where two people get stuck together during sex and have to be rushed to the hospital together, or am I misremembering another trashy Jackie Collins novel?

@Pop Socket Ding ding ding!

Bittersweet (#765)

@Pop Socket: I think that's a different one…maybe the one where the very macho guy gets drugged and then buttf**ked by the transvestite?* They all kinda run together after a while.

*Apologies if that's the wrong word.

@Bittersweet She may have gone to the stuck-together-sex well…twice. But it's definitely in "Hollywood Wives." That's why Thiou-Ling was asking how to help!

hockeymom (#143)

I would have welcomed a machete wielding madman into the Very Hungry oeuvre about 10 years ago….especially on the 12-billionth reading of those books.

TrilbyLane (#1,318)

I'm pretty sure it's not her husband who leaves the skidmarks in Fear of Flying, but one of her many grim-sounding lovers – the Jewish conductor, I think? I particularly recall Adrian the British shrink and his impotent willy that tastes of wee… Never did a supposed sex book make sex sound so unappealing.

Here is a recommended complementary trash-duet: the truly awful sequel to Fear of Flying, How to Save Your Own Life, in which so-called 'Isadora' tries to make a film of her bestselling autobiographical novel with an evil, slutty female producer; and Julia Phillips' You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, in which Julia Phillips tries to make a film of Fear of Flying with an evil, slutty Erica Jong. (And Goldie Hawn, who has BO and never washes her hair!)

And finally I bet you would like this.

@TrilbyLane Pretty much every book Erica Jong has ever written has some claim to the title of 'truly awful', except for 'Fanny', which is so awful it's awesome. Awfsome.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Oh yarg, Sonia Rykiel. Oh, my god those KNITS they were so gruesome.

C_Webb (#855)

Agreed on Postcards From the Edge. I quote that book all the time and for some reason no one else has read it so I get to bring the funny, which is humor plagiarism, I guess. Especial faves are complaining about her boyfriends as if they'd been allocated to her by the government, and the part about how she doesn't like going to the gym, but she likes having been to the gym, and the only way to have been is to go.

Wait, what book were we talking about? Sorry.

@C_Webb Have you read "Surrender the Pink"? It's about her divorce from Paul Simon!

SuperMargie (#1,263)

@Nicole Cliffe@facebook I LOVE that book! The scene where she is hiding in the closet while his girlfriend is singing The Flinstones theme is my favorite.

MattP (#475)

"Give them nine inches…" Nine inches?!? Did he bring a friend?

Piegaiacp (#65,516)

The miniseries based on this book is a revelation.

young preeezy (#44,987)

@Piegaiacp AND produced by Aaron Spelling! And apparently starring: Candice Bergen, Stefanie Powers, Angie Dickinson, Anthony Hopkins, Suzanne Somers and Rod Steiger.

I haven't yet bothered looking into whether that's the real Anthony Hopkins, or just some C-rate tv actor with the same name.

BasicSand (#2,105)

I always felt that Jackie Collins did her best with Lucky Santangelo. She was a mafia princess who became sort of Jackie O but then ran a movie studio.

SuperMargie (#1,263)

I must have read that Hollywood Wives at least 5 times when I was a teenager, but I recall nothing about it. I vaguely remember that Andrew Stevens (DREAMBOAT) played Buddy/Scary Bro in the mini-series.

To answer your question, Dustin Hoffman is Dustin Hoffman with Dustin Hoffman looks.

atipofthehat (#797)

I would rather see the machete-wielding madman drop in on The Very Lonely Firefly, since there is clearly already something terrible happening in the murky middle of that book that causes a family to flee and a dog and cat to attack an owl. Having the machetes take care of them before the firefly orgy at the end would also save on battery life.

lobsterhug (#66,323)

Confessions of a Shopaholic is, what, 10 years old and was adapted into a movie. Sounds like a classic to me!

JoanTition (#15,020)

NICOLE. How have I been skipping over these posts? I feel robbed.

Will you maybe ever talk about "The Best of Everything"?

also: Has anyone read "The Love Machine"? because it's weird and maybe one of the best trash books of all time. JUST SAYING.

But not sorry.


becky@twitter (#14,213)

chain-smoking-vodka-swilling-bigamously-married grandmothers with trashier books are the best kind. i miss my gramma jess so much.

forrealz (#1,530)

How did 66,000 happen?? Is it something unexpected surprise's fault? Also, Jackie Collins YAY!

SeanP (#4,058)

What I love about Classic Trash is that I get to have like 95% of the fun of reading the books without having to spend the time to actually READ them.

Dominick Dunne does better classic trash

BillJustBill (#242,292)

I don't remember how old I was when I read Hollywood Wives. I get it and The Users and maybe one or two of Rona Jaffe's books mixed up, and actually don't recall details of any of them. I remember someone doing something untoward with an Oscar statuette in bed, but that might've been The Users.

Anyway, this sentence: I first read Hollywood Wives when I was eight years old, because it was at my grandmother's house? The best.

Post a Comment