It was the era of BIG and she was at its epicentre. Big shoulder pads, big dreams, big hair, big mouths, and big characters. It was the 80s and Jackie Collins, trailblazer of women’s steamy fiction starring all the glitterati we’d otherwise never meet, was our go-to read—especially in summer. A true Hollywood insider, Jackie was first to give us a glimpse of the glam lives of the rich and famous. And now she’s back, true to juicy form. Her just released book—The Santangelos (buy it here!)—treats us to the thrilling conclusion in the larger-than-life Santangelo family saga, and as you can imagine, we’re drinking it in. Poolside. Champagne in hand.
Of course, she needs no introducing. Jackie Collins is a star of the shiniest proportions, one of the world’s top-selling novelists. Get this: 500 million-plus copies of her 29 New York Times bestsellers have sold in more than 40 countries, with movie and mini-series spin-offs to boot. For so many of us, Jackie Collins’ stories were a revelation. They were our first taste of reality TV, or first brush with open sexuality, our first literary soap opera, and we couldn’t get enough.
What is it that makes Collins’ characters so memorable? Maybe it’s the fact that they’re all based on real people, as unbelievable as that seems. Or their penchant for doing as they please. We know one thing for sure: We were instantly hooked on those beautiful bad boys and brazen women—like the infamous Lucky Santangelo—and we still are.
What would you ask the fabulous Jackie Collins if you had the chance? Hold that thought. We got up close and personal to do what Jackie herself does best: share the inside scoop. Read on, fans.
THE BRAZEN INTERVIEW WITH JACKIE COLLINS
Randi Chapnik Myers: What made you come back to the Santangelo family and give us an update on their lives?
Jackie Collins: It was Lucky who drew me back. She’s Everywoman—wildly beautiful, very smart—and she’s had to stand up to lots of opposition from men who always think women can’t do anything. She powers through, saying and doing everything she wants and she gets away with it, and that’s what we all want to do. On Twitter, my readers are constantly telling me they love her and they can’t get enough.
RCM: Why has Lucky become so popular?
JC: I don’t know. The reviews for the new book go crazy about her. But the book does stand alone. You don’t have to read the others to get this one. Here’s an interesting trivia bit many people don’t know about Lucky. I did two mini-series about her starring both Nicolette Sheridan and Sandra Bullock. That was one of Sandra’s first movies. Everyone on the set loved her and knew she’d be a big star someday.
RCM: Why are we all so fascinated by the glamorous lives and loves of the rich and famous?
JC: I think it’s because it’s real. This is what I’ve observed over my life. This is what really happens and people want the insider track. I live in Beverly Hills and the makeup artists and the hairdressers and the limo drivers tell me everything. Then I hear even more from my friends the producers and directors. You write about what you know, and I know this town really well. I feel like an anthropologist crawling up the walls of Hollywood, and my readers are playing a guessing game. My characters are so fun. They come in all ages, sizes, sexual orientations and nationalities. There’s always something for everyone.
RCM: You were one of the first to get real and raunchy in your books. But while you push sexual boundaries, you never go as far as to describe sex, as in, say, the 50 Shades of Grey books? If you were starting out now, do you think you’d hop on that sex train?
JC: No, I would not. I was the first woman to write about sex in a graphic way, to write about blowjobs and cunnilingus and all the wonderful parts of sex. I take my readers to a certain point then let their imaginations take over. Today, they’ve coined the term Mommy Porn, which is absolutely insulting to women. First of all, these books have been around forever—The Story of O, Tropic of Cancer—and now someone’s brought them back. I don’t want my heroines to be weak and living under the power of a man who beats the crap out of them. No thank you very much.
RCM: Who is your target reader? Who, in your experience, most identifies with the characters in your novels?
JC: Interestingly, I have a 50/50 audience—a split between women and men. Men regard my books as a guilty pleasure so they don’t want to get caught sitting on the subway reading a Jackie Collins but now that they can buy them on Kindle, they can. I never pretended to be a literary writer. I’m a storyteller and I grab people of all ages and genders with my stories. So many girls say: I stole my Mom’s copy of Lucky and read it under my covers in bed and you taught me everything I know about sex. I feel I’m doing people a service.
RCM: You say your books are based on real life but are actually tamer versions of the truth. Can you give us an example of one way truth is stranger than fiction?
JC: Just look at the news in the last couple of weeks. We’ve got Donald Trump running for President, the escaped killer who’s apparently well-endowed (Where did that come from?), the Hilary Clinton emails which are becoming a joke. And remember Weiner and his dick pics? If I wrote all this, no one would believe it. I mean, who really wants to stare at dick pics on the Internet? Women are smarter than that!
JC: Right now, Joan is lying by a pool in the south of France, and she’s starring in a show on E called The Royals, where she plays the Queen Mother. We are in the touch all the time. She spends the winters here so we spend a lot of time together. We get along so well. She’s married to her fifth husband and he’s the best of the bunch!
RCM: And your love life?
JC: I had a very long and very happy marriage and I nursed my husband through a grave illness. Then I was engaged for six years to a guy who looked like one of the heroes in my books, and he passed away, too. Now I’m single for the first time in my life and I love it. If I want to go to the movies, or have sex, or go sing karaoke, I can do it. I have a man for every occasion! I live my life like a single man now. I’m not interested in sharing the remote control with any guy.
RCM: What’s next for Jackie Collins?
JC: I’m working on a memoir called Reform School or Hollywood. It’s about my wild teen years and my early years in Hollywood, and I’m also writing a new book about Flynn from The Power Trip. Women fell in love with Flynn. He’s like a male Lucky—very off-kilter and attractive, a do-gooder who’s sexy.
THE BRAZEN FAST 5
1. Your favourite silver fox Hollywood hunk?
George Clooney. He’s got a great sense of humour that’s self derogatory. And he jokes with a twinkle in his eye. That’s so attractive in a man.
2. Your favourite type of music?
Latin, rap, soul. My current favourite track is Snoop Dogg’s California Roll. Recently, I was on a plane and had it playing on repeat.
3. Your favourite book of all time?
The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Every time I read it, I find something different.
4. Your female hero?
As an actress, it’s Charlize Theron, especially in Mad Max: Fury Road where she plays the hero and the eye candy is her male costar.
5. The secret to staying young at heart?
Always treat life as an adventure. When I get up in the morning, it’s a new adventure. I write in long-hand, and I have no idea where my characters are taking me. Have a passion. Women: Do something for yourself, no matter what that is, even if it’s making cupcakes. You never want to feel trapped in a marriage. You never want to feel that you can’t get out.
Note: While some changes have been made for clarity, the essence of this interview remains intact.