Jackie Collins doesn’t just write about Hollywood, she embodies it. Her books chronicle and capture the ethos of the mythical place not-so-affectionately known as La La Land, where the dreams of a lucky few are packaged and sold, while those of most are dashed and laid to ruin. She is at once Hollywood’s premier historian and raconteur, while also being the Pied Piper of all its dirty little secrets. It is a dual role that has made her as much a Tinseltown icon as the legendarily famous celebrities, movie stars, and studio heads she writes about.
To call Jackie Collins a literary titan would be an understatement. Since she began writing as a teenager, she has penned 27 New York Times bestsellers and has sold over 400 million books imbued with her own unique brand of glamorous raunch and Hollywood insider savvy. Her oeuvre is currently available in over 40 countries and not once has even one of her books ever been out of print. This spring saw the mass-market paperback release of Collins’ 27th book, Poor Little Bitch Girl, and this fall, she will release her next highly anticipated tome, Goddess of Vengeance, in the United States.
In your most recent book, Poor Little Bitch Girl, you’ve written a character called Belle Svetlana who clearly knows a thing or two about hotel rooms, and I suspect that you do too. What are some of the most notorious hotel rooms in Hollywood?
Well, Warren Beatty used to have a penthouse at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, which many a woman in this town visited. It was quite good because they could go there and pretend they were shopping and then slip into the elevator and get up to the penthouse. So that was notorious. And then of course at the Chateau Marmont, where all the rock stars used to stay, there are a lot of private bungalows and people could slip in and out without being noticed. And the Beverly Hills Hotel has had its share of assignations. I think that’s where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton first started hanging out, so to speak, because you can approach the hotel from the side and go to one of the bungalows, and nobody sees you. The secret of a good hotel for an assignation is one where you don’t have to walk past the front desk.
The characters you write about experience the best of LA, where every door is open to them and every experience is strictly A-list. What are your picks for the hottest places in Los Angeles?
The clubs come and go so quickly that it’s difficult to say which ones are hot at the moment. A restaurant is hot here for five minutes and they move on, so a lot of parties go on at people’s houses. And unfortunately, drugs are still very much around…that whole Charlie Sheen scene. And men with power still feel that they can use women so you’ll see some old guy of 93 with a 22-year-old saying how much in love they are.
Speaking of Charlie Sheen, he’s actually very much like a classic character straight out of Jackie Collins’ Hollywood.
He really is! In fact, I was writing him when all this happened and I didn’t know it was him! I had this character who was locked up in a hotel room with hookers and cocaine, and then suddenly there it is on the television. My assistant, who inputs my books into the computer, was like, “My God…you’re writing this right now!”
Turning from your adopted hometown to your birthplace, tick off an itinerary of must-dos on a visit to London.
I love Marks & Spencer, it’s a must. Then of course there’s Harrod’s, which is an English tradition. You have to have tea at the Dorchester and a great Italian meal at San Lorenzo. The Woolsey is another fabulous English restaurant, which is just along from The Ritz. You also have to have tea at The Ritz after you’ve had tea at The Dorchester on another day. You’ve got to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace because that’s quite a spectacle. And then you have to take a little drive into the country and eat lunch at one of the beautiful restaurants situated by the river. And you also have to visit a London Pub. Probably go to Guy Ritchie’s pub—you know the ex-husband of Madonna—I don’t know what it’s called, but I’m sure it’s fun.
So we all read you on the plane, but who or what do you read?
I love to read Mario Puzo. I re-read The Godfather every year. I like Elmore Leonard, and I love Chelsea Handler. I think her books are hilarious.
Along those same lines, I know you’re a huge music fan. So what are you listening to at the moment?
My current favorites are Drake, Bruno Mars, and Esperanza Spaulding, who I was loving before she won the Grammy. And of course the perennial Amy Winehouse and my old favorite, Marvin Gaye.
Frankie Romano, one of the central characters in Poor Little Bitch Girl is a DJ. What music would be on his playlist?
Oh he’d have Pitbull and the Black Eyed Peas. He would like the Foo Fighters, and he wouldn’t be a very good disc jockey, but he’d be a raunchy disc jockey.
What is your number one travel tip?
Pack your clothes in the cleaner’s bags. Keep them on the wire hanger under cleaner’s bags and just fold them over and they never wrinkle. That’s a great travel tip.
And what about the one item you’re never without when you travel?