I went to see the wonderful Dame Joan Collins in her one woman (and one man) show at The Lowry this week. I can happily say I have now seen two of my holy trinity of legendary female icons, that being, Dolly Parton, Joan Collins and Joanna Lumley (only Lumley to go).
Joan Collins has fascinated me for years; as a little girl I was caught off guard by her bitchy sexy character Alexis in Dynasty. If she came on TV I'd find myself drawn to the screen to just look at her. The combination of glossy lipstick, huge earrings and high hair mixed with that cut glass English accent certainly left an imprint in my mind.
As I got older it was Joan's approach to life that next caught my attention. I admire the way she looks no matter what the occasion. Joan Collins is glamour! Not once do we ever see JC slumming it in joggers and a slouchy top, never without her hair done, and NEVER without her makeup. One interviewer once made the faux pas of asking if she ever forgoes the glamour at the weekend and Joan practically winced, 'NO. I wouldn't want that for myself or for anyone else'. Her standards are high just like her self esteem.
The live show began with Joan clad in a black lacy trouser suit sitting alongside her husband Percy in a simple set that put me in mind of Claridges. Percy MC'd while Joan answered the never halting flow of questions from the audience, 'What was Hollywood like in the 50's?' (Exciting, she went to lots of showbiz parties and her first film there was opposite the legendary Bette Davis), Did you ever meet Marilyn Monroe? (Yes, and it was while chatting that Marilyn gave her the advice to watch out for the Hollywood studio bosses who could drop her at the click of a finger if she didn't make them happy. Joan managed to dodge the casting couch), What was it like working on Dynasty? (Wonderful but hard work, she had to keep her weight below eight and a half stone to fit into the costumes as the camera adds ten pounds).
By the second half Joan had changed into a champagne gold sequin gown and looked every inch the star she is. The evening was full of delicious tidbits about Joan's lifestyle, friends and packed career interspersed with wonderful film clips and photos. When an audience member asked if there was any rivalry between Joan and her late sister Jackie while growing up, it was asked with such reverence you could feel the theatre give a little collective nod of respect to the author. Joan answered that of course they were competitive but ultimately they were crazy about each other and she misses her sister everyday.
I loved hearing about my favourite period of Hollwood history from someone who had lived through it. Paul Newman, Gene Kelly, Joan Crawford... there were so many names dropped I couldn't keep up! Then of course when Joan chatted about her beauty regime, make up and style rules I was all ears. There was even a little window into Joan and Percy's wedding night that involved gaffer tape and a lot of yelling. I wont go into details in case you see the show yourself but it was highly entertaining. The whole evening was a relaxed and fun insight into the life of a much loved living legend and was a wonderful treat I'll never forget!