Jackie Collins is my neighbour in Beverly Hills, living a few streets away in a fabulous white mansion she built with her late husband back in the early Nineties. (Sadly, he died the week before it was finished.)
Tonight, she threw a lavish dinner that lived up to every expectation of anyone who’s read her splendidly racy, glamorous novels about Hollywood.
I knew it was going to be a memorable party when the very first person Jackie introduced me to was a strikingly attractive lady whose face seemed very familiar. ‘Piers, you must know Raquel?’ Well, I do, but only from my dormitory wall at boarding school.
It was Raquel Welch, arguably the greatest pin-up of them all. A woman who became a global superstar on the back of one immortal poster of her in a furry bikini promoting the movie One Million Years BC.
‘I had three lines, was on screen for about six minutes, and thought I was just making a dinosaur film that nobody would take much notice of,’ she laughed, as we drank cocktails. ‘But I was wrong! That poster made me very famous overnight.
‘I remember landing back at Heathrow after they went up and photographers were all going crazy. I knew then my life would never be the same. It was a surreal experience.’
As we chatted, Jackie returned to admiringly say: ‘Your t**s are amazing, Raquel!’ An indisputable fact, and not surprising given Playboy once voted her Most Desired Woman of the Decade for the Seventies. ‘Thank you darling, they’re all natural too.’
Another lady came to say hello. ‘Hi, I’m Joanna, Sidney Poitier’s wife.’
Ah, Sidney. One of the all- time great Hollywood stars – he was the f i rst black person to win the Best Actor Oscar, for his role in Lilies Of The Field, and someone I used to admire from afar when I lived at the Beverly Wilshire hotel and he used to breakfast there every week.
‘What’s the best and worst thing about living with an icon?’ I asked.
‘Well, the best is that Sidney’s just
‘I haven’t seen you since you stroked my chassis,’ I said to Melanie Griffith. ‘It’s true, you have a magnificent chassis and I just couldn’t help
myself,’ she said
as nice, decent and charming as you would think, which is why I’ve been with him for 48 years.
‘The worst is that I made a terrible mistake when we first started dating and cooked him a really good meal. Since then, I’ve had to cook him a really good meal every damn night for 48 years!’
I spied Sidney sitting on a sofa nearby so went over and introduced myself. He’s now 87 but looks no more than 60, and has a bone- crushing handshake.
I told him Joanna’s big regret and he burst out laughing. ‘ That’s true – after that first meal, I realised she was a wonderful cook, so I requested that she cook for me every night.’
‘Requested?’ roared Joanna. ‘Demanded more like! Each night I ask him what he wants from a list of things like lobster, shrimp, turkey, chicken or steak. Sidney makes his selection and I cook it for him.’
He beamed. ‘ It’s a perfect arrangement!’ This was the purest illustration of the proverb ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ that I’ve ever seen.
I sat at my table and found I was with Jackie’s sister Joan, former LA Law star Harry Hamlin and Melanie Griffith.
‘I haven’t seen you since you stroked my chassis,’ I told the latter.
Joan nearly choked on her wine. Melanie smiled. ‘It’s true, you have a magnificent chassis and I just couldn’t help myself.’
We both knew she was alluding to my Aston Martin, which she lovingly