"There's one ... no, wait -- that's not one. There's one and there's another one over there."
What were we doing? Making a game of counting the number of men in the audience at The Vagina Monologues. If you want to know the upshot of the game, it averaged out to about one man per row. That included me. Honestly, it was purely professional; I was going to be interviewing Jerry Hall the next day, so I knew I'd better see her show. Fortunately, it wasn't like her last show -- the one in which she appeared completely nude as Mrs. Robinson, i.e., the London stage production of The Graduate -- of which Miss Hall reportedly said, "In my last play, I had to show it. In this one (The Vagina Monologues), I only have to talk about it." It was also reported, inaccurately I believe, that she was booed off the stage.
Historically, vaginas have held little interest for me. In fact, up until The Vagina Monologues entered our lexicon, most people were relatively safe from having to utter the harsh-sounding word, unless they were at the gynecologist. But now, it's emblazoned across magazines and newspapers, and one can hardly avoid that word. It was reported that when Rudolf Giuliani's soon-to-be-ex-wife Donna Hanover appeared in The Vagina Monologues in New York, Mayor Giuliani was mortified. But the whole Vagina Monologues concept seems very Northeast-centric, and, well, not to mention, a bit Seventies. I mean, most of the women I've ever known have been well aware that they had a vagina, I knew it and they knew it, and they weren't afraid to talk about it at the appropriate times -- it's hard to ignore what we've learned from the women's movement. But singing little songs about it, and praising its achievements, and giving it cute nicknames? Well, frankly it sounded like the women's equivalent of locker room talk -- and I have little use for that, either.
So, perhaps I was not the perfect candidate to appreciate The Vagina Monologues (which could alternately be known as Chatterboxes) but as I said, my interest was purely professional. Jerry Hall would be there, and indeed she was, one of the most glamorous and desirable women in the world, right there on the stage in front of me. Now, glamorous women: That's a subject I can really sink my teeth into. I'm definitely an aficionado.
Even in the display in the lobby announcing the show, Jerry looked different from her co-stars. They looked like actresses and she looked like a star. With her lavishly painted face tilted in the manner of someone who has spent her life in front of the camera, and her curtain of perfectly coiffed hair tumbling over her shoulder, she is as beautiful as when she was a teenager. Seeing her onstage, gloriously done up, yet incongruously barefoot, she was everything we expected out of her: graceful yet with a certain animalism, not deeply talented but with definite star quality, and a bawdiness that belies her self-possessed carriage. What was unrecognizable was her accent. Gone was the syrupy Texas twang, replaced by an indistinct New England tone which I later understood to be "acting." Where she shined was in her work with the ensemble. Instead of simply waiting for her turn, as one might have expected, she engaged herself with the other actresses, listening and responding to their speeches. Though like many stars, one never loses themselves in her characters, and never for one second did we forget it was Jerry Hall we were watching.
Jerry Hall first captured my attention in the mid-Seventies, when my sister pointed her out on the cover of Cosmo, saying, "She's from Dallas." We gazed upon her image like she was a saint. She was magnificent, with perversely lush features set atop a pair of the most gorgeous legs ever created ... and that hair: flowing golden tresses that seemed like they were painted by Botticelli. She was a healthy, brash Texan girl, about whom Annie Lennox surely wrote the words, "I was dreaming I was a Texan girl -- a girl who feels she has the right to everything ..."
And perhaps the thing she had a right to was Bianca Jagger's husband Mick, for by 1979, the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" was burning up every dance floor, and Bianca was out of the picture. Within a few years, Mick and Jerry's babies started arriving, and Jerry was the most glamorous mother in the world. She continued her modeling career, notably for Thierry Mugler, among others, and eventually got Ol' Leather Lips to marry her in 1990. But past history could have told Jerry that since she herself had stolen Mick from Bianca, she could expect a little trouble on the fidelity front. And trouble, there was ...
It was easy to keep up with Jerry. Her post-divorce activities were fodder for gossip columns across the world and I wouldn't have to do much research for the interview, but that didn't mean I was ready. Omigod -- they could call any minute and say, "Miss Hall will be happy to receive you in the lobby of the Four Seasons [or wherever she was staying]," and would I be ready? Hell, no! I imagined a private little tête-ô-tête, just me and Jerry, gossiping like schoolgirls, giggling a lot and covering our mouths so no one would could hear the dirt we were dishing. How could I be ready for that?
I got up early, showered, and took extra care with my hair. I got dressed, choosing a smart black-on-black ensemble that said I was both stylish and individual, and waited. After a couple hours, the outfit was beginning to droop, the hair to go a little flat -- and a call from the publicist came. Miss Hall would be happy to let me interview her and she would call me around two o'clock.
"To schedule the interview?" I asked hopefully. "No," the voice told me, "to do the interview on the phone. You will not actually be meeting her."
Not actually be meeting her? The words clanged around in my head, as I, uncomprehendingly, tried to make sense of it all. Not meet Jerry? Well, then how was I going to lean across the restaurant table and whisper scandalous gossip in her ear? How would I know Jerry tossed her glorious mane and threw her head back, laughing at my bon mots? How would I ... ?
The silence on the other end of the phone line gave me all my answers.
I was devastated, it's true -- but on the other hand, in just about an hour and a half, Jerry Hall would be calling me at home on my own telephone! That was pretty special. Maybe she'd use her cell phone, and then my caller ID would display her private number, so we could continue our frivolous gossiping whenever she had a spare moment -- in a limo, ladies room, whatever. I decided, since she wasn't actually going to know what I looked like, that I could remove the now-wrinkled outfit and relax. I slipped on my favorite at-home nightshirt and stretched out on the bed to read and await Jerry's call.
After a while, the shrill bleating of the phone shattered the peacefulness, and my first thought was, "Omigod, it's Jerry. Here I am, talking to one of the most glamorous women in the world, and I look like a slatternly housewife in my nightshirt!" Fortunately, it wasn't Jerry, and I had time to rethink my déshabillé. It's true, she wouldn't be seeing me, so what did it matter what I wore? I decided to dress for the occasion; why not wear something inspiring, something that put me in the mood for chatting with a well-known celebrity? It all became clear. Seeking just the right outfit for a phone call from Jerry, I slipped on the black silk tunic and slacks I had chosen earlier, but accessorized it with a large picture hat, sunglasses, of course, and lots of beads. And I waited.
Every time the phone rang, I clutched my beads, and in reverential, hushed tones I'd whisper, "I'm sorry, I have to keep the line free. Jerry's going to call." Two o'clock came and went. I had turned on the TV and watched Judge Mathis, followed by Divorce Court and Judge Joe Brown. When Judge Judy started at four, I began to wonder if I had imagined the arrangements. I called the publicist.
"Was I incorrect about the time of Jerry's call?" "No," I was told, "I don't know what's happened to her." "Do you think I should keep waiting?" I asked. "Probably not. She's probably busy until showtime." Disappointed, I hung up and began to remove my finery. At five, the phone rang, and the publicist said, "She's going to call you right now!"
I hurried and put my beads and hat back on, and stared at the phone, my list of questions in hand, rehearsing them aloud to myself. "So, Jerry, what was it like to be a cover girl at such a young age?" and "If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" I waited, finger on the tape recorder, to turn it on before I answered her call.
After an hour, my finger was tired, and the hat was bothering me. I called the publicist back and left a message.
"Am I possessed or was Jerry supposed to call me an hour ago? OK, well, I guess she's not going to call me tonight. Be sure and let her know that I'll be by the phone all day tomorrow and she can call me anytime."
The next day was just the same. I waited, like a jilted lover, staring at the phone, willing it to ring. The special outfit had now become tiresome, and my nerves were on edge. By 1 o'clock, I still hadn't heard from her -- even if she did call, I'd only have a few hours to transcribe the interview and get it into shape for publication. By four, I was exhausted by the suspense and was falling asleep at my post. By five, I'd run out of cigarettes and felt it was safe to leave the house.
Upon returning, my phone indicated a waiting message. I dialed voice mail and listened.
"Hi, this is Jerry Hall. I'm sorry I missed you. I'll call back another time."
For three days after, on edge, I'd jump when the phone rang. And now, even though the show is closed, I still find myself ... waiting for Jerry's call.
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