In Helen Mirren's new film, Calendar Girls, she plays Chris, a wild, funky Yorkshire woman who hatches a plan to do a nude calendar with the ladies of her women's club to raise money for a cancer ward. It's not a great film—it's the kind only your mother will love. But Mirren is a great actress. And she's gorgeous. And I have the red hots for her.
I arrived at LA's ultra-ritzy St. Regis Hotel looking like a meat deliverer in my cowgirl boots. Everyone else was in Chanel, or Dior, or something. I hadn't prepared a single question. In roundtables, everyone does your work for you anyway, then you pretend you were snuggled up next to the star on a chaise longue, sipping martinis and getting an exclusive. So, I went to the 28th floor and pinched a loaf in the reception suite bathroom—marking my territory—with my apologies to the maid.
I entered the large peach and tan suite. There, five journalists already seated gave me the "who the fuck are you" eye. I immediately shot back the "I'm no one, you bastards" and sat in my chair. Then they started in with the I've-intimately-interviewed-all-the-stars bullshit. There was British Whore Man, who writes "crap," as he said, "for a bunch of British whore magazines." There was Yakkety Yak Spinster, with graying roots and a full-throttle ego, and Newbie Torrance Mom, who didn't even know who Mirren was before she looked it up for this interview. There was Artsy Hispanic Man, who was aloof and deep in thought, trying very hard to sound fascinating; Broken-English Geisha Girl, who was ever so polite and naive; and Pinkie No Lips, a rag-tag tartlet who showed up in a nasty pink velour sweat suit without a bit of much-needed makeup and with major bed head. (She was the one who promoted herself most adamantly with the surprisingly interested journalist lackeys.) Then there was me: retro boots and eating a plate of spaghetti. They have food at these deals—a whole Pasta Ville room of sauces and noodles compliments of Chef Boyardee.
After half an hour of everyone stroking their own egos—"We hung out with Robin Williams . . . Depp was so boring . . . David Mamet is fucking hilarious! . . . The director wanted to ask me out . . . We all had Lord of the Rings jackets . . . I can't understand anything Hugh Jackman says . . . Why does John Woo go 'errr' before every damn word?" . . . yadda-yadda-yadda—Helen Mirren finally walked in.
What a dish! Her eyes are a drinkable deep blue-green, and she looked trim and elegant in her violet jacket and lace-up bustier. Her cleavage peeked out in that "I'm still sexy but not forcing it like that slutty Sally Kirkland" way. Before she had hit our light, while the others were yammering on, I saw a flash of "God I hate these but must make the best of it and do my job" across her face. It was a personal moment and one I could understand. Who wouldn't hate being faced with us? I hated being faced with us.
The print whores started in asking such dreadfully boring questions that I fail to remember them. Mirren kept looking past me—perhaps to the couch? Did she crave a martini? I tried to make it fun: "Did you know you were recently awarded the 'Hottest Cans of 2003 award?'" She didn't know what "cans" were, but once I told her, she said she was flattered and was eagerly awaiting her award—to be placed in her lavatory with the others. I mentioned Caligula, I asked her about the South American Indian tattoo on her hand. But every time I tried to have a nonbullshit conversation with her, some square-brained pencil pusher turned my tide. And so, we all had a snooze of a time. But I don't regret hauling my poor, tired ass out to see her. For the only time in my life, perhaps, I sat four feet away from someone I greatly admire. And I have a picture-perfect image of her beautiful face, and those tempting little ta-tas. And I now know that journalist round tables suck big ass.