Paint-Splattered Brad Pitt and Uncensored Zsa Zsa: My Best Celebrity Interviews Ever — Book One

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Paint-Splattered Brad Pitt and Uncensored Zsa Zsa My Best Celebrity Interviews EverCelebrity interviews are fun

Celebrities are fun to talk to, but some of them are better than others, delivering zippy copy in a way that shows an insidery knowledge as to how to play the interview game. Through the years, I’ve grilled hundreds of celebs — for publications like Entertainment Weekly, Spin, and The Village Voice though some rise above the rest in terms of delivering quotable gems that resonate way beyond fortune cookie status.

In 1985, James Woods was a rivetingly angry young man who was mad as hell and not going to keep it from interviewers anymore. Without any provocation, Woods mouthed off to me about “all these fucking movie mogul bozos talking about how Donna Summer would be great for Lady Macbeth. You mention ‘Swann’s Way’ to these people, and they think it’s a street in Brentwood.” I loved Woods’s bitter candor, but the next time I spoke to him, he was noticeably calmer, obviously having been coached on his attitude.

The same year, I interviewed a more seasoned star, Liberace, in his Trump Tower co-op and described him as Grandpa Munster crossed with Lorelei Lee. But it turned out the flashy pianist had his own angst to share. As he showed me around his blindingly opulent digs, “Lee” looked forlorn and whimpered, “There are two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. I’ll have to move into something bigger.” He was serious!

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But he lightened up considerably, and in the midst of our talk, he started to get downright naughty. Lee giddily told me he knew a drag queen who had “a schlong down to her knees,” which turned out to be a big surprise to one of her dates. “She must have felt rejected,” I said, full of empathy. “I don’t think she was rejected,” the 65-year-old performer replied, laughing hysterically.

Speaking of large appendages, I had a very loosey-goosey phoner with Sandra Bernhard four years later, during which the comic told me she wanted to hit her girlfriend over the head with a 20-foot dildo. The next time I talked to her, Sandra was hanging around with Madonna instead.

Another casually funny personality is Brad Pitt, whose charm I discovered in 1992, just as he was about to explode as a Hollywood superstar. “I hear you’re the king of New York,” he said, when I entered his hotel suite. (He’d obviously been coached by a publicist). “More like the queen of New York,” I corrected, and he laughed loudly, proving he’s cool — or at least very polite. Brad’s jeans were covered with different colored stains, and at one point, he gamely pointed to one of them and said, “Looks kind of like butt, doesn’t it? But it’s not.” I took his word. We moved on to more fragrant topics, like Brad’s career. About the movie “Kalifornia,” Brad admitted, “I think the spelling is temporary. Sounds like a bad Prince song.” As for the flop “Cool World”: “I want to see it. I want to see what went wrong, not like it’s a big surprise. I mean I had my fears.” Then he added, “Wait, I don’t want to get into this.” But then he did so anyway by explaining the studio politics that sank the film.

The guy was so scrumptious that I kept nervously spilling coffee all through the interview, and in response, he’d run to the bathroom to get a towel in an extremely gentlemanly manner. But finally, I’d spilled the stuff one too many times. “There are no mistakes,” said Brad, sagely.

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The next year, I talked to the far-less complicated celebrity Anna Nicole Smith, who said she was going to miss “Cheers” (“That was a good movie!”) and answered “Are you a feminist?” with “I don‘t understand that question.” But even if she wasn’t exactly book smart, the woman radiated charisma and truly lit up the room with her bosomy presence. She was Lorelei Lee minus the Grandpa Munster part.

The original Anna Nicole, Zsa Zsa Gabor, gave me an earful in ’93, when she was promoting the animated turkey “Happily Ever After,” in which she did the voice of a heavily accented dwarf. Zsa Zsa told me about the film’s cast like a malapropist, “We have Daphne Coleman; a beautiful girl called Erica something, who was a centerfold; and what was the name of the old man? Buddy Ebsen is a guest star. The director was — what was her name? Daphne … Penelope Spheeris.” I had never had to do more fact-checking than I did for this interview.

But wacky Zsa Zsa didn’t hold back on her emotions. I merely had to mention a name and she really started cooking with gas. Jay Leno? “I hate him. Son of a bitch. I could sue him, but his producer’s one of my best friends.” Leona Helmsley? “She looks like a bitch and a half. And don’t think Mrs. Trump is an angel either.” John Huston? “He sat there like a dried-out monkey — he was drunk — but he was still the best director in the world.” As for her ex-husband George Sanders’ suicide in 1972: “I was actually very upset for six months. I adored George, even though he always cheated on me, the son of a bitch.”

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Also wonderfully blunt, Madonna’s ex, Tony Ward, was a lot of fun when I talked to him about the 1996 cult film “Hustler White,” in which he played the title role. The model/actor freely told me about his own hustling days: “These little old guys would blow me and give me some money and I put my first modeling portfolio together that way. I thought that was what you did. I was a pretty naïve kid. They were generally great men — very cool people — but manipulative. I was getting $50 and $70 sometimes. I was doing better than some of those boys on Santa Monica Boulevard.” Charmed, I’m sure.

Bob Saget’s frank talk was more shocking to me when I interviewed the “Full House” star at an event for the 2005 doc “The Aristocrats.” I’d wrongly assumed Saget was basically a Middle-America-style comic who delivered safe messages. Still, I dared to ask him my raunchy question of the night: “What’s preferable — fisting or felching?” Flinching was apparently not even on the menu because Saget didn’t do so, as he answered, “If you’re able to do both … if you can reach into a man’s ass and take out the felch material, then you’re like a monkey in a zoo that throws things at people. It’s all wrong!” That seemed kind of wise — and extremely funny. Thank you, celebrities. And thanks also to Daphne.

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