Actress Pam Grier Has a New Memoir, and Is On the Book Tour Trail
The drumbeat has all but started. Her memoir gets its official send-off next Wednesday. Pam Grier, the Seventies’ B-film queen, recently submitted to a mini-interview in connection with the L.A. Times Festival of Books. This is how it all starts, the blurbs, the special appearances, the recreation and repeating of anecdotes:
The classic blacksploitation pics Coffy and Foxy Brown made Pam Grier a star, and Quentin Tarantino made sure people didn’t forget her talents with the 1997 picture Jackie Brown. Now Grier has penned her first memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, and she’ll be talking about it Sunday at 2 p.m. at the L.A. Times Festival of Books.
Jacket Copy: You’ve had legions of fans since Coffy came out more than 30 years ago. What do you think they’ll find in your upcoming memoir Foxy: My Life in Three Acts that they don’t already know about you?
Pam Grier: In 1976 to save the life of Richard Pryor’s miniature horse, I pulled her into the back seat of my yellow Jag XJ6L and Richard Pryor, in a bathrobe, and me in tennis clothing, drove down 405 to the vet with many cars following. Richard said that I made him laugh.
JC: What are you currently reading?
PG: The World is Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman, Giving the Love That Heals by Harville Hendricks, The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria and Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum.
Well, two out of four ain’t bad. And I can well imagine what that drive was like on the 405. It must have been hilarious. If you are in the Los Angeles area or thereabouts, please do go and see Grier this coming Sunday. This book is chock full of stuff that will make you laugh if some of it wasn’t so sad, shameless and horrible. But the former Air Force brat survived and stepped on with her self-respect intact, and practically walked into the roles that made her famous.
“I rode horses and motorcycles and jumped off buildings into nets,” she writes. “If you needed a woman of color to handle a gun, do a wheelie on a chopper, or fall off a cliff into a rice paddie, I was the one to call.”
[Roger] Corman’s The Arena, filmed in Rome, called for Grier to ride a wild black stallion named Donatello. The horse was especially feisty, and Grier knew from experience that he needed to be trotted around the set in order to burn off excess energy.
One clueless crew member, clearly devoid of this knowledge, “popped him on the flank with a towel,” causing the horse to take off with Grier on his back, “like he’d had a kick from Satan himself.”
Grier feared for her life as Donatello galloped onto a neighboring film set, right toward — and then through — a backdrop painted like an ocean liner. The director of that film looked on in amazement, as “he watched a nearly naked black woman with an Afro, wrapped in leopard skin, riding a black stallion. Then he said, ‘Oh, Il mio Dio. My fantasy has come true!’
That director was Federico Fellini. He almost had her settling in Italy with him, and becoming his new leading lady. Gotta watch those Italian (and Italian American) men with black women…
If Richard Pryor was for starters, she was also linked briefly with John Lennon (during his “Lost Weekend,” in L.A. with all of people, Phil Spector), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (when he was Lew Alcindor and getting very deep into Sunni Islam), and TV idol (and coke fiend) Freddie Prinze during the Seventies and Eighties. Invited whenever and wherever in the Los Angeles party scene, Sammy Davis Jr. once tried to pull her in for a quickie, and she eventually took refuge with Liz Taylor and Liza Minnelli. She ended up being hidden under fur coats in the back seat of a car just to get away from him.
But that was eons ago. What about now?
How does she stay “so sexy?”
She seems honestly flattered. “I think it’s just my hormones, my libido,” says Grier, bursting into hearty, earthy, girly laughter. “When you see men being sexy, that’s sexy, how they behave.
“I still feel very womanly,” she adds. “I think women should be beautiful.” It’s her opinion women ought to “love their age and their skin” and not be afraid to experiment with different looks. Most of all, they should never be without their sexiest accessory: Confidence.
“I think confidence is what makes a woman sexy,” says Grier.
Never married with no children, Grier now lives about a thousand miles away from Hollywood. She prefers it that way, plus her relatives also live in the Denver, CO area. She’s not averse to falling in love again, even marrying. But she’s not forgotten, not by a long shot, by Hollywood. She remains a living legend, but this legend now wants to get into screenwriting and directing.
In fact, she begins filming later this month for a romantic comedy. “It’s up to actors to maximize their chances of getting a role, whether it’s gaining weight or losing weight,” explains Grier, who turns 61 in May.
She admits she has gained a pound or two over the years, something with which she is at peace.
Then again, after beating cancer into remission a few years back, it must seem like such small stuff.
“I’m proud that I get up every morning,” she says in a recent telephone interview from her residence, when asked to name which of her accomplishments she was the proudest.
I know that’s right.
This is a partial list of where Pam Grier will be doing stops on her book tour. Check with your nearby chain stores or independents:
NEW YORK CITY
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Barnes & Noble
97 Warren Street
New York, NY 10007
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Hue Man Bookstore
2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY 10027
Thursday, May 6, 2010
African American Art Museum of Philadelphia
701 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Friday, May 7, 2010
Harvey B. Gannt Center
551 S. Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Real Eyes Bookstore
3306-B N. Davidson Street
Charlotte, NC 28205
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Barnes & Noble
189 Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Friday, May 14, 2010
Eso Won Books
4331 Degnan Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Tattered Cover Bookstore
1628 16th Street
Denver, CO 80202
Be there or be square.