Biographies & Memoirs

Prologue

Los Angeles, California, Oct. 30, 1999

6:17 P.M.- In 123 minutes I’m appearing onstage in my cabaret act at the Cinegrill of the fabled old Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. However, right now I’m on the Hollywood freeway in bumper-to-bumper traffic. At this pace, one inch every five minutes, I’ll just make it at eight-thirty in the year 2004.

7:12 P.M.- Turning off Highland onto Hollywood Boulevard, we’re rear-ended by a station wagon.

7:14 P.M.- I have no choice. Leaving my driver, Tom, to take care of that situation, I take off running, dragging behind me a rolling suitcase filled with my costume, makeup, and sheet music. I’m wearing a black leather cap, black high-tops, black jeans, and a bodywear top that I hadn’t exactly planned on publicly displaying in an area of town where this kind of cleavage can either get you arrested or hired. Heading west toward Mann’s Chinese Theatre, a greasy-looking wino calls out “C’mon, baby, gimme some of that!” Without breaking stride, I holler back, “Normally I would, but right now I don’t have time.”

7:16 P.M.- Reaching the north corner of the intersection of Orange and Hollywood Boulevard, I look up and freeze in fear. My name is not on the marquee. This is not good. Could it be I’m here on the wrong night? I dart through traffic and leaping safely onto the far sidewalk, quickly glance down at my star on the Walk of Fame. I notice a wad of gum on it. I try to kick it off. Now I’ve got a glob of purple goo stuck to the bottom of my shoe. I yank off the shoe and hobble into the Roosevelt lobby.

7:20 P.M.- To my enormous relief, I see a placard that says Cybill Shepherd is performing here tonight. Carrying my shoe, dragging my suitcase, I hurtle across the lobby and pound on the elevator button. The doors open almost immediately, but the elevator is full. I jam myself, my shoe, and my suitcase in anyway, gasping for breath. A woman behind me squeals, “Are you who I think you are?”

“I certainly hope so,” I answer, trying to maintain some semblance of composure.

7:25 P.M.- My assistant, Jason, anxiously paces at the door of my fourth-floor dressing room as I rush in and begin frantically unpacking my bag.

“Your hairdresser’s stuck in traffic on the freeway,” Jason says, taking in my disheveled appearance, trying hard to hide his horror. The eighteen-hour makeup that gives my face and arms a flawless resurfacing has leaked out over everything in my bag: brushes, rollers, makeup, hairspray. It’s time for prayer, “Please God, let my hairdresser get here in the next five minutes.”

7:29 P.M.- The stage manager knocks: “One hour, Cybill! Do you need anything?” I want to say yes, I need my hairdresser to be here. I need my makeup to be scraped out of the bottom of the bag, I need my sheet music to be dried out, but I can’t say any of that because my cell phone is ringing.

7:30 P.M.- It’s my older daughter, Clementine, calling from the car. She and my younger daughter, Ariel, are stuck on yet another freeway taking our beloved black pug petunia to the vet. Obviously, Clementine and Ariel are going to be late for my show. I understand. They have their priorities too.

7:35 P.M.- My twelve-year-old son, Zachariah, rushes in from the adjoining room with a look of consternation. He has forgotten until this very moment that tonight is the biggest party of the year, thrown by his best friend. “Can you please take me right now, Mom?” Before I can answer, the doorbell rings. It’s Cathy, my hairdresser. Right behind her is a woman I’ve never seen before, who grabs me by the arm and gushes: “Oh, Cybill, I can’t wait for your book to come out. My marriage is falling apart, my kids are driving me crazy, and I’m premenopausal too. I take one look around me--at my pleading son, my ringing cell phone, the accoutrements of my soon-to-be onstage self strewn all over the floor, and my only thought is But clearly I’m writing more of a How-Not-to book.

8:20 P.M.- “Mmmraahhh. Mmmmmmrraaahhhh.” I’m vocalizing. While Cathy teases my hair, I console Clementine on the cell phone about the state of Petunia’s kidneys, and the stage manager pops in with the ten-minute warning while I try to remember the lyrics to “The Lady Is a Tramp.”

8:30 P.M.- “Please, Mom, can’t you take me now,” Zach implores as I slop on some makeup and throw on my clothes.

“I love you,” I say, trying to remember the lyrics to “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show,” “but Mom has to work now and I can’t go anywhere except onstage in about thirty-eight seconds.”

8:33 P.M.- Outside the door of the Cinegrill, the stage manager hands me my microphone as I slip into my shoes. I’ve mollified Zach. He’s upstairs doing his homework. Petunia’s kidneys have resumed functioning. And Clementine and Ariel are on the way. The band jumps into the intro of “That Old Black Magic” as the announcer intones, “And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome... direct from polishing her star on Hollywood Boulevard... Cybill Shepherd.

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