Small World

Dear Ann-Margret . . .

Don't let the bastards get you down.

When I heard you were coming to town last week with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, I tried to wrangle my way into an audience with you, knowing you'd need my support before you hit that stage in some spangly Bob Mackie thing. I knew that Seattle would have its cold, bitter way with you, just like Jack Nicholson did in Carnal Knowledge. People couldn't wait to start getting camp on you, just because you're older and still kooky and haven't decided to turn into Bea Arthur. Does no one, you must think, understand the glory of a woman who could coast on her senior discounts but is instead still getting into motorcycle accidents? (Have your ribs healed completely, by the way?)

I understand, Ann, but it was not to be. Alternative weeklies, apparently, are of dubious merit to road show marketing, so they kept me from you. And, OK, I was not sure that the production would work out. Let Marilu Henner, I thought, do Broadway knockoffs; I'm fine if you take the easy money and cry in soft focus on Touched By an Angel. But Whorehouse is a fun little musical—in that why-are-a-bunch-of-hookers-singing-right-now? kind of way—and who wouldn't want to see you perform live?

I think the resulting coverage cried out for my voice, Ann. The P-I's Joe Adcock, without any irony, called you "a performer who has a long list of movie and casino credits." (Joe, Joe, Joe—this is like saying that Liza Minnelli "has a history with prescription drugs.") And then the Times' Misha Berson had to point out that you had "bigger hair and more eye makeup than even Elizabeth Taylor would dare," but "looked swell, in an overblown Vegas-y way." (Misha, my friend, how else would you have it?)

But I know you. You, the sultry juvenile delinquent in Kitten With a Whip, purring, "I feel shiny good!" to stodgy John Forsythe. You, the serious journalist in The Swinger, the opening credits of which showcase you belting the title song in a cat suit while bouncing on a trampoline. You in Viva Las Vegas, out-Elvising Elvis. And don't even get me started on Tommy; I've lain awake nights wondering what, if anything, director Ken Russell said before you covered yourself in baked beans and humped the bed pillows. I know that life doesn't get any better than you, Miss Ann-Margret.

So do whatever you want. Just call me next time.

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