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Fast Lines And High Times Of Joan Collins


She was ravished 10 times before lunch. Her fur-sleeved, purple velvet jacket was violently ripped open five times. Then her lips were kissed so forcefully that her bottom lip was left bitten and bruised.

The ravishing and ripping was staged for the cameras on the set of "Dynasty" (which wraps with the season's "cliffhanger" Wednesday). The lip bite was an accident.

It was just another normal day--for Joan Collins.

Later that same afternoon, she flirted with five male models who escorted her on stage during the "Merv Griffin" show, where she swapped one-liners with Merv about her favorite subjects--men and champagne.

The rest of the week was filled with other "normal" events. Among them:

She auditioned actors for a six-hour CBS miniseries, "Sins," to be filmed in Paris. (She co-produces with fiance Peter Holm and stars in this tale of revenge and a woman's desire to succeed.)

She posed and signed pictures for a trio of loyal fans who follow her everywhere. They begged for one picture and took 20. As her limo left, they cried, "We love you, Joan!"

She had an uncomfortable interview with columnist Marilyn Beck, because Beck asked questions about Collins' age and her abortion, rather than discussing "Past Imperfect," Collins' autobiography.

High in the Hollywood Hills, she posed for a McCall's magazine layout for a new line of "Dynasty" dress patterns.

Deep in the Hollywood flatlands, she posed as female outlaw Belle Starr for celebrated photographer Reid Miles. It was all for a Life magazine layout on the most scandalous women in history. (She also would be Queen Elizabeth I, Eve, Cleopatra, Catherine of Russia, Josephine Baker, Marilyn Monroe and the Duchess of Windsor.) "I like playing bad girls," she quipped.

She told a crew from "Entertainment Tonight" why she thought "Dynasty" was such a success: "People like to see opulence, beautiful clothes and rich people who are very unhappy"

Highlights of the next two weeks:

She attended the season's "Dynasty" wrap party at the Beverly Wilshire. She posed for ads for Scoundrel perfume and for her new line of eye wear. She did a cover for the English magazine Woman's Own. She attended to last-minute scheduling for an upcoming weekend trip to Europe.

In Paris, she would meet with costumers for "Sins." Then she'd be going on to England to meet Princess Di. . . .

In 1977, an astrologer told me, "You have the possibility of enormous fame and success." I said, "Oh yeah, that's this film I'm doing in England called 'The Stud."' And she said, "No, it's in America." I told her she was wrong, that I knew my career was definitely now based in Europe. She said, "When it comes, you'll know it." Well, of course, it was "Dynasty."

Supermarket tabloid perusers know the story. Three years ago, Joan Collins and "Dynasty," each in their own way, teetered on the edge of obscurity. Then Aaron Spelling cast Collins as a female J. R. Ewing on his floundering soap opera.

Collins used to make more news with her marriages and love affairs than with her undistinguished acting career. But, as scheming Alexis Carrington-Colby, she hitched a ride on a media skyrocket.

Such notoriety carries heavy penalties for error. Overexposure can kill a career--likewise underexposure. Collins is concerned about such pitfalls, but nevertheless has a goal and is risking overexposure to reach it.

"I've worked a very long time, and a lot of people have made a great deal of money from me," she explained in an interview. "I want security now. I'm not materialistic; I just don't ever want to be in the situation--or close to it--where I have to work to put bread on the table. I've been there practically all my life."

Thus, Collins' Gemini-Star Productions is immersed in the following: The "Sins" series; a bio-miniseries about opera megastar Maria Callas, who was Aristotle Onassis' mistress; the Joan Collins jewelry collection; Joan Collins eye wear; sales of the paperback edition of "Past Imperfect" (now No. 1 on the New York Times paperback best-seller list); Revlon's "Scoundrel" perfume, and marketing/publicity on the above.

Gemini-Star has rejected proposals tying its star to lingerie, fortune cookies and beer.

And then, of course, there's "Dynasty."

Everything comes back to "Dynasty," but it's secondary to me right now. Unfortunately, I can delegate errands, fan mail and housekeeping, but I cannot delegate the role of Alexis. I must read the script, think about the dialogue and work with the writers if there are changes. I have to work with the clothes, which is a big part of my character. It isn't the yellow brick road ... but it beats working in a factory.

At 7:30 one sunny morning, the Warner Hollywood Studio already was buzzing. On Stages 3 and 4, the cast and crew of "Dynasty" prepared for the 112th episode of double-dealing and triple-crossing.

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