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NEW YORK — In a single bound Janice Dickinson crosses the lobby of the very corporate Omni Berkshire Place hotel on 52nd Street and greets a photographer with “Where do you want me?” A couch in the lounge won’t do, she says; it clashes with her Dolce & Gabbana dress. But, apparently, the marble floor will work just fine.
She drops to the ground, sprawls on her back, gathers her famous lips into a pucker and smolders at the lens. Dickinson, who worked with everyone from Irving Penn to Avedon during her Eighties heyday and coined the term supermodel, is having a good time. Her legs snap into a series of seductive attitudes, luring a group of gaping guests, the cook from the kitchen and a maintenance man to watch.
Of course, it isn’t long before one of the hotel’s administrative types stumbles upon the scene. “Excuse me,” the mousey exec says, “but do you have permission to —”
“How dare you interrupt a supermodel at work!” Dickinson snaps with mock outrage, sending the exec back where she came from.
Moments later the director of security arrives, “All right,” he says in thick New York-ese. “What’s going on over here?”
“Ooooh,” says Dickinson mockingly. “Somebody’s from Brooklyn. Wait until you see me dangling from the chandelier.” She wins the security guard over in two seconds flat.
Dickinson is a real diva. But when she finally sits on the lounge’s once-offensive couch to talk about her autobiography, “No Lifeguard on Duty,” she gives the act a rest and becomes Janice the Survivor. For the last 46 years, she has starred in the painful and glamorous tragi-comedy otherwise known as her life, escaping a criminally abusive father, enduring the trials of the modeling industry and surviving all the drugs and danger she could handle. When she became sober two years ago, Dickinson, now living in Los Angeles and a mother of two, began to put the book together. “This is a cautionary tale about incest and Studio 54 and fashion, fashion, fashion,” she says.
Of course, the book also details Dickinson’s many romantic escapades with photographers, artists and the men whom she refers to as “Academy Award winners.” But what keeps the book from becoming too tawdry is Dickinson’s sense of humor. She applies a healthy dose to both her conquests and disaster’s alike.
This story first appeared in the August 23, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Here’s the deal-io,” says Dickinson. “Humor can pull you out of any situation. Of course, sometimes I have a problem in my 12-step meetings when someone’s starting to share and I start to hysterically laugh. That’s not very good.” But Dickinson has managed to take what life has offered and work it. The book will be translated into a feature film as well as a TV series and Dickinson is busy planning the launch of a signature fragrance and cosmetics line — although she keeps mum about the details for now.
She’s also putting together a second book. “It’s filled with the hundreds of thousands that didn’t make book one. You all know who you are,” she says, leaning in close to the tape recorder. “Damn skippy, baby. I’ve lived my life full throttle. Vroom, vroom. I’m Janice, baby. I broke the mold. Vroom, vroom. On my way to book two. It’s going to be a hoot and holler.”