Carrie Fisher does Hollywood
Book Soup, a winding little bookstore on the Sunset Strip, brewed with excitement and a large crowd, clamoring and giggling in hopes of getting close to Carrie Fisher, who showed up Tuesday night to sign her memoir, "Wishful Drinking."
Outside, 50 or more hopefuls lined up down Sunset Boulevard, holding "Star Wars" memorabilia and her books, waiting to get inside to see the fabled actress-turned-writer. Celebrity fascination was in full force, as another attendee standing nearby told me she has been there for more than three hours, just waiting with her silver camera.
The overstuffed bookstore left little seating room, so we all squished in, elbow to elbow, sitting on boxes, standing against black shelves. We made a human aisle, and just after 7:00 pm, Fisher walked down it. People clapped and snapped photos, and she smiled, knowing that they would.
Swathed in a long black dress; glittery, dark eyeshadow; a multicolored scarf, and carrying a Coke Zero in her hand, she reached the podium and flirted with us: "So, do you have questions for me?"
Cameras lights flashed in her face, and people shouted out questions: Are you going to film "Wishful Drinking"? Did you like doing "30 Rock"? What did you think of the election? Tell us stuff!
This was less of a book signing and more of a gossip circle with the coolest girl in school -- the girl who was nice to the sci-fi geeks. We were less than 3 feet from Hollywood royalty, and Fisher was enjoying the intimacy, answering every question. In fact, she told us more than we want to know.
"I'm cool with embarrassing myself," she said. "Before you can draw a conclusion about me, I grab the pen."
Without much prompting, she went right into electroshock therapy, explaining what she remembered about it.
"I want them to give you a menu for the things you want to forget. Adolescence? Take that away. Divorces? Get that off of there."
The crowd shouted out more questions, as if they knew her. As if she were a friend.
Fisher says wise things to them, with a husky voice: "Heartbreak is life's way of teaching you things. ... That was in a movie, I didn't make that up."
About her own entertainment, her book, herself, she told us: "You can sleep with someone else, and have the cigarette with me."
She was bawdy at times, and in moments she was sweet. Sometimes the sweetness and the bawdiness were mixed.
"I just said hi to Ron Jeremy. He stopped in to say hello. I, of course, know him," she rattled off.
She made a joke of everything. Body, mind, soul. Nothing is off-limits. And the crowd was laughing with her. Her advice in life? Have electroshock therapy, have a priest for a friend, and hang out with porn stars. She covered it all -- the religious, the nasty, the insane.
She didn't sign a thing, and no one cared (too much).
With sadness in her face, she said softly, "And now, they want me to leave." The whole group groaned.
"Thank you," she smiled, and then she curtsied. In one last attempt to be near her, the crowd lunged forward toward the podium, quickly lauding her with tokens of affection: Christmas cookies, little handwritten notes, gifts.
And I thought: This is a Hollywood town. She is a princess. And they love her.
Photo: Damon Winter / Los Angeles Times