Based on the title of this post and my last book--Blow Jobs: A Guide to Making it in Show Business, or Not!"--one might assume that the Counter Culture Diva (aka Divine's Illegitimate Love Child) is giving up naughty behavior as she enters another decade. But au contraire.
Before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram became the norm, my friends used to enjoy my yearly Christmas letters back in the day. So the benefits of living long enough to have reached this brave new social media hook-up world are many and I have no excuse not to send a few reflective words about the past year--and all life--has given me: especially now, that I am celebrating my BIG 7-0. What better way than to write a not so subtle birthday gift wish list as I trade in the dirty digits 69 for the sexy 70s.
When I look back at my unconventional life choices, I don't have many regrets, but, like Frank Sinatra (a Jersey kid like me) in My Way, I do have a few: The miracle of my life is that I still have enough brain cells to remember more than enough to have filled two memoirs. I came of age in the 60s, amid acid, pot, and psychedelic drugs. and I put most of those gritty tales in My Life a Four Letter Word: Confessions of a Counter Culture Diva,1)
One of my few regrets is that I never had a bridal or baby shower, mainly because I never got to register at fancy stores for cool gifts. In my 20s, I never had a traditional wedding. Well, except for that brief lapse in mental clarity when I married a hot gay boy in a hippie wedding on Venice Beach. The ceremony was performed by an actual minister and came complete with a certificate from the Universal Church of Life. Our witnesses? Dancers from the topless/nude bars where my husband Eric and I worked. Our marriage only lasted a month. The minister went on to perform only one other ceremony. Rumor has it he ran off with the bride even before the newlyweds' reception was over. All the gory details of my queer marriage can be found in the "Rock and Roll A-Go-Go" chapter in my first memoir My Life, a Four Letter Word: Confessions of a Counter Culture Diva. (Not-So-Subtle Hint: Buying my books would be a lovely gift for both you and me to help celebrate my Sassy 70th.)
2) What I don't regret--besides never having a gift registry--is the fact that I didn't have to stay married to an asshole or live through a messy divorce. But what I do regret is that unlike many of my friends, I didn't get a big, fat divorce settlement or a home worth millions. Unfortunately, as a single Mom, I never could get it together enough to buy a house. I'm still in the same beach-view, rent-controlled apartment for the past 35 years. Don't get me wrong, I love my fab, funky apartment--did I mention it was rent-controlled and near the beach?--and I hope it outlives me. But if I ever have to scoot, I've put my name on four different governments-subsidized senior citizen housing waiting lists. Like, in the event that the termite-eaten, shoddy foundation of my humble abode collapses in the next big LA shaker or my slum landlord croaks before I do and his heirs sell to the highest bidding developer. Like a Girl Scout, The Counter Culture Diva must always be prepared!
3) In hindsight, I know my daughter might have required less therapy if I'd been wiser and choose a better baby daddy. But without the support of a husband or family in her formative years, I'm most grateful for my extended queer show biz family and the US government providing me with AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). And even without a baby shower gift registry, my daughter, hands down, is the greatest gift I've ever been given.
4) Perhaps my only regret after all these years is that my kitchen is still in need of high-quality cookware and some super-sharp chefs' knives. If I got married today, I'd also ask for one of those fancy coffeemakers and a robot vacuum from Bed Bath and Beyond. I love the idea of cleaning my house while sitting on my ass drinking homemade foamy lattes just like Sofia Vergara does in the TV commercial for the Ninja Coffee Bar.
5) Oh, and another regret is that I still haven't earned my pension from the Screen Actors Guild. But they say Capricorns are late bloomers, and for the first time in years, I booked not one but two national commercials. (My friend George always told me that one day I'd be like the 'Where's the Beef Lady.' With both gigs come the promise of earning enough to get additional health benefits beyond Medicare. This is a very good thing because I'm due for my next colonoscopy in 2016. I'm so delighted I won't need to depend on a pro-bono colonoscopy like the one I got for my 60th birthday. It was a gift so unforgettable that I just had to write about it and it will be a chapter titled "I'm Taking the Hershey Highway to God" in the third book coming in the "Counter Culture Diva Trilogy," titled, A Lazy Gal's Guide to Enlightenment, by me, Her Holiness, The Dalhi Diva. Hey, if J.K. Rowling can do it with Harry Potter, so can I.
Approaching my 70th circle around the sun, dreaming big, my wish list this year is:
1) A $100,000 dollar life insurance policy to leave to my daughter;
2) A new Honda CR-V (mine is falling apart!); and
3) A 4.5 million dollar home overlooking the Pacific Coast with an Olympic lap pool and pyramid-shaped Jacuzzi on my deck, just a step outside of my grand, ocean-view bedroom's sliding glass doors.
Hey, I know I'm asking for a lot, but the only retirement plan I have is Super Lotto.
This brings me back to reality and my regrets about not having job security and a retirement fund. It's because I could never hold down long-term employment due to my desire to remain a Performance Diva.
I'm still waiting for a movie deal for my script Bitch Slapped, based on my first memoir, My Life... So, if anyone has contacts to Lady Gaga, please let me know. Keep in mind this is a time-sensitive project since even Gaga is almost getting too old to play me on the low end of the age range (18 to 40) the role requires in the movie.
I wonder, is my vision too grand? Am I being too greedy even for a Counter Culture Diva? Is it wrong to be dreaming this large when most of the world is struggling with famine, floods, and terrorism? But even with the world on the brink of disaster, I recall the wise words of shamed minister Reverend Ike, the prosperity guru of the 70s, who once said, "The best thing you can do for the poor is not to be one of them."
I love the idea of being philanthropically rich. Just think of all the good I could do joining Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Bono, and all the other great givers. In the event that I can't save the planet from destruction, at least I can enjoy my final days avoiding the terrorists by staying out of malls, in the safety of my own lavish home, doing laps in my luxurious Olympic pool with my new cosmetically enhanced fit body. I won't even notice that the oceans are rising and my hilltop house is sliding into the Pacific.
So, if you're considering getting me a gift for my BIG 7-0 and can't afford any of the big ticket items on my list, also know that I love Lotto tickets. A Diva can dream--and dream big--can't she?
True, I don't have a 401K but I did get to perform with the legendary drag queens, The Cockettes and live with Divine. (And talk about it in the film I Am Divine.) You can't put a price tag on that!
Looking back, no matter how many zeros are at the end of my savings account, no matter what my address is, what I own, the jobs on my resume, the awards that are--or aren't--on my mantel, the trips I've taken, the car I drive, and the face and body I present to the world, my family, friends and teachers are my most precious gifts. I remain forever grateful for each and every one of them.
May we all live long and prosper.