Yes, she’s one of TV’s top sinners; after all, she covers a multitude of them every week. Who can equal her gift for evil? She’s wicked, depraved, degenerate and not very nice, either. Joan Collins, in short, is simply in her own class, deserving some kind of lifetime-achievement award.
She may get it yet. With her fourth husband, Peter Holm, 38, Lady Dynasty spent a good chunk of last year in Paris and Venice committing nothing but Sins—this week’s seven-hour CBS steam bath of a miniseries—to television. Yet Collins would have us believe that, in private life, she is a woman of deeply felt moral standards. Who would have thought it? Consider the evidence, as supplied by Collins herself after ruminating over PEOPLE’S questionnaire on sin:
•Among the worst sins on PEOPLE’S list, rape, says Collins, is “ghastly and unforgivable,” and child abuse is unquestionably “sick and shocking.” Adultery? “It’s destructive,” she says. “I have never done it.” Sure, Joan.
•Homosexuality is fine “within reason, like if two hairdressers live together, that’s okay.”
•Mercy killings of the terminally ill are justifiable when the patients are “vegetables.”
•Premarital sex is “perfectly normal,” and what once was called living in sin isn’t really a sin. “I’d not want my children—Tara, 22, Sacha, 20, and Katy, 13—to marry unless they lived with the person for at least a year first.”
•Divorce is “far better than an unhappy marriage. It’s just one of those things.” (Actually, divorce has been three of those things for Joan.)
•Pornography is acceptable “for barren sex lives.”
•Sexual harassment is a sin, but it is to be “expected of men. I’ve lost roles because I wouldn’t go along.”
•Tax cheating isn’t exactly a sin: “It’s just wrong.” As for bank errors in her favor, Joan would report them.
•Parking her ’84 gold Rolls in a space reserved for the handicapped makes Collins feel guilty.
•False or exaggerated advertising is not a sin or such a bad thing. “That’s done all the time,” she says. “Just look at the way they plug films these days.” Or miniseries. As for self-promotion, what’s so sinful about that? “I sold myself short before,” she says, “and I was exploited. I have a better sense of my worth now. I should get what I deserve.”
What Collins has gotten, whether she deserves it or not, is a windfall reaped from the wages of sin—TV sin, that is. She earns about $50,000 an episode, plus sizable profits from spin-offs in jewelry, perfume and eyeglasses, and boasts a Joan of Shark persona that is instantly bankable. When she and husband Holm, acting as executive producers, presented their idea for Sins to CBS, the network needed only 36 hours to give the green light for the $14 million sex opera.
In Paris, Collins and her entourage holed up for three months at the Ritz, taking a half-floor for suites, gym and offices. As executive producer as well as star, Collins found “teeny-weeny bit parts” for husband Holm, assistant Judy Bryer and daughter Katy. “I didn’t get involved with all the money things, though,” says Joan. “You know, the financing, the contracts, the boring bits. Peter handled all that. I handled the creative aspects”—like 84 different costumes.
She also handled all the iniquity that the Sins script required. The convoluted plot traces the rise of Frenchwoman Helene Junot in fashion publishing and her revenge against the Nazis who raped her as a teenager and murdered her pregnant mother. The young Junot is played by Catherine Mary Stewart, of Hollywood Wives fame. “I take over at 29, a brave move,” says a sardonic Joan, who is 52. Age hasn’t withered her infinite variety, or even slowed her down. Her Junot averages nearly one paramour per series hour.
How long can Collins keep parlaying her glamorous brand of moral turpitude? It is perfectly possible that 20 years hence, we will be watching an elegantly preserved Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter corrupting young men one-third her age before, during and after every commercial. If she can bring that off, who would cast the first stone? Go, Joan, and sin some more.