Today was the day I first met Lolly Peters – international country music sensation-turned washed up alcoholic and cocaine addict. My darlings, what a fortuitous time for our paths to cross—she, the gorgeous (if somewhat haggard looking) country music star of my youth. Me…the illustrious Gigi Fontaine, the famed woman who once went 72 hours without a glass of brandy and a cigarette.
Oh, Lolly Peters, what a star. I would sit for hours listen to her records while she sang about heartbreak, spurned lovers and lost opportunities. It was like music to my ears. Each song was a true hit – from her early work with the Stubble Chin Boys (hits such as “Johnny’s Two-Bit Heart” and “Fists Full of Change And A Mouth Full Of Teeth”) right onto to the frankly quite insightful songs she penned while she was in the lockup for killing her sister with a whittling knife… “I’m stuck in jail but the only thing breaking out is my face”, “Why you gotta go and spend my alimony honey”, and my personal favourite, “My cheque book’s in the red and both my eyes are black”.
Her music was like the voice of a generation, just waiting to meet their first boyfriend so they could experience true hate and heartbreak, just like her.
So you can imagine my shock when I saw her shuffling around the corridors of the Betty Ford Centre! Time had ravaged her once youthful face, and years of ill-applied wig glue had left her with a coif that would put my balding Uncle Lavern to shame. She had deep, pouchy looking eyes and tightly pursed lips with creases that extended all the way up to join her prominent crow’s feet. Oh, I recognised her instantly!
I approached her, tentatively, not wanting to spoil the moment. As Jerry the Ice Addict stumbled past in a comedown-fuelled rage, I took my opportunity.
“Lolly? Lolly Peters is that you?” (I searched her face for some hint of self-recognition).
“Lolly, you probably don’t know me, but I am the illustrious and widely-lauded lounge singer Ms. Gigi Fontaine. She of the two-year long residency at Tony’s Lounge Hut and Tiki Bar? Well, I know you probably have so many familiar faces here in rehab, but I would simply adore it if you would join me for a quiet drink after group therapy this afternoon.”
A vacant gaze. No look of recognition in her one real eye. I reached out and touched her ring-covered hand. “Lolly Peters” I cried, “You are the one woman I always looked up to. The one woman I wanted to be”. The next part I will never forget. She directed her good eye at me and clutched at my face with the resolute grip of a witchdoctor, before coughing up a cigarette butt in my face.
Well, some women never change.