"I'm a pretty outspoken princess, right?" recalled Carrie Fisher at her The New York Times' panel yesterday. "But you take off my clothes, you slam a metal bikini on me, and suddenly I don't know what to say. I'm mute."
In an onstage interview with The Times' David Carr for Arts & Leisure Weekend, Fisher was brassy, brilliant, and apparently enjoying herself. She slipped off her glittery sandals, tucked her legs under her ("I have triple jointed hips," she told an admiring Carr) and breezily answered questions about her history of addiction and diagnosis of bipolar disorder, her failed relationships, her parents, and her "big balls." (She was promoting her one-woman show on Broadway, the memoir-driven show, Wishful Drinking, and the book it's based on. Her pitch for it includes the line, "Come on down and judge me.") Some choice moments:
An audience member asked if she had "hate for the business," and Fisher responded by talking about Hollywood's weight obsession.
"Everyone looks so good, and now this is my medication overweight. I barely eat anything and I wind up looking like I've been combing the city for donuts. It's not good to be at this weight in that place… I don't like that part of it, and I don't like to think, maybe I should have my breasts reduced, but that would be nice. I live in the world of plastic surgery and I don't like having to think, 'Oh my neck, I hate this.' And I don't like seeing myself really big on screen. I didn't like it when I was pretty, so imagine how I feel now."
Carr told her he thought she looked great. He also asked her whether she thought things were changing for older actresses in Hollywood, using Meryl Streep as an example. Fisher replied,
She's an exception. I think things have changed a little bit-the half life of an actress is a little longer now. But Meryl is a genius. I mean, I don't think there's anybody that does what she does. And also she stays out of Hollywood.
Fisher, of course, was raised in Hollywood, where her parents, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, enacted what she considers an early version of the Brangelina-Aniston triangle, with the help of Elizabeth Taylor.
I have had occasion to say to Brad, "Eddie, Debbie, Liz." It's a kind of triumvirate – the evil woman who steals away the man, and then the ooooh, poor little light-haired girl, and the vixen's over there. It's a very mythical kind of triumvirate, with my dad who was destroyed by his own sexual impulses....
My father really blew his wad by being this man that abandoned women and children. He was this Lothario. And he was more interested in pursuing pussy than his career. Yeah. It was performing, pussy, performing, pussy. Pussy. That's what he's also in bed for. He spent most of his life in bed in another way, and now he's resting.
As for Fisher's own romantic history, it includes super-agent Bryan Lourd, the father of her daughter Billie, who left her for a man:
Fisher: We did have our moments of compatibility. You can imagine, I can't really masquerade as a man. But I have a certain androgyny which allowed him to remain for awhile.
Carr:: You've got pretty big balls, for one thing.
Fisher: They're just in the wrong place. (laughter) Yeah, I do. I do have big balls. At a certain point, any man that's with a woman who's powerful in whatever way is going to end up being Mr. Fisher, and that's a blast. Unless they have — that's the one reason, it's not the only reason, but one good reason, with two celebrities the issue of celebrity, which is not completely small, is neutralized. So now you can go onto the regular problems that plague every couple.
It also includes a brief marriage to Paul Simon, whom she also dated post-divorce. Reflecting on what went wrong there, Fisher said,
I'm not as cooperative as you might want a woman to be...Every man, I think, or at least the ones I end up finding, there's no such thing as a consort. All men are kings. That was my little discovery in the process.
...I really thought men's fantasy is to have an intellectual geisha. So what I did was I learned to cook and I took a massage course. But that's not all of it. You have to also agree.