It’s The Bitches Who Get Things Done (originally published April 2013)

So here I am hiding—yes—hiding in the ladies room backstage at the Oscar de la Renta show. It’s Day Three of Fashion Week and Remy, one of my Supers, has been chosen by Mr. de la Renta to open the show. I worked for years before getting that slot while Remy has only a few seasons under her belt. Her rise to catwalk stardom has been pretty spectacular. But right now there’s only forty minutes ‘til showtime. And she’s missing in action. Remy. Is. Not. Here.

I’ve got Clarice on the phone. She a housekeeper at the hotel where I house my models and right now she’s looking at Remy face down on the bed. Can you believe it? That little trick has OD’d on me again. I’ll bet my last dollar on it. I instruct Clarice to ring Dr. Jacobson in Suite 327 and have him come to Remy’s room. The good doctor will know exactly what to do. He’ll wake her junkie ass up like Uma Thurmond in Pulp Fiction.

But now Clarice is giving me grief. She wants to call an ambulance. I’m thinking she also wants to call Entertainment Tonight, The National Enquirer, Star and People magazine, too. I have no choice but to rope her in with the promise of five bills if she can deposit Remy and Doc in the backseat of the Towncar that I’m sending there in exactly fifteen minutes. Five hundred bucks. Fifteen minutes. Now she’s cooperating. Ha! Just like I knew she would.

I’m not out of the ladies room for even ten seconds before Mr. de la Renta rolls up on me. He asks about Remy. “Where is she? The show will be starting very soon. There’s hair, there’s makeup…” yadayada. He’s a genius, of course. The master of masters. We go way back and this just isn’t the vibe I want between him and me. “Crosstown traffic is a beast,” I say. “But she’s on her way. She’ll be here any minute.” He gives me a questionable side-eye but says nothing else.

I dash outside to wait for the Towncar, slapping on my shades just before Bill Cunningham gives me a thumbs up and takes my picture. The paparazzi is thick around Lincoln Center and they surround me, screaming my name. “Winona! Here!” “Over here Winona! Over here!” Now what can I say? Old habits die hard, right? I was a model for twenty years so when I see a camera, I strike a pose.

But Remy! Good grief! Cocaine? Heroin? Who knows what she’s on from one day to the next? She may bring fat coins into WINONA, INC. but she’s got to get a grip. Or I’ll have to release her. The media vultures are having too much fun digging up my old shit and the haters are using her drug issues as proof that I’m out of my league. Now she’s got me looking raggedy in front of my fashion god? I can’t have this!

Finally the Towncar pulls up. Doc jumps out and literally hands Remy over to me. “This was a close one,” he says. “She was pretty much dead by the time I got there.” Remy’s flopping around in my arms like Raggedy Ann and girlfriends’ breath is dragon-foul but I hold her up straight and do my best to keep the enormous shades she’s wearing on tight, covering much of her flushed face. At least she’s alert and coherent. But just barely.

I manage to get her backstage. “Open up,” I say before dropping a couple of bennies into her mouth. Popping the top, I hand her a can of Red Bull to wash them down with. She takes a sip. “Girl, you better drink that shit!” I hiss at her. “Every drop!” Humble and obedient, she empties the can in one long swallow. Finally I pour out at least a dozen TicTacs and watch her cram them into her mouth. It’s all I can do before passing her off to the makeup crew with a warning. “Get yourself together. It’s showtime!”

Out front, guess who I run into? Miz Anna Wintour and Mister Andre Leon Talley. VOGUE is in the house! Smooches all around, we shout over the music sharing details about the other shows scheduled for the day and the Conde Nast party at Cipriani’s later on. Desi, my bestie, is all eyes as I try to pin Anna to the wall about shooting a feature with Clementine, my latest acquisition. We play this game all the time and Anna, like always, never says yes or no. She just smiles.

I plop into a chair next to Desi. The show starts and Remy opens, hitting the catwalk looking as fabulous as ever. Who would believe that she was clinically dead less than an hour ago? Desi asks about Anna Wintour. Is she really the bitch they all say she is? Thinking of the catastrophe I’d just avoided—and the laws I’d broken to do it, I remember what Chaka Khan once said to me. Hanging out backstage after a show, she passed the blow along with a bit of advice. “Sooner or later they’re gonna call you a bitch,” she said. “But remember, babygirl. It’s the bitches who get things done.”

THE END

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