“Hades ain’t for ladies.”
–Susan Wheeler

The high point of Simon and Schuster’s massive publicity campaign
for Jacqueline Susann’s second “torrid roman à clef potboiler,”
The Love Machine, was a party given for 500 booksellers at the
1969 ABA convention is Washington, D.C. Jackie commanded
star treatment, unusual for an author at that time.  She always
traveled in a stretch limo, not a sedan or normal-size limo; her
driver had to be dressed in a black suit and chauffeur’s cap;
and she expected the presidential suite in any hotel the publisher
sent her to.  Editor Michael Korda concurs with Capote: “She
did look a bit like a truck driver in drag … She was tall, broad
shouldered, large bosomed, with the deep, husky voice of a
longshoreman, and she wore stage makeup that looked as if
it had been put on with a trowel and then baked.  Her face was
an improbable dark tan, her lips a glossy bloodred, and her spiked
eyelashes, striking on TV, were truly alarming up close. Her eyes
were dark, bright, and very, very shrewd and tough.”   And:
“Jackie — a chain-smoker — exhaled out of both nostrils like a
dragon.”  The ankh, the ancient Egyptian symbol of eternal life,
which played a role in the plot of The Love Machine and which
appeared on the cover of the book, became a vital part of the
novel’s promotion. S&S spent thousands of dollars on gift ankhs
(pendants on gold chains, rings, tie clasps, and cuff links) that
were to be given to booksellers at the ABA party.  There were
to be cakes in the shape of the book, with the cover reproduced
in icing.  There was to be a “Love Machine Cocktail,” specially
invented for the occasion by the bartender of Danny’s Hideaway,
a New York show-business bar and steak house, which Jackie
and Irving frequented.  The cocktail consisted of crème de cacao,
vodka, Pernod, and papaya juice.  “It was dreadful,” recalls one
guest.  “It was liquid laxative.”  During the planning of the party,
Jackie insisted that “no cripples were to be invited.”  When the
S&S publicity director asked her to explain, she said “the sight
of them depressed people and was therefore counterproductive
to good promotion.”  Then she reiterated: “No cripples.”  Dinner
was served at candlelit tables in the ballroom of the Shoreham
Hotel.  Each table had one empty chair, so that Jackie could move
from table to table and sign copies of her book.  As booksellers
filed past Jackie and Irving, receiving line-style, each was handed
a potent ‘Love Machine Cocktail.” Soon, the publication party
escalated into a drunken brawl.  The noise level grew out of
control; inebriated booksellers refused to be seated for dinner.
The menu included flambé dishes, which Jackie had chosen for
their drama.  Korda: “Great bursts of flame lit up the room, with
the occasional smell of singed hair, illuminating, as in hell, Jackie,
as she made her way from table to table.  Booksellers were making
paper airplanes out of the promotional material and sending them
flying through the room.  Amoretti di Sarono, the small, round
Italian biscuits wrapped in tissue-thin paper … had been placed
on each table, and people were setting fire to the wrappers to watch
them float slowly in flames to the ceiling.  Jackie could be seen
smiling fiercely, while attempting to shield her wig from flames.”

Phoebe 2002: An Essay in Verse – Turtle Point Press – ISBN 9 781885 586896