“Being a woman is hard,” says Miss Piggy. “Being a woman and a superstar is even harder. Being a woman, a superstar and a pig… I don’t even want to go into it.” Miss Piggy, of course, is the glamorous blonde who stars in The Muppet Show. Trembling and in awe, Lesley Salisbury, right, visits her on the set in Hollywood where the legendary amoureuse is making her first feature film
When they built Hollywood, they built it for Miss Piggy. The star on her dressing room door is the biggest I’ve ever seen. And the tantrum coming from inside is certainly the loudest I’ve ever heard.
A familiar high-pitched voice is screaming: “This is my best angle, my best, my best!” There’s a hubbub of soothing voices and then: “I’m right, I’m right!”
Not the best time to interview the daunting doyenne of stage and TV screen about her Hollywood debut.
But, as I’ve already waited at the studio for two hours, I take a deep breath and knock.
Immediately the shouting stops. A harassed maid opens the door. Behind her, Miss Piggy is lying on a velvet chaise longue, her retinue of make-up girls, hairdressers, wardrobe ladies, chauffeur, secretary and valet around as her delicate little pink trotters are being manicured.
“Who the hell . . .?” she starts crossly, then her secretary whispers my name. “Oh, a cover article,” she simpers. Her eyelashes flutter. She waves limply towards me, but barely glances up. “Lesleee, dear, how lovely to see you. What a divine outfit. I’ll be with you in a teensey minute.
“I’ve been filming with dear Roberto Hope and the sweet man was so overcome he wouldn’t let me leave. My time is so short. It’s one of the penalties of being a superstar — I’m sure you’ll understand, dear.”
Two hours later I’m not so understanding. Miss Piggy is still in her gold-plated bathroom — the bath is shaped like an oyster, the shell opens up at the touch of a button — with her hairdressers and make-up girls.
Suddenly the door opens with a flourish and there she is, a picture of porcine beauty in a cloud of mauve sequins, feathers and tulle, jewelled turban and white fur stole. She looks every inch the star she says she is.
“Oh, Miss Piggy, how beautiful you look,” I gush.
“Yes, I know,” says Miss Piggy airily, tossing back her blonde curls. “I am the epitome of glamour and I always like to look my best. I am a star and I must live like a star. If only my fans around the world could see me in person… my inner beauty, my true self… ”
Then she tears herself away from her mirror and says to me, “O.K., cut the cackle. Waddyer want to know? You’ve got 20 minutes.” What I really want to know is about her rumoured face lift, about the “rest cure” that added inches to her voluptuous figure, the truth about her romance with Kermit the Frog, the rumours about her torrid relationship with The Incredible Hulk.
But she fixes me with those steely baby-blue eyes and instead I end up lamely asking: “Well, how are you enjoying your stay in Hollywood?”
Miss Piggy, wrapping her stole around her, sets the tone for the whole interview. “I think the question is, Lesleee, how is Hollywood enjoying moi? They’re so lucky I could fit them in my schedule.
“Of course, the film certainly hasn’t tested my true talents. It’s a cute, sweet little movie, but it’s not the Miss Piggy story that I’m certain everyone would like to see. That’s probably going to be my next movie.
“Oh, I’ve had tons of offers since I’ve been here, but I just haven’t had time to read those silly little scripts. I’m just a little woman… sometimes it’s all too much for me.”
She sighs and flutters her eyelashes. We’re interrupted by servants bringing in lunch. Miss Piggy lifts a dish and screams at the unit publicist.
“Regina! How many times do I have to tell you ham salad is definitely out, out, out!”
All sweetness and light again, she confides to me. “Lesleee, dear, Burt and Cary are desperate to co-star with me. But all I think about is my frog. He’s here with me in Hollywood. We go out jaunting quite a bit — parties, premieres, things like that. And quiet evenings alone when I dismiss the servants. You dig what I mean?” She laughs coarsely.
“Could I ask you a personal question?” I wonder.
“Lay it on me,” says Miss Piggy, elegantly crossing her legs.
“Are you going to marry Kermit?” I ask.
“Oh, Lesleee, Lesleee, yes, marriage is something I certainly want, but I have my wonderful career. Kermit is always begging me to marry him. This little green thing crawling towards me saying ‘Please marry me’! It’s a sad sight. I find there’s a larger world out there wanting my talents. So I think I’ll just string the frog along for a while.”
The photographer arrives to take pictures of the two of us. Miss Piggy decides she would photograph better from my seat, so we swap places. “Jack, I want to see every single negative,” she orders the photographer. “Remember, Jack, I have picture approval.”
“Miss Piggy, have you achieved your ambition now that you’re a world-famous star in Hollywood?” I ask her.
“No, dear. I always knew I would be both successful and beautiful. I must forge on. It’s a large responsibility to be the glamour image of the decade.”
What about the competition from all the other glamorous superstars in Hollywood?
“Dear Raquel, dear Farrah,” coos Miss Piggy. “Sweet little girls, but no competition. They’re always asking me what I do for beauty, what I eat, if I exercise.”
“Could I ask you that?”
“Of course you can.”
“What do you do?”
“Get chased around by a frog,” she said. “What else?”
I take a deep breath and plunge in with my next question. “Everyone in Hollywood has a little cosmetic help — eyes lifted here, chin there. I wonder if you, er…”
Miss Piggy stops me with an icy stare. “Do you think I have?” she demands.
“Well, I can’t see any sign,” I stammer, looking at her hairline.
“I very strongly suggest that you don’t,” she thunders. “Next question.”
“How do you keep your marvellous figure?” I ask timidly.
“Some pigs have it, some pigs don’t. I’ve got it, kid,” she says, smoothing her hips. “I need hardly work at all to keep beautiful and trim. Maybe four or five hours a day at most.”
What about jogging, I ask. “Why, Lesleee?” she demands coldly. “Why would little moi need to jog? Think carefully before you answer.” Simply for enjoyment, I stutter. “No, I don’t do that for enjoyment, I do other things,” Miss Piggy says, leering vampishly. “You know what I mean, kid.”
I decide to risk another question. “In these modem times, I wonder if you and Kermit are co-habiting?” I ask innocently.
Miss Piggy flutters her lashes. “Co-whatting?” she simpers. “I’m afraid I don’t understand. I’m just a little woman. All I know is that nothing is more important than love, and that means my frog. Men come running after me. Running. Look at me… irresistible. I’ve had to get four new telephone numbers since I’ve been in this town. Men keep calling, tanned good-looking beach boys, but I’m just too busy.”
We’ve all heard stories about the Hollywood casting couch, I venture. “Oh, I’ve heard stories,” Miss Piggy says contemptuously. “But I feel a woman in today’s society does not have to be involved in that sort of thing. I am a star-studded talent. No one would dare try that with me. I do it if I feel like it. No, that’s a joke. Don’t print that, I’ll sue.”
She preens the feather in her turban, looks at her watch and smiles sweetly. “Time’s up, sweetie. Close the door on your way out.”
There’s one last question, I add hastily. “Everyone wants to know your age, your secret of looking like a teenager at your time of life.”
Her eyes freeze. “Lesleee, dear, it’s not that I’m shy about telling my age, I just feel that when one is a superstar, age doesn’t enter into it. Age is but an infinitesimal part of one’s make-up. The irridescence of being what I am is all that’s really important.”
That’s a lovely reply, I tell her, gritting my teeth. “Yes, wasn’t it? Thank you, dear, goodbyeee.”
As I close the door I hear her shriek at her publicity man: “What sort of question was that? Why didn’t you tell her I never discuss my age? Never, never! Why didn’t you stop her asking about face-lifts? If that happens again, you’re fired!”
The mumbled, soothing, sounds start up again …