JOAN: This is February 2nd, 2008. Saturday. We are sitting in the space ship of Mary Wells, hovering over NYC. It is Liz Smith’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Liz. How old are you?
LIZ: I am only 85 years old, and I don’t believe it myself.
JONI: I am 65 years old and I wish I looked like Liz Smith.
MARY: I don’t believe in birthdays because I think your mind controls your body and if you think you’re getting old, you will. But if I have to get older, one thing I certainly am sure of is that I’d like to look like Liz Smith.
JOAN: I am 59 years old and I keep thinking I’m 60 because it seems so much more convenient.
LIZ: It isn’t though, I’m telling you. It was much more fun to be 79. I was still like I was 28. As soon as I turned 80, it changed. I had this big party given for me at Le Cirque — it was all of my good friends who spent thousands of dollars on it and they invited every important person in the world to it. When that was over I said, “Jeez, I’m 80! What am I going to do now?” I’ve never been the same since.
JOAN: What did you do? What was that 80th year like?
LIZ: I felt different after it. I was astounded because I’ve never paid any attention to my age. I’ve always felt I was 28 years old inside, and I’m clinging to that.
JONI: Have you had a lot of sex since you’ve been 80?
LIZ: What an impertinent question. No, I haven’t had a lot, Joni, because you’ve got the only guy I want. No. Actually I have had a little bit. I can’t deny it. I have had a little bit of sex…with people who don’t know how old I am. When I wrote my memoir, Natural Blonde – Joni was the instigator and agent — I had a story in it about how one night I went to the end of my driveway to wait for a car. I was going to have dinner with Barbara Walters and she was sending her car and I was standing there all made up and it was dusk. And a guy came up to me and said, “Do you know where the El Rio Grande restaurant is?” I said, “Yes, it’s right here in this building. If you go right in there, that’s it.” And he was cute — about 40, 42 years old. So he went away and in a minute he came back, saying: “Would you think I was really forward if I … would you like to come in and have a drink with me?” And I thought, “This guy can’t really see me in the dusk. He thinks I’m some blonde tart standing out here.” After all, I was all tarted up. So I thought, “what would happen if I went in there with him?” But then he perceived that I was not actually all that young. Oh, well…it was a great story, anyway. It cheered me up tremendously.
JOAN: Have you ever had the younger man thing?
JONI: Now I do. Wish I knew that before. Having a younger man is so much better. But I’m interested in the myth that sex goes away. I know there are certain things that aren’t quite the same. But most of my friends over 50 are having the best sex they ever had because they are over 50, or over 60, or over 70. Does everybody know it gets better? It may not be as juicy, forgive me. But it gets better and more real. Why don’t people talk about that?
LIZ: I think women are reluctant to appear to be bragging — or they are compensating for something they think everybody else believes in, which is that sex is always better when you are young.