LA Girl: Catherine James

Having Catherine James as one of my LA Girls was such an honor, because her book is more than a memoir – it really should be filed in the “inspirational/self-help” section, although you usually don’t find books there filled with humor, Mick Jagger, mescaline, and transsexual Dads.

Kate5Catherine at 15 in New York

Catherine has all of those qualities that make you think “charmed life:” beauty, blonde, brains, wit, sophistication.  But don’t be fooled or you’ll miss out on the metamorphosis that is Catherine James. Read Dandelion: Memoir of a Free Spirit and see what I mean. Filled with humor, courage and joy, Catherine will have you laughing, gasping, and crying. (You can read the first page here.)

Every time we talk it ends up being about our childhoods, travels, families, or just life – and we never seem to get around to beauty! So I finally managed to ask her a few questions after reminiscing about fun times using Max Factor’s Pan-Stik and other discontinued beauty secrets of the past.


Is there any beauty product you swear by? I’ve been using Erno Laszlo water-based Shake-It since I was 20. That’s it! I always make sure to wash my face before I go to sleep.

Diet: I’ve always been able to eat pretty much what I like.

Hair: I’ve been going to Terese at C The Salon on Laurel Canyon for a long time. I have very heavy straight hair but still no grey! I only highlight the front blonde, and the rest is auburn. I use Rene Furterer shampoo and conditioner.  I do an apple cider vinegar rinse for a great shine.

Health: I don’t really have much of a health regime. I try and eat healthy. The only vitamin I take is Twinlabs A&D and a  baby aspirin every day.  I’ve been doing that since I was in my teens.  Most of my products are baby oriented – lotion, aspirin, powder.  I like chocolate martinis and I believe in doing what makes you happy.

Perfume: I’ve been using Tiffany (which I buy from the fabulous Tiffany store) for about 20 years. I’ve had several compliments on it.

Life: I’ve had the most wonderful adventures and an interesting life  and I do owe it all to my parents because I had no rules or guidelines! They showed me how bad it could be and I knew that if I got away from them it would be a breeze. I can leave anytime I want! That’s the best lesson I learned in life. If you don’t like where you are, leave and go somewhere else. There’s nothing stopping you.

On Motherhood and More: I had my child when I was a teenager and he continues to be the joy of my life. It wasn’t always easy to bring up a child my own. I raised him on a lake in Connecticut. We had great adventures and still do and I wouldn’t change a moment.

Words of Wisdom:  No matter which road we choose, we all end up in the exact same place. I don’t believe in the word “can’t,” and always look for the endless possibilities. I believe that knowing what you want is 99% of achieving it.

Animals: I’ve always owned dogs – I have two right now. I love anything that breathes. I even save the bees out of my pool!  I can’t stand cruelty to any living thing.  (I will spare you our discussion of what TV shows we leave on for our dogs!)

On personal style: I’ve always been a big fan of leopard print, red tartan, and velvet. My outfits always include one or all of these elements.   When I’m an old lady, I want to have hair grown to my butt and wear a lot of rouge on my cheeks and bright lipstick!

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Catherine chatting with Miss Pamela for VH1’s “Let’s Spend the Night Together”

Please join Catherine along with Pamela Des Barres and Miss Mercy at La Luz de Jesus this coming Thursday for a Groupie Night, featuring book readings, signing, and Q&A.

Catherine will be authoring a new column for us here at the LA Beat called “Ask Miss James,” where she’ll be answering your love and relationship questions. Stay tuned!

Donna Lethal

About Donna Lethal

Donna Lethal is the author of "Milk of Amnesia" and writes for her own blog (Lethal Dose), Hair Hall of Fame, Dowager Quarterly, Find A Death, & the Valhalla Cemetery chapter in "Weird Hollywood." A native of Lowell, Mass., she's lived in Boston, NY and London before settling here. When not writing, she's hiking, soaking in a Korean salt room or in the high desert with her pit bull.
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