Bilerico Project is partnering with Hyperion books to give away three copies of Maggie Griffin's upcoming book, Tip It! The World According to Maggie Griffin, in a couple of weeks but we had a chance to run this Q&A with her a wee bit early. Maggie is, of course, the mother of My Life on the D-List star Kathy Griffin and a popular spotlight-stealing portion of Kathy's show.
In the new book Maggie presents never-before-discussed personal information (including why she calls Bill O'Reilly her boyfriend), thoughts on life in Hollywood (why she keeps up with the Kardashians), catch phrases and points of view (the correct way to drink boxed wine? "Tip it!"), why she loves participating in Gay Pride, and what it's like to be the mother of her hilarious, loudmouthed "D-List" daughter, both on camera and off the record.
Check back for the contest starting on July 5, but for now this Q&A will have to tide you over. The book hits shelves next Tuesday. Interview after the jump.
Q: Congratulations on your first book! Why did you decide to put pen to paper at the chipper young age of ninety?
A: Last year Kathy put out her memoir, Official Book Club Selection, which was real nice except for the controversial parts. But now it's my turn, Kathy. I have some things to say, too, without having to be all controversial like you were. I have things to say about Kathy, about me, about the way the world has changed and being a mom and Hollywood and wine and my gays. About how disgraceful children's clothes are these days. About how wonderful Bill O'Reilly is. About tipping it!
Q: How did you choose "TIP IT!" as the title?
A: It's a reference to my love of wine and my life philosophy. When I learned about boxed wine, it was a revelation. Don't let anybody tell you that box of Franzia or Almaden is empty because there's always a little more. That's when you call out, "Tip it!" In other words, use it up, wear it out, make it do! Isn't it nice that "Tip it!" also acts as a toast? As a motto for living life to the fullest, and getting the most out of it, I think "Tip it!" works pretty well.
Q: How do you like being a regular on Kathy's show, My Life on the D List?
A: I don't really like to watch myself on Kathy's television show. I think I look different, my voice sounds different... Really, I think I look and sound crappy! It must look like I'm warding off some impending storm when I'm on camera with Kathy; she loves saying things on television she knows I don't want to talk about. But I do the best I can. I go along with it. Maybe it's fun to have people think of ordinary wife and mom Maggie Griffin as being a little naughty once in awhile! If all I have to do is answer her the way I feel like answering her, and it's apparently funny, then fine.
Q: You raised five kids (as you say, "I have other kids besides Kathy"). Any parenting advice?
A: I'm a regular mom. I'm not a mother who pampers her children and caters to them--even the famous one. I love my children, and I'm immensely supportive of them, but hey, I tell them off. I know how to give them the business. I don't like hurting people's feelings, but I'll say what needs to be said.
Q: You and your husband, Johnny, were married for over fifty years. What's the secret to a successful marriage?
A: I don't know if I have an answer outside of the fact that neither one of us liked to fight. We also balanced each other really well. That's not to say we didn't have disagreements. But we knew how to talk about them. And laugh about them. There's nothing greater in a relationship than being able to laugh about yourself. I don't know if people go into a marriage thinking it's going to be perfect, but what I always felt was, Johnny was perfect for me. And I hope I was perfect for him.
Q: Did you always know Kathy would be famous? Did you help her follow her dream?
A: People ask me if I knew my daughter was going to be in show business and I say, "Would you think just because your kid likes to sing Barbara Streisand songs and dance around the house that she was going to be famous?" As a mother, you just don't know at that stage what's in store for your child. She was just this cute kid doing what cute kids do. Even when Kathy pursued theater in high school I kept wondering what she was going to do with herself after she graduated. Our attitude about Kathy was, she'll do what she wants to do, and if we can help her in any way, we will. We supported her financially and emotionally because if you've got a kid who wants to do this, you've got to be there for them. Besides, we'd supported the other kids who went to college and paid for their tuition. This wasn't any different. And it seems to have paid off, don't you think?
Q: Why do you think you have so many gay fans?
A: I've found they're such great people in a lot of ways. So many of them are delightful, they're very compassionate, and their sense of humor is fantastic. They're very creative, the gays. Most of them make a damn good living and are really smart. In our day being gay was a silent thing, and it had to have been awful for them. People are people, I say. I was with Kathy last year as a part of the West Hollywood rally against the gay marriage ban Proposition 8. I got a sign to hold that said, "Gay marriage, I'll drink to that!" I thought that was funny. I was raised a traditional Catholic, but in my day, you were taught to be a good parent and a good wife or husband, simple as that. Anybody who's a good parent, I'm all for. So keep tipping it, gays and lesbians!
Q: What do you miss most about the "good old days"? On the flip side, what is something that you love about the new millennium?
A: Like most people my age, I think the world hasn't changed for the better. It's probably not really true, but you have to admit, a certain way of life has gone. Whether it's a decline in behavior, or gadgets that make you lazy, or ridiculously high prices, I sometimes wonder how anybody can stand it! But Kathy and the rest of my kids have pulled me into the twenty-first century. When I got a computer, I was leery at first, but whaddaya know, now I'm pretty decent at email and everything. I even send e-mail cards now. I do love remote controls and my washer/dryer, also. When I get these new contraptions I'm usually very happy eventually. But I'll fight them at first, for as long as I can.
Q: How do you feel about your daughter Kathy's more...outrageous behavior, like swearing in front of Anderson Cooper on New Year's Eve or saying "Suck it, Jesus" when she won her Emmy?
A: Let's just say I wasn't too happy. Kathy is always getting into some kind of trouble. In fact, here are some ways I think Kathy is running her life: naming names, strong language, not going to church, having a crap diet, buying too many shoes, wearing jeans with holes in them, and not watching nearly enough Fox News. All that said, I know Kathy likes to provoke, but the reality is, what she does as a comedian is pretty brave, and I look up to her.
Q: What are your favorite L.A. "hotspots"?
A: I love my Pavilions supermarket in West Hollywood. The terrace at Rage, the gay bar in West Hollywood, is wonderful. And bless the day we found McGinty's Irish Pub in Santa Monica (I'm first-generation Irish)! Johnny and I were big golfers, and our favorite course in L.A. was Penmar Golf Course by the Santa Monica airport. Finally, I love the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. You can always see a celebrity!
Q: You recently turned ninety years young. Do you have any advice to share with folks for living a long, full, vibrant life like yours?
A: If being ninety has taught me anything, it's that the things you make fun of when you're younger, you find yourself embracing later on. Also, having grown up during the Great Depression and World War II, I learned how to economize. Pay your expenses, always save something. The rest you spend. And be careful with credit cards! One of my favorite thrifty tips is, "use it up, wear it out, make it do. Or do without!" When it comes to family, if you've got a kid who is following her dreams, you've got to be there for them. And remember, Tip it! You may think there's no more, but try again. You'll be sure to get the last drop.