The Power Behind The Pretty Face
Roxanne Scarbrough is the doyenne of decoration, the maven of modern style. In addition to her monthly magazine, Southern Comforts, several New York Times bestselling how-to books, videotapes and a syndicated weekly television program, America's favorite Steel Magnolia has inked a six-figure deal with Mega-Mart stores. Middle-class shoppers frequenting the booming, 347-store chain can now live and shop the Scarbrough way.
Mega-Mart's budget for the new advertising campaign announcing their Southern Comforts line is 12 million, which should make the folks over at Chiat/Day a great deal more comfortable. Whatta deal! Whatta gal!
Adweek, March 26, 1996.
For a woman whose public image made Donna Reed look like a slacker, Roxanne Scarbrough proved to be a dragon lady extraordinaire.
Chelsea had never met anyone like America's most famous southern belle. Which, for someone who had managed to survive interviews with both Madonna and Roseanne, was saying something. As she sat on the sofa in Good Morning America's greenroom, waiting for her interview with Charlie Gibson, Chelsea watched Rox-anne's off-screen theatrics in amazement.
Since the limousine had delivered America's most famous lifestyle expert to the studio from her suite at the Plaza an hour ago, she'd thrown a brush at the hairdresser who had quick reflexes and ducked just in time, stomped out of the room when the makeup woman had made the fatal mistake of suggesting a concealer to cover the faint scars from recent eyelid surgery, and managed to deride her personal assistant at every possible opportunity.
The makeup room was too hot. The greenroom too cold. The orange juice was frozen. And the Danish, horror of horrors, were cold.
"Honestly," Roxanne huffed with a brisk shake of her sleek blond bob, "you Yankees have absolutely no sense of style!"
"I expect that's why you've been invited on the program," Chelsea replied blandly. "To bring culture to the philistines."
Only the sharpest ear would have caught Chelsea's veiled sarcasm. The glint in her green eyes would have warned anyone who knew her. As it was, the other woman was so wrapped up in her pique, it flew right over her head.
Roxanne's gaze flicked over Chelsea like a medical researcher checking out the dog pound for potential experimental material.
"A hopeless task," she asserted between bonded teeth, then announced to no one in particular, "This is a shitty time of day."
When she pulled a cigarette from a crushed gold mesh pack and planted it between her lips, her assistant, a harried, pleasantly plump thirty-something woman, leaped to light it. Chelsea noted the lack of a thank-you. Perhaps no one had bothered to inform the southern doyenne of domesticity that slavery had been abolished.
"It fucks up my biorhythms." The proclamation was exhaled on a cloud of noxious blue smoke that came puffing out of both nostrils like dragon fire. Chelsea said nothing. But she did wonder what the Steel Magnolia's legion of fans would think of such earthy language escaping their guru's glossy pink lips.
Roxanne glared around the room, which had nearly emptied; the third guest of the houran economist from Harvard scheduled to discuss the potential impact of baby boomers reaching Social Security agehad already sought sanctuary in the restroom down the hall.
"Where the hell is that boy with my tea?"
A moment later, one of the interns returned to the greenroom. His name was Brian, Chelsea had learned. The son of a West Virginia coal miner and truck stop waitress, he was a scholarship student from Penn. He was, he'd told her earlier, thrilled to have won this highly coveted internship. But of course, he'd shared that little nugget of personal information before he'd met Roxanne Scarbrough.
When she glimpsed the red-and-white tea bag tag hanging from the rim of the foam cup in Brian's hand, Chelsea braced herself.
"What the hell is this?" Roxanne demanded.
"Roxanne," her beleaguered assistant, Dorothy Lan-dis, murmured, "it's the tea you asked for."
"This is not tea." Roxanne crushed her cigarette out into a GMA ashtray with enough force to break the slim cylinder in two. Blazing blue eyes hardened to sapphire as they raked the cup the young man was holding.
"Tea is properly brewed in freshly drawn softbut never chemically softenedwater which has been heated in an enameled vessel. The leavespreferably Imperial Darjeelingshould be dropped into the water just as it arrives at a brisk rolling boil, giving them a deep wheel-like movement, which opens them up for fullest infusion."
Her voice, as it slashed away at the intern, was as sharp and deadly as a whip. "After which time it is poured into a scalded, preheated pot to allow the essential oils to circulate through the liquid."
A very good four-carat diamond sparkled in the overhead fluorescent light as Roxanne reached out and plucked the white cup from the intern's hand. "This is not tea," she repeated. Turning her wrist, she deliberately poured the brown liquid onto his shoes.