Graydon Carter Hosts Celebration of 'Hollywood's Eve' and Former L.A. Scene Queen Eve Babitz

Hollywoods Eve - Photo Hannah Thomson-5 - Lili Anolik-Publicity-H 2019
Hannah Thomson

"Hollywood's Eve" chronicles the tucked-away life of former "It" girl Eve Babitz, whose tales of adventures with stars like Harrison Ford have attracted modern-day attention.

The culmination of Lili Anolik’s past six years — most of which were spent talking to Eve Babitz, whether on the phone or in Los Angeles, where she reigned supreme throughout the '60s and '70s — came to fruition Tuesday, when Hollywood’s Eve hit shelves.

“Her sister read it. Her cousins read it. I had all her important exes read it,” Anolik told The Hollywood Reporter at a celebration of the book Tuesday night. “But I didn’t really want to push it on her.”

Joining Anolik at New York's Waverly Inn were Victor Garber, Christie Brinkley, Jane Holzer, Debbie Harry and more, most of whom shared their admiration for Babitz's famous free spirit. 

Described as equal parts biography and detective story, Hollywood’s Eve paints a picture of Babitz that goes beyond what’s already known about her time spent with the likes of Mick Jagger and Ed Ruscha. Though she chronicled some of her adventures in essays and books, she often passed off the latter as “fiction.”

For years, Babitz remained a mystery after a life-threatening fire in the late '90s turned her into a recluse. It wasn’t until Anolik sought Babitz out in 2014 for a Vanity Fair profile that her books — and Babitz herself — saw a soar in popularity.

“She didn’t want to talk, she wasn’t accepting phone calls, she wasn’t seeing people,” Anolik said. “A normal person would’ve taken a hint and gone away, but you had to be obsessed and kind of desperate to make this happen.”

After Anolik worked her way to Babitz through family members and ex-boyfriends, the profile came together. Babitz not only “responded well,” but the two began constantly communicating. The interest for Babitz’s story was there, as evidenced by both the popularity of the article and the sudden reissuing of Babitz’s books (Hollywood's Eve, Slow Days, Fast Company; L.A. Woman).

“Everything about her life ended up being fascinating,” Anolik said. “Like, it wasn’t until the sixth year of us talking all the time that I found out she had a part as an extra in The Godfather Part II. It was always little, amazing tidbits popping up.”

Anolik said that a majority of what Babitz discussed — from her and her sister putting Jim Morrison in leather pants to writing Alice Adams a letter about her attempts to get Joseph Heller to start a rumor that’d she gone to Switzerland to get her “hymen resewn” — was hard to take at face value.

“I remember her telling me that Harrison Ford dealt pot,” Anolik said. “I thought she was crazy. But then everything crazy that she told me ended up checking out.”

Though Babitz was certainly known as an “It” girl at the time, she and her writing still managed to fly under the radar for the most part. “Sometimes I feel like she was so much a product of the '60s and '70s — meaning she lived a decadent life with lots of drug, lots of sex, very into pleasure — and it was like she was so in tune with them, she sometimes got missed,” Anolik said. “I don’t know how else to explain it.”

As NYRB Classics managing editor Sara Kramer put it, “Her time is now.”

She told THR that later this year, a collection of Babitz’s essays, ranging from the '70s to the early 2000s and titled I Used to be Charming, will be published.

“I keep reading essays and I’m like, ‘Surely this won’t be good. This won’t be her voice.’ No, I end up wanting it in there,” Kramer said, adding that the collection will include Babitz’s never-before-seen memoir, which she wrote after the fire.

“She’s sort of in her own world,” Kramer said. “And we’re all catching up to her now.”