Picks and Pans Review: Beautiful Bad Girl

updated 02/03/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/03/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Gordon Basichis

In this relentlessly overwritten book about Vicki Morgan, the late Alfred Bloomingdale's young mistress, Basichis attempts to paint her as a power-loving working class rebel, a sympathetic figure done in by the men around her. Instead, the thrice-married Morgan comes across as a savvy shakedown artist who scrounged up a sugar daddy every time she had a cash flow problem, turning up in more Hollywood bedrooms than Sealy. The book contains some interesting tidbits for anyone who wants to know how some of the rich differ from the rest of us: Upon their first meeting at a Los Angeles restaurant (each was with someone else), Blooming-dale planted a check for $8,000 in Vicki's palm as he walked out, then called her as many as 20 times a day until she agreed to see him. The money turned out to be a down payment for years of (predominantly sadomasochistic) sexual favors, as well as for houses, clothes and cars. Basichis, a former newspaperman, claims Morgan loved Bloomingdale—for one of his birthdays she surprised him with 15 hookers—and was loyal to him until his death from cancer in 1982. (Basichis, who is married, also includes the details of his own affair with Morgan, which took place during the months he interviewed her for this book.) There is, in truth, some intriguing information in the book. Psychiatrists warned Morgan, for instance, about her friend Marvin Pancoast, the man who later killed her, saying, "Marvin hates his mother, he dreams of killing her. And in his mind, you're becoming his mother." More often, however, the book is mired in such tedious writing as this: "So what if on the opposite side of Colfax the hills were alive with the sounds of nocturnal Los Angeles, replete with the distinctive growl of meandering Porsches belonging to gangs of Colombian smugglers trying in vain to live discreetly." Basichis is pretentious enough to suggest that Morgan's life was a classic American tragedy. Pathetic Vicki apparently didn't know any better, though the author should have. (Santa Barbara Press, $17.95)

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