“Renita is a phenomenon unlike any other. She is the only star that can truly eclipse the sun and she has been shining brightly in the heavens over all of us for over three scintillating decades.”
Catchy, isn’t it? If I died tomorrow – tragic as it may be for the planet and immensely difficult for my many admirers, lovers, and stalkers to accept – that would be my first choice for the opening to my eulogy. I believe the quote is attributed to theatre critic John Lahr from when he was reviewing my tour de force performance in my ground-breaking one-woman show slash musical revue, Five Finger Exercises. It was a treatise on the Great Lakes, mixing humorous anecdotes, Indonesian shadow puppets, and mathematical flashcards into a night that has been best described as “one of the most life-affirming evenings ever spent in a folding, plush, red velvet chair.” The show won several Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and an honorable mention for the Most Colorful Use of the Word “Esophagus” In an Entertainment Program 91 to 120 Minutes in Length by the Writers Guild of America. (Damn that uppity Meryl Streep for beating me out on the award for the seventh year running! I’m too much of a lady to tell you how she used it.)
Writing your bio is a bit like writing your eulogy, only with a lot more control over what gets said. For instance, I don’t have to mention that embarrassing time in Botswana when I lost my diamond and ruby broach only to have it turn up in a very compromising place at the President’s dinner table (we still don’t know how it got there), but I have, because I have no secrets. My life is an open book, one that you, the public, will not be able to read unfortunately. You have one Barbra Streisand to thank for that situation.
Babs and I go way back to her I Can Get it for You Wholesale days. We were both struggling actresses who made good on our promises to become megastars. (She of course took the more mainstream route with Funny Girl. I however, made my earliest splash in that classic French bedroom farce Sacre Bleu! opposite Catherine Deneuvre, where I played the plucky, adventurous schoolmarm. You will of course, remember my immortal line to the archbishop, “That’s not my big toe!”) Our lives have been touched by the gods, but when Barbra heard that I was publishing my memoirs in which I revealed the story of why she had the mysterious eighth toe on her left foot removed after filming For Pete’s Sake, she quickly obtained a cease and desist order. The amazing tale of Barbra’s superfluous toe is just the tip of the iceberg in the long laundry list of Hollywood secrets I reveal in my memoirs, but now Renita Jenkins: The Loves, The Lies, The Legend will be locked up in the extremely litigious halls of the Supreme Court for years to come. So I will use this forum to briefly run through my stellar life and career for the nine people (as of the last national census) who have not heard of me.
I grew up fairly poor on the meaner streets of France. After a nasty incident involving an unruly piece of strudel and a Danish magistrate, I was sent off to live in a convent to atone for sins I couldn’t possibly have committed. It was the most important fortnight of my young adult life. As a still mostly-virginal novice I learned the arts of knitting lace doilies, making hand-dipped candles, and loving God. He also knew how to love me back, as became apparently clear from a seemingly miraculous conception. Horrified that yet another scandal was on the rise, the friendly Sisters of Immaculate Virtue whisked my child away after it was born to parts unknown. I have spent the better part of an hour looking for that poor, lost child. The FBI, CIA, and DAR have taken up the search. If you have any information regarding my personal mystery, please contact your local 4-H Club.
My life hasn’t been all tragedy though. On the contrary, it is filled with celebrities, world politicians, and the occasional dispossessed monarch. I work tirelessly with endless causes to make the world a better place. Some of my recent and more well-known endeavors include providing aid for Blind Peruvian Nannies, Gay Klansmen, and One-Armed Chimney Sweeps of East Berlin. I tell you, you don’t know from heartbreak until you’ve heard the pained cries of the deformed, “I can’t count past fünf!” My current charity is with a group of determined workers who stop basement flooding in split-level ranches in northeast Saskatchewan. My heart is bottomless.
My extensive career has also provided me with a seemingly bottomless purse. My unimaginable wealth (don’t even try, it makes Bill Gates blush) has allowed me the opportunity to share a very little bit of it with the world. That’s why I throw so many lavish, star-studded galas. Every cause is better with a theme party! Recent festive fetes of mine have included the Easter Island Film Festival and Ice Cream Social (a now annual event), my notorious Long Island Bris Bake-Off (definitely a cut above anything Betty Crocker’s done!), and the now legendary Lend a Hand Foundation’s Touch Football at the Forum to raise awareness and money for the lepers of Northern Africa. This last one is the event that prompted my vicious falling out with Martha Stewart.
I was throwing the delicious soiree in question with my dear friend and fellow philanthropist, Princess Diana, at my medium-sized mansion nestled in a beautiful Tuscan hillside. Anybody who was somebody at the time and a few select nobodies (you know who you are Naomi Campbell) were in attendance. To further push the epicurean boundaries of our adventurous guests, I hired the doyen of good taste, Martha Stewart, to cater the event. Her spread, as Charleton Heston always says, was beyond compare. I was also the one with the ingenious idea to involve the lepers in the festivities by having them help serve her tasty treats to the guests. All was going splendidly until the unthinkable happened: someone found a real finger in among the finger food. Personally, I think it was just Sting exercising his pathetic vegan humor on the party, but this was the last digit for Martha. As far as she was concerned, the finger of blame pointed squarely at me. Our completely one-sided feud has been one of the longest in entertainment history. It has even earned a special Lifetime Achievement Emmy for each of us. (The lesson: Never invite vegans to a major social event or minor shindig at home. They don’t like food and take out their starved-induced misery on everyone else.)
Since then I’ve tried sticking to slightly tamer, more entertainment-oriented projects. Perhaps you saw my stage musical extravaganza with President George W. Bush, painstakingly titled Renita and Bush. It originally opened on Broadway with great hopes of taking it on the next USO tour of Iraq, but it garnered only marginal success and lackluster reviews from the hordes of lesbians and Arbor Day enthusiasts in attendance. I also recently produced a short-lived, if not influential reality series where plebeians, I mean contestants, competed for postage stamps and peppermints in a neo-apocalyptic setting called They Shoot Civilians, Don’t They? And of course, I am still debating on whether or not to bite the bullet and launch a talk show. Do I really want to drag all of my fabulously famous friends down into the muck of daytime television like Oprah?
In the meantime, to appease my fans, I’ve decided to conquer the vast tidal waves of the Internet with Top to Bottom. Please be sure to come back daily to follow the further adventures of the darling boys of The Boulevard and every scandalous twist and turn!
“Serving the public in multiples of nine.”