The Redhead and the Gray Lady: How Maureen Dowd became the most dangerous columnist in America—on her own, very female terms

Ariel Levy in New York Magazine:

Redhead051021_1_175Possibly, there are even more naked women at Maureen Dowd’s house today than there were when this place was JFK’s Georgetown bachelor pad in the fifties. They are lounging in the vintage posters, carved into her Deco furniture, painted in huge trompe l’oeil pastorals on the living-room wall. “My girlfriend Michi said, ‘You’ve got to paint clothes on them,’ like you know how they did at the Sistine Chapel?” says Dowd, who is drinking white wine from a goblet with a naked woman carved into its stem. “But I like them. I think they’re kind of campy.” Michi is Michiko Kakutani, one of Dowd’s circle of extremely close female friends at the New York Times, where Dowd is, of course, the only female op-ed columnist. It’s a post she says she is “not temperamentally suited to,” despite the fact she’s been doing it for ten years and has won a Pulitzer and a passionate army of fans in the process, because Dowd doesn’t like “a lot of angst in my life,” and it is specifically her job to provoke. Her natural inclination—her fundamental drive—is, rather, to seduce. But then those two things are not entirely unrelated.

…Dowd says she’s not the “private-plane type. It makes me nervous. I mean, I don’t even like to fly first class.” But her taste for famous men has, from time to time, required it of her. She describes Michael Douglas, whom she dated right before he married Catherine Zeta-Jones, as “a really nice guy, a very romantic guy.” The humor of their romance is not lost on her: “Whether he can handle a woman who wields ice picks? I used to tease him about that. Sometimes actors ask me out, and then I’m worried because they can act like they’re not scared of me, or threatened? But then maybe later they are. I remember him announcing at dinner, like way after we knew each other: ‘I’m not scared of you.’ But it made me nervous that he had to tell me. I also became close with his father, Kirk,” says Dowd. “He told me this funny story once about when he was first discovering his Judaism and he was making The Bad and the Beautiful and he was fasting on certain days, and he looked at me and he goes, ‘Do you have any idea how hard it is to make love to Lana Turner on an empty stomach?’ ”

More here.