Here’s a repost of my review of Sachi Parker’s book, Lucky Me, which I originally read and reviewed on Epinions.com in June 2013. I previously reposted this review on my original blog when I wrote it for Epinions, but I included some extra commentary. I am including my extra comments in this repost, which appears as/is.
From the Blogspot OH repost in June 2013:
Sachi Parker is the only child of actress Shirley MacLaine and her late ex husband, Steve Parker. When she was two years old, young Sachi was bundled up and sent off to Japan to live with her father, while her mother stayed in Los Angeles to build her very successful film career. What Shirley didn’t know back then was that Steve Parker had a mistress, a Japanese woman named Miki who proved to be very Machiavellian.
Sachi would see her mother sporadically. She describes their meetings as fun for the first four hours or so. After that, her mother’s eyes would sort of glaze over and she would be done… ready for her child or anyone else clamoring for attention to go away. Shirley MacLaine was reportedly stingy with money and compliments. She expected her daughter’s loyalty and honesty. She employed draconian methods to get Sachi to do her bidding. One time, when Sachi lost expensive plane tickets from England to Japan, to get Sachi from her boarding school back to her father’s home, Shirley accused her of cashing them in for money. She collected her daughter and her friend, Yuki, in London and locked the two of them in separate hotel rooms. She denied them food until Sachi confessed that she’d been “lying”, even though she’d actually been telling the truth. When Sachi later told her mom that she’d lied about lying, her mother starved her again, this time in a New York City hotel room.
One time, when Sachi’s school year ended at a Swiss boarding school, she waited in vain for one of her parents to pick her up. When they didn’t show, she went with a classmate, whose father worked in an Eastern Bloc country. For two weeks, she tagged along with this family while they were on vacation in Europe, trying in vain to call her parents. One night, she went out on the streets of Trieste where she ran into an old Italian prostitute who very kindly took care of her and got her back to her hotel. She tucked her into bed.
The family took her to Yugoslavia. After growing tired of sponging off her classmate’s family, she told them she was taken care of. They left her, believing they had helped her as best they could. She went into a cheap hotel and started crying. An elderly Yugoslavian couple that didn’t speak English took pity on Sachi and took her home with them. She spent two weeks living with this couple, helping them on their farm, all the while trying to call her parents.
Sachi’s father wasn’t much better. As a young girl, Sachi was expected to accompany her father when he went out on the town. He would make inappropriate comments about her body. He would take her to bars. One night he took her to a gay bar where all the waiters were nude. The waiters had an interesting way of serving drinks. They would stir cocktails with their dicks. Sachi’s dad actually had to stop one of them from stirring his daughter’s Shirley Temple that way.
Sachi later found out that her father had bilked her mother for millions of dollars. And yet, Shirley wouldn’t give her daughter any money to help her when she needed it. When Sachi turned 18 and was done with high school, Shirley presented her with an expensive diamond necklace and told her she was on her own.
Lucky Me is a pretty amazing book. Some people have said that it’s full of lies, probably because some of Sachi’s claims are so incredibly far-fetched. And yet, knowing what I do about narcissism, I believe she’s written the truth. The book is a bit trashy… and parts of it are pretty tasteless. And yet, I found it fascinating because they really show what a narcissistic mother is like. If what she’s written is true, Shirley MacLaine is completely lacking in empathy and keeps people close to her on edge at all times. It’s sad, because even though she was apparently very abusive, I got the sense that her daughter loves her very much… despite airing all their dirty laundry.
I hope Sachi’s book does well. She’s been through a lot. Having a narcissistic mother must be a massive mind fuck. As talented as I think Shirley MacLaine is, I have to say I see her differently now.
Below is my review, originally published on Epinions.com.
Actress Shirley MacLaine is one of Hollywood’s legends. She has put out some extraordinary films over her long, illustrious career. She’s also well known for being very much into new age thinking; spirits, mediums, and psychics have been the subjects of her many books. Until a couple of weeks ago, I knew nothing about her only daughter, Sachi Parker. But when I saw that Parker, MacLaine’s daughter with Steve Parker, had written a book called Lucky Me: My Life With- and Without- My Mom, Shirley MacLaine (2013), I had to read it.
I love a good tell-all, even if it’s kind of trashy. A lot of people who have reviewed this book have openly doubted its truthfulness, mainly because of some of the wild and occasionally tasteless stories the author shares. In fact, I think this book is pretty trashy myself… and yet, I do think Sachi Parker has been truthful, even if she hasn’t been discreet. The irony is, throughout this book, Sachi explains that she grew up in Japan, where society demands decorum, discretion, and maintaining dignity. She writes that for much of her life, she was like a Japanese woman who looked Irish on the outside. Culturally, she identified with Japan because she had lived there from the age of two with her father, Steve Parker, and his mistress and later wife, Miki. Sachi rarely saw her mother when she was growing up. When she did see her, the visits were a confusing mix of great fun, high drama, and even higher anxiety. As I finished reading, it occurred to me that if Sachi Parker has written the truth, there’s a good chance Shirley MacLaine has at least one personality disorder.
Make no mistake about it; Lucky Me is full of weirdness. Sachi Parker writes of situations that are just plain bizarre. She describes situations in which both of her parents were abusive and neglectful to the point of being very cruel. She writes of trying very hard to win their approval and stay in their good graces. Some of her stories are extraordinary. Being the daughter of a star had its perks; yet once she graduated high school, Parker was expected to take care of herself. Her mother presented her with an expensive Belgian diamond necklace and wished her luck because as far as Shirley MacLaine was concerned, Sachi was on her own.
Although she spent her early years with her father in Tokyo, she wasn’t particularly close to him, either. One time, he called her on her birthday and said he wanted to spend time with her, but alas, he was in Italy on business. The phone call was complete with the static one would expect in a long distance 70s era phone call and a woman speaking Italian, supposedly the operator. At the time, Sachi was working at hotel where her father had a suite that was off limits to her. She managed to con the front desk into giving her a key to the suite. She went there to check it out and found her father there having a marijuana fueled sex orgy. He didn’t see her; she was able to bow out quickly. But he had told her a convincing lie that she would have believed had she not gotten forbidden access to his suite and seen with her own eyes what he was doing.
Sachi writes of her mother turning her emotions off and on as if she had a switch. She describes Shirley MacLaine as being very mercurial and lacking in empathy. At times she was generous with compliments, but then her opinions would spin on a dime. As I read her book, I realized that Sachi Parker was describing someone with extreme narcissistic personality disorder, complete with the crazymaking behaviors that come from a person who has a cluster B personality disorder. She never outright claims that’s what her mother’s issue is, but having studied NPD extensively, that was the impression I got. And since Sachi never writes that she thinks her mother has NPD and I recognize the behaviors so well, it makes me think that she’s probably written the truth.
Unfortunately for Sachi, her father’s behavior wasn’t much better. From what she writes, he basically used Shirley MacLaine for her money. The two were married, but she lived in Los Angeles and he lived in Tokyo with his Japanese mistress. Neither parent was emotionally available to their daughter; she was expected to handle situations as a child that were way beyond what was appropriate. At one point, Sachi writes about her father taking her out on the town on school nights. She’d long to go to bed because she had school in the morning and would always be tired the following day, but he insisted that she come with him. One time, he even took her to a gay bar where the wait staff were all naked men. Though the food was exquisite, the wait staff had an unusual way of serving cocktails. Let’s just say at that place, the term “cocktail” was literal.
Sachi Parker writes of many situations in which her parents abandoned her. From my perspective, she’d been trained from an early age to crave their attention and approval and do everything possible not to make them angry. When they were angry, it was epic… and she would suffer for it. On the other hand, both parents would reward her if she did what they wanted her to do. She craved that reward and kept coming back to them again and again for that rare beam of love that normal loving parents deliver with ease. Someone who hadn’t grown up craving that love probably would have cut ties years prior.
Although some readers might find Lucky Me to be distasteful, I find it to be kind of refreshing. If what Sachi Parker writes is true, then writing this book must have been very liberating. Children of narcisssistic parents live their lives in chains, constantly monitoring themselves to keep their parents happy and approving. They are carefully taught not to incur the wrath of the narcissistic parent because when they do, there is hell to pay.
Writing this book and revealing all the weird, abusive, neglectful stuff that happened to her over the years is a way for Sachi to take control of her own personal power. Putting it out there for the world to read, I’m sure, was her way of sending her mother a good hearty “fuck you”. Many people might say she should have “risen above” airing her dirty laundry. Sachi had done that for most of her life and it hadn’t gotten her anywhere. Abusive people thrive on other people keeping their secrets and not holding them accountable. The way to escape abuse it to shine a light on it from a safe distance. When it comes down to it, abusive people are cowards who are rightfully ashamed of themselves. And yet, despite the fact that Sachi wrote this very bold, revealing, and damning book, I still get the sense that she still longs for her mother’s love and approval. Sadly, at age 57, Sachi Parker is probably now considered dead to her mother.
Parker includes photos. They showed up great on my iPad.
I suspect Sachi Parker is going to catch a lot of hell for writing this book. From what I’ve read in other reviews, a lot of people doubt her story. Shirley MacLaine is a highly respected, extremely talented actress. Her many fans will not like this book. Other people who recognize extreme narcissism will applaud Sachi Parker for writing this book. And some people who don’t care one way or the other will enjoy this book because it’s really juicy… not just for what Sachi Parker writes about her parents, but because Parker has led a life that has taken her to some very strange, exciting, and dangerous places. Say what you want about Lucky Me’s trashiness; it is definitely NOT a dull read.
I give it four stars.
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