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Even Bitches Have Feelings

Judith Regan is a walking cartoon, an equal-opportunity bigot—and hardly the only villain in the sordid O.J. publishing scandal.

Illustration by Chip Kidd  

It would have been a hard couple of months, even if she had been eating.

Judith Regan loves to fast. She likes the high you get, the way it makes you feel clear, intuitive, even telepathic, transforming your skin into a baby’s and launching your energy level into the stratosphere. Says Natalia Rose, Upper East Side detoxing guru, “She loves eating really clean. When I tell her my big picture of how I want everyone to understand their connection to the light, and by healing each other we heal the world, she totally believes that.”

The first week of November, Regan and a couple of the women in her office started a 21-day fast, so through all of the O.J. madness, the only nutrition she had every day was an infusion of berry drinks, enzyme shots, hot tea, live juice, and a once-a-day treat of soup—a mélange of carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach puréed in the Cuisinart. She was not allowed to chew—anything. Every night at 10 p.m., she drank a foul-tasting shot of aloe and made a hot tea before she went to bed. She was famished.

Even after everything happened with the TV show and the book—after tabloid headlines excoriating her for consorting with the most notorious murderer of the past quarter-century; after Rupert Murdoch and her immediate superior at HarperCollins, Jane Friedman, let her twist in the wind; after even she herself had realized that it was best not to go forward with the book—she wasn’t going to abandon her diet. She went back to Los Angeles, to her life as a “hotel slut,” as she liked to call herself, in a twenties hotel on Sunset Boulevard, and tried to focus on what was important: moving on. The loss of sales from the O.J. book was a huge financial hit for her imprint. She needed to acquire books, immediately, to make up for it—what was the “next next thing,” as she liked to call the type of projects she was looking for? No self-pity! As in the rest of her life, she had declared war on pathetic, quotidian self-pity, the kind of classically feminine shame that keeps women up on the phone at night whining about ex-lovers, that keeps losers in the cycle of playing a losing game, that stops human beings from evolving into legends, as she had, transforming herself into the biblical Judith who cuts men’s heads off in one fell swoop—a heroine.

In her office the day before she was fired, she had a meeting with Anna David, the author of the book Party GirlYou’re so gorgeous you should be on the cover of your book!—and chatted in the corridors with some of her staff: One of the moms told her about her ex-husband, who seemed to be ignoring their kids at Christmastime and reneging on special presents. “Of course he doesn’t have to get them presents,” she fumed. “He’s a man—the only thing they’re good for is semen. They’re inseminators! That’s all they are!”

A stray male walked down the hallway.

“Not you,” she called after him, dissolving in laughter. “Every man except you!”

She went home and drank her tea with lemon. She wasn’t feeling all that bad. The next day, before a sales conference, she got on the phone with Murdoch in-house counsel Mark Jackson. She said some repulsive things, telling him that she felt there was a cabal in the company against her—as later reported, a Jewish cabal—but this is how she talked to Jackson sometimes, when they were arguing, so she didn’t think much more about it.

And then—zzzzttt. Her computer went down. In fact, the server for all the office computers went down. A woman from sales ran down to editors’ row: Her boyfriend, a manager at Book Soup, had called to say that a HarperCollins rep was saying Regan was fired. Everyone was shepherded into the conference room, where a long-suffering ReganBooks deputy made the announcement: Judith has been fired, you all have to remember your confidentiality agreements, please don’t talk to the press, and don’t contact Judith, who has been escorted from the building.

An editor interrupted: “Judith hasn’t been escorted from the building. She’s in her office, on her computer.”

A few of them ran down the hall, and there she was, the long chestnut hair streaming down her shoulders, the arched eyebrows and pink-lipsticked mouth, fiddling with her keyboard to get the computer to work. A roasted-pepper-and-mushroom sandwich sat before her, half-eaten.

They peered in.

“So I’m eating a sandwich,” she said, shrugging. “My blood sugar is low. I’m allowed to eat a sandwich. Why are you staring at me?”