While few would have thought it was possible, Pia Zadora managed to emerge from the ashes of her post-“Butterfly” brouhaha decades ago with some class.
Expect her to bring that attitude to the Rrazz Room stage this week. It’s fitting, too, that her signature song is dubbed, “It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish.”
“How you get through the rough times is, really, by the seat of your pants,” Zadora says the bumpy roads of yore.
In fact, the backlash over her Golden Globe win in 1982 — after she appeared in “Butterfly” — in retrospect looks like a quirky Hollywood witchhunt.
“My career was, to say the least, a roller coaster, on so many levels.”
True. Zadora hit Broadway when she was 10, but admits to being painfully shy.
“The nuns in the parochial school thought there was something wrong with me, so they sent me to a dramatic school,” she recalls. “It was very cathartic for me. Saying the lines made me brave. It was always easier for me to be in front of an audience.”
She kept busy onstage and when the bad buzz of “Butterfly,” which co-starred Stacy Keach and Orson Welles, died down, she generated more attention in 1984 for the song, “Rock it Out.”
“I was nominated for a Grammy, but on the other hand, my movies were a total disaster,” she says. “There were a lot of elements involved in creating what I call the ‘Pia Zadora syndrome.’ I had won the Golden Globe, but what many people didn’t realize was that I didn’t win it for acting. It was the newcomer of the year award. Marilyn Monroe had won that; Marlon Brando too.
“But I sure did get the flack for it, didn’t I?” she adds with a laugh.
“Throw in the rich husband who is supporting your career and the funny name — Pia Zadora — and you’ve got Johnny Carson’s answer to Rula Lenska.”
These days, Zadora, whose Italian-Polish heritage still adds to her mystique, focuses on the here and now.
“It’s a great outlet for me,” she says of performing live. “I always feel that it’s orgasmic. You get to channel your inner self. There’s some essence of control in the process. I just have to get out there and have fun. We all have to enjoy our lives — can’t withhold. Because it’s just not healthy to withhold.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today-Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $40 to $45
Contact: (415) 394-1189, www.rrazzroom.com