“Should I wear a ball gown?” Joanne Herring wanted to know before the interview. A ball gown in bright daylight? “The magazines always want me to wear ball gowns.” The Texas socialite waltzed with Prince Philip and fought against the Russians in Afghanistan. Her role in pushing the U.S. Congress to finance the CIA’s secret support to the Mujahideen in the 1980s is known to an international audience since the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” in which Julia Roberts played her part.
Needless to say that even without a ball gown Joanne Herring looked nothing less than glamorous when she met us for a profile in Capital magazine in her elegant residential building in Houston. Phoebe Rourke-Ghabriel captured the atmosphere in her wonderful photos of Ms. Herring.
In our interview, Ms. Herring talked about her more than colorful life, which she has recently described in her memoir, Diplomacy and Diamonds. She also spoke about her ongoing commitment to Afghanistan where her non-profit organization Marshall Plan Charities is participating in the uphill struggle to rebuild the country after yet another decade of war. And she revealed why she did not like the way she was depicted in some scenes of the Hollywood movie. She would have never groomed her eye-lashes with an office paper-clip, and never would two great danes have guarded the stairs leading to her bedroom. Most of all, she would have never ordered Charlie Wilson’s assistant to fetch her a martini at her own party. “Southerners pride themselves on being gracious with everyone,” she explains. “Anyone who behaves otherwise is considered ‘de classe’ and beneath contempt.” This is not to say that she does not like a good drink. “I would never sip through a drink,” she tells us jokingly. “Just like I would never sip through life.”