Saturday, December 29, 2007

Life and style / Liv Ullmann / "The movie wasn't good and I felt it from the first line"

Liv Ullmann


Liv Ullmann

"The movie wasn't good and I felt it from the first line"
Rosanna Greenstreet
Saturday 29 December 2007 23.34 GMT

Liv Ullmann was born in Tokyo in 1938 and spent most of her childhood in Norway. She is one of Scandinavia's most respected actors, and is best known for her work with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, with whom she had her only child. She later became a film director herself, most notably of Faithless in 2000. She has homes in Norway and the US.

Liv Ullmann

When were you happiest? 
When the miracle happened and my daughter, Linn, was born.
What is your greatest fear? 
What is your earliest memory?
My daddy's hand squeezing my hand - I was three or four, and we were walking along a road in Canada.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
Nelson Mandela, because he allowed his forgiveness and ability to overcome to change a nation.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I sometimes try to avoid conflict, so I agree instead of saying no.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
That they choose to be a victim.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
When I was 13, I put gloves in my bra. My dancing partner felt them and commented. It was horrible.
What is your most treasured possession?
My cottage in Norway, which is high on a cliff overlooking a fjord. It's the most expensive thing I ever bought.
What would your super power be?
What makes you depressed?
When people who make decisions for others are ill-informed.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I'm OK. I am 69 and bear it with pride - it's the way God wanted me to look.
What is your favourite smell?
My grandmother's neck. I'd sit on her lap and lean my head towards her neck - it was such a wonderful smell.
What is your favourite word?
'Love', when it's not misused.
What is the worst thing anyone's ever said to you?
Who would play you in the film of your life?
Why would such a picture be shown?
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
What do you owe your parents?
All the things I had to be older to appreciate. I didn't see it before it was too late to thank them.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Everyone involved in my child's birth. God, the child, the father of the child, my mother and my father.
What does love feel like?
When you feel that you're free to say yes to whatever is best within you.
What was the best kiss of your life?
He knows.
Have you ever said 'I love you' and not meant it?
Yes - I live in America.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
My mother and father.
What is the worst job you've ever done?
The Night Visitor with Charles Bronson - the movie wasn't good and I felt it from the first line.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
That I wasn't the best mother, actor, writer... the best this, the best that. Lots of disappointments.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
More quiet time with my daughter.

If you could go back in time, where would you go? 
To when my daddy was alive, just to get to know him. He died during a brain operation when I was six.
When did you last cry, and why?
Right now, thinking about going back to say hello to my father.
How do you relax?
Reading, listening to music, watching a DVD and meditation.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That I could act, write books and scripts, direct movies - everything that I loved - and support other people with the money I earned.
What keeps you awake at night?
Worries that are really easily solved one way or another by life.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Old Man River.
How would you like to be remembered?
By my two grandchildren, that they took some comfort in me being alive with them.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To live in the now.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ike Turner Dead at 76

Tina Turner with Ike

Ike Turner Dead at 76

December 12, 2007 04:30 PM
Ike Turner, the legendary musician and former husband of Tina Turner, has died at 76.
“He did pass away this morning” at his home near San Diego, said Scott M. Hanover of Thrill Entertainment Group, which managed Turner’s career, according to the Associated Press.
No other details were immediately available. earlier broke the news on its Web site.
Mike Blake/REUTERS/Landov
Born and raised in Clarksdale, Miss., Turner was inspired by the old blues artists and embarked on a musical career of his own in the late 1940s. He later met Anna Mae Bullock, aka Tina Turner, who would become his wife and his musical partner for many years.
The couple’s often-tempestuous relationship was detailed in Tina Turner’s biography, which was the basis for the movie What’s Love Got to Do with It?They split in the 1970s.
Speaking to PEOPLE in 1990, Turner admitted to being abusive in his marriage.
Tina Turner

“All the fights Tina and I had were about her being sad about something,” he said. “I get real emotional if you’re worrying and don’t tell me what it is. Then I can’t think about nothing else. So I’d slap her or something like that.”
Earlier this year, Turner told Jet magazine that he regretted many of his actions as a husband. “If I owe anybody an apology, that would be Tina,” he said. “I put her through hell with other women. I regret it today, but I can’t undo it.”
As for Turner’s reaction to the news of his passing, “Tina hasn t had any contact with Ike in more than 30 years. No further comment will be made,” her rep said in a statement to Access Hollywood.
Ike Turner married four times and had four children: Ike Jr., Michael, Ronald and Mia. Alongside his former wife, he was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Obituries / Grace Paley

Grace Paley

US writer of subtle and discursive short stories, poet and 'combative pacificist'

Mark Krupnick
Friday 24 August 2007 00.19 BST

Grace Paley, the American short-story writer and a prominent activist during the Vietnam period, has died of breast cancer aged 84. Her "combative pacifism", as she called it, took her to Hanoi in 1969, to Chile during the precarious rule of Salvador Allende, and to Nicaragua in 1985. Paley was what is known, in the US, as a "movement" person, which meant that political activism was part of her normal life, not an off-again, on-again response to the most spectacular crises. She joined the War Resisters League in the 1960s and, for years, could be found every Saturday handing out protest leaflets on a street corner near her New York apartment.
Paley's unglamorous, day-to-day activism caused her to be admired by other movement people, but it was her short stories that made her loved. She grew up in a Jewish immigrant family amid the sounds of Russian, Yiddish and English, and became as acquainted with the idiom of New York street talk as with the language of respectable literature. So Paley was able to create in her fiction a world of voices and an ethnic style that was uniquely her own. With her humour and humanism in mind, some critics compared her with the Russian-Yiddish storyteller Sholom Aleichem. But the truth is that the oral folk tradition was not lying around waiting to be inherited by a young American writer finding her voice in the 1940s. Her literary manner, which has the effect of simplicity and naturalness, owes a great deal to modernist self-consciousness about questions of style and form.
The confidence that enabled Paley to write like a turn-of-the-century Russian or a female Mark Twain in the Bronx owed a great deal to the happy circumstances of her early years. Her parents, Isaac and Manya Goodside, were revolutionary students in Russia, and her father had spent time in one of the tsar's prisons. But they were able to escape to the United States in 1905, thereby avoiding the worst pogroms that would traumatise Russia's Jews, particularly in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution. Like so many other eastern-European Jews without money, they settled in New York's Lower East Side.
Supported by his wife and sisters, Paley's father was able to study for a medical degree in New York. By the time she was born, the Goodsides were comfortable, though not rich, and had moved to the Bronx, which was then (1922) primarily Jewish and middle class. Paley was the much-loved baby in a household that included her father's mother, her parents and an aunt, a brother of 16 and a sister already 14. She recalled being much fussed over and strongly encouraged by her parents to accomplish all that she could. Paley evokes her own childhood self-confidence in her charming early story The Loudest Voice, which depicts little Shirley Abramovitz belting out the story of Jesus in her school's Christmas pageant.
At 19, Grace attended Hunter College and briefly New York University, but, abandoning her formal education in 1942, she married Jess Paley, a cameraman and film-maker. Because her husband was serving in the army from 1942 to 1944, she lived among other women, separate from their men, in army camps. She said that it was in these camps that she first became conscious that the ordinary lives of women were an actuality of great importance, albeit largely ignored in formal literature. She was writing poetry and continued after the end of the war, when she gave birth to her two children, Nora in 1949 and Daniel in 1951.
In the 1950s Paley turned to the writing of stories: she never wrote a novel, though she tinkered with drafts. Although she was starting late, it was as if, from the start, her voice was hers alone, as was her perspective on things. Critics greeted Paley's first collection, The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), with the kind of superlatives used in the same decade for first books by Flannery O'Connor and Philip Roth. Roth himself praised Paley for "a language of new and rich emotional subtleties, with a kind of backhanded grace and irony all its own."
Despite this reception and many fellowships and awards, it was 15 years before Paley published her second collection of stories, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. During those years, she had to fit her writing in among a wide range of activities, some of which had as great a claim on her as fiction. Most importantly, she was raising her children. Although she and Jess were not formally divorced until 1971, she was effectively a single mother during much of her children's early years. In 1972 she married a fellow writer, Robert Nichols.
Paley dedicated Later the Same Day (1985), her third collection, to her children, "Without whom my life and literature would be pretty slim". The body of work is small - Paley's Collected Stories (1994) takes up only 386 pages. Where did her time go? For over 20 years she taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. But the main non-family commitment was to politics. Sometimes it was upper-case "Politics", as when, during the Vietnam war, she literally put her body on the line at sit-ins, where she risked being trampled by the horses of mounted policemen. But sometimes it was the "politics" of ordinary life, at least the ordinary life of an advanced feminist with old-fashioned loyalties and emotions.
Her vicissitudes are well documented in Paley's stories about the compasssionate Faith Darwin, the fictional alter ego whose perils we can follow in Paley's successive collections and in Long Walks and Intimate Talks (1991), a thin medley of stories and poems that should be read alongside her attractive New and Collected Poems (1992).
In the stories about Faith, we have the portrait of a modern woman whose openness to life disposes her to have affairs with men who often let her down. Her closest relationships are with other women. Together they converse endlessly about their children, men and sick parents. In one story Faith has parents in an old people's home who wish only she would find a way to live that would cost her less pain. In the story A Conversation with My Father, her father wishes also that Faith would write fiction with a beginning, middle, and definite ending. But Faith counters with an explanation of her stories, with their seemingly plotless meandering, which might be Paley's own credo both as a writer and as a secular radical. She explains that she doesn't write well-made stories "because the traditional form of fiction takes all hope away". And for Faith, "Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life."
A new book of poetry, tentatively titled Fidelity: A Book of Poems, will be published next year. She is survived by her husband, son and daughter.

· Grace Paley, writer, born December 11 1922; died August 22 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Dita von Teese / This much I know / The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls

Dita von Teese

Dita von Teese

This much I know

The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls

Dita Von Teese, stripper, 34, London

Interview by Barbara Ellen
Sunday 8 July 2007 00.03 BST

Burlesque is not a style or a fashion statement. It's about striptease.
I always wanted to be someone. I had an Aunt Opal, who was very painted - green eye shadow, drawn-on beauty marks, flaming red hair. She smoked from a cigarette holder and swore like a sailor. Most people thought she was vulgar, but I wanted to be like her when I grew up.
I love the word stripper. It's a fabulous word. There's a lot of snobbery about burlesque. You hear it all the time: 'I'm not a stripper, what I do is different.'
Even when I did regular stripping, I was dressed vintage-style. I wasn't ever this tanned bikini babe swinging around a pole.

Dita von Teese

My martini-glass act is the one I've done more than any other. I've been performing it since 1993. I have about 15 other shows, but that's the one that always gets booked.
I'm more attracted to glamour than natural beauty. The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls. Then she had her hair bleached, fake eyelashes, and that's when she became extraordinary. It's that idea of what you're not born with, you can create.
I'm used to corsets now. A 22in, even a 16in, I know how to stand, walk, sit, stay composed.
I've never had any inhibitions about being nude onstage. I will think about what the steps are, how my costume comes off, but never the nudity. It's never even crossed my mind.

Men rarely say anything to me after a show. Maybe they're intimidated. It's usually the women who come up - a lot of them are inspired to bring elements of burlesque into their private lives.
People paint me out to be this person into exotic sex, which I am - I've said I'm into bondage and spanking. But I think a lot of people, if they were honest, would say, 'Yeah, that sounds fun.'
I like vanilla sex as much as the next girl. Sometimes when I date men, they feel they have to put on a show. I'm like: 'Stop trying so hard to impress me with your sexual perversions.'
People say, 'How can you be a feminist?' I would say, 'It's all about equal rights, isn't it?' And the second someone says you can't do what you love, do you have equal rights?
I've never been that girl out looking for a rich husband. I never wanted to have anyone say what I can or can't do. My soon-to-be-ex husband [rock star Marilyn Manson] asked me to quit my work so he could support me. I quickly realised that he wanted to change me. The things people like about you in the beginning end up being the things they don't like.
We were painted as this weird couple, because we had taxidermy in our home. But I've been to castles and there are all these hunting trophies and bear rugs.
We were so terribly in love. I never took him for someone who would exploit our divorce for the sake of records. I don't think people realise he used our marriage bed in that music video to have sex with that girl [Manson's new girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood]. And he wore his wedding ring. I just thought, 'Wow, this is kind of obsessive. I guess I still matter.'

Dita von Teese

I'd get married again. I'm not going to let one bad experience ruin it for the rest of my life.
I performed my show Liptease at the Cannes film festival. The room was full of big movie stars and producers. They'd never seen a girl take off all her clothes and ride a giant lipstick before. Sharon Stone came up to me afterwards to say how much she loved it.
I've had breast enlargement. It's so tiresome when people lie about their surgery.
Am I going to be frolicking about in my G-string in a champagne glass when I'm 60 years old? No. I'll be thinking about how to evolve accordingly.
· Dita is a spokeswoman for Viva Glam, the MAC range which supports men, women and children with HIV/Aids.



Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The naked truth about Tunick

Thousands of naked people crouch in Mexico City's main Zocalo plaza
during the massive naked photo session
The naked truth about Tunick
Spencer Tunick's mass nude photo shoots are nothing more than a wacky publicity stunt
Jonathan Jones
Monday 7 May 2007 15.20 BST

Art lovers? ... thousands pose for Tunick's latest photo shoot in Mexico. Photograph: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP
Criticise a popular artist like Spencer Tunick and you're inevitably accused of snobbery, but I'll come clean - I really don't believe anyone can mistake his sensationalism for art.
Tunick has just persuaded 18,000 people to strip off in Mexico City, for the latest in a series of mass nude photo shoots around the world. Well, good for him. He's got the publicity, and the participants doubtless enjoyed themselves, maybe even found it therapeutic.
But so what? Tunick's work isn't art, and no one who actually considered it for a moment would say it was. There's no interesting "thought" underlying his work nor is it a provocative challenge to what art is. His photograph-stunts are on the same level as a wacky advertising campaign. I find it contemptible the way Tunick is applauded for something so blatantly cynical.
I think many people secretly hate art. Not so long ago, it was perfectly respectable to express that loathing, at least for modern art, but nowadays art takes such a prominent role in our culture that most people feel obliged to pay lip service to it - yet the old loathing survives under the surface.
Why hate art? Because art is strange and alien. A urinal in a museum is peculiar but so is a marble sculpture of a nude Biblical hero. Duchamp's Fountain and Michelangelo's David remain odd, even when you think hard about them. There's never a moment when they become as accessible to us as, say, a good film or a gripping novel. Yet powerful institutions insist these are great works of art. The hatred of art wants to say: get lost, go away, this is just bizarre.
Ours is, after all, a world in which a couple of weeks ago, a column in the Guardian claimed the best exhibition in London is the V&A's Kylie show because it truly delivers the populism that "high art" (the example given was Gilbert & George) can only fake.
It seems to me that Tunick's fans are motivated - perhaps unconsciously - by a great revulsion at all the pretension and arrogance of high culture. Liking Spencer Tunick is a covert way of saying you hate art.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Thousands of Mexicans strip for photo shoot

México 2007
Spencer Tunick

Thousands of Mexicans strip for photo shoot

May 7, 2007 - 9:36AM

A record 18,000 people took off their clothes to pose for US photographic artist Spencer Tunick on Sunday in Mexico City's Zocalo square, the heart of the ancient Aztec empire.

Tunick, who has raised eyebrows by staging mass nude photo shoots in cities from Dusseldorf in Germany to Caracas in Venezuela, smashed his previous record of 7,000 volunteers set in 2003 in Barcelona, Spain.

Directing with a megaphone, Tunick shot a series of pictures with his Mexican models simultaneously raising their arms, then lying on their backs in the square, as well as another scene on a side street with volunteers arranged in the shape of an arrow.

Hundreds of police kept nosy onlookers away during the nippy early-morning shoot, and a no-fly zone was declared above the plaza.

One of the world's biggest and most imposing squares, the Zocalo is framed by a cathedral, city hall and the National Palace official seat of government, which is adorned with murals by Diego Rivera.

A ruined temple next to it was once the centre of the Aztec civilisation and was used for worship and human sacrifice. Spanish conquistadors used bricks from the temple to help build their own capital.

Some participants said the massive turnout showed that Mexicans, at least in the capital, were becoming less prudish.

Mexicans are not used to showing skin. Most men wear shorts only while on vacation, and women tend not to put on miniskirts because of unwanted whistles and stares.

"This event proves that really we're not such a conservative society anymore. We're freeing ourselves of taboos," said Fabiola Herrera, a 30-year-old university professor who volunteered to strip, along with her boyfriend.

The capital of the world's second-biggest Catholic nation, where tough-guy masculinity and family loyalty are held dear, has recently challenged some important traditions.

Last month, Mexico City legislators legalised abortion in defiance of criticism from church officials.

Also, gay couples are getting hitched in civil ceremonies thanks to recently passed laws in the capital, and lawmakers plan to debate whether to legalise euthanasia.

Not all Mexicans were impressed by the spectacle staged by Tunick, who was refused permission to hold his nude photo at the famed Teotihuacan pyramids outside the capital.

"They're losing dignity as men and women," said 63-year-old Armando Pineda, leaning against the cathedral and watching the now-dressed models leave the plaza. "It's an offence against the church."

The Mexico City metropolitan area is home to about 18 million people.