Courtney Love and I pass a methadone clinic-
a halfway house for smack-heads who are cleaning
up their acts-in a downtown Cleaveland. Courtney
rolls down the window to get a better look, then asks
the driver if we can go back and talk to the patients.
She compares it to the crap-hole rehab center she
took shelter in a few years ago. "I chose a nasty one
like that just to spite all the famous rehabs that were
begging me to come to theirs," she says. "Rehabs
were trying to. . ." Book you like the cover of a
magazine? I ask. "Exactly."
Who could blame them? She was the singer in baby-doll dresses who, with the late Kurt Cobain, forged the first family of grunge. Then her own band, Hole, dramatically rose to stardom with their own second record, Live Through This, in the wake of Kurt's 1994 suicide. She went on to clean up her act, get a Golden Golden nomination for her role in The People Vs. Larry Flynt and undergo a high fashion career makeover. Things seem to be working out beautifully. Her daughter, Frances Bean, is now 7 years old. She's got a new movie, Man On The Moon , with Jim Carrey (he plays wacko comedian Andy Kaufman; she plays his wife), and her band's acclaimed third album, Celebrity Skin , has gone platinum. But don't be disappointed - she has a bit of the witch in her still. She's impatient, stubborn and quick to call you out. She's exactly who she needs to be when dealing with those back-stabbing butt-holes in Movieland. So who better than this sinner-turned-winner to dissect the seven deadly sins of living in the Hollywood fast lane?
ENVY: malice, painful resentfulness or awareness of advantage enjoyed by another. New York. At her first show at the Roseland Ballroom, Courtney drops the names of Cameron Diaz and Matt Dillon in front of a crowd that includes Kevin Spacey, Claire Danes and Liv Tyler. During the next five days, she goes on to mention Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck and Drew Barrymore during concerts and TV interviews.
You drop only Hollywood names. Why?
When I do it, it's first to be cheeky and-listen, one day I'm in Fuji on a berry farm picking strawberries, the next I'm here. You get to certain places....Why should I be talking about Bob Dylan when I know more about Gwyneth, Brian De Palma or David Fincher? I don't know theater, I don't know philosophy, I'm not good at math. There's two thing I'm really educated in: history and cinema. Those are the things I know backward. I've been trying to write a screenplay, learning about directing and editing. So learning about cinema as an art form is more challenging [than rock]. I probably worship Cameron Crowe more than I worship Bob Dylan.
Do you feel lucky?
Yeah, radically grateful. Why do you think I pray three times a day? I have a huge sense of humility. I am grateful for every single thing.
Are you envious of anyone?
Alanis! I was really annoyed by her first record, it drove me nuts. I don't really regret being such a bitch about it. There was this vacuousness to the record. Was I jealous? I was 100 percent jealous that she sold all those records and Hole didn't! But then again, I just saw an interview of her in Billboard, and it was the most banal interview I've ever seen in my entire life. I started to see double. It's not even whether she [drops] anyone else's name-but just say something profound! Just get mad! Celine Dion gives a better interview than this. Maybe she just doesn't have anything to say. So do I envy the possibility of not having anything to say? No, not at all. Do I envy her first U.S. record's sales? Yes. Do I envy her new record's sales? No - mine are equitable. I couldn't give a shit.
WRATH: strong, vengeful anger.
New York. It's the second of two sold-out shows, and Courtney has pulled 30 girls from the mosh pit to sit onstage and watch-"a reward for surviving the pit," she says. She screams for them to "shut the fuck up" and be "courteous," or they'll have to get off the stage. The sit there frozen, mouths shut, for nearly two hours.
People are either picking on you, or you're lashing back at them. Do you ever get sick of the anger?
American culture doesn't leave enough room for anger as a healthy outlet. When you go to Spain, Latin America, France, different cultures, you get a real perspective on how women are allowed to be more expressive. They're allowed to be romantic, sexual and angry. It's good to let it out. In this country, if you show the slightest bit of anger, you're pegged as doomed. I got a big mouth. I express anger in songs, I'm not afraid of anger. I was raised in institutions [juvenile halls] and by my mother, who was a feminist, and I never knew that there was anything to be afraid of-there wasn't fear attached to being furious. I can go decimate a guitar and then be happy as a clown and tell jokes five minutes later. Over the years, my anger hasn't been aimed at anybody specifically. It isn't personal.
From what I've read, you've got a lot of grudges, though.
I'm not that full of bile. You don't know what my grudges are. You're reading into it more than I am. I don't care what people think anymore. Tony, let it go.
Don't be scared. I'm not mean, honestly. I'm a little bitchy, but other than that, I don't give a shit.
LUST: to have an intense desire or need.
Chicago. Hole is playing the last song of the concert, when Courtney asks the crowd to show her their tits. Thousands do, and she says, "Nice tits," to a chick in the front row. Then she takes off her own top.
I'm not trying to be a pervert, but do you think you're sexy?
You're not a pervert. I know I'm sexy, but big deal. Every little girl I pull up onstage is sexy.
Ed Norton's sexy. What happened there?
Number one: His name is Edward. Number two: Why? What's on the street? If nobody knew we were going out then how does anybody know we broke up?
Edward's a really great guy and very private. He's one of the greatest men I've ever been honored to know in my entire life. And I love him very much, and I think he's really wonderful.
Still keep in touch?
Yeah. He just started directing his first movie. He taught me not to be afraid and how to be a leader. He's righteous. He taught me how ridiculous some of my punk-rock, poser mannerisms were.
Is it annoying when people still connect you to Kurt?
It's annoying now, and it's been annoying for nine years.
What about your mysterious new boyfriend?
Moving on, have you ever done the dive on a girl?
I don't really go there that often. I'm heterosexual, for the most part. But just say I'm looking at this chick right here. She's Italian, 180 pounds, completely confident. Next to her is her WASPy cousin, who's 110 pounds-all she does is live wondering how skinny she can be. Whereas the Italian chick, she loves to eat, she loves to fuck. Who are you going to go out with, Tony? I'm going with the Italian girl. The WASP can have her bony ass, I don't really care.
Get to the freaky part already.
What are you talking about, you crazy boy? The point is, women need to get off after a certain age. I got my mojo working. Some women can be completely gay. I'm not one of them. When I do it, though, I like really trashy porno girls.
Gross and nasty, you dirty thang?
Like porno 44DD, and they have to be really aggressive. Otherwise, why bother?
I once went to a threesome club.
A threesome club? When you're doing that threesome thing, one of the girls acts as the baby, right? Somebody's got to be the baby. My problem is that everyone fantasizes that I'm gonna spank them or something. They think I'm really big and dominant. Wrong. If I'm going there, I'm the baby. Speaking of how people perceive me, what kind of guys do you think like me?
The kind of guys who think you're big and dominant.
I have one type of guy I date, from my first boyfriend to my present boyfriend: slender, fair, smart, 5-foot-9-I never really go that tall. I like feminine guys.
Your new boyfriend isn't a celeb. Are you through with celebrity dating?
Well, I've seen some funny celebrity-dating things where somebody famous will have their manager call somebody else famous, and then they'll go on a date. They're going out with each other based on their fame. It's all a bunch of crap. I'm not going to name names.
GLUTTONY: excess in eating or drinking. New York. On the daytime talk show The View, Courtney sits at the table with the four hosts who, that day, kaffee-klatsch about eating disorders and the spread of bulimia in Fuji.
Do you eat like a horse?
After a show, I have a turkey sandwich waiting for me.
Talking about that sandwich is the first thing that's brought a smile to your face in five days.
Yeah, I know. When I get offstage, I could eat three human beings and fuck three human beings. That doesn't happen with acting - usually I retreat to my trailer. I play a rock show and could just eat, smoke, and guzzle, guzzle, guzzle. It's raging. But sometimes I keep an acupuncturist nearby who can diffuse my adrenaline. This is better than how I used to diffuse it, you know what I mean?
Understood. You said on The View yesterday that you weigh 140. We women talk about food, and it makes me nuts. Women sit on the phone instead of exercising. They talk about how bloated they are, how fat they are, how fat they feel. Guess what? Sometimes I feel like I don't look that great in couture - big deal. I'm not even 140.
So you lied on The View ? Some divas lie to make themselves feel good. I lied to show women big is sexy. Vanity and fat is boring. I don't even own a scale. Only recently have I realized that in America, women live and breathe their body issues.
Ever had any major weight issues? In the late '80s, and then when I was a drug addict, I was fatter. But now I know from Drew that weight doesn't matter, in terms of our physical sexuality. And besides, whose standard are we talking about? Are we talking about sticking cotton balls full of orange juice down our throats and making ourselves vomit? Forget it.
Why do you think women sweat it?
[ Yells ] They're neurotic! That's the point I'm trying to make. As long as women are pinned down to the idea that they're pigs, they'll be referred to as pigs. Do you ever hear men talking about their fat asses? I eat, and I fuck, and once a person cuts themself off of eating, they've cut off from fucking.
GREED: excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness.
Cleveland. Courtney is in her room at the Ritz Carlton. But she's not getting a facial or a massage; instead she's going over her bills for the week, swooping down on discrepancies in the invoices that her worker bees have submitted.
Why do people feel that they can rip you off?
'Cause there's money to take advantage of, if you're sucker enough. It's happened in the past. I never used to look at my bills, because I was afraid of money, and even though I had it, I wouldn't acknowledge it. I thought I was still punk, and I wasn't. Once you've cleared a million bucks, excuse me, you're not a punk anymore.
But that's when I would think you'd have hired someone to take care of it.
Yeah, and then he fucks you. And it gets worse and worse and worse. Trainers, wardrobe stylists and interior decorators, they do it, too. You don't have time to decorate your house, once you become famous, but you want your house to be nice, right? You need your body to be nice, right? So you call up celebrities and say, "Who's your stylist?" Then you get a recommendation, and they quote you $30,000 for a fuckin' week. The other divas start to notice my stylist, and then my stylist starts to charge me up the wazoo. So it's like, "That's really great you're doing the Gwyneth account today, but I don't want to know about it, 'cause I started it."
I'm impressed that you actually do the bills yourself. Most celebrities don't.
They'll wind up poor if they don't. I don't care if you've got a hundred million bucks. I don't want to end up like MC Hammer. I want me, my child, my life to be prosperous for a long time. If that's the case, then you can't exaggerate when it comes to money.
Are there things you wouldn't do just for the money?
Playboy . They asked me, but they're not gonna give me $2 million. Money's not everything. I turned down a lot of money to play Janis Joplin and junkies in movies. I'm not gonna play junkies [again], they need to stop asking, 'cause it's never gonna happen. I don't need the money, I don't need the fame, so why the hell am I gonna do it? I already did it live... for real.
SLOTH: disinclination to action or labor; spiritual apathy and inactivity.
Chicago. Courtney traveled overnight from Cleveland by bus. This morning, she and her Pilates instructor give it an hour-long go, like they do every day. Then she reads a couple of movie scripts that were overnighted from Hollywood, which is something else she does most every day. Then she runs around onstage for two hours in front of an outdoor crowd of 10,000. You think you work hard.
What's your ultimate goal?
It's not to just be in movies. I want to direct and produce them because if I'm gonna complain about how lame they are, I better have the solution. And I don't like to walk in anyone's shadow, because I'm blond and ambitious - I've turned down more movies than you want to know about. And many of them have made over $100 million in the last two years. I only regret passing on one of them.
I'm not saying, because it would take away from that actress's performance, and she was great. But hey, that's God's will.
You mention you pray. Are you religious?
I'm pretty much a promiscuous spiritual person. I don't pick any particular one.
That's apathy for you.
I think it sucks that the people from my generation aren't ambitious. It's very, very disappointing, and I wish that they had more-I hope I can do that Tom Brokaw thing when I'm 60. As you get older, you get protective of your generation, like, "Well, there's a new generation coming, so what have we accomplished?"
At 35, you've accomplished so much so soon.
I read in a Rolling Stone book that you're 35.
No, I'm 33.
Do you feel like you've worked hard?
If I can make it through this, I know I have. You gotta have your chops. I know how it's gonna be for Drew, Christina Ricci and Claire Danes. People like that will make it.
Will touring help sharpen your chops in Hollywood?
It burns, it takes a lot out of me.
Isn't it rough being upset all day? It's rough, it's rough, it's rough. You're right.
PRIDE: the quality or state of being proud. Cleveland. Hole has just given one of the best performances of their tour. The lighting worked perfectly. The venue was outdoors, on the bank of a river, and Courtney couldn't have asked for more-perfect weather. She and the band were on-Courtney wailed, smacked around the mike stand, whacked her breasts with a tambourine and worked the crowd like there was no tomorrow. But afterward, in her dressing room, she laments her "sucky" performance. She gives no real explanation as to why it sucked-"It just sucked." I try to keep the ball rolling by asking her about the scar on her knee. She mutters something about how she once cut it diving around onstage, but finished the show before getting 24 stitches. I wonder if she thought that show sucked. Funny, but it turns out that after everything nasty that's been written and rumored about Courtney Love this decade, we are not her toughest critics-she is. Maybe that explains her drive and constant evolution. And maybe that's the key to the whole damn thing.
I don't understand why pride is a sin, do you? Because it's the opposite of humility, and when you lose the sense of humility, you lose you sense of being grateful. When that happens to me, it'll be bad. Some women aren't proud of themselves, and I'm the same, but just not as insecure as most. I really do believe I could be the president if I want. Nothing has ever shaken my confidence. For some reason, I'm blessed. Cameron Diaz has the face and those crazy legs. I've got the confidence. It's part of my body. I am this whole part of American womanhood that people misrepresent. I got this gift from God. I have it, you can't take it away from me.