So, I hear you’re doing theatre now. What’s the play about?
Well, the character that I’m playing in Lady Oscar is a lot like Anna Wintour, if you know Anna Wintour from The Devil Wears Prada. She works at a large magazine like W or Vogue, and she is a difficult woman — she’s not easy. But then her daughter gets pregnant from the driver, her husband runs out on her, her job… Well, her whole world comes tumbling down. So, it’s like two hours of this woman having a break down while she tries to fix everything. It could be a sad play, but I bring a sense of humour to the role, and it’s been a huge success.
Do you think a sense of humour is important to your work?
Totally, darling! I can’t take myself too seriously. I mean, look at me! It’s impossible. I’ve met so many celebrities who take themselves too seriously. You would be shocked by how many people will say things like, “Do you know who I am? I am such and such. I am the greatest actor!” And, you know, I think it’s ridiculous because we’re all trying our best to do our jobs. I am totally up for making fun of myself.
You’ve dated quite a few famous people in your life.
When I was young, yes.
Did the people that you’ve dated, like Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, have a good sense of humour?
Bryan Ferry is a wonderful boy, I must say. Uh… I’m not sure about Bowie. I don’t think he had a sense of humour about himself. I think Paul McCartney did — a lot of people do have it. Lady Gaga makes me laugh, but for another reason entirely. [She laughs]
My next question is: so many people have called you their muse, but who’s inspired you?
Who inspired me? Hmmm… I don’t know. In terms of voice, I like that sort of jazzy voice, you know? I like it to be little bit bluesy — the kind of voice where she is not perfect. She sounds a little bit sleepy and very sexy.
Like your voice?
Oh, thank you darling. I’ve been working so much on my voice. When David Bowie sent me to my voice teacher, he was training me to have a much higher voice. Then when I arrived in the recording studio, they made me smoke I-don’t-know-how-many cigarettes and drink whiskey, so that my voice was low and husky like Marlene Deitrich’s — like I was a woman who’d had a very hard life, you know?
Do you still drink, smoke, and have as much fun as you used to?
Oh, no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no. I am on stage every night, and when you’re in the theatre you have to be totally focused. I have to be exactly perfect every night.
One of the things I want to ask you about is how Dali taught you to manipulate the media, to be an entertainer.
Yes, yes. It’s true. He was a great teacher.
What are some of the tricks that he taught you?
Darling — journalists often ask me questions about things that I’m not interested in talking about, so he explained to me how I should behave during interviews. It’s very simple: if you’re absolutely sure of what you want to say, there’s no problem. Dali had a knack for being in the media. Many painters live a very secluded life and never appear on TV, but he was exactly the opposite. He was always on TV, always making a show of himself. He was my teacher in becoming famous. He and Andy Warhol had a knack for it.
Is fame still important to you?
No, no. Not at all. What’s important is to pay the rent. I was never really seeking fame. There are so many girls that are absolutely desperate to find fame, but I’m probably the opposite. I’m hiding away. I live my own life, but somehow whatever I do it gets in the papers. If I were seeking fame I would make myself seen much more often by going on all those red carpets and showing myself off in a ridiculous dress like they all do.
Like Daphne Guinness?
It’s funny you should mention her, darling. On the holidays she came to me and she was all, “Amaaanda Leeear! Remeeember me?” And I thought, “Oh, well, not really…” I was wondering what the lady from 101 Dalmatians wanted with me! You know, Cruella Deville? And she was saying, “Don’t you remember that we met forty years ago with Salvador Dali?” I didn’t remember her, but she remembered me! [We both laugh]
So, you don’t want to be part of the fash pack?
You know, Riccardo Tisci said I was the inspiration for his last Givenchy collection and invited me to his show. I was sitting in the front row, and I see all those fashion ladies — like Nicole Richie or whatever — and I think that people like that spend their life going from one fashion show to another. God, I don’t know when they find time to sleep! [She laughs] I don’t have time for a sex life anymore — I don’t even get time to myself!
You don’t have a sex life at the moment? I find that hard to believe!
Oh, you know, you find time. I cannot do it in the evening because I’m on stage, so I try and squeeze in time for sex between two and five every afternoon. [We laugh]
Well, almost everyday. I read that to keep fit in old age, you have to eat some garlic everyday, have three coffees a day, eat a little bit of black chocolate every day, and most of all, you must have 21 orgasms a month.
It’s true, darling. Everyone thinks that the older generation should have less sex, but no way — it’s exactly the opposite. Luckily for me there’s this new generation who like their cougars — I hate the word cougar by the way — and younger guys actually do fancy older ladies that look after themselves. It’s wonderful! I think once it was called gerontophilia, but now it’s just called ‘fashionable’. [She laughs]
So, is it true that you’re a nature lover?
A nature lover.
A creature lover? Shit, darling — what is that?!
No! A nature lover! You know, trees and birds and sunshine?
Oh, yeah! I’ve moved to the country and I spend as little time as possible in Paris, except when I’m working. I like to go down south where there are lots of trees and the weather is beautiful. I grow fruit and vegetables, I use lots of olive oil, I do a bit of gardening, and whatever. Every time I’m doing the show, most of my friends are buying mink coats or a watch or jewellery, but I would prefer to buy an olive tree. And now I’ve got a garden full of trees, which makes for a much healthier life than filling your closet with mink coats.
Wikipedia says you have a goat called Fergie!
She died, unfortunately. I kept her for over twelve years, so she died a good death, the poor little thing. She was a wonderful goat. She was a bit reddish and she had a resemblance, so I called her Fergie.
As in the Duchess of Pork?
Well, yes. She had the same walk! [She laughs] And I’ve got a dog and at least nine or ten pussycats. I adore animals. They don’t lie to me, and they don’t mind if I don’t wear makeup, so I much prefer them to a man.
Do you have a favourite?
Do you have a favourite animal?
Oh, yeah! I thought you meant men. I do: I adore my pussycats. For Christmas, I was given a black cat because I wanted a black cat to call ‘Lady Oscar’ like my play, but they gave me a little black boy, so he’s called Oscar until I have his balls cut off and then I’ll call him Lady Oscar. [We both laugh] I’m sure he won’t mind.
So, who is your favourite man then?
Oh, my favourite man? Dead or alive? [She laughs] I’m not crazy for movie stars or actors. They’re not very beautiful these days, where as they used to be.
Who’s been the best kisser out of the famous people you’ve dated?
David Bowie was the best. Wait — do you mean the best lover?
Weeell, David Bowie was good in bed, I must say! He’s very creative, very imaginative, you know? [She laughs] The problem was that when he would sleep over here he was making my pillows dirty because he didn’t remove his makeup before he went to bed. But he was great — he was really good in bed.
Did you hear that Patsy Stone from Ab Fab is based on you?
Oh yes — Joanna Lumly modeled herself on me for Ab Fab. I adore Ab Fab! When they made a version in French, the director of the movie called me to play in the film, but the other girl who played Edina didn’t like me and insisted on having another French actress, so they shoved a blonde wig on her so that she’d look like me! It was a terrible flop.
Are you anything like Patsy?
People think I am just like Patsy, but when they get to know me in real life, they realize I’m nothing like her. You know, I’m not obsessed with fashion and being seen. I’m not smoking dope and pulling boys. I’m very together
Do you like that people think of you that way?
It’s good to have a double life, to have people say, “Oh, you know Amanda Lear, she’s always drunk and this or that.” But the real Amanda Lear you’re more likely to spot at the markets buying cat food or whatever! [She laughs] I enjoy leading a normal life; I enjoy travelling alone. I don’t need to be chased around by a twenty year old secretary like Mariah Carey, who has all these people running around after her, and you’re not even allowed to look straight in her eye, and for what reason? What is this nonsense? She’s just a girl! A fat girl, I might add. [We laugh] I like to lead a perfectly normal life, and then when people want I can put on the face of Amanda Lear. You are acting as ‘Amanda Lear’ on stage or television, but off-screen I just want to be a normal person.
From Oyster #98