i n t e r v i e w :


  Amanda Lear for Night



photo: Enrico Miotti


Amanda Lear interview conducted by Robert Henry Rubin -
featured in NIGHT #48 magazine in New York in 2002; for further
information please contact e-mail address: bathtubgin@hotmail.com


NIGHT: Do you envision subject matter in three dimensions when you paint?
LEAR: No. I used to. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the result of years of learning at art school. Art school teaches you about perspective, about shadows, about three-dimensional drawing. About drawing the sketch, or painting the painting, as realistically as possible. But then, after that,you realize that you have to literally forget everything you have learned in art school and start completely new. Fresh. Like a baby. Like a child playing with colors. And, at that stage, you realize that perspective is not necessary. That three dimensions are not necessary. That you can still express whatever you are trying to express.emotions, a statement,whatever. Without the three dimensions. And you can paint completely flat. And you can play with the perspective. And that is what happened to me. I realized that. And I said to Salvador Dali, "Then all my years at art school were wasted?" And he said, "No, no, no. They were not wasted.Every painter has to go through all the classes and the learning but, after that, you have to do your own approach to art." And that is why, very often, the style of painters moves from one period to the next period.

NIGHT: Do you recognize periods within your artwork?
LEAR: Oh, yes. Completely. After living with Salvador Dali for so many years, my early work was very, very much influenced by Dali. And it was horrible. Now that I look back at it, I realize that I was doing a sort of phony, la Dali-esque, surrealistic type of art, which was grotesque because it didn't make any sense for me to be a surrealist. Surrealists fit only in that period when there were surrealists. De Chirico, Breton,Marcel Duchamp, and so on. That was in the Forties and in the Fifties - and then that was it. Nowadays you cannot paint surrealistic. So my early work was influenced by Dali. And then, after that, I moved to the south of France, to Province, and I discovered the bright sunshine, and the blue skies, and I remembered that my favorite painters at art school were Van Gogh, and Gaugain, and all those Fauve painters. So I started painting with bright colors, and painting olive trees and landscapes. And, after that, it moved to a very dark period. And so on and so on. It depends on the mood. It depends on the situation. And it is very strange, in the paintings that I have painted in the past couple of years, everything is red and black. Absolutely everything. All the paintings are red and black. And all my friends, at the time, were saying to me, "Why do you paint such tragic colors? Red? Black?" And I was also painting martyrs, and bleeding Christs, and a self-portrait where I am crying tears. All very dramatic. And I said, "I don't know why. I really don't know why I am painting this way but this is how I feel now." And, strangely enough, after that, tragedy happened. I lost my husband, my house burned down, and I lost everything. And then I realized that for the past two years, in fact, what I had been painting was a premonition. Completely premonitory paintings. Because everything was the colors of fire and ashes. Everything I painted was red and black.red and black.red and black. And very dramatic. And it really hit me that, perhaps, we know that something terrible is going to happen before it happens. We are not aware of it but subconsciously we know what is going to happen. And every tragedy, therefore, could be, perhaps, avoided. Like today [interview conducted in New York on September 11, 2001] there is a huge tragedy in New York. Did anybody expect it yesterday that today, rise and shine, there would be tragedy? I didn't know. So.my paintings have really changed dramatically over the years.

NIGHT: Describe your husband Alain-Philippe Malagnac killed in a fire in 2000.
LEAR: I met Alain-Philippe twenty-five years ago. He was, originally, the secretary to a French writer named Roger Peyrefitte. Roger Peyrefitte was a famous French writer who shocked everybody by writing a book about homosexuality called Special Friendship. He was a very famous name in French literature. And Alain-Philippe was his secretary and typing five orsix of his books for him. And I met Alain-Philippe, and we got married in Las Vegas, and we moved to the south of France. He was only interested in literature and collecting antiques. So he spent his whole life browsing through shops, finding old pieces of furniture. He started to write a couple of books. He was not interested in following me around the world, from television set to television set, watching me doing my shows, singing in discotheques. He did it a couple of times but it is true that it is a very boring thing to do. I mean, it's boring for me so you can imagine how boring it was for him. But we were desperately in love with each other. And I must say that his loss left me very distraught. But then I decided to go ahead with my work. When my husband died I had just signed a film contract and immediately the producers called me and said, "Alright. We understand, Amanda. Forget your contract."And I said, "No, no, no. I have already started shooting. I have already shot two scenes in the film. I'm not going to let you down. I will go on with the movie." So I finished the movie and, in fact, it did me a world of good. Because every day I had to go on the set, I had to go and put on makeup, and I was surrounded with people who would bring me coffee and say, "Are you alright? Are youalright?" And I realized that it helps to be surrounded by people. The worst was, and still now is, going back to my hotel room and finding myself all alone there. This is very hard, I must say,still now.

NIGHT: Did Salvador Dali tell you that you were destined to be alone?
LEAR: I don't think Dali said it. But the price of success is very heavy to pay. Life is very kind sometimes. You are very lucky. You get everything you have always dreamed of. Success. Money. The most beautiful boys in the world. The boyfriend. The fame. The glory. But you know that one day, perhaps, you will have to pay. But I never expected this. I thought that, perhaps, I will be hit by a disease like Liza Minnelli or have some kind of tragedy. I had, myself, quite a few tragedies. A car crash. I lost money. Problems with the taxes. But I didn't think of my home burning down and my husband being killed. That was a very, very heavy price to pay. And it makes you wonder. Is it all worth it? And the other thing is that Madame Destael, who was a famous writer, said that, for a woman, success is the brilliant mourning of happiness. For a woman having success means that she can forget about being happy. And I think that, perhaps, she was right. It is very difficult to be happy. Because, to me, being happy means leading a "normal" life.And I do not lead a normal life. I mean, staying in this hotel this week is not a normal life. Being taken last night to Le Cirque, and tonight to Mr. Chow, is not a normal life. Traveling first class is not a normal life. So how can anyone be happy if they don't lead a normal life? For me, a normal life is having a husband, and children, and cooking, and living what some people, perhaps, think is a boring life.But, to me, it is heaven. It is wonderful. Why not? Why not? I tried desperately with my husband to have that. Most of my friends criticized me. They said, "What the hell are you doing retiring in the country? You live in a farmhouse in the south of France. You should be in St. Tropez. You should be there with all the stars."And I said, "No. I love being in a farmhouse in the south of France. I have a dog, and two cats, and olive trees. Yeah, to you, it might look boring but to me it is wonderful. It is a normal life. I cook for my husband. I go every day to the market. This is happiness. And the rest, putting on false eyelashes and makeup, and going on television, is not happiness. It is work. It is not happiness".

NIGHT: Describe your home that burned down on December 17, 2000.
LEAR: This was my main residence. Therefore, it is a great loss. Because it was not just a holiday place. This was where I lived, and I had all my books, my memories, my paintings, the letters of Dali, the photographs, the video tapes, my jewelry, everything. So everything is gone at the same time. I kept a flat in Paris, and I have a flat in London, but they are not where I spent most of my time. Where I spent most of my time was there, in that house, in the south of France. Which had, over the years, become very important, very big, and absolutely full up to the ceiling with memories.

NIGHT: Did Salvador Dali give a magical wood piece to you?
LEAR: He gave me a piece of wood for good luck. And that's gone in the fire, as well. He gave me a few paintings, a few watercolors, a couple of sketches, many letters, and a little piece of wood. And all those things are gone. I have absolutely nothing left whatsoever from Dali. It is like he never existed.

NIGHT: What was magical about the good luck wood piece that Salvador Dali gave to you?
LEAR: They told him that it was a piece of wood from the Holy Cross. A piece of wood from the Crucifixion. But I don't think so. He carried it in an old sock wrapped up in the back of his pocket. He used to touch it all the time for good luck. He was very superstitious, I must say. He had a peacock feather, and he liked the color green, for good luck. He had quite a few superstitions.

NIGHT: Did Salvador Dali verbally compliment you?
LEAR: Well, what he considered to be a compliment was usually a very weird approach. The first time that we met he looked at me and he said, "You have the most beautiful skull I have ever seen." I was a fashion model then and I said, "What do you mean, a skull?" And he said, "Yes, a skeleton. You have the most beautiful skeleton in the world. " To me, being called a skull or a skeleton was not actually a compliment. But, with Dali, it was a compliment. Because he carried on, "What is beautiful is the inside which holds the structure together. It is like a building. The rest is just flesh around it and it melts away with old age but what remains is the skeleton, the bone structure, and the bone structure is what holds the whole building together." That was his compliment. And his compliments were all like that. He never said, "Oh, aren't you pretty?" Or "I like the color of your lipstick." Lord no, he never said any of those things. He said that I was clever and that what he liked in me was that I was intelligent. Which was a little bit offensive. Whenever people say to me, "You know, for a woman, you are intelligent," I find that very offensive. And he said to me, when he finally saw one of my paintings, he said, "It's not bad. For a woman." That was the range of his compliments.

NIGHT: Is a hermaphrodite the ideal being?

LEAR: Well, for the Greeks, the hermaphrodite was the ideal of beauty. Being half man and half woman. Or even having the body of a man and the intelligence of a woman - or the other way around. Or being fifty-fifty. Personally, I have met a few persons like that who were really quite strikingly beautiful, I must say. In Italy. In France. Really, really quite beautiful. I don't think it is the ideal of beauty, no, but I think it is a kind of beauty, which is very attractive.

NIGHT: Were you a fashion model for the model agency directed by Zoltan Rendessy in New York in the early 1970s?
LEAR: Very shortly. I came to New York, doing a couture show for Mary Quant, for the J.C. Penny stores, and we did a whole tour of the United States. We went everywhere for the mini-skirt. And because I wanted to stay in New York, I had to find a model agency. So there was the model agency, Zoli, and I was there a few months. I wasn't very much into modeling. It was not my cup of tea, I must say. Modeling was not like modeling nowadays. Nowadays you make millions and millions and it is a whole thing. In those days, in the early Seventies, I was never that great a model. I couldn't bare the idea of washing my hair every day, getting my nails all done, and going to all those go-and-see's every day, and fasting. I was in love also. All I wanted to do was go down to Max's Kansas City and fall in love with some pretty boy.

NIGHT: Did you and David Bowie compose songs together when you and David Bowie associated in 1974?
LEAR: No. We had, together, this idea of a song called Star, which I recorded when I was signed up to MainMan, David Bowie's management company with Tony Defries, but that song was never released. That was the only song that we ever collaborated on. That was the very first song I wrote. Nothing came out of our collaboration, I must say. I have a feeling, sometimes, that I taught him a few things - because he was a very fast learner. I remember teaching him about Fritz Lang, German expressionism, Salvador Dali, surrealism, all the things he was very eager to find out more about. And that was it. It stopped there. I never heard from him again.

NIGHT: For how long were you signed to a management contract with MainMan?
LEAR: I was there for over a year. They flew me to New York, at great expense, and they did nothing with me. They just let me hang around New York in a first class hotel. I did some photos. They threw a party for me.They had plans for me but eventually nothing came out of it. After awhile, I got tired of it.

NIGHT: When did you first exhibit your paintings?
LEAR: The first show was twenty-three years ago. Until then I didn't have the courage to show my paintings because Salvador Dali was telling me, "Don't show your paintings because women can't paint. They have absolutely no talent. Talent is exclusively masculine. Because talent is in the balls. If you have no balls, you have no talent." And I said, "What a load of crap." And he said, "It is absolutely true. Because there has never been a famous woman painter." And I said, "But come on. What about Mary Cassatt? What about Suzanne Valadon?" I gave him ten names of famous women painters and he said, "No. All they can do is paint pretty flowers or pretty babies. They haven't got that strength, that incredible force, which is in men's paintings." And, because of that, I was embarrassed to show my paintings. It took me quite awhile to finally get the courage to, one day, talk to a gallery in Paris, a very small gallery on St. Germaine, and say, "Would you like to show my paintings?" I had my first exhibition there. It was in 1979. And after that I had another one in Berlin, andonein Munich, and one in Rome. And I then did thirty or forty exhibitions all over Europe and that gave me more confidence to show my paintings. But I never exhibited in the States. The States is a different story because the galleries in the States do not want to take a risk. They think that an unknown painter from Europe is a risk, and an exhibition costs money, and, therefore, they prefer to rely on American painters, even if the galleries are very avant-garde. To me, showing at the Gracie Mansion Gallery in New York is an opportunity. The big problem for a painter is to get an opportunity to show. When you are a singer you go on television and millions of people see you. But when you are a painter, nobody sees your paintings. The paintings never get to go on television. The paintings never get to be in the newspaper. The galleries don't want to show them. It is very frustrating that you spend all your day doing these beautiful paintings and nobody sees them.

NIGHT: What should one say to an artist after one has seen an artist's artwork?
LEAR: It is better to say nothing. Personally, I prefer that people say absolutely nothing than to say something that they do not think. If  they don't really believe that it is beautiful then they should not say it is beautiful. But, also, it is different with me. I'm not like all the other painters - because I'm a famous singer or actress or whatever I am.There fore, the first attraction to my paintings is curiosity. People wil go to the gallery to see Amanda Lear. They are not going to the gallery to see a painting, as they do for any other painter. They go to the gallery to see Amanda Lear in real life. What does she look like? Is she real? Is she made of plastic? Has she got a wig on? Whatever. They come to the gallery to see me and then, once they've seen me, they look at the paintings and they say, "Oh. I didn't think they'd be that good. That is quite surprising." Blah-blah-blah. So, anyway, the first step is to get them to come to the gallery. Which is why every time I make an effort, and to me it is a great effort, to come to the opening night of my exhibitions. I hat doing it. I say, "Don't look at me. Look at the paintings." But they all stare at me and ask me for autographs. And I say, "No. Don't. Please. Look at the paintings. Judge the paintings. Make an opinion. Perhaps you will hate them, they are crap, they are badly painted, whatever. But look at the paintings. Don't look at me."

NIGHT: Have you continuously composed songs throughout your recording career?
LEAR: On all my albums, yes, I've been writing songs. And I realized that it is very frustrating when you do disco to write, to at least try to write, clever lyrics. Because nobody listens to the lyrics. People dance to the beat "Boom-Boom-Boom". They don't actually care about the lyrics. And I was trying to put those nice smart lyrics to pretty stupid songs. So, altogether, I don't think my songs will go down in history. People might remember a couple of my songs but that's it. But what strikes me is that, after so many years, many of the disco stars of my days disappeared completely. Nobody remembers them. And I've still got lots of big, big fans following me, and I'm still on TV, and I'm still working. So I think that, perhaps, that disco thing was just a phase and then there is some other thing in my career and it's not over yet. There might be some moreto come. There might be the theater. There might be more movies. There might be some other things. Perhaps the disco music was just a stepping-stone to some higher project.

NIGHT: Why did you disappear from the United States after your recorded music album entitled Incognito was released in 1981?
LEAR: I don't know. First of all, I kept receiving offers to sing in places in New York and every time I kept turning them down. I had some wonderful memories of my New York days. Way back in the days of Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Nico, all the friends I met here, and I didn't want to spoil  those memories by going back to a New York that I did not know. Where I would not know where my friends had gone. There are lots of people who have disappeared that I used to know in New York. They might look very old now.That would freak me out. I don't want to see old people - old people depress me. If I see some friends of mine and I realize that, in twenty years, they have aged, and they have got gray hair, it will give me a shock. It will really give me a shock. I did a charity show last year in Paris for AIDS and they got together all the disco stars of those days, Grace Jones, Gloria Gaynor, Boney M, they all came, and it was so embarrassing. Boney M, with gray hair. The Village People, you couldn't tell one fromthe other because they had all changed. Gloria Gaynor, a size bigger. I said to myself, "What am I doing with all these old people? It's Jurassic Park!" It took a lot of convincing to get me to come to New York now. Because I said, "No. I don't want to go to New York. I am perfectly happy in Europe." Over the years I became, also, a little more unapproachable. This is true. I like being alone. I don't go to parties. I don't go to clubs. I don't go out to dinner. I don't feel comfortable anymore with a lot of people. So it took a lot of convincing for me to come here. And as soon as I arrived here I spoke to a couple of people and I realized that New York has changed. It really has changed. It's not the New York I knew. But it is nice. It's obviously safer, cleaner. Yesterday I went to Times Square and it was Disneyland. New York is different. Very different. There was a whole sleazy side of New York, which was quite attractive. That whole sleaziness was fascinating. But that's obviously gone.

NIGHT: Do you receive residual monetary payments for your recorded music songs that are compiled and re-released on numerous Amanda Lear recorded music compact discs by record companies?
LEAR: Yes. I do. And that is very annoying because the record company owns all those titles and they do not ask me for my advice. They just decide to release The Best Of compilations and they put out a lot of very bad quality music. There are a couple of good titles but the rest are just titles to fill out the album. And I see everywhere in the shops these compilations. A new one just came out last week in Italy, it's a double album, it's got thirty-six titles, which is much too much, and I said to myself, "Why are  they doing it? I don't need the money that badly." But I have nothing to say about it. And they know very well that they cannot rely on me promoting it because I will not promote such records. Compilations, to me, are embarrassing. To bring out a compilation, to me, is to say, "Look. I have got no new material so please buy this. I need money to pay the rent." I think that is very embarrassing.

NIGHT: Do you object to your recorded music songs being re-mixed in an extended play format when your recorded music songs are re-released on compact discs by record companies?
LEAR: At least if they re-mix it there is an effort to be a little more creative. What's wrong with compilations is that they are not creative at all. Compilations are absolutely not creative whatsoever.

NIGHT: Have you been involved in the production when your recorded music songs are re-mixed and re-released on compact discs by record companies?
LEAR: No. Never. Never, never, never. They don't ask me for my ideas. They don't even ask me for a photo for the record sleeve. It's really bad. I like going into the recording studio and doing something new. Taking a risk. It's fun. It's exciting.

NIGHT: Did you write a novel published in France in 1987?
LEAR: I wrote a novel called L'Immortelle. The Immortal. Because I had a car crash, and I was not able to work for a few months, and because I got restless, I decided to write a novel. And it was a story about a woman who never, never gets old and she is miserable because she cannot get old. She is always young. She always looks twenty-five. She is always pretty. Everyone else around her ages and dies, and she just goes on looking like she does. I wanted to write the book because it was an anti-plastic surgery book. I was dead against the fact of remaining young forever so I wrote the book. It was a silly book. I don't think I'll write another book, ever. It is difficult to write a book. It is painful. You keep thinking you have done something great, you have gotten to one hundred pages, and you say, "Wow! I'm a genius. It's fabulous," and then you read it two days later and say, "It's a lot of crap. I might as well burn it. It's rubbish. No one will want to read it. It's terrible." The same with a painting. Sometimes I paint and I say, "I'm the best! Oh, my God! What a wonderful painting! It's beautiful!" And then I go to bed and the next morning I look at my painting with completely fresh eyes and I say, "My God! It's awful! It's hideous! How could I have done this?"

NIGHT: How do you know when you have completed a painting?
LEAR: It is never done. In fact, very often I am in the gallery, so it is too late, the painting is already hanging on the wall in the gallery, and it's been photographed, and I'm standing there and I say, "Oh, I wish I had a paint brush. Doesn't anybody see it? This, in the corner, it's badly done. I have to retouch it." I would even go in a museum, if it was hanging in a museum, and want to retouch it. Because I think it is never quite finished.

NIGHT: Was a biographical motion picture about your life produced?
LEAR: No. What happened is that out of my book, My Life With Dali, somebody wrote a script, and they wanted to do a TV movie based on that book, and  they mentioned that they would like Jeremy Irons to play Dali, and I said, "But who is going to play Amanda?" And they mentioned that perhaps Claudia Schiffer might be good to play Amanda Lear because I was a model then and she's a model now. And I said, "But can she act?" And they said, "Well, we'll see." So they gave her the book to read, and then she apparently read the book and she said to me, "Amanda, I really like your book. Who wrote it for you?" And I said to her, "I'm glad you liked it. Who read it toyou?" And that was the end of that.

NIGHT: Who is your favorite mythological person?
LEAR: Mae West. It has always been Mae West. When I was much younger I wanted to look like Kim Novak. I thought she looked fabulous. And then I saw all the movies of Mae West at the Cinemateque in London and I was absolutely fascinated by this irony, this self-setting herself up all the time, the tongue in cheek, the double entendres. I love all that. Ever since then I have realized that instead of putting everything on the looks, the body, the face, whatever, which is something that obviously will not last, if you insist on the wit, the brain, the repartee, then that is something that will last much longer. It has helped me a great deal, I must say. Because, even now, on TV, on talk shows, they say, "Oh, yes. Wemust have Amanda. She is so funny. She is so witty." Not just, "Oh, yeah. Amanda. She's got great tits." So it helps me a lot still.

NIGHT: What is the easiest way to capture the public's attention?
LEAR: Shock them. Salvador Dali told me, "When you meet somebody, kick him in the shinbone. They'll always remember it. Because it hurts like hell. If when you meet somebody you kiss them, you greet them, you offer them a drink, they'll never remember you because everybody does that. But they will always remember, even thirty years later, that son of a bitch who kicked your shinbone. That they will remember." That image was verystrong in me. I realized that if you want to make an impression, you have to shock people. Whatever you do.be a murderer, set fire to the hotel, say something that will really shock, talk dirty, whatever.do something that willattract attention.

NIGHT: Who did you want to meet but was then disappointed by when you did meet?
LEAR: Like everybody else, I like to meet some celebrities. But you are disappointed every time. Every time you meet a celebrity, you are disappointed. Because they are shorter than you think.they are older than you think.they are not as nice as you think. Their image very, very seldom corresponds completely to the real thing. I remember meeting Gina Lollobrigida, or Ursula Andress, or Madonna, and always,"Oh, my god. She is so short. Is that all there is to it?" You are always disappointed every time.

NIGHT: Have you hoped your life would turn in a positive direction by meeting a celebrity?
LEAR: No. But meeting a celebrity is something that would never happen to me. I would never queue or fight my way to go near some Pop Star or some Superstar, or to get an autograph. That's not me. But I understand 
that people do it and they think that their life has changed. "She touched me. Look! She wrote my name. I saw her up close. She is so beautiful." People are completely star struck. Not me. To me it would have to be a religious thing. I might get that way with the Pope. Last week I went to the Vatican in Rome, and I didn't meet the Pope, but I met the Monsignor, who is closest to the Pope, he is like the Pope's right hand, and we had a long talk, over an hour, all alone, in a beautiful little chapel in the Vatican. It was a fascinating experience, I must say. I felt very close suddenly to spirituality and to that very center of our religion. Perhaps because of what happened to me, it is true that I have become more into religion than I used to be. I am a Catholic. I believe in God.

 NIGHT: Do you believe in heaven and hell?
LEAR: Heaven and hell? Well, not quite like it is painted by William Blake. But I believe there is some great suffering here, in life, and the only way that can help us is religion. The only help we can get is from religion, absolutely. Because religion gives you the hope that things will be better afterwards. So it is like, "Okay. We are going through a terrible phase at the moment, we are going through a terrible life.but it is going to be much better afterwards. There will be no war. We are going
to have a lovely time." People live in that hope. If you think that after this life there is nothing then you might as well end it straightaway. Kill yourself immediately and that's it. But if you say, "No, no. I will hang around this bad time and things will get better," then you have hope.This is what religion is all about.

NIGHT: Does life make sense?
LEAR: I don't know if it makes sense but when you have tried everything else. I mean, in my case, I was so desperate I was suicidal. I went from psychoanalyst, to fortuneteller, to medium, to sensitive, to witch doctors, to whatever. I have tried everything. In the end, you say, "Well, why not religion? I've done everything else. I don't know which way to turn". And then you go to a priest and he tells you, "Yes, yes. God has wanted you to suffer." And you say, "Why me?" And he says, "Why not you? Why not? What is so special about you that you wouldn't be hit by tragedy?" And so you talk to the priest and eventually you say, "Yeah. Perhaps, religion is a help." Most of my friends have become Buddhists. They chant all day. And they say, "Amanda, try it. It helps." I did try it. And it doesn't help me as much. Or, perhaps, I don't do it right. But I am willing. I am willing to try. Why not? I'm not a fanatic.

NIGHT: Do you pray daily?
LEAR: Yes. Absolutely. I pray daily. Every day. More than daily. I pray all day. I think that love is the key. My life has been filled with love, and I have still got lots of love to give, and love is very, very important.

NIGHT: Did you read the unpublished obscene play that Salvador Dali wrote?
LEAR: Yes. He never finished it. But it is true he was writing a tragedy. A classic tragedy. It was about a virgin in love with a king.

NIGHT: Was the unpublished obscene play that Salvador Dali wrote a well-written obscene play?
LEAR: No. What was wrong with Dali was that whatever he did, he would say, "I have done this! Isn't it fabulous! I'm a genius!" He was so convinced that anything he did was genius. He never ever doubted for a second that he was pure genius. But even geniuses sometimes make a mistake. Not everything is fantastic. And he was convinced that he was a great writer. I would be tempted to say to him, "Just stick to painting. No way are you going to be a great writer. Stick to drawing." But he wanted to be a great writer like he wanted to be a great film director. He kept talking about directing a movie one day.

NIGHT: Were you disappointed when Federico Fellini told you to come back to Federico Fellini when you got old if you wanted to act in a motion picture directed by Federico Fellini?
LEAR: Yes. I was really disappointed because I really wanted to be in Satyricon. He took me to dinner, he was really nice, he was with his wife Giulietta Masina, and he said to me, "Eat fast. You are too thin. Eat. " They were adorable. And he said, "God, she is so beautiful. You are too pretty. But when you are ugly come back to me. I need a giant. I need a fat woman. I need dwarfs. I need monsters. I don't need pretty girls. " But I thought that, because he had used Nico previously, perhaps he might need a new Nico, a pretty girl. But he was not into that. So I never worked with Fellini. The few movies I have made, I must say, won't go down in history. Thank God for that. They will be completely forgotten.

NIGHT: Were you physically intimate with Salvador Dali?
LEAR: Me and Dali were great lovers. Physically lovers, of course. Which was very unusual for me because I had always liked pretty boys. I always go on and on about muscled bodies and all that. And, obviously, Dali was totally the opposite. He was much older than me. He didn't look that sexy. But somehow.he was a great seducer. He seduced me, and eventually got me into bed, and I became his lover. And all this was very surprising to me in the first place. To him, also. Because he kept saying, "I do not want to betray my wife. I am very much in love with Gala. I have never had a mistress before. Where will it all end?" And I said, "Well, I don't know." And he would say, "Well, I can't have a mistress. It is absolutely unthinkable. It would be betraying my wife. So the only solution that I can think of is let's get married." And I said, "Well, of all the solutions, I think that let's get married is the worst. You are already married." And he said, "No, no, no. It is not a problem. We could get married secretly, so you will be my second wife, and not my mistress. So, therefore, I would not have this guilt of betraying my wife. Because you would also be my wife." It was all very complicated in his head. He was trying to explain all this to me. And we spent a lot of time in researching a priest to marry us but we never found anybody and that was the end of that. But, for awhile, he really wanted to marry me.

NIGHT: Why did you like Salvador Dali?
LEAR: To me, years after, this is a question I have been asking myself with my psychoanalyst. Why, if he was not a nice person at all, he was cruel,he was selfish, he was slightly fascist.I really don't see why I would be attracted to this person. Perhaps he represented a father figure, which I didn't have. Was he also a teacher, an art teacher? A kind of guru? A man who helped me when I was in a great need of help? Psychological help because I was taking drugs? I don't know. There was something. Because I couldn't understand why, I had to write that book [Le Dali d'Amanda]. Thinking that, perhaps, by writing the book, it would all come clear to me. But, I must say, it is a surprise, as I look back, that I stayed so many years with him. I could have seen him, like so many other people, for a year or two and then disappeared. But it lasted sixteen. Seventeen years. A relationship. A long time.

Interview conducted by Robert Henry Rubin, 2002.

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