Qualifiers such as eccentric, original, even icon get bandied about these days like so many gold stars at a Silver Lake school event: every one is special!.. Um, not any more than your mom is an eccentric original…
One who can claim a crown of gold stars is Courtney Love. She might not win mother of the year, and her latest tweets speculating on the whereabouts of the lost Malaysian airliner might have fueled another round of mocking from the peanut gallery. But since we first met in 2000 in a downtown L.A. alley after a Rick Owens show, Courtney remains one of the truly authentic voices out there.
This is my second cover for the Winter 2014 issue of 7Hollywood Magazine, one of seven starring Karl Lagerfeld, Laetitia Costa, Irina Shayk, Jared Leto, Dakota Fanning and Carine Roitfeld (my personal second cover for this issue, and it appears earlier on this site).
With new management and a determined resolve to return to acting, a memoir in the works, new songs set to release, and a fashion line in the offing as a new generation of designers and fans adopt her iconic style, Courtney Love is cleaning house and moving forward.
In bed, Courtney Love is raw. She is at turns tender and savage, spontaneous and coy. She can be intensely funny, intensely smart and equally reckless. A round ceramic ashtray between us is filling as she sparks another cigarette, with just enough time to allow for a dramatic pause in our latest story exchange.
Too many tales to count, let alone recount here given Love’s penchant to dizzyingly annotate—1980s hardcore bands in Los Angeles; collecting Art Deco glassware; this year’s Tony winners; her first crush Michael Beck as Swan in The Warriors. A plot line on a nearby plasma set seems tailored for this disparate pop culture medley: Cherie Curie, The Runaways legend-turned-chainsaw carving artist is teaching the Kardashian clan to hack a wood stump into a bear. “They have no idea who she is!” Love bellows out, engrossed by her one-time idol on TV. After straying into a memory of enlisting the closet organizing services of the pre-reality show Kardashians, she launches into a sultry, modified “Cherrybomb,” Curie’s biggest hit: “Hello Daddy! Hello Mom! I’m your cha-, cha-, cha-, cha-chainsaw bomb!”
Her powers of recall in even the finest of points are something to behold, even if not every fact checks out. She is always too close to call her on it, her storytelling too entertaining to matter. The late-night rendezvous inside her Beverly Hills hotel suite conjures Six Degrees of Courtney Love.
“I’m thinking ‘The Girl With The Most Cake’ as the title,” she offers of the pending memoir for Harper Collins. The book is only one of the reasons Love is putting herself back out into the spotlight again.
Nights before, she was hurling a dozen floppy roses into every direction like nails from a homemade bomb. The overture was welcomed with deafening affection among the mutual Love society packing the Troubadour in West Hollywood that included old friends Roddy Bottom of Faith No More and Jennifer Precious Finch of L7, and new kid Lana Del Rey. “I’m not trying to fill the Staples Center…I’m playing a 300-person venue. It’s obviously going to sell out,” she self-effacingly notes. “There was no album to promote, no T-shirts to buy. It’s fine to see me at a small venue—once in a very blue moon. The worst thing you can do to a band is put them on the road and barely break even.”
That happened with the 2010 album release tour for “Nobody’s Daughter,” with a Hole comprising of non-original members. She regretfully calls it “the worst flop,” due to failed marketing and sponsorships from business decision missteps. This time, she is embracing her solo status with a strong band that has her back, and two upcoming singles, “California” and “Wedding Day.”
With a new manager in her corner, she’s re-applying herself toward acting. “I’ve told him all the worst shit, and he doesn’t care. He is not afraid of wielding his power or being rejected.” Her disclosure she had been close to being considered for the theatrical adaption of Venus in Fur, thanks to the urging of friend and director Brett Ratner, is provocative given her Golden Globe nod for the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt. “I interrupted that part of my career—for a decade,” she said, laughing. “But I’m committed to it now.”
She’s also devoted to Never the Bride, a clothing collaboration with Phillipa “Pippa” Greenbank. The pair met through Gareth Pugh, and is shopping a business plan to secure funding. It includes an up-cycle capsule of expertly reworked vintage and a ready-to-wear collection scaled for wider distribution. “I’m really passionate about this—just not about the industry. Fashion is evil. But Pippa’s really good with those people. She’s a person no one wants to harm. She’s a good girl who’s come through the ranks the right way.”
At the sight of their one-off designs in a recent editorial, Love gushes. “What a rush seeing a 16 year old in my dress and no mention of my name!” This is not the same as designers co-opting her style, even if they are friends. Ricardo Tisci considers Love a long-time muse, and Hedi Slimane appeared to have raided her closet for his Saint Laurent Fall 2013 collection. “Except,” Love was quick to note at the 7Hollywood shoot, I never wore Doc Martens.” Slimane confirmed his inspiration by photographing Love inside her New York home for the ad campaign.
The images are a stark contrast from the goddess Avedon conjured for Versace’s 1998 campaign. “There’s a lot of movement in his work with Marilyn Monroe, and he had me do the same thing. I thought it was a little naff at the time. Now I think it’s genius. I didn’t even know who Avedon was. I had to be reminded of what moment I was in. ‘You’re in front of Avedon. Shut up and be a good girl. Enjoy your moment. It’s not about you! It’s about the moment!’”
Some 15 years later, Love is following that advice. Her yoga practice might be dragging. And there’s the smoking. But healthy is relative. Her relationship with daughter Francis Bean is better than ever. “I went to my daughter’s new house in West Hollywood the other day, near her godmother, Drew [Barrymore]. Frannie’s 21 now! The house is beautiful.”
Love is as ready to put any messy past behind her, metaphorically and literally. “I have to deal with 14,000 square feet of storage here in L.A. We’re getting three dumpsters—one for selling, another for keeping and another for tossing. There’s going to be clothes. Really grand Norma Desmond pieces like giant armoires. I had a big Art Nouveau phase. It’s going to be like Christmas. There’s a documentary in there!” she teases.
Has she considered an auction? “I’ve talked to Butterfield’s. But so much of it isn’t in good condition. The upholstery is stained. There are silk Art Déco rugs with giant moth holes. I took the best pieces to New York. But I’m entering a new phase. I’m really into modern…like Vladimir Kagan… I want modern in my life. When you move into a new place in your life, you want new everything.”
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