Jan 24 2011

This Much She Knows: Keeping In Touch With Sandra Bernhard

Published by at 8:49 am under Sandra Bernhard

Seeing Sandra Bernhard’s movie Without You I’m Nothing was one of the major milestones of my aesthetic coming of age. To quote the movie, I felt like Columbus Crossing the Atlantic, I had found the new world. People could talk that smart? Behave that outrageously? Whaaaa? It’s a film I have watched more times than I could count. You can watch a great clip from it on the Uranium Madhouse 9 Muses Page.

It’s a great movie considered by itself, but it also made me aware of so many icons and cultural currents that I had had little awareness of prior to that: the world of the Factory, Nina Simone, Patti Smith, Sylvester, Laura Nyro, and many others.

While I always enjoy Sandra, I haven’t liked what I have seen of her since then to the same degree. She will always have a place in my heart, though, for Without You I’m Nothing. And she is someone I always enjoy coming across. In this interview in the Guardian, she doesn’t disappoint.

Posing for Playboy was a feminist statement. I wanted to say it’s OK to be comfortable in your own skin and that you don’t have to be obsessed with your body.

When I was growing up, the idea of fame ran in tandem with being a great performer – people loving you and celebrating you because you made them feel good and you took them places they couldn’t take themselves. The reality TV culture we live in now celebrates fame without anything to back it up: people on reality shows don’t inspire. They’re just there to laugh at and mock. It’s destructive.

And the money quote:

The ability to connect to my creative source is one of my biggest achievements.

Check out the whole piece.

To quote one of your muses, Sandra, you make us feel…mighty real.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “This Much She Knows: Keeping In Touch With Sandra Bernhard”

  1. kefiraon 25 Jan 2011 at 1:01 am

    I’m glad you find her inspiring. Let me just take the Playboy quote–cuz I’m really into the feminist angle. I’ve noticed that as a female’s star fades more and more clothes come off. I’ve read rationalizations of women who pose for playboy like “the girls of the Ivy League” photo shoots. They say stuff like “I wanted to show that a woman can be smart and beautiful.” Or a muscular (voluptuous, red headed, short) woman says “I wanted to show that a woman could be strong (or curvy, or short, or freckled or fill in the blank) and beautiful.” We all want to believe that we are doing GREAT WORK. For example, supermodel Cindy Crawford (who also posed for Playboy) believed her work was socially valueable because “I made it OK for a woman to have a mole and still be beautiful.” Hugh Hefner deserves credit because he does actually seem to like women–but it’s still porn, and the porn industry is exploitive of women. Actually, I think it thrives on our Puritanical attitudes. My mother once made a suggestion that makes sense: At certain points in the day, everyone should just take their clothes off. Maybe clothing really should be optional. It would be like legalizing marijuana. Who would want to sneak and pay a big price if it were readily available?

  2. Andrewon 25 Jan 2011 at 1:06 am

    She posed for Playboy over fifteen years ago, I believe.

  3. kefiraon 25 Jan 2011 at 2:00 am

    Thought provoking as ever, Andrew. You inspired me to find the section of “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft dealing with pornography and abusive men. Bancroft is on the cutting edge and front lines of the new world of counseling for men convicted of domestic violence. (It was only until the 90’s that men were actually convicted in courts for DV). He lays out the role of pornography in an abusive man’s mindset. More than any “feminist” tract I’ve read, this makes it pretty clear how damaging porn can be in the wrong hands. I just wrote about it on my blog–I was so inpsired by you to find out why the Playboy quote made me nervous. I’ve quoted extensively from the book (unusual for me) because he really says it best. You might find it interesting, although not formatted correctly: how do you make those cute little blocks of text?