Gadfly: I wanted to
start by asking you to describe the various Mariannes
who have manifested themselves over the years.
Marianne: There were quite
We begin with the angelic
the virgin on the pedestal.
But quite unlike Britney,
in that I never said I was a virgin. In my day, we couldn't
wait to lose our virginity.
You looked so much more
pure and innocent. Britney looks like a slut. She has
a hard, used looklike a hooker.
Well, darling, they're not
real virgins, are they? I lost my virginity when I was
sixteen or seventeen. It was just before Gered [Mankowitz]
took that picture, which I read somewhere is one of the
hundred best rock and roll pictures of the last fifty
yearsthe one of me in the white socks, looking like
butter wouldn't melt. I was a very sweet little girl,
but I wasn't a virgin, that's all. Didn't smoke or drink
or do drugs, but I did have sex and I liked it.
We move on to the Sister
"Sister Morphine," as you
know, was the beginning of the big mistake that everything
that I write about is autobiographical. I think I may
have started this bullshit. I am amazed that people think
I am what I sing about, that they relate to these images
Im much too clever to want to write about myself
all the time. It would bore me to death. "Sister Morphine"
was written before I ever took morphine. It's a story
I made up, as I have been saying for years. I merely ask
to be treated earnestly, but people will believe what
they want to believe. Marie Antoinette and I have a similar
problem in that regard. At the moment, I'm reading this
fantastic book about Marie Antoinette by Antonia Frazierthe
lies and the libels that were written about Marie Antoinette
that, to this day, people still believe. So I'm beginning
to realize that there is nothing I can do about it, except
to stick to the truth. All I can say is that, after writing
"Sister Morphine," I learned that you must be very careful
what you write about because it may come true. Years later
I wrote a song called "Demon Lover." I remembered that,
and I've never let it out.
In a way then, the "Sister
Morphine" misunderstanding is similar to The Virgin on
the Pedestal because you weren't that either. What I am
talking about really is the parade of Mariannes, the images
The other day I did a couple
of interviews. I've now, thank God, graduated to The
Independent and The Financial Times. They are
really interesting and really funny people to talk to.
One of them, the guy from The Independent, came
to me and said, "Listen, I don't want you to get me wrong.
I'm on your side, but as I was talking to my editor today,
about coming to see you, he said, Well, don't forget
to ask about the bit where she's on the wall and she's
shooting heroine and she goes on the game. I said,
Wait a minute. I've just read Faithfull and
she never went on the game. He said, Yes,
I know she did." They had a huge row about it.
People just assume you
were on the game. How else would she have been able to
support her habit?
The storyand you
should know, you wrote it!is that on the wall I
found not degradation but the goodness of humanity. I
ran up twenty thousand pounds in drug bills. People gave
me things. They looked after me. People miss the whole
point thinking like that.
Whos the next
Marianne Faithfull we encounter?
Well, now, we get to a
very interesting remnant because at the turn of the millennium
I had some fine Irish mushroomswhich are the best,
they would be!in London while I was watching the
fireworks. The River Thames seemed on fire, and I had
a blinding psychic experience where I felt the past leave.
I felt myself transformed into a new person. I really
did. I did not think much of it at the time. I just thought,
"How great. I'm another Marianne. It's over." The past
is really never gone, though. I'm not trying to say that
I deny it or regret it or anythingmy movie is still
my moviebut it's a new movie now. This was
the realization I came to.
We skipped over a few
From "Sister Morphine"
I skipped to 1999! After you and I wrote the book, I had
feelings that I had not put in the book that I would have
wanted to. I had begun to get into the habit of memoryand
it is a habitand then the book came out.
And I was left with all these other thingsthings
that were not really stories or anything I could put into
words. Just feelings, and so I put them into my album,
Vagabond Ways, which came out in 1999. Vagabond
Ways is my line in the sand, really. I didn't know
I was doing it. I was not doing it that consciously. I
just do the right thing intuitively, says I! Writing the
end of that Book of Marianne, and it said, "The End."
Then it went to 2000. I had my experience. Then I began
to think about what was my next being.
After the virgin on
the pedestal, the little angel with big tits, what was
the next incarnation?
The next one was the bad
mother who runs away with Mick Jaguar. Then there was
Miss X, nude in a fur
I remember how amazed you
were when you realized how fast it all went. The other
thing we both know, and it's in our book, too, is what
does a nineteen-year-old girl who is being kept as sort
of a virgin or angel on a pedestal want to do? What do
you think she wants to do?
She wants to smash it,
and so I did. I think I might have gone a little too far.
But on the other hand, I don't think so. I had a lot of
I am glad to hear you
say that. A lot of people who have recovered deny everything,
even the good times.
You wouldnt let me,
David! It's like there is the real me that you
know, who is in our book. That is why we are never getting
this story made into a movie in our lifetime because it's
too subtle. Then there is a sort of shadow Marianne. This
other figure that has nothing to do with me and is not
in my moviethe shadow that is not my shadow.
I have my own shadow. It is private, of course. It's mine.
The public unconscious shadow was made up, and not by
me. I remember I had a revelation recently when I told
you that the German journalist from Der Stern had
said to me, "So what exactly is the size of Mick Jaggers
penis?" The first thing you said is, "My God, he could
be related to Michael Pietsch [VP of Little, Brown]. Michael
told me to ask you that very question when we were working
on the book." I never knew that. You never told me, obviously.
I thought about it. I thought, oh my God, he could have
had a row with Michael Pietsch about that. You were too
much of a gentleman to pass it on. I mean, if I even told
Ronnie or Keith what this German journalist told me, theyd
On the whole, to keep my
sanity, I have to avoid thinking too much about the shadow,
the publics misconception of me, because it's not
even my projection. It's not even my words. It's not even
yours. It's so strange that the true story of my life
on the wallwhere that Chinese restaurant let me
wash my clothes and Gypsy looked after me and even the
cops watched over mehas been turned into Marianne
Faithfull on heroin and on the game. Even in the mind
of the editor of the English Independent.
Marianne was the next incarnation.
something. There was a very happy, but not very long,
domestic bit when Mick and I were very, very happy. I
adored Keith, but I did love Mick. All these things are
so obvious. I can't understand why people don't realize
it. Of course, a great one-night stand, like the one with
Keith, can be ecstatic. We know that, and we know a real
relationship is very hard. We work on them if we are lucky
enough to find somebody. If you can see clearly that it
is not going to work out, you get out.
Leaving Mick put me in
a very difficult position. One minute I had total protection,
and then I ran and I went where no one could find me.
On the wall of a bombed-out building in Soho. Two people
used to come and find meapart from Mike Leander,
who came by and made me make a record. One was Francis
Bacon, who would occasionally walk past, pick me up, say,
"You look like you need a meal" and take me to Wheelers,
feed me and give me lots of very good pudding and take
me back to my wall.
Did he know who you
I knew Francis. You know
why? Very few people knew who I was. Francis Bacon was
a man who could really see. The people I knew on the street
did not know my name. They did not know who I was. But
Francis would come staggering out of The French and see
me sitting there. And I thought I was invisible, I really
did, but it didn't surprise me at all that Francis could
see me. He would say, "You look like you have not eaten
for a long time. Come along, dear." We would go to Wheelers,
just the two of us, and he would feed me. He had the respect
to know what I was doing, which was healing myself in
the only way I could.
Francis Bacon knew a lot
about pain, he really did, and he knew what I was doing
in a strange way. All he did was give me food and drink
and take me back to my wall to continue my healing process,
which I did. What a wonderful man. We used to talk about
it if we were alone, but we never told anybody. It was
The other person who used
to come and check on me was [the writer and composer]
Brion Gysin. People say, well, it doesn't say too
much about your other friends, but the truth is you
couldn't have found me if youd wanted to.
Why do you think I was living on a fucking wall? Its
just that Francis would happen to be staggering by.
You had to be a magical person to find me. I'm sure
he didn't have any idea where I was. I had just disappeared.
The next incarnation
we sort of know about was the punk Marianne. That was
a complete shock to everybody, I suppose, because most
people didn't really know what had happened to you.
Or care. The next real
incarnation came about when I began to feel that people
cared about me again. And that is why I live in Dublin.
"Dreaming My Dreams," becoming number one in Ireland.
That is when I began to realize I still had something
to say. I don't do things for people who don't want it.
The Irish are very forgiving. And, of course, anyone whom
the English hate, the Irish welcome with open arms! I
seem to be ending up with one great record a decade. Ill
take it! From Broken English on. Strange Weather,
Blazing Away, Vagabond Ways. There have
been a few, but my current album, Kissing Time,
is my favorite.
Just before Broken English,
I honestly believed that I was going to die, but I
felt strongly that before I died I had to reveal myself
as I was at that time. And thats how Broken English
came about. That's a long time ago now. Of course,
I am not that person, and I never will be again. I fully
expected to drop dead. I had thought it would be a simple
matter. But it wasn't going to be that easy.
2: Sex With Strangers
TO THE DAVID DALTON ARCHIVE