In News Weekly
May 2, 2001
Nicks of Time
By Lawrence Ferber - Correspondent
NEW YORK CITY - She's our gypsy, our favorite flurry of lace, chiffon, capes, and veils. And after several years away she's come back to you with not only more magical layered outfits, but an album of her strongest material since the days with Fleetwood Mac."Trouble In Shangri-La" (due out May 1).Of course, Stevie Nicks, who turns 53 this month, has endured her share of weathering since Fleetwood Mac's 70's heydays. Drugs, booze, rock and roll life style, complicated affairs with Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and Don Henley, her mid 80's diagnosis with lethargy-inducing Epstein-Barr Virus, it's all taken a toll (not to mention spawned a number of despicable and absurb rumours). But Nicks has twirled such troubles and traumas into the past like so many disintegrating strips of chiffon. Same goes for a temporary period of creative block which led the ultra-talented songwriter of "Dreams", "Landslide", "Sara", "Standback", "Silver Springs" and "Rhiannon" to ask friend Tom Petty to scribe for her, a suggestion that prompted him to bark "you're talented-do it yourself!" Happily Petty's brotherly chastising did the trick and once back in the studio, armed with a spate fo strong songs, several which were drawn from the vaults, Nicks joined forces with guests and producers like Sheryl Crow, a Dixie Chick, Macy Gray, Sarah McLachlan, and Lindsey Buckingham.The result?"Shangri-La" indeed, but no trouble that we can hear.
Her impact on gay culture is indelible, highlighted by this week's annual "Night of a 1,000 Stevie's drag extravaganza at Don Hill's in Manhattan. "The fact that anybody cares enough about my music and my chiffon to gather and have a party in my honor, that's just an incredible thing", says Stevie Nicks of the event which not only attracts New York's biggest drag stars, but draws participants from across the country. Later this year, gay filmmaker Todd Stephens(who wrote 1998's gay coming of age tale "Edge Of Seventeen" a title inspired by Nick's rock classic) will release the fictional film" Night Of A 1,000 Stevie's", starring Sara Rue ( TV's "Popular" ) as a Stevie- obsessed fan road-tripping her way to the party.
On April 12th, a day following her televised appearance on the BlockBuster Awards, Nicks rang us up to discuss her recent foray into paradise.Her voice a combination of sweet Turkish coffee and long-ago smoked cigarettes, her demeanor pleasant and unguarded, speaking surely of an upcoming summer tour, rest assured you'll see your gypsy for years to come.
What a fabulous album, Stevie!
Stevie: " Thank you very much."
It's so good to hear you back to the...well, I hate to say Fleetwood Mac sound, but to the Fleetwood Mac sound!
Stevie: " You know what it is ? It's guitar oriented. Sheryl's very guitar oriented, John Shanks, my other producer, is also very guitar oriented, so we didn't have anybody who was very piano oriented on this record except for maybe " Love Is", with Sarah and Pierre Marchand. But that's just one song. The 10 songs by Sheryl and John are very guitar oriented so it does go back to Fleetwood Mac or Buckingham-Nicks or more guitar-oriented genre of music".
The press release says that you were looking for people to write songs for you until a sit down with your friend Tom Petty who said " You can write for God's sake, get back to it !"
Stevie: " That's exactly what he said. It was over dinner at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix, in paradise valley, and The Heartbreakers were there to play. The night before I went down and had dinner with him and he gave me one of the most quintessential lectures of my life where he basically made me very aware that " I know you've had a hard time but get over it. Songwriting is what you do, Stevie, the last thing in the world you should do is ask me to write song for you because that's what you DO'. And it took someone like him to really say that to me for me to listen, because if anybody else had said that to me I probably would have just walked out."
Were people trying to keep you down at the time creativity or was it all just self-doubt?
Stevie: " It was just a matter of getting over the "Street Angel" album because it was not a very good record and I was not very well when I did it. And then I had to go and do what I'm doing now for that record - interviews - and it was horrifying because I knew it wasn't a very good record but it still had to go out. After that I went on the Street Angel Tour, which was fine, it was a fun tour, but I pretty much had the Street Angel songs dropped out of the set be the last show, I made it disappear kinda.Then I went home, wrote " Love Is", which is the last song on this record.That was 1994, and the end of 1994, and the begining of 1995 is when I had my talk with Tom.It was just catalyst that made me go 'OK, I'm better."
Now about the song"Bombay Sapphires" - has the liquor company called to say " thank you' and sent over some product?
Stevie: " No, they haven't, and it's not 'Bombay Sapphire', It's 'Bombay SapphireS! ( laughs ) I knew people were going to hit me with that. I got the idea many, many, years ago when we were talking about jewelry and stones, about tile and rubies, Bombay sapphires.It's like a blue - gray kind of star sapphire thing, it's the color of the ocean, and that's what I wrote it about. And I purposely put the 'S' on it so that they wouldn't think I was writing about gin.Gin makes you meaaaannn! It's definitely not a liquor I would have written a song about. ( laughs )"
What is the song 'Sorcerer', which was originally written in 1974,about? The Title will surely make certain Stevie fans go 'oh, oh, witchery, witchery!"
Stevie: " Right. Well, 'Sorcerer' was written right after Lindsey and I had taken the Buckingham Nicks ( album ) cover in Hollywood. We had been living there for three years and it was really about how kind of scary Hollywood was, because we had just moved from San Francisco. We were fairly prim and had lived at home - Lindsey never lived out of the house, he moved from Mom and Dad's house to Los Angeles with me! So we were these like really fresh kids from San Francisco and Hollywood was heavy. We went to go do that photograph and there were models everywhere and I was walking around proclaiming to everyone I was a songwriter and not a model! ( laughs ) Because I knew, I just knew that I better make sure I push the songwriting and not the sex symbol thing because that will fade and the songwriting will stay, hopefully.That's as much as I can tell you what it's about."
Although we know you've been through a lot and done your share of substances, I must say your voice sounds great. Is that an inadvertent benefit?
Stevie: " That is absolutely an inadvertent benefit, yes. Also I stopped smoking three packs of Kools a day three years ago. I put the patch on and it totally worked. I also took voice lessons. So all those things put together have just made me a very strong singer now and it's too bad I didn't know about that in the early years of Fleetwood Mac when all I got was bad press about my vocal problems.If I had been taking voice lessons. I never would have had those vocal problems. At least I learned, I started doing it right before the 1997 Fleetwood Mac Reunion Tour. I did the vocal thing for like 40 minutes before I sing, so it's a committment, a serious committment, and I won't walk on stage without doing that or I would be terrified now. But once I do the lesson and go onstage I can just have fun because I've done my homework and my voice is strong."
Three packs of Kools a day? That's hardcore.
Stevie: " That is hardcore. That is two packs between 11 in the morning and midnight, and one pack between midnight and four."
That'll burn a hole in aluminum!
Stevie: " That will."
I read you went on the Atkins Diet, too.
Stevie: " I'm always on the Atkins Diet.It's a tough diet and it really works. You should go on it one time and really lose the weight and then reestablish your eating habits.I've just been on it for so long now that my body thinks that's the way of life is ! My body thinks that toast, fruit, pasta, bread and sugar don't exist. No toast."
So I hear that Laura Dern and Rosanna Arquette stopped by one of your recording sessions while making this album.
Stevie: " Sheryl Crow knows everyone... so they did come by. Actually, Rosanna and Laura were a big help on " Fall From Grace", because John had taken out the last three verses. I gave them the formal poem and said 'do you think these verses can go?' And they said ' absolutely not.' I went out of the room and came back and they were up there talking to John and saying ' you can't do this.' So we put them back in- they really saved my three chapters of my book that was on the floor."
Are you familliar with Sandra Bernhard, Stevie?
Stevie: " ( slyly) I know her pretty well!"
She used to tell a story in her show about how you two got together and did Tarot cards...
Stevie: " Behind all the scenes I love Sandra, I think she's is wonderful and so talented. And I know she has a crazy show and I'm part of it, and when she says stuff it's OK because I know it's totally homage. With her, it's OK."
So did you hear the actual story?
Stevie: " I've seen part of it, and you know what, I've sent her a poncho or two so she actually had areal glittery thing to work with.To help her as a prop."
Where do you get your clothes and veils?
Stevie: " My friend Margie Kent makes all my stage clothes and has been making them since I first met her in 1976."
So you don't raid Moroccan clothiers?
Stevie: " No. We have fabric people. We really search for those beautiful fabrics, because what I wear is very similar but the fabrics are just always changing and beautiful, and Margie's forte is finding those fabrics." ( note: see www.geocities.com/FashionAvenue/5171.html for a full, perhaps obseeively so rundown of Stevie's style and fashions over the years.)
I read that a few years ago you a gay stalker in Denver who felt you could cure his homosexuality.He expressed a desire to 'make babies' with you, too.( As detailed in this months OUT magazine.)
Stevie: " I never heard that one." ( laughs )
Supposedly a restraining order was obtained against him.
Stevie: " I honestly don't know anything about that. When stuff like that happens they pretty much don't tell me about it because they don't want to freak me out, and I would get freaked out, so I'm better off not knowing that stuff."
Are you easily spooked?
Stevie: " I'm easily spooked if I'm in fear.Normally I'm very fearless.Since I was a little girl... i can walk into a dark house and I'm not afraid because I don't go there.Because I don't like to be afraid, so I'm not usually afraid."
Do you consider yourself a Diva?
Stevie: " Not if I get thrown in with being one of all those other divas.I don't want to be one of a bunch of diva's. I would rather be my own little rock and roll self."
Where does love fit into your life these days, Stevie?
Stevie: " Love doesn't fit into my life these days because I really don't have any time! If I were to meet somebody that would be great but I still would be going into rehearsal June 1st and leaving June 25th for St. Lois - bye bye, basically."
Do you get crushes?
Stevie: "Do I meet somebody every once in a while who catches my eye? Sure. Do I wanna make something out of it and then end up having to really hurt somebody's feelings on my way out the door? No. Maybe there's a soulmate out there for me and maybe someday he'll standing there.And maybe he won't be. And if I never get married I'll will be fine because I really do love my whole artistic life and I don't know how much of this I could give up for another person.Because I'm 52 years old, I'm pretty what would you say steeled in my ways.I like things the way I like them, doing things at the times I want to do them, I don't like telling people when I'm going to be back. I don't like being mad at me when I'm not on time.So how do you do that when youlive like I live?My life is just one big crazy rock show. You know? Even without all the drugs and stuff that used to go on it's still that crazy."
What is an average Stevie Nicks Day like?
Stevie: " Well, today is what we call a day off, and I'm doing an interview, I'm doing a video tommorow, I have to have a pedicure and manicure this afternoon, I have to talk to all the different wardrobe and hair people one more time today, I have to drive to Long Beach to stay at a Hyatt so I can be close to the shoot and be there early in the morning because you know I don't get up early."
Whoah OK. A very busy woman.
Stevie: " Now what if the love of my life was standing in my living room going I hate this, and I hater her too, she has no time."
Sounds like a one - night stand is the only way to go here, Stevie.
Stevie : " Basically that's about it! What can you say? And know what else I think? I think when your're not looking usually is when something wonderful does come to you anyway.So I'm not looking and that makes me think that maybe someday something will happen."
I just hope that your happy, Stevie.
Stevie: " And I am happy, I want you to really know that.I really do love what I do and this is the first time since before Fleetwood Mac that I can say I feel like that same girl who joined Fleetwood Mac.There is aren't all the drugs. I have a shot of tequila before I go on stage, but thats it. I don't drink after the show.I don't carry that on with me so my life is pretty clear now and I'm really enjoying it."
What has been the happiest Stevie Nicks moment?
Stevie: " Doing this record has really been fun for me.It's been very creative and fast moving for me and I feel it's a journey of creating my little Shangri-La world.That's what I really love to do,I love the whole making of that world. And that's really what I've been doing over the past year, making that world."
Is there a shot you might come to manhattans The Night of 1000 Stevie's?
Stevie: " It's always depends on my schedule.If I was in New York at the right time and not working I would go."
If you were a Stevie impersonator performing at the Night of 1000 Stevie's,What song would you perform and would you lip sync or sing it live ?
Stevie: " I think if I could sing I would perform it live and I would probably do "Dreams"."
In your most opinion, what is the optimal boot heel height for twirling?
Stevie: " Well my boots are the perfect height and I don't know exactly what that is. But I'm five foot one and a half and they make me almost five foot seven.That's six inches, yeah."
We know you've seen all the lace out there amongst your audience, but are you aware as we are of the leather as well? How many leathermen number amongst your hardcore fans?
Stevie: " I don't know.But I love leather too, I wrote a song called 'Leather and Lace.' ( laughs)"
How did the customization of your tamborines begin?
Stevie: " Actually, that began a long time ago.I first really started playing tambourine in Fleetwood Mac when I realized that when your're one of three singers and you have pretty much equal amount of songs each, that means you don't have anything to do for two thirds of the set. So I figured I needed to find something to do to make me look valid up there, so I really started playing the tamborine.And I figured it needed to be decorated in some way like the chiffon and stuff in my skirts, so tht it would move around and I would create a little bit of twirly picture from head to toe.So we started putting the long ribbons and feathers on.Many, many incarnations of the tamborine, sometimes ribboning, sometimes velvet stuff, whatever.And the microphone stand too."
What do you think of your status as a gay icon?
Stevie: " I think it's great. I think that my music, when I write it, I want it to be for everyone, if your gay or not gay or whatever, this music is for you.That's my way of teaching.If I hadn't been who I am now I would be a teacher and I would be somehow teaching with my music. I would have figured a wa to work the music into what I did at school. So when I do this now feel like I get to share my philosophies on the world and love and how we get through life and what is making us happy, what's not, how to move on, and that's what I try to do. The fact I have made a connection with the world in the way I have is really amazing and I feel really blessed for that."