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The Queen of Scream

Courtney Love talks setting trends, reuniting with Hole, and her struggle to be cheese-free

Published June 16, 2014
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When Courtney Love calls you, you answer. We did exactly that recently, when Love—who's been touring in Europe to promote her new scream-o-heavy, double A-sides, "You Know My Name" and "Wedding Day"—called us from her Nottingham hotel in the U.K. Our chat (which lasted for more than an hour) with the enthusiastic, focused, and seemingly very happy Love covered topics such as her getting back into acting; being Riccardo Tisci's first muse; the hopeful Hole reunion; her absolute loathing of flower crowns; being Net-a-Porter's number one client; why she ditched her "social media friend" Miley Cyrus' recent party; and, of course, her cheese addiction. Above all, it seems, Love is set on a comeback. With her slew of forthcoming projects, the self-proclaimed "grande dame of rock" is looking to reclaim the throne.

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So, what's your typical routine these days before you hit the stage? What's on your tour rider?

I'm basically chanting and practicing my lines. I need to get back to sample size and I need to lose 10 pounds and I can't seem to lose it. I have so much artisanal cheese on my rider and artisanal baked goods. Because, honest to God, the fucking fast food in this country is just as bad as 1974. They have not improved. I know there's "food" in Great Britain now and there are foodies. On the High Street, they have Pret a Manger. So, they have food now, you can eat in England now. I remember in 1981 when I first moved here on my own, you still couldn't eat. You'd live on fish and chips in the day with 11,000-year-old grease. I tried to take a bite of fish and chips last night and I threw up. It was so disgusting. I was in Nottingham and it was 2 a.m., so, you know, whatever. I know a place in L.A. where I can get a croque-monsieur and it's delicious.

Cheese addiction is totally a real thing—right up there with sugar and caffeine addiction.

I'm addicted to cheese and sugar. As long as I can get my bits of sugar when I need it and my one cappuccino, I'm cool. When they ask me if I want dinner, I'm like, "No, I want Brie and crackers." It's all I've been living on and it's not good for you and it makes you fat. I hate shopping, so I order off of Net-a-Porter. A girl interviewed me for their magazine—this is so awful—she said, "You're a legend at Net-a-Porter. You're one of the top five American clients for buying." I live on Net-a-Porter. And I hate ordering an Italian 42, which is an American 8. I'm investing money in 8s and even 10s in some cases. It's like, fuck, I'll have to tailor all of this when I lose weight. This part I'm auditioning for, it's the part of a sheriff, so it's not a fashion look. It's a chunky gun, khaki pants, wide ass. But you have to have a good figure on television—you can't get away with a pot belly.

Let's talk about your very angry, albeit very glam, new music video for "You Know My Name."

The director is the girl named Maximilla Lukacs. She's done all of Karen Elson's stuff. She's hyper-feminine, surreal, really feminine imagery. She's not, like, a director for Too $hort the rapper or whatever. I called [David] LaChapelle first, because I initially had a budget. I initially had a budget for LaChapelle to get out of bed. By that, I mean he'd basically do it for what he considers free—free for David is, like, 100 grand. He can't do what he wants without 100 grand. And then the budget took a big hit. I didn't wanna ask Steven [Klein], because he just did the Brooke Candy video. She's great. I wrote one song on her record. He chose his shit this year and it's Brooke and I'm fine with that.

In the video, you're literally destroying "hyper-feminine" imagery—it's a massive chandeliers, disco balls, rose petals, glitter explosion, all the while you're clad in a gown in a fancy boudoir.

Maximilla has never done really hard-core before, so I thought it'd be really good for her. She's only done really pretty songs with really pretty girls doing pretty songs being pretty and ethereal. All the prettiness! I'm gonna say something, and I'm gonna stand by it, which is this: Flower crowns are over. Fuck flower crowns. If I see one more fucking flower crown, I'm going to kick someone's ass. And let me also say this: If you dig deep enough, you can find a 1986 Details magazine, I'm on the cover in a flower crown, OK?! Talk about ahead of your time! Fuck flower crowns! I can show you pictures of me that were taken when Warhol was still alive—that long ago. I'm wearing a Westwood dress—oh, God, that Westwood dress! It was my most precious thing. Wacky Leigh Bowery heels, that Dianne Brill moment, and my original nose—which was huge—and I'm wearing a flower crown. Flower crowns are fucking dead. I got thrown a flower crown from an audience member the other day, and I just looked at it and it was plastic flowers and I was like, "Nooo! God." At Coachella, how many fucking boys were wearing flower crowns? They're done!

Photo: Getty Images

What's the deal with you attending the Diesel show in Venice back in April? Are you working with them? What's going on with your line?

Renzo [Rosso] of Diesel—we made friends. I'm talking with him as well as DollsKill.com about working together and financing for my line. Dolls Kill is like the new Nasty Gal but ten times more hip. It's where my daughter shops. She doesn't shop at Nasty Gal—actually, she does! I found a sweater of hers that said Nasty Gal, and I was like, "Busted!" But she's got her own little look going on, and I'm like, "What's your situation with this look? Where are you getting this from?" There's a little store in L.A. called Pop Killer—she's been going there since she was 12. The way I keep Net-a-Porter in business, she keeps them in business, only more so, because they're much cheaper.

Anyway, Renzo is just a really cool billionaire—he's the only billionaire who I've met that's happy. He hired Nicola Formichetti to reboot Diesel. He also bought Marni and Margiela. I'm hoping me and Renzo can make a deal, but if not, he's still a really good friend. So that's why I went. I went for my own self-purposes—I didn't just go to go. I went to see Renzo and see if we could become business partners.

That'd be a fashion week runway show we'd wanna/need to see!

Mitch Grossbach from Relativity Media asked me, "Do you have five years to dedicate to become Prabal Gurung? Do you have five years to dedicate to become Altuzarra or Jason Wu?" To be honest with you, I love fashion, but if I have five years and I could do anything, I prefer to go to Harvard and get an education, and then also pattern-cutting on the side so I can make my own fucking clothes. I don't think Harvard has a pattern-cutting course, so…My point was, I want to be at the same level Victoria Beckham is at and the same level that L'Wren [Scott] was at—God bless.

You haven't done the nineties grunge baby-doll-tiara combo since…the nineties. Do you find that there's pressure to have that influence in your line? Does it bother you?

Yeah, all the time. It bothered me initially, but not as much as flower crowns. It's the story of my life, so why not acknowledge it? I haven't started a really solid trend since then, so when girls show up in tiaras at shows, I don't get pissed about it at all. I think it's funny. It's like, "OK. I did that. For like, a month." If I'd had known it'd have so much impact, I would have worn 10,000 other things. Stevie Nicks has one look, Patti Smith has one look. Not everyone has to be Madonna and twist their looks. But there is something called maturing. I'm on the road, I'm playing 2,000-seat theaters, I'm not playing giant arenas, I don't have massive costume changes, I don't have to have my body be a complete machine. It has to be functioning and healthy and I'm trying to be cheese-free. If you Google me and cheese, I did a whole series of interviews back in the nineties about me and cheese, and here we are talking about cheese again. It's the enemy, it makes you fat! I can't stop! I'm really picky about my cheese. If I'm gonna put it in my body, I wanna make sure it's really good and not fucking Velveeta or something.

Yeah, Velveeta is probably never a good idea.

I don't have body dysmorphia at all. I'm actually a narcissist about my body to an extreme degree. When I was hitting 192 pounds, I was posing for Italian Vogue. They Photoshopped the fat away. I didn't even realize how fat I was. Once I got on the scale, I was like, "Oh, my God, this calls for emergency measures. Where's the Atkins?" It works completely. You can do it maybe five times in your life, but that's about it. That's all your kidneys can take. It absolutely works, but it just makes you stinky and gross and vile. You can't have sex. Your breath stinks. I did it in rehab in 2006 and lost 30 pounds off of it. I needed to lose that weight.

No SoulCycle or Tracy Anderson for you?

Shit, no! No! I'm a rock star. The only thing I'm interested in is yoga and chanting. I'm OK without doing cardio. Look, I like to smoke, I like a little tequila before I go onstage, I like fine wine. Everything in moderation, except I have a problem with cheese!

And what about smoking?

I enjoy smoking. And if it's going to kill me, which it probably is, I will have enjoyed many years of a fabulous life…where I couldn't quit smoking. I have the vape. They're very serious about the fines in this country. Apparently, last time here, we lost about 100,000 pounds in fines for smoking in the venues.

But let's be real, it wouldn't be a Courtney Love show without Courtney Love smoking.

It's a Bette Davis movie without a cigarette! As long as I get my nicotine in, I'm OK.

Photos: Getty Images

Can you elaborate on your history with Riccardo Tisci? How do you feel about his newfound relationship with Kim Kardashian?

His first muse out the gate was me! Everyone's putting him on a pedestal right now—he's soaking it up, he loves it! He's a gorgeous Italian boy who works his fucking ass off his whole life, his mother taught him to sew. When I first met him, I thought he was gonna straight-up copy Hedi Slimane. I met Riccardo downstairs at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, and he told me he wanted me as his muse. I'm like, "Givenchy's muses have been Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O!" Then I got fat! Then I got on Atkins and I wasn't fat anymore, so I could wear sample. You know, when the stakes are high, you do lose weight. When you fall in love, if your career's depending on it, you will find a way to lose weight. But anyway, I remember very vividly Riccardo talking about the Spanish bullfighters and how he wanted his menswear line to be, and it was very much not Hedi. Riccardo doesn't make stuff for me anymore—he found Kim! But I still love Riccardo, he's a dear friend.

Have you ever been denied wearing something because of a designer's relationship to another celebrity?

I was doing the cover of Dazed & Confused, and there was a Prada dress—the kind of iconic one made out of chandelier crystals. But I couldn't use it because Gaga needed it. It's happened to me before, though. When Jennifer Lopez was in her height of movie stardom, she was the only person who was allowed to wear Valentino and/or Dolce for the entire award show season. We were kind of friendly and I met her for brunch. And apparently she told them, "Courtney can wear whatever she wants," which was really nice of her.

Which designers have always been Team Courtney?

The people who have been the most consistent and the best with me has been Marchesa. They are always fucking there for me, and I can't thank them enough. Tiny, medium, and hopefully never large again, but they've always been there for me. I know I'm not getting the A-list gown—not that they make rock band A-list gowns anyway. I know the game, I'm not triple A-list, I'm not Rihanna or Jennifer Lawrence, and I'm not getting that gown. I'm not currently on the cover of Vogue. It's just the way show biz is and the way fashion responds to it. You're up one day, you're down the next. If I had to live like that all of the time, I would go fucking insane.

It doesn't seem like you do too many fashion week shows and red carpets these days, but when you do, you're all over The Daily Mail, Page Six, etc. How do you deal with the pressure to look good?

I don't mind getting dressed up if I'm going out to a ball. Get me the finest jewels! But if I'm going out to fashion show after fashion show and have to get photographed for fifteen fucking minutes and I have to do all of that grooming and be perfect head-to-toe for fifteen fucking minutes, I can't do it. I don't wanna do it. You have to get every outfit absolutely planned ahead of time, match your handbag to your sunglasses, your hair has to be perfect. That's why I don't do fashion week. I understand why Anna Wintour has the same hair and sunglasses, because it's just simple. Keep it simple or else you're gonna drive yourself insane. Miley Cyrus had this party the other night in London, and I said I was rehearsing. No offense to Miley because I like her—we're social media friends. I have no interest in going to this party, and it would've been an all-nighter with so much energy and paparazzi, and I don't wanna do it. I've been in this business for twenty-five years. Some journalist said to me the other day that she thought I was addicted to fame, and I was like, "Are you fucking kidding me?" If it's not about the music, about the product I'm putting out, the acting, then I'm not interested.

Can we expect the Hole reunion to happen soon?

We have a strategy, we have a marketing plan. It's very highly controlled and it'll roll out really well. We'll get all of the festivals and stuff. I don't know if we'll get Coachella or not. They can fucking put the worst band in the world at Coachella for three years and no one will catch on. It's just a social gathering now—at this point it's Burning Man. I've gone two years. I hate it because I'm not playing, so if I'm not playing, what the fuck am I doing there?

Photo: Getty Images
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