Tina Sizzles At 60 - Tina Turner - Interview
Ebony - May 2000
With a New Mansion
A Younger Man
And a Worldwide Tour
CURLED up on the leather seat of her Gulfstream Lear Jet, Tina Turner is clearly triumphant. After four-and-half years, she has finished decorating Anna Fleur, her hideaway mansion in the town of Ville Franche on the French Riviera, and the whole world, it seems, is celebrating her 60th birthday and her continuing world tour.
With legs any 20-year-old woman would die for, two old-world mansions and a younger male companion, the 60-year-old superstar is a woman with much to celebrate.
The contrast between the two-room shack in Tennessee in which she grew up and the Anna Fleur mansion is astounding, and the phenomenon formerly known as Anna Mae Bullock of Nutbush clearly relishes the transformation. "Finally, finishing the work on this house has given me a tremendous sense of achievement," she says. "I am delighted with the way it has finally come together. It's full of the dream I had while I was traveling, only it's better."
What was particularly startling was that she took the project on almost immediately after transforming her other home in Zurich, Switzerland, which involved rebuilding five floors, a swimming pool and a penthouse. She fell in love with the new house, nestled in the hills on four acres of mostly forest, the first time she saw it. "I love the mountains and the greenery," she says. "When I come home, I still find the scenery overwhelming--and that's after 14 years of living in Europe. If I'm in America for work, I find myself hankering to return. I may be an American in a foreign country, but I am very happy, very comfortable and very oriented here. Europe offers me security. It is a place where I have found more success, more appreciation, and that makes me feel comfortable."
Tina Turner is a woman who knows exactly what she wants, and that extends to her work, where she oversees each minute detail, and her homes, which she decorates with the help of professionals. And she laughs when she remembers the reaction of interior designers she flew in from the States who were shocked to discover that Tina Turner had done the bulk of the decorating before they arrived. "They changed the odd mirror here and there," she says, "but I was confident about what I had already done. They did try to split up my Louis Phillipe furniture and move some of it into the bedroom, but I insisted that it stay together as a set."
The queen of rock often surprises people who visit her for the first time and who expect her wild stage performance to be reflected in her decor, only to find it is both classic and simple. The exception, of course, is that, unlike most people, Tina Turner built an amphitheater in her backyard. But then for a rock star who loves to entertain, the amphitheater is entirely functional and will continue to be put to good uses with a number of events planned in the near future.
"They come here," she says, "and expect to find everything to be modern and the furniture to be made of leather. And it's not. I like classic things. I love walking around the gardens of old homes."
She is in fact the epitome of elegant chic with a classic sense of style, both in the way she dresses and the way in which she has designed her home.
As a devout Buddhist, she leads a tranquil life away from the spotlight, and this is reflected in both the natural harmony and simplicity present in her house.
Faithful to her love of music, Tina owns an impressive collection of both modern and antique musical instruments, which adorn the screening room. Four Greek mandolins hang alongside a few paintings and a large framed portrait of her.
When she is relaxing at home, her biggest indulgence is breakfast in bed. "I love to sit up and have breakfast as I look out over Nice from the top of the mountain," she says.
Off to one side of her bedroom is a huge, walk-in closet, which is filled with her favorite designer outfits, from classic-style Armani trousers to Yoji Yamamoto shirts and neatly lined rows of shoes.
But despite the fact that she is known for her legendary shopping expeditions, the grandmother--twice over---claims that she likes to recycle her clothes in the same way that she reupholsters her comfortable old sofas.
Similarly, while most of us would expect exercise to be the secret of her eternal youth, it's simply not on the menu of the woman who is said to have the world's most famous legs. Nor does it need to be because, as she explains, life on the road singing and dancing since the age of 17 has paid dividends by keeping her fit, healthy and those fabulous legs and figure permanently in shape.
While she and Erwin Bach can obviously afford a personal chef, it's Erwin who does most of the cooking. She admits: "Nowadays, I find extravagant cooking for large groups of people less and less interesting and the preparation involves too much work. Erwin is a very good cook and he does a lot of it. In general, we eat pasta galore and prawns, and loads of salads."
She talks animatedly about her life together with Erwin, who is 17 years her junior, but although people seem to be constantly fascinated about whether they will marry or not, she is deliberate in her choice of words when discussing the subject. "He does not want children," she explains. "I can't have children any more. So we do not need to marry because of a family and at the moment we live like a married couple anyway. The reason we have been together so long is we are very honest with each other, and I just think at this point a wedding would simply be one big party--and we have parties all the time. Besides, I don't need an excuse to wear wonderful dresses. And I don't need that attention. I am secure."
Her childhood years growing up in a two-room shack in Nutbush, Tenn., could not be further removed from her life now.
Remembering she is 60, she is not interested in rehashing the past. And, as she points out, the story of her unhappy marriage with singer Ike Turner has already been well and truly detailed in both her autobiography I, Tina, and later in the movie What's Love Got To Do With It
While she refuses to discuss the past, she has not cut ties with her children. "My oldest is 42 and my personal youngest is 38, and then Ike's two are even older," she says. "The mother side of me still cares about them, but they have not really found their place in life yet. Maybe they are late bloomers like their mother. I am waiting to see."
Her career as a successful singer, who has 27 top ten hit songs and has sold more than 180 million records worldwide, is in sharp contrast with her forays into the world of acting. Although she'd be interested if Hollywood came up with a suitable movie offer, she is long enough in the tooth to realize strong Black female parts are thin on the ground.
And looking around the sumptuous haven she has created, as she waves good-bye, you can see that it would have to be very special for anything at all to pry her away. But then, we are talking about a woman with insurmountable energy who loves to perform and famously once said she still plans to work when she turns 90.