Kim Basinger—the name itself synonymous with cinematic history, conjuring Hollywood-heyday nostalgia and red-carpet reverie—is a showbiz legend, an unflagging activist, and a movie star in its truest and least bombastic sense. She’s starred in some of our favorite and most memorable films, shows no sign of slowing down, and remains as eclectic as ever—currently on the docket for 2014 is the unrelenting teen drama 4 Minute Mile, and I Am Here, in which Basinger stars as a childless but “successful career woman” who “bribes Petit, a troubled dwarf in desperate straits who helps her track down a rumored prostitution ring near the Czech border where infants are being sold.” Like we said, eclectic.
Kim returns to our pages in Flaunt’s 15th Anniversary, for the first time in as many years. We caught up with the silver-screen mainstay in the desert and reminisced. Here, a few thoughts, a couple recollections, and some fictional fantasies about Tinseltown’s beloved bombshell.
We’re celebrating our 15th Anniversary. What’s your favorite way to celebrate? Kim Basinger: That would really depend on what the celebration was. I’m rather a private person so I don’t prefer parties in that way. So it’s just the people who I love and my animals. Surrounded by my animals. If it was something to celebrate me, on those occasions I’m very shy about that so I’d rather not. I’d rather do something very private, but you know if it’s somebody in my family I’d rather do it rather large for them.
Losing Some Illusions, in Order to Acquire Others My name is Maria. I’m thirteen years old, and I’m from Kalispel, Montana. My favorite actress is Kim Basinger because she’s my big sister’s favorite actress and I read on Wikipedia that she was very shy growing up, just like me. Dr. Sing says it’s a “normal part of the developmental process,” but it doesn’t feel normal at all. I worry a lot. My hands shake when boys talk to me, when anybody does. My mom says I wouldn’t worry so much if I stood up straighter. My mom says how you present yourself to the world is very important. Kim Basinger has really good posture.
Someday I want to go to Hollywood and hang out with Kim Basinger. We would go to Madame Tussaud’s and I’d get my picture taken with the Selena Gomez one. We’d go see Kim Basinger’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and go eat at a famous Hollywood restaurant. I wouldn’t mind going to Disneyland, but I think there’d be too many people. Instead, we’d go back to Kim Basinger’s house and play with her animals. I love animals. At my house, we have two dogs (Mindy and Prince), a cat (Tom), and three horses (Kip, Norma, and Step). I think Kim Basinger and I would get along really well because we have so much in common.
How would you define beauty? Oh, in all animals. In all animals.
Beach jog or mountain hike? Beach girl. I love the mountains but I’m a beach girl, totally…I’ve been so blessed. I’ve traveled all over the world. Some of the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen in my life is off the coast of Africa, the Indian Ocean. But, you know, I have to go closer to home. I love Southern California. I could never pick a beach in Southern California because I love so many spots. Northern [California] as well.
The Woman Who Fell to Earth First dates are tricky. Ideally, I’d take Kim Basinger—the Kim Basinger— to a beachside bistro where I’d choke down a salad (she’s a vegetarian) and drink my weight in 2008 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Over spiced beluga lentils and Niçoise toasts, we’d both experience a number of neurotransmitters releasing into and diffusing across our synaptic clefts, producing elation and arousal in the receptors of our brains. I get this stuff, believe me; I’m a doctor (well, technically I’m pre-med). This is the science and the sign language of love. Because human beings are in the business of collecting memories, that’s why we hook up. Our lives are built on them, and memory—stronger than sadness or fear or joy—is our last deathbed set of encoded neural connections as our various sensory parts burn out like light bulbs in a house.
After dinner, we’d take a moonlit stroll at low tide, and I’d make her laugh, both of us tipsy on the mood, buzzing at the possibility that every fork-in-the-road misstep has led us here, together. Looking into each other’s eyes we’d feel the pull of some ancient thing that perhaps language couldn’t name, the untranslatable rapport between two hearts. And we’d imagine a future together—terraced conversations, a front lawn in the country, starlings rippling like a constellated eel through the marbled sky. We’d have a kid, eventually, and our child’s existence, for a time, would be full of firsts—their first rainfall would be as significant as their first swim, and we’d feel, in an abstract way, as if it were our own first rainfall or swim, that our child’s joy and thrill in the experience were being somehow imparted to us. These things would bring us even closer, stronger in our domestic capacity. And nothing about our life would feel sardonic or dull—not the wedding or the portico columns that frame our front door, not the ultrasound photo like a relief map stuck to the fridge. And not even our final days, one having outlived the other, the surviving party just a breathing protein in a bed somewhere, the heart like an alkaline battery, but living off what memory still serves them—an entire life reduced to a montage—and that memory would be of the other.
Describe a perfect meal and what it would consist of. Oh dear, that would be either A or B. And they don’t come in that order so there are two As, actually. So if you’re talking about that last meal—we always play this game. “What would be your last meal if this was your last day on earth?” Or if you were going to the chair [laughs]. We play this to pass the time in the trailer. I would say…I’m from the South and I really love vegetables from the South. Homegrown. And I love turnip greens and black-eyed peas and tomatoes and fresh cantaloupe, and only my mother’s pumpkin pie and only my mother’s—or my sister’s—German chocolate cake. That’s it. That would be the perfect meal. And jalapeños! Always jalapeños.
For a Muse of Fire, That Would Ascend I’m 38 and I’ve not done much, yet. Like the Okies of previous generations I shed the Oklahoman coil and traveled to the West. Not to try my chances at panning for gold or to escape a strangling dustbowl miasma, but to make movies. These dreams are cumbersome and so far: lukewarm. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve written screenplays. I wrote an episode for a children’s cable access show, and I co-wrote every episode of my friend’s vegan-cooking webshow—it has 10,563 plays on YouTube. 10,564. 10,566. But I can sleep at night, contently; I sleep on my own future brilliance, literally. Under my pillow lies my golden goose, a screenplay I’ve been working on for 12 years. I can’t tell you much, but I can tell you who’s inspired me this long decade, who I’m writing the main part for: Kim Basinger. Gatsby’s golden girl if there ever was one. I mean, it’s the way she says it: “Some men get the world. Others get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona.” Gets me every time. Be still my beating heart for I must pen an ending to this script. Anyway, she’s at the center of this film, and there’s no other person that could pull it off. Basinger is venerable and timeless, brilliant and beautiful. It’s as if she was born from the loins of Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman. She played a Bond girl and a Batman love interest. I could go on. Basinger has made such a career; at this moment she can pick and choose roles with a flip of her hair and a point of her finger. And when she reads my script, she’ll be pointing my way.
What’s your favorite song to dance to? I love music. I’m very eclectic in that way. Anything from Latin to opera to rap to… Oh, I love jazz. I love a lot of things but, you know, I lived in Africa. I stayed. I did a movie in Africa. It was one of the times—lucky times, blessed times—that I was able to spend quite a lot of time in Africa. And when I was there, the guys built us a deck, because we were way out in Hluhluwe in South Africa and we were really six hours from any civilization [laughs], so we would dance on the weekend. And they would play “Africa” by Toto. That’s my go-to song.
What’s your personal life philosophy? Well, I think people think of too many things as dangerous. My personal philosophy is, by the time I leave this planet I would have wanted to face every single thing I’m afraid of in this world. No matter what I have to do, no matter what it entails and how shaky and how undone I become. I think I would not be a completed person if I do not do that. So, bring it on!
So Then I Unfollowed I made a Facebook page a week ago and my daughter hasn’t answered my friend request. When my daughter gets home from school she sits on the couch with her blue Dell laptop until dinnertime. Occasionally she emerges from this blue wavelength facial happy, energized. More often she is moody, agitated. I obsess over this: what was said, what was sent, the implications of her incessant clicking. Carpel tunnel is somewhere near the bottom of this list, sexting somewhere near the top. I peer over her shoulder when I can, commenting, gauging the reaction received. “Oh! Is that Kim Basinger?” I ask her one day. “Is this a Throwback Thursday post?” (I’m pleased with this reference, one that took a day of scrolling through Nancy Grace’s Twitter for me to fully grasp. I was in our kitchen on the computer, waiting for dinner to finish, waiting for my husband to come home from work, waiting for my daughter to come home from school. My own incessant clicks like a metronome. I wonder if Kim Basinger waits for anyone.) It’s not Kim, I’m informed. It’s her daughter, Ireland Baldwin. My own daughter looks like me, too—but younger, of course, and less worried. Now she sits in her room where I can’t see her screen. I read on IMDb that Kim Basinger played Honey Horneé in Wayne’s World 2. (“Don’t you just love music?” Horneé asks, writhing gently to “The Girl From Ipanema.” “Do you have any Megadeth?” Garth replies.) I think about my husband seeing that scene and enjoying it, a hard-on pressing gingerly into his slacks. Kim was also in 8 Mile, a movie starring rapper Eminem. I wonder if my daughter likes Eminem. I’m not sure.
I wonder if Ireland follows Kim on Facebook. I buy an issue of Us Weekly at the checkout stand. In it, there are pictures of Kim and Ireland on a trip to Hawaii. It’s Kim’s birthday. In one picture Kim is gesturing to something on her iPhone. Ireland is looking. She seems happy.
What are your thoughts on social media? [Clenching fists] How long do we have? Oh, dangerous. Robbing and dangerous. Although I’m infatuated and in love with the information—I’m an information junkie, so I love it. I truly love it, but I think we’re teetering on danger. Especially with young kids and teenagers and the way they communicate now and not having to go face-to-face. I just think there are quite a few negative things about it. It’s just troubling. It’s troubling, especially since I do have a teenager—I know what I’m talking about. But we’ll see where it goes.
It just got me, these kids, they need an audience now, too. They need that to be accepted in this life and that’s really, really hard. It’s not just a profession, it’s an everyday thing with kids.
What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Dangerous…Well, I’ve handled snakes and I’ve jumped out of airplanes but to me things like that—I don’t care. I‘ve been in some of the deepest water in the world. I love it. I don’t look at anything as dangerous, really. Except as a mom watching a kid—that’s danger. But I think, on a personal level, the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done is really bring up a child and face my own fears. Which, you know, have been many and are becoming less.
Every Time I See You, You’re Smiling at Me I always wanted to die an honorable death. VC fire in ’68, a pack of wolves. Not this slow somatic row with cancer, all this pain-in-the-ass hospital boredom, the needles and pumps, death gathering around me like snow. Goddamn. Best part of my day’s when the gal comes in to give me a sponge bath—the blonde number, not that stocky broad who manhandles me like I was her kid.
Oh, I remember this movie. I mean, I can’t remember the title, but the movie itself still echoes through my brain. It’s got the boxer, Rourke. Sometimes I surprise myself. The most trivial details hit me like handwritten debris through a windstorm. And that blonde woman. What’s her name? God, what a beauty. Kim something. Look at that. Those ice cubes! Why do they show us this stuff in here? What good is this? Where’s the remote? My manhood’s kaput, but desire’s alive and well in my head. Goddamn. I never married. That’s a regret. I saw my own parents and I just—well, I suppose it’s textbook. What would my life have been like with a gal like Kim what’s-her-name? That voice!
We would’ve driven around the U.S. for our honeymoon. After the war I couldn’t bring myself to fly. No way. She’d look at me the way she looks at this boxer, Rourke, the way I guess no woman ever looked at me before. But I always romanticized the open road, always felt some pulmonary flex at the freedom and unpredictability of frontiers and interiors. Pack of wolves, that’d be the way to go.
Missouri, Arkansas, Utah. KMBZ, 103.7 FM, an audio book on placer mining. There was the lunch at McDonald’s outside Duluth that gave me the worst indigestion pains of my entire life, and I found myself in the diaphoretic throes of delirium by the time we reached that Spur station forty-seven miles away. There was the flat tire in Colorado, and Kim stood watching antelope graze in a moonlit field while I struggled with the lug nuts of my Chrysler Imperial. The Museum of Natural History in Chicago, a silly ghost tour in Savannah. I’d picked up a hardcover on all the historic hotels of America, and that’s how we planned our route. The Heathman, The Wigwam, a castle in Bretton Woods. The Imperial’s radiator hose blew in Las Vegas, and I damn near bought another car. But the days began to lose momentum. Most of the hours were spent in reflective silence, until Kim or I’d clamber for something to say, second-guessing our compatibility, wondering if we’d made an awful mistake. Sometimes I’d curse serendipity. I felt like there was always something I was supposed to feel, an obligatory romantic zeal I’d watched unfold onscreen in so many of the classics, something like passion (though the word “lust” made both Kim and I uncomfortable), some carnal electricity to strike whenever we’d stand hand-in-hand at the rim of a canyon (Arizona), upon a sun-bleached balcony (Florida), or amidst an unexpected snowfall on a mountain pass (Wyoming). And I’d try to manufacture an emotion akin to what I’d perceived those cinematic emotions to be, but was left feeling guilty at my inability to do so. But I loved her. I loved her. Our son was conceived in a double bed at the Colt Motel in Raton, New Mexico.
That was my life with Kim what’s-her-name.
It’s the 15th Anniversary of Flaunt and we first took a picture of you 15 years ago. What does it mean to be a part of Flaunt 15 years on? I’m so incredibly flattered. We were flattered to get this call. That’s so cool 15 years ago to have done that cover. And I remember it like yesterday. I remember the whole entire shoot from the arrival until I left. I remember every picture. I mean, it was just yesterday. So now to be in the desert doing this, and that was in the studio. It’s just a very sweet gift, very sweet gift. Thank you.
Photographer: Yu Tsai Stylist: Martina Nilsson Hair: Peter Savic Makeup: Francesca Tolot Manicure: Lisa Jachno Studio Manager: Trever Swearingen Digital Tech: Massimo Campana Photography Assistant: Fredrik Marklund Photography Assistant: Wilder Marroquin
Beauty Notes: Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade, Eye pencil in Ebony, and Mascara in Extreme Dimension Lash by M.A.C Cosmetics, Future Skin Foundation in Vanilla by Chantecaille, Poudre Universelle Compacte Natural Finish Pressed Powder by Chanel, and Eyeshadow in Dogon and Sheer lipstick in Dolce Vita by NARS.