It Takes All Kinds

a Few Stories and Profiles by Erik Hedegaard
mainly from inside the pages of Rolling Stone
(with additional commentary and folderol provided by the author aka Charlie, sometimes)



Sharon Stone

Posted on | October 22, 2008 | No Comments

Sharon’s Bed ManEver since her brain exploded, Sharon Stone has been living in ‘Happy Town, where even the sex is better. She’ll explain

IT WOULD BE SO EASY JUST TO jump right into bed with Sharon Stone. She has asked. Hips cocked saucily, eyes flaming, spiky blond hair looking mighty fine, she has said, "Oh, let’s get in bed! Get in, honey!" And yet, having known her for less than four hours, you hesitate, not because of morals — don’t be ridiculous — but because of fear for your soul. An exboyfriend once reportedly called her "the Antichrist," and that kind of comment makes you think. And so you do think, looking back at those four hours, pondering what you know about Sharon Stone, what you have heard about Sharon Stone, and what your next move should be with Sharon Stone, jumping-into-bedwise.

It’s much earlier in the day, a Friday. In her mansion in the Hollywood Hills, Sharon Stone wakes up at 7:49 A.M., eats breakfast (toast, fruit and lots of butter, which she shares with her cats), brushes her teeth, takes a leak, spends some time stretched out on her back on her bathroom floor, endlessly considers the deep meaning of a very deep poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, slips into a pair of hiphugging, belly-showing True Religionbrand jeans and eventually finds herself at a little French pastry shop down on Robertson, talking.

She talks a lot and has no shortage of opinions. On George Bush: "I think he’s an idiot." On Paris Hilton: "She’s an intelligent, gorgeous, interesting woman who has been raised by a pack of wolves, clearly." Sharon Stone has a smart mouth on her. It’s always been this way. The world first learned this shortly after her sizzling breakout performance as an ice-pick-wielding hotsy-totsy bisexual psycho killer in 1992’s Basic Instinct. Most famously, she said, "If you have a vagina and an attitude in this town, that’s a lethal combination." Everyone loved that one. That woke people up. But she also said, "Any man in Hollywood will meet me if I want that. No, make that any man anywhere," and "Kissing [ex-boyfriend Dwight Yoakam] is like eating a dirt sandwich," and "Men never dated me for cute; I’m too much trouble for that," and "We Barbie dolls are not supposed to behave the way I do." All those words seemed to say an awful lot about Sharon Stone, and the general public concluded that she must be some kind of sexed-up, man-gobbling, pitch-black force of nature.

But all that happened a decade ago, when she was in her early thirties. She’s forty-six now. She’s been through some stuff. She recently divorced San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein, her husband of five years, for whom she basically abandoned the movies in 1998 and about whom she can now say very little ("I have certain inhibitions legally about that"). She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2001. She used to carry a gun in her car, for protection; now it’s a Louisville Slugger youth bat. She used to be a notorious speeder, too, but after she and Bronstein adopted a kid, Roan, now four, she eased up on the gas pedal a lot. She’s making movies again — Catwoman is her latest, in which she plays the villain opposite Halle Berry — but she says she’s in no way attacking Hollywood with her old scorchedearth policy of fire and ire.

"Actually, I don’t have any ambition in the film business anymore," she says over a decaf latte. "I’ve realized it’d be better for me to work a whole lot less than I once did, because I’m not a cookie-cutter thing, and not many people get what I have to give. I wish I’d understood this earlier. I shouldn’t have worked with so many people that I had to try to explain my vagina and point of view to."

That noted, she leaves the French pastry shop to do a little shopping. She’s changing the feel of her great big living room — "comfy" will be its new attitude and needs a bunch of new furniture. She doesn’t get too far up Robertson, however, before she spies something lying on the sidewalk and bends down to pick it up. It’s a single earring, gold, with little red jewels hanging off it.

"Oh, somebody lost her really pretty earring," she says.

A mother and daughter are walking down the street, dressed mainly in eyepopping boob-revealing attire. Sharon Stone stops them. "I found somebody’s earring," she says.

"What?" the mother says, blinking.

"I found somebody’s earring, and I feel bad."

"Well," says the mother, "I don’t know what to tell you."

And then both of them step around Sharon Stone, gingerly, like she’s some kind of loon. Paying no attention, she marches into a nearby store, explains the situation to a bewildered shopgirl and leaves the thing in her custody.

"Maybe you’ll see the other one on somebody’s ear," she says optimistically, and then goes on her way.

OK, so it does seem that maybe Sharon Stone has mellowed some. Today, she’s saying things like, "Love is everything. Love is it. Love is the deal, man. It’s just it, and when it is, it is." But you never know. She’s an actress, and maybe it’s all an act. If so, it’s probably not going to be such a wise idea to hop into bed with her. But it’s difficult to say right now. There’s still much to be learned and much to be weighed.

BEFORE "BASIC INSTINCT," SHE LAbored for ten long years in the world of crappy B-movies, showing up in losers such as Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. Then came that movie and that movie’s now-infamous interrogation scene, in which she crossed and uncrossed her legs and revealed in the shadows much more than she’d intended to (in her telling) or, quite cunningly, exactly what she’d intended to (in everyone else’s telling). In the overheated aftermath, she went right to the top in terms of salary demands (her upgraded quote: $6 million) and close to the bottom in terms of movie quality. Both Sliver (1993,with Billy Baldwin) and Intersection (1994,with Richard Gere) sucked, and The Specialist (1994,with Sylvester Stallone) wasn’t much better, though she did pack a mean, sexy pistol in The Quick and the Dead (1995), and she did steal thunder even from Robert De Niro in Casino (1995), for which she won an Oscar nomination.

Along the way, she riddled her personal life with quick, splashy romances, few of them lasting more than several months at best. In chop-chop order, she neatly dispensed with Yoakam, Dweezil Zappa, Gary Shandling, actor Hart Bochner (who later reportedly came out with the "Antichrist" comment), a few producer types, a few businessmen and assistant directors, and various others, up to and including half the eligible guys in Hollywood and a good number of subpar ones as well, if you believed the gossip.

And, according to Sharon Stone herself, it is all gossip, untrue and unfounded. "What I like to say is, if I had two bucks for everybody who said they slept with me, I’d be a billionaire," she says, and then goes on, in her thoughtful, intelligent way, to explain why it was that so many guys said they had when they hadn’t.

"My character in Basic Instinct displayed a sense of sexual freedom and sexual prowess and sexual danger that maybe no woman ever had before. Men found her threatening, but they also found her attractive, because men have a tendency in their own narcissism to be attracted to likeness in themselves, and that character represented a likeness to male sexuality. So when they said they’d slept with me, it was them also saying that they’d conquered a sexual peer. It made them seem more powerful as men. But I would have to say that the majority of the people who said they slept with me didn’t."

To one contemplating her now, this comes as a big relief, and she compounds it by also saying that, these days, she’s not about sex so much as about making out and parking.

"I mean, let me ask you this: What’s funner than making out?" she says. "Or, excuse me, is parking so outré? People don’t go parking anymore. What’s up with that shit, man?" She says all this using a droll hippie voice to spike her words with a little irony; even so, it doesn’t seem entirely like a puton. It really does seem that she means what she says. And to think that Joe Eszterhas, in his recent autobiography Hollywood Animal, portrays her as little more than a potsmoking home wrecker. What’s up with that shit, man? Could she have changed so much in the past few years?

TO HEAR SHARON STONE HERSELF tell it, she has changed, dramatically, and not because of her marriage, or her divorce, or her hiatus from Hollywood, or her child, custody of whom she splits with Bronstein, three weeks on, three weeks off, this being an off period for her. Instead, the reason revolves around what happened to her on September 29th, 2001, when an artery in her head began pumping blood into her brain, causing an explosive headache that literally knocked her over a couch. It took doctors nearly two weeks to diagnose the hemorrhage. By that time she was near death and, in fact, had one of those white-light near-death experiences and came out of it not exactly the same as she’d been before. Her taste in food had changed — it used to be she couldn’t stand curry; now she loves it. Her famous bad temper — gone. She’d also lost some of her long-term memory; certain people she could remember, others she couldn’t, and, usually, it was those that she couldn’t remember who would get pissed off about it and say things like, "I’ve met you many times, and you don’t remember me?" These are people, she thinks now, that her brain has chosen not to remember, and it’s a good thing.

She thinks she looks different. "Hello! I’m little! And I used to be a big chick, and it’s not as if I don’t eat!"

And she certainly is single now and very happy about it, a certain number of early misgivings notwithstanding. "At first, I thought, ‘Oh, what’s it going to be like to be in my forties, have a kid and be single? Will it be the stinky-foot thing?’ Actually, no. I’ve been asked out by men twenty-two to thirty-nine, though no one older. The younger ones, I ask them, What’s up with this? You know, I could be your mom.’ And they say, ‘But… you’re not!’ Women my age, we’re fun, we’re sexy. And if you’re a thirty-five-to forty-year-old, we will take a nap with you if you nap. We want to have sex and are happy to say, ‘I want to have sex!’"

Has her sexuality changed along with all the other changes?

"Oh, yeah! Ohhhhh. Teahhhh."

For the better?

"Tah! Wahahahaha! Ooofff, yeah. Yeah. Yahoo!" She pauses for a moment, letting her various high-spirited noises recede, then starts talking again. "I feel a different kind of alive. I was looking for something before, but I was looking outside of myself to find it. When I look back at some of my old relationships, I’m positive my big failure was starting them up in the first place and becoming partners in pain. Now I feel clearer about that. If you see somebody that seems like family, gravitate toward that person. If you see somebody that gives you that whole weird, big-buzzy, trippy, weirdy thing — run like your hair’s on fire! The tortures of the past, who needs them? You know what? I’m at the point in life where if you don’t want my peaches, don’t shake my tree. I’m into Happy Town, and if you don’t want to live in Happy Town, move, hit the frigging bricks, baby."

She laughs a deep, throaty laugh and shakes her head. "When I think about how I was or what I was before, I have no idea, because everything for me now is new. When my brain exploded — oh, God, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. A wonderful, wonderful, wonderful thing. I have such a better life now. I remember when I had to refill my mind, I decided to be cautious about what I put in there. I didn’t want to watch the news or read the newspaper. I thought about new ways I could approach myself, and what I did was, I really found my humanity."

AND YET, OF COURSE, IN TERMS OF hopping into bed with somebody, humanity newly discovered only goes so far, especially with someone like Sharon Stone, who has many peccadilloes that also must be taken into consideration. On the downside, for instance, she has a tendency to call sugar "shug," mashed potatoes "mashy potatoes" and breakfast "brecky." Ugh! Also, she recently woke up with the song "You Don’t Mess Around With Jim," by the late Jim Croce, lodged in her skull — never a good sign. She uses the words astonishing and amazing far too often for them to have any real meaning. Plus, for a certain kind of traditional guy, it might be a problem that she never wears a bra "except for fun" and that the shirts she sometimes wears allow guys to sometimes get a pretty complete view of her nipples. She’s like this not because she’s an insecure middle-aged woman who needs to continually test out her sexual appeal, and thank God for that. "It’s just that I could care less," she says. "I’m all for the European sensibility. I mean, you’re a guy, and if I can see your nipples, it’s no big deal. Does that mean nipples are not an erogenous zone on you? Or have you just not had a girlfriend bother to do foreplay in that direction?"

It’s best not to answer those kinds of questions, and instead you counter with more of your own. Her vices — what might they be?

"None that I don’t really find pleasure in, I guess, but they’re mine alone, because if I shared them, then I’m not going to get a big buzz off them anymore."

A vibrator — has she ever owned one?

"Only as a party favor," she yells, before lapsing into twenty-three seconds of rolling laughter.

An orgasm — has she ever faked one?

This requires twelve seconds of deep thought. "No," she says finally, "but I have faked liking presents."

Hobbies — does she have any?

"Well, I love to hit baseballs. I’m up to seventy miles per hour at the batting cages, and I want to see if I can get to eighty. Also, I’m golfing like mad these days."

This is, naturally, a disappointing thing to hear — so disappointing that it might prompt one to come right out and say, with conviction, "If I was your boyfriend, I’d break up with you over that."

She’d then smile a long time and say, "Bet not," and, in just the way that she said it, you’d know exactly what she meant and; that she is probably right. But not for that reason alone. There are, as well, many other things to recommend her. For instance, now that every girl on earth has taken to wearing thongs, she has begun doing "the full-underpants thing, because they’re so cute and sort of fresh!" Being a longtime, tireless fund-raiser for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, she also knows a lot about condoms and is full of thoughtful advice. "I recommend Avanti, but you have to find the brand that works for you, whether you need latex or nonlatex, lubed or nonlubed, ribbed or nonribbed. If you get one that works for you and your girl, they can actually enhance your sexuality!"

And so there she is, the latest incarnation of Sharon Stone. She’s got her pluses, she’s got her minuses, but the question still remains: Knowing what you now know, are you going to hop into bed with her or not?

SHE DRIVES FROM ROBERTSON TO LA Brea, on her continuous search for comfy, and then, in a swank establishment called Barclay Butera, she sees a big comfy bed, and a perverse notion strikes her.

"Oh, let’s get in bed," she says to you, who have known her for less than four hours. She says, "Get in, honey."

Thoughts flicker through your brain, fears and delights, but in the end, you do what must be done. She slides under the comforter from one side, you slide in from the other. And you lie there, heart pounding, wondering what to make of all this, while the shopkeepers look at the two of you and chuckle.

She turns to you and says, smiling, "Oh, my God, this is good! This is fantastic!" But she’s not talking about you, only about the bed. "It’s really quite luxe, the comforter, the sheets, the bedding, the mattress," she goes on. Then, brightly: "Let’s have a little nap. We might say something in our dreams."

You are disappointed. You are hoping for more, for something more intimate, something to tell you that you made the right decision when you got into this bed.

A saleslady appears, reporting back about a table. She says, "The price is $1,500."

Sharon Stone thinks about this and says, "What kind of wood is it made of?"

The saleslady frowns. "What kind of wood?"

But the girl in the bed is no longer paying attention to the lady. She’s paying attention to you, gazing in your direction and speaking almost in a whisper, albeit a stage whisper.

"I didn’t mean to use the word wood while we’re in here," she says. "Don’t take it the wrong way."

The saleslady is saying, "What do you think?"

"Good wood," Sharon Stone says, not to her but to you.

"Now, Sharon, please," you say.

But she’s having none of that. "Hard wood," she says, snickering. "Haaaaard wood!" And then: "God, this is good. I want a set in California King, with four king shams and two bureau shams."

"But they won’t be the same at your house because…"

"I know, buttercup. Because you won’t be there."

It feels, then, exactly right to have hopped into bed with Sharon Stone. She has called you "buttercup." What kind of woman uses the word buttercup? She may have been the Antichrist at one time, but she’s something else again today.

"The way I was before was harder, way tougher," she says a while later. "I was much more willing to kick somebody’s ass. In fact, you had to restrain me from kicking ass back then. Now it’s not my thing. I giggle much more now. I’m more pink and lacy. You would never have seen me in a pink top before. I’m much more girly now. It’s fun," she says. "It’s fun in a brand-new way."

Rolling Stone News

sharonstone

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