When I spoke to Sharon Stone the day before she flew to London to host the 80th birthday celebration for Mikhail Gorbachev at Royal Albert Hall she said she was sore from gardening for 7 hours, attempting to lift a stone Buddha, getting through the thicket of jungle she has for a garden. She said she has been writing and reading a lot, especially the stories of Alice Munro, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, and her favorite, Dylan Thomas. Now 52, she’s thinking of writing her memoirs as a series of stories called either My Father’s Daughter or Vintage. She said that the Oxford American Journal had published an ode she wrote, and was going to run one of her short stories. She then read me a story she wrote about her uncle who committed suicide. It began, “He wasn’t really murdered…” And then she changed the subject and surprised me by asking, “How do you meet people? I’ve got to meet people. I need to meet someone my age, in his 50s or 40s, not in his 60s, because I’m too energetic.”
“You’re asking me? You’re Sharon Stone. You’re meeting people all the time.”
“But not in that way,” she said. “I’ve got three kids, remember?”
“And none have hit their teen years,” I pointed out.
“I know. They’re going on 5, 6 and 11. It’s no joke having a bunch of kids.”
“Is that why you put it out there when you spoke to Piers Morgan on CNN in March?”
“You mean, it’s time for me to partner up?”
“A lot of people must be surprised that a woman with your fame and beauty is taking her sister to the Academy Awards.”
“I go to parties,” Stone says, “and men come up to me and ask me what my favorite movie part was.”
“And you say….?”
“Now that you’re in your fifties, how does being an older sexy woman compare to a younger one?”
“If you have a life well lived,” she said, “you live your twenties and thirties to be free and have fun and be pretty, date, have a life, so that you can be wise, sensual and more profoundly sexy and interesting when you’re fifty. Certainly your forties—and fifties!– should be your most interesting and sensual years.”
I didn’t need to remind her of her two failed marriages, but since she brought this subject up, I wondered if she now had a better understanding of what she was looking for in a life partner?
“You really have to be madly in love with the person,” she answered. “You can’t wait to wake up in the morning to be with him. He has to be your best friend. You have to be willing to put him before yourself. And you have to know that he puts you before himself. I love what Cole Porter said, that real love is not gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, but looking outward in the same direction. You really have to share a set of common values, desires, and goals. If you don’t, it ain’t gonna happen. The person has to really champion you, and you have to really champion him. When you walk in the room, his eyes should light up, and vice versa. He has to defend you for everything, and you have to defend him for everything, even when you’re wrong, and then later, ‘What the hell were you thinking?’ Help each other grow.”
“Well,” I said, “you obviously have given this a lot of thought and you know what you want. But how tough is this going to be to find?”
“You may never find it,” she said, “or you may find it like a four-leaf clover. But it is so much better to be alone than to be alone in the room with the wrong person.”
“Do you think you are you too strong, too demanding, too individual, and in the end too scary for most men to handle?” I asked. She is, after all, a strong and singular woman.
“No, I think I’m really fabulous. I’m really, really, really shy. Guys look at me and know my public image, that I’m famous and successful, then I just stand there because I’m too shy to do anything. Guys need encouragement and I don’t give them any. My sister has made me practice being more flirtatious. She took me to [the department store] Marshall’s and made me practice with shoppers. I wasn’t very good at first. I’m sweating now telling this, because it was so awful having to talk to someone with my mixing bowls in hand. She kept saying to me, ‘You have to say something.’ I’m like wallpaper. And everybody flirts with my sister Kelly. She’s such a babe. A sex bomb. I’m like the Invisible Man. No one ever talks to me. I always say to people, ‘I’ll introduce you to my sister, but you still have to like me.’”
“I remember that you once said that men ‘have a tendency in their own narcissism to be attracted to likeness in themselves.’”
“Yes. And what’s wrong with me is I have a tendency to act like them so they’ll like me, which is such a dumb thing. Do their stuff, wear their clothes. I used to do that, but not anymore.”
“Do you think that men are more narcissistic than women?”
“Ach, they take 100 hours to get ready, we’re ready in fifteen minutes. I don’t even wear makeup in real life. Men take a year to get ready. And much of it is with their hair. And how they look. If you’ve ever liked your face cream, forget it, because they take it out of your bathroom and you never see it again. They ought to make fake skin care for men and put it for women, because they take yours.”
“Come on, Sharon, you know not all men are like this.”
“Excuse me; ask most women—it’s true.”
“You’re not painting a pretty picture of the opposite sex. Yet, you seem to be an optimist. Do you carry condoms with you, just in case?”
“I do,” she said, “I’m hoping for luck! And I carry them so that I can give them to other people who might want or need them, or who might want to have a conversation. Especially a young, shy person.”
“You’re joking, right? When have you ever done that?”
“I was in a store awhile ago and I watched a young girl trying on clothes, showing her abdomen; her mother was trying to talk to her about not being inappropriately luring. I said, ‘Gee, that would look much nicer with a camisole under.’ Her mother walked away, and I said to the young girl, ‘I’d like to give you a two-minute conversation about safe sex, if I might. You know you might be in a situation where someone presses you to have sex. This is what you do; this is what you don’t do. And by the way, condoms…blah blah blah.’ So often young people talk to me about condoms and sex, and ‘What do I do if I’m being pressed to have sex?’ And I tell them: oral sex is a hundred times safer than vaginal or anal sex. If you are absolutely in a situation where you cannot get out of sex, offer a blowjob. It could save their lives. I’m not embarrassed to tell them.
“I am a high believer in safe sex, as I have been for years the campaign chairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research [amfAR]. Unfortunately, women don’t get a lot of advice about condoms. When you get small cuts and abrasions from a condom, what happens if the condom breaks? What if that person has a sexually transmittable disease? It’s going to transmit right into that cut or abrasion. Well, ladies, you’d better think that through. Because you are then extra available to get your sexually transmitted disease. So latex condoms can be very dangerous to you if you’re sensitive to a cut or an abrasion. A lot of people have latex allergies and get latex abrasions. For me, who has super sensitive skin, a latex condom is a danger and it’s very hard to find a non-latex condom. “
“What about sheepskin condoms?” I asked.
“Well, you can like that, but they often put a ton of lubricant on a sheepskin condom, and then you’ve got this weird goopy shit that you can also be (a) allergic to, (b) to me it’s kind of creepy and (c) it takes all the friction away.”
I wasn’t embarrassed listening to Sharon telling me this because over the years I’ve known her, I’ve come to appreciate that she speaks her mind, no matter what trouble she might get into when what she says appears in print. Take, for instance, what she once said when I asked her about Gwyneth Paltrow, who had parodied her years ago on Saturday Night Live:
“[Gwyneth] is very young, and in that rarified air that’s a little thin, it’s like she’s not quite getting enough oxygen. She’s being guided by people in some situations who have bigger plans than her. I would like to think that she just doesn’t know; that she’s just young. I would like to think that she will eventually spend her fame valuably.”
Then there was this that she said when I asked her about Steven Seagal and whatever he might have done to her while making Above the Law. “I just think he’s an individual who isn’t worth the ink it would take to write about him,” she responded, cutting him to the quick.