Hi - Sorry, should have checked back sooner - I'm glad everyone liked the photos. As requested, here is a large version of the cover. I was worried about posting too big of a pic, but I just read about managing attachments, so I hope this works!
Little Tiny - Yes, I have the magazine. It was my great aunt's who passed away awhile back. Unfortunately, its the only one we found -- cause I know she had more. I would love to see more from this era, maybe ebay??? hmmm....
Interview with Jane in the telegraph's Stella Magazine
I love the picture of her now... I think she is much more beautiful as a mature woman..
Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead. - Charles Bukowski.
Gun and a pack of sandwiches
heres an little arcticle from the telegraph that may be of interest...
Fifteen years after her lover and mentor died, Jane Birkin is finally ready to reinvent herself. What would Serge say? She talks to Rosemary McBain
There is something rather whimsical about Jane Birkin. For a start she's sort of tiny and wispy and dressed like a mad but trendy art teacher. She wears faded grey jeans, small suede boots, a grey wool V-neck sweater, a scarf and a voluminous coat. Her hair is done up in a straggly bun held in place with a pencil. At 59 she still has the enthusiasm of a child. 'I have just been to that gallery,' she says, flapping around trying to take her coat off.
Moving on: Jane BirkinWe are at the Pelham Hotel in South Kensington. The area is full of boutiques and pâtisseries and French-speaking people. Perfect, I would have thought, for a francophile like Birkin. After all, she ran off across the Channel when she was barely 20 and hooked up with France's most famous son, the singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg.
'He's been dead 15 years now,' Birkin says, pulling a long face. 'I've been on the television in France every night performing his songs, so it's good to be here in London and feel a bit anonymous.'
She then pulls some reading-glasses down from the top of her head and rummages around in her bag. (She used to carry an iconic Hermès bag named after her but blames the tendonitis in her shoulder on the weight of it.) She finds a leather Filofax and flicks through it at great speed. 'Ah, here it is,' she says. 'The Tate Modern! That's where we went. We saw those wonderful pictures in chalk on a blackboard.' She gives me one of her famous wide-mouthed, gap-toothed smiles.
This is what is so endearing about Jane Birkin. She twitters and trills on endlessly about anything and everything and, for the most part, it is impossible to know what she is going on about. She also rather winsomely often lapses into French, which makes conversation tricky for a non-French speaker such as myself. But Jane Birkin is, without a doubt, super-cool.
She has always been beautiful and gamine and wide-mouthed and breathy and sophisticated in a way only the French (or adopted French) can be. She has appeared in endless French art movies and recorded endless albums of her former lover's songs in her own idiosyncratic style, and now hip young groups are lining up to record with her. She has just duetted with Franz Ferdinand, and her new album, Fictions, has songs written for her by the Magic Numbers, Rufus Wainwright and Gonzales.
'Oh, it was such a joy recording that album,' she says. 'I sat in a room and sang and talked and then there it was! Quite incredible, really.' Despite her protestations to the opposite ('I live a quiet life, like a mouse enjoying warm, dark places'), Jane Birkin pushes herself very hard. For three years she's been taking her acclaimed 'Arabesque tour' - Gainsbourg's music given an ethnic Arab treatment - around the world. 'Gainsbourg translates across the world, you see,' she says.
In fact it is impossible not to think of Serge Gainsbourg when it comes to Jane Birkin. She talks about her former lover and mentor constantly. She met him after she fled a failed marriage in Britain. 'I had married very young and I was madly in love,' she says, 'but he ran off with someone else and left me on my own with my baby.'
The 'he' in this case is John Barry, the composer of the James Bond theme tune. The baby is her daughter Kate, now 39. Until moving to France, Jane Birkin had a fairly ordinary upper-class English life. Her mother was the actress Judy Campbell, and her father, David, was a commander in the navy. She grew up in an artistic environment with her elder brother, Andrew, now a film director, and younger sister, Linda, who is married with children. Birkin herself launched her acting career in 1966, when she appeared nude in Antonioni's seminal film Blowup.
'People always ask me if we had an unconventional childhood but we didn't,' Birkin says. 'In fact, I don't think I'm unconventional at all. I used to worry what people thought of me. I always did the right thing and behaved, really, whereas my brother has had the spirit to follow his own path and my sister is, in essence, a wonderfully unconventional woman.'
But, surely, hooking up with Serge Gainsbourg when she was so young and with a baby daughter in tow was a pretty unconventional thing to do. After all, he was notorious for his wild ways, which involved copious amounts of alcohol and endless infamous lovers. 'Oh, I found Serge terribly attractive,' Birkin says. 'He looked mad, bad and dangerous to know, but he was a sweetie. He just liked being looked after and he liked looking after me.'
The upshot of their meeting, on the film set of Slogan, was that Birkin moved in with Gainsbourg and, in 1969, recorded 'Je t'aime moi non plus', the erotic single that made Birkin a household name. Gainsbourg had recorded it with his previous girlfriend, Brigitte Bardot, but re-recorded it with Birkin.
'I think he was frightened of Bardot's breasts,' Birkin says. 'I've never had breasts, and Serge liked that about me.' The record caused a scandal, was banned by radio stations and sold millions of copies. 'I got so cross with it at the time,' Birkin says. 'In the UK it defined my career, and people still tell me how their children were conceived to that record! '
And so the French part of Birkin's life began, a part that she has never left. Is that because France seems more exotic to her? 'No, it's because I fell in love and stayed there!' she says. 'Actually, Serge found Britain rather exotic. He loved the pubs and the pub food. He would cry when he heard carol singers. '
'Serge looked mad, bad and dangerous to know, but he was a sweetie'However, Birkin had to deal with Gainsbourg's legendary depression and drinking as well as looking after Kate and Charlotte, her daughter with Gainsbourg. 'Serge got depressed if people didn't recognise him. He felt as if he didn't exist. He would go on television and rip up 500-franc notes, for attention.'
But wasn't it exhausting, being with this needy, celebrity-hungry man? Birkin looks astounded. 'No, why would it be?' she says. 'I understood him.' But in 1980 she left him when she was already pregnant with her third daughter, Lou, following a fling - by then, Serge's behaviour had worsened and Birkin had moved into her own flat. Birkin went off with Lou's father, the film director Jacques Doillon, but they separated.
Gainsbourg continued to write songs for Birkin, and they maintained a strong friendship until his death. 'It takes two people to make a relationship work,' says Birkin. ' I thought it was amazing how our relationship continued.'
But difficult for Jacques Doillon, maybe? Interestingly, this is the only time I see Birkin's face cloud. 'Ah, what it would be to be with someone now!' she says. 'I understand what it feels like when someone looks at you with disappointment. I was desperately in love with my first husband. I tried to cling on to him and it was very painful and I vowed not to do that again and I haven't.
'Would I have liked to grow old with someone, like my sister has? Yes, of course, but… I have been lucky. For most of my life I had two men who never told me I did any wrong, my father and Serge. I have been blessed like that.'
Now, finally, she has recorded an album, Fictions, on which none of the songs is written by her former lover. How does that feel? 'It makes me very happy,' she says. 'I've found it an interesting thing to do.' Then she pauses. 'Serge would have loved it,' she says thoughtfully. 'I think all these people have been inspired by the music Serge wrote for me.' What about herself, doesn't she tire of being the keeper of his flame?
'Oh, no,' she says. 'It is a compliment.'
But now she is alone. Her father died days after Gainsbourg, on his way to France to help his daughter organise the funeral, and her mother died a few years back. 'But I have my brother and sister and my daughters!' Birkin says. Kate is now a photographer. 'She is, essentially, French but she comes back here to see her father.' Charlotte is an actress and lives in France, and Lou, a model and actress, lives in France and New York.
Birkin obviously misses her mother a lot. 'I am so reminded of her when I am in London,' she says. 'When my ma died, I thought our family would fall apart, but I am happy to say we all still see each other and have Christmas together.'
So what is the future for Jane Birkin? She seems in no mood to slope off to the countryside. 'Oh, no!' she says, looking horrified. 'You know, when I was with Serge, I insisted we had a place in the countryside where I could take the children, and he would come with me for the summer but he hated it, really. It bored him.'
So she will continue to make records and films - she will shortly be making her own biopic, Boxes - 'and sing Serge's songs', she says, 'and be with my dog, Dora. That is what I am happy doing.' And she pushes her glasses back up on to her forehead and gives me a wide smile.
'Fictions' (Liberty, £10.99) by Jane Birkin is out now
Main portrait by Robert Wyatt
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