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What with Chris Farley and the NBA playoffs, this is totally an oral history party up in this betch. The following excerpt comes from Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk and concerns legendary TR photosetress Nico and her short-lived relationship with the grotesque lead singer of The Stooges, Iggy Pop.
Ron Asheton, member of the Stooges: Danny took us to meet Andy Warhol at the Factory after the record came out. The Factory was decorated in tinfoil and kind of grungy. We were midwestern kids and it was too weird for us – all these New York speed freaks and homosexuals. I didn’t even talk to Warhol. Scott, Dave, and I were so freaked that we just sat together on the couch. We wound up thinking it was too creepy and left after a half hour.
The next night or so, we went to Steve Paul’s club, the Scene, to see Terry Reid play. Jimi Hendrix showed up and jammed with him. After the show, Iggy and I had a beer with Hendrix. Iggy was walking around with Nico, and I was just sitting there snickering, because she was leading him around like he was her kid. She was so tall and he’s so short – they were holding hands, real lovey-dovey. She wouldn’t let him out of her sight.
Danny Fields, Elektra Records: You kind of expected that Iggy would be someone Nico would fall in love with. He was everything she would like in a guy: wounded, brilliant, fragile but made of steel, insane, demented.
So it was no surprise. Nico fell in love with everyone who was extremely brilliant, insane, or a junkie. I don’t want to seem cyncical, and if I knew it was going to make such history I would have had a tape recorder, but at the time it was, “Ho hum, Nico’s in love with another poet.”
Iggy Pop: I was making love to Nico a lot. All day pretty much. Nico was really something special. I dug her a lot. I couldn’t fall in love with anybody, but I was really thrilled and excited to be around her. She was older and she was from somewhere else. I really liked that – her accent was from somewhere else, everything about her was from somewhere else.
Iggy Pop: Also, she was extremely strong. It was like hanging out with a guy except she had girl’s parts; that was the only difference, otherwise it was like hanging out with a tough-minded, egotistical, artiste kinda guy.
She’d be very opinionated about my work, and this, that, and the other thing – then all of a sudden that veneer would fall off and she would show tremendous vulnerability. And then I would see her: Here’s someone over thirty, not a model anymore, not a commercial entity of any kind in the big business called America, and what the fuck is she gonna do?
Nico had a great sadness about her. You know, she had all the accoutrements of a really groovy international gal – the right boots, the right sheepskin coat, the right hair, and she knew people on the right level, and yet she was fucked-up – she had a twist to her. She was a great, great artist. It was just a real kick to be around her.
Iggy Pop: I’m absolutely convinced that some day, when people have ears to hear her, in the same way that people have eyes to see a van Gogh now, that people are just gonna go, “WHOAAAA!”
Then she came with me to Ann Arbor and lived in the band house with me.
Ron Asheton: When Iggy said, “Nico’s coming,” it was like, “Hey well cool, we don’t care.” When Nico moved into the Fun House, we hardly saw her, because Iggy kept her up in the attic. The only time we saw her was when we practiced, and we resented her being there because we had a big rule – nobody allowed in the practice room, especially a woman.
iggy and JT
Ron Asheton: But then she’d make these great curry dishes and just leave them on the table with really expensive wines. That’s what got us all back into drinking, the great wines Nico turned us on to.
Iggy Pop: The Stooges didn’t want any girls in the house, especially one who had a very deep voice. They would imitate how she talked. Nico would try to cook for us, but she would cook a pot of brown rice and pour half a container of Tabasco sauce in it. She had an ear infection and she felt the Tabasco would clear her ear out.
And Nico liked to drink. She got me into that, too, and while she was living with us my shows started getting really, really bad. Because Nico was a bad seed. You know, she was not like the girl next door.
Ron Asheton: Nico got some filmmaker to come to Michigan and make some sixteen-millimeter movie with Iggy. We all went out to this farm, and Nico got John Adams to be in it, too, because he looked like a sphinx: big, long, tight, curly red hair. It was the dead of winter and we were sitting looking out this picture window, laughing, while they put these mannequin arms all over the field – John with no shirt on, and Iggy with no shirt on, doing nothing. Boy, it was real artsy.
Iggy Pop: We ran around and around this potato field and mimed with plastic limbs. I never made much sense of it. It was jive. But I needed dinner that day. What had happened was that Francois de Menil of Texas money wanted to do a film with Nico and she said, “If you wanna do a film, you gotta come out to Michigan and put Jimmy in it.” So he said, “Well, okay.”
Danny Fields: Nico would call me all the time from Ann Arbor, saying, “I don’t know eeeff he loves meee enymore, he’s ignoring meee, oooh, he’s so meeean to meee!”
I’d say, “Well, I guess you picked kind of a hard guy to have an affair with.” You know, sorry, but what else is new?
Iggy Pop: Nico used to say to me, “Zhimmy, oh Zhimmy, you must be totally poisoned to do what you do. You are only mostly poisoned, you must be totally poisoned.”
She meant I had too much humanity. Then she’d feed me red wines with French names I never heard of. That’s how I learned all that bullshit; that’s how I learned how to modulate my voice…wear light blue suits and speak to record company executives.
Ron Asheton: Nico stayed a long time, about three months. Iggy never said if he was in love with her or not. But I remember after she left, Iggy came downstairs looking for some advice. He came up to me and said, “Well, I, I think something’s wrong, maybe you can tell me what this is?” So he whips out his cock, squeezes it, and green goo comes out. I said, “Buddy, you got the clap.” Nico gave Iggy his first dose of the clap.
You can buy Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk here.
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