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Yoko Ono, a Decade After the 'Horrible Thing' : John Lennon's widow still lives under a shadow, but, she says, 'It's not a bad time'

May 06, 1990|GLENN PLASKIN

A: What I saw was a very sweet person, extremely handsome, and I thought to myself it would be nice if I could have an affair with someone like that.

Q: It's been reported that you had a series of affairs during, between and after both your marriages to musician Toshi Ichiyanagi and filmmaker Anthony Cox.

A: I was pretty monogamous, considering. Reports about me are exaggerated.

Q: You once said, "I was always having abortions because I was too neurotic to take precautions." True?

A: Yes, that's true. I had abortions, but who didn't? Look, I was certainly no match for John, in that sense. (Laughter) If a woman has more than one man, she's considered a whore; if a man has more than one woman, he's a ladies' man. I was no match for John.

Q: Is it true you literally orchestrated your husband's well-known liaison with a former employee, May Pang?

A: I didn't orchestrate it. John and I were becoming an extremely conservative couple. By that I mean both of us stood for freedom and individuality and we were against hypocritical relationships. When ours needed some freedom and expansion of spirit, I told him it was all right to pursue his freedom: "Go to L.A. and have fun." That's what I said. John called it his "lost weekend," which lasted 18 months.

Q: But didn't you feel jealous over his adventures with other women?

A: Well, I thought it was crazy. The world was calling me a very possessive woman, having a hold on him, never letting him go. I asked myself: Are we together because we really want to be, or because of some insecurity. John was experimenting in many ways.

Q: Including with a variety of drugs.

A: The Beatles were joiners, not starters, and in the '60s drugs were looked upon differently--as important experiments, so people could free their minds. You didn't have to be extremely sad or unhappy to take drugs. John felt it was to celebrate life, like Woodstock--and it was recreational. But the recreation became an addiction.

Q: Were you addicted to heroin?

A: Yes. After the lost weekend, we both went on a juice fast for 40 days in 1975, just drinking fruit juice, and we cleaned ourselves. John had incredible will and once he decided to do something, he did it. Those 40 days were very hard, but we were totally clean.

Q: How had heroin affected your marriage?

A: When we were on it, we were both on it, so it wasn't like we alienated each other. But it was self-destructive and unhealthy.

Q: With your son in the middle of his teen years, do you worry?

A: Sean is very aware of the danger of drugs, and his generation is saying no to peer pressure, which takes courage.

Q: With your son as your anchor, do you consider yourself maternal?

A: Well, I'm not the kind of woman who would love to make soup or knit sweaters. I never cherished that so much.

Q: With so many sadnesses in your life, how have you survived?

A: Nobody's life is a bed of roses. We all have crosses to bear and we all just do our best. I would never claim to have the worst situation. There are many widows, and many people dying of AIDS, many people killed in Lebanon, people starving all over the planet. So we have to count our lucky stars.

Q: And your stars . . .

A: I have my health and a very wonderful son, and Sam.

Q: And you teach your son . . .

A: I tell him there are some nice things about life, but never that it's roses, because after what he's been through, I can't sell him that. But nice things, yes.

Q: And the nicest thing about life for you?

A: Watching Sean grow. I love him very much, wish John was here to see him grow. Maybe he's watching.

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