WITH BRUCE LABRUCE
For anyone with even a casual relationship with the delicious Page Six, The New York Post's gossip column, "Bijou" should already be somewhat of a household word. In fact, Bijou Phillips, who will turn twenty in the year 2000, has been the veritable holy terror of Page Six for the past four or five years now. She's today's Tuesday, the new Drew, a wild child who, through fate and circumstance, was somehow allowed to partake of New York's nebulous nightlife at an age traditionally more suited to playing with dolls — that is, of the non-pharmaceutical variety.
Bijou is one of the three famous daughters from different mothers of Papa John Phillips of the '60s group, The Mamas and the Papas, the other two being MacKenzie, of American Graffiti and One Day at a Time, and Chynna, formerly of the pop band Wilson Phillips, and currently a Baldwin wife.
The senior Phillips' annoyingly cocksure autobiography, Papa John, chronicles the life of a selfish and driven man whose bipolar extremes, fueled by a self-destructive indulgence in sex and drugs, left a trail of broken lives in his wake. Indeed, Bijou may have had her first drug experience before she was born.
It was with a little trepidation that I first met young Bijou (through a mutual friend, the lovely, red-headed recording star Esthero) at a sushi restaurant in Toronto. I'd already heard the rumors, and was anticipating a Tasmanian she-devil who might just as soon bite my hand as shake it. Greeting me instead was a charming girl with porcelain skin and kewpie doll lips, and the particularly disconcerting quality of someone nineteen going on thirty-five. Aside from mounting and almost disrobing one of our nubile female dinner companions, and shoving her tongue down her throat — which sent our servers scurrying nervously from the private room — I found her company quite civilized. She's a forthright and engaging young lady with a fondness for dirty rapping and spontaneous balladeering. I hoped to see her again.
A few months later, when Bijou was back in Toronto shooting a movie called Tart, we ended up in a cab one evening under the influence of some harmless club drug. For fifteen minutes I sat transfixed as she spoke softly into her flashing pink cell phone reciting a passionate, epic love poem to her current beau, then dismissed it as piffle. She stretched out her long legs and nestled cat-like in the back seat as if in a perpetual state of limousine. I gazed in wonder at a girl who seemed to have the world at her feet.
Bijou will soon appear in James Toback's Black and White. The movie's a mess, but Bijou sparkles. She's also working on a follow-up to her debut album, I'd Rather Eat Glass, which was released last year, and this month she graces the cover of Playboy. It seemed appropriate to bring along a recent issue of Celebrity Sleuth — a salacious magazine that digs up and reprints obscure or previously suppressed pictures of famous females in the nude — in which she ravishingly appears. I'm quite excited, as I've been collecting the Sleuth's work for years. Bijou flips through it distractedly as we settle in.
BRUCE: Okay. So tell me about your Playboy shoot.
BIJOU: They contacted me, we went out to dinner, I had all these conditions, and we figured everything out.
BRUCE: What were your conditions?
BIJOU: That Ellen Von Unwerth would shoot it, and that I would have control over the article and the pictures, pick where the shoot would be, what happens in the shoot, the clothing ...
BRUCE: Or lack thereof.
BIJOU: And that it's a cover.
BRUCE: Now did Hef come in during the shoot in his bathrobe?
BIJOU: Yeah, he did. We did some pictures together. That was fun.
BRUCE: What about your family? Did you consult with them about Playboy?
BIJOU: Yeah, they said, "Great, just make sure you have control."
BRUCE: I guess there's nothing shocking about it anymore.
BIJOU: It's just tits. No big deal.
BRUCE: Did they ask you for split beaver?
BIJOU: No! Ellen has tons of those of me, from photographing me years ago, but she would never release them. She's taken some nutty pictures of me, but we're friends so she wouldn't publish any of them.
BRUCE: Now I wanted to ask you, having read in Celebrity Sleuth, my main source of information, about those Calvin Klein ads?
BIJOU: The kiddy porn ads.
BRUCE: I'd forgotten you were in those.
BIJOU: It was kind of scary because they had this guy ...
BRUCE: Steven Meisel.
BIJOU: No, Steven directed it but then there was this porn guy.
BRUCE: Off-camera. A real porn guy. I think it was Ron Jeremy.
BIJOU: And he was wearing these pants, and it was just a nightmare.
BRUCE: What do you mean — wearing these pants?
BIJOU: These weird leather pants, and he had a cowboy hat on and he was just sitting there.
BRUCE: So he looked all leathery? Like a leather daddy?
BIJOU: Yeah, and he was asking these questions like [in a creepy voice], "What do you like about your Calvin Kleins? How do they make you feel?"
BIJOU: And then he goes, "What would it take to get your jeans off?" I mean, I was like fourteen. I'd been flown in from boarding school to do this. So I said, "If I had to take a shower? If I had to go to the bathroom?"
BRUCE: [laughing] What would it take to get your jeans off! How sweet! But it felt creepy, right?
BIJOU: It felt dirty and wrong.
BRUCE: Had you known Meisel before?
BIJOU: Yeah, I'd done a bunch of shoots with him.
BRUCE: So did that make you feel more comfortable?
BIJOU: No. He's scary too.
BRUCE: [laughing] It says here that the Justice Department investigated Calvin Klein's "notorious rec-room underwear ad campaign." It was kiddy-pornish.
BIJOU: I was fourteen. I was the only underage person there. I was the kiddy.
Bijou Phillips, pictured with mother, Genevieve Waite.
BRUCE: Now you were born on April Fool's Day, and in Papa John it says that your mother was on heroin when she was pregnant with you, and that you were born premature and almost died.
BIJOU: Yeah. I'm a crack baby. Word.
BRUCE: That's not a very nice way to come into the world. You must carry some anger about that, or did you just let it all go?
BIJOU: I have so much anger.
BRUCE: Does it freak you out that everybody knows all these details? The book's out of print, by the way.
BIJOU: At the time it was huge, when it came out in '87.
BRUCE: When you were only seven.
BIJOU: The book's a bunch of lies, that's what my sister says.
BIJOU: Yeah. Everything in it's all bullshit ...
BRUCE: It says in the book that Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall were baby-sitting you once when your parents were going through heroin withdrawal, and Mick and Jerry wouldn't give you back to them because they were too fucked up. And then your father tried to burn down his own house. Do you remember that?
BIJOU: No. I was only three. My dad went to jail at the time, and no one would give my mom money.
BRUCE: But she had lots of rich, celebrity friends.
BIJOU: My parents fucked so many people over that no one wanted to talk to either of them. Me and my mom ended up sleeping on the street.
BRUCE: You weren't sleeping on the street!
BIJOU: Yeah, we slept on the street a couple of nights, in doorways. And we had to steal food.
BRUCE: I read that your dad was a real grifter.
BIJOU: At one point, he bought a drugstore so he wouldn't have to cop on the street anymore.
BRUCE: And before he became famous he was a mailman, but he was too lazy to deliver the mail so he'd just throw it away.
BIJOU: He's just dumb.
BRUCE: Tell me about the new song you wrote — the one you were singing in the car on the way back from lunch.
BIJOU: The one about my dad? It sort of speaks for itself. I've made this decision not to talk to the press about anything that's gone on in my life, but just to write music about it. They can interpret it themselves.
BRUCE: There seemed to be some improprieties going on. You're talking about stuff in your music that's pretty heavy. Has anyone articulated it for you in the press?
BIJOU: No one has the balls to do it.
BRUCE: I'll do it.
BIJOU: [laughs] It's blatantly obvious.
BRUCE: The refrain in your new song is: "He touched me wrong." How much more blatant can you get?
BIJOU: I really want his balls busted, but I also want to be able to say, "It's just a song."
BRUCE: It's not just a song.
BIJOU: It's just a song.
BRUCE: In Celebrity Sleuth it says you have a "Daddy" tattoo on your butt, and there's a picture of it.
BRUCE: It's funny how you can know a person and not know they have "Daddy" tattooed on their butt.
BIJOU: That was during a time when I was a pretty sick puppy. I went and got it with my friend David Blaine. I was eighteen.
BRUCE: Did David Blaine also get "Daddy" tattooed on his butt?
BIJOU: He got some famous magician with a hat and a cane.
BRUCE: So where did the two of you meet?
BIJOU: We met at Bowery Bar when I was fourteen.
BRUCE: You came to New York when you were fourteen. Sleuth says that you pretended to have a heroin habit so you could go to rehab to get away from your parents.
BIJOU: Okay, here's what happened. I had gotten a hold of my dad's credit card when I was fourteen, and I started buying all this stuff. I would have food delivered and furniture delivered, and I charged about ten grand on the card and no one did anything for six months. I hadn't tried heroin because I've always been kind of scared of it, and then one day a friend of mine was in town from L.A. and I hung out with him. He had some China dust and I snorted some of it. I'd taken E earlier with this other friend — I was really into drugs at the time — and then I went over to another friend's hotel room, and his friend had just flown in from L.A. with a gigantic chunk of Mexican tar.
BRUCE: Is that heroin?
BIJOU: Yeah, New York is powder and here in L.A. we smoke it. So we smoked the heroin for three days in the hotel room. I smoked a bunch of it and I passed out for a day. Then I woke up and we went to Central Park to ride on the Carousel.
BRUCE: How sweet.
BIJOU: I would just throw up and keep going around, and then throw up some more. I'd be like, "I love life," and then I got really sick. When I went home my phone was ringing, and I answered it. "Bijou, your father knows about the credit card and you need to apologize to him, I don't want this to ruin your relationship."
BRUCE: Who was that?
BIJOU: My stepmother. At that point, my dad didn't want me to be in New York anymore. He wanted me to go make money.
BRUCE: He wanted you to work for a living? At fourteen?
BIJOU: Yeah, because I said that once I did the Interview cover, I would be a model. But to get out of the credit card thing, I decided to tell them I was a heroin addict and that I'd used the card to buy furniture to sell for cash to buy drugs. I knew it would work because every time my sister MacKenzie would do something bad she would blame the drugs, and then he'd send her to rehab. So I knew he'd send me.
BRUCE: So you really didn't need rehab.
BIJOU: No, I'd only done heroin for three days.
BRUCE: This was a preemptive strike.
BIJOU: No. I don't have an addictive personality at all. But my dad sent me to a doctor, and when he tested me he found E and pot and alcohol and heroin in my system. I pretended I didn't want to go to rehab, I was like, "I don't want to go, please, you don't understand, I need to leave, I need to go get more." It was this whole act.
BRUCE: So that was your acting debut?
BIJOU: It wasn't my debut. So they sent me to Sierra Tucson.
BRUCE: Is that a posh rehab?
BIJOU: Yeah, there were a bunch of rock stars when I went.
BIJOU: I'm not supposed to say.
BRUCE: It's okay. It was a long time ago.
BIJOU: Well, Vince Neil ...
BRUCE: From Motley Crew.
BIJOU: And Billy Powell, the piano player from the country rock band who all died in a plane crash.
BRUCE: Lynyrd Skynyrd.
BRUCE: Were there drugs in rehab?
BIJOU: Yeah, we would go to third step meetings and me and Billy would walk in singing, "Give me three steps, give me three steps, baby." It was so wrong.
BRUCE: But did you do drugs in rehab?
BIJOU: No, but a lot of people did. Then I went back to New York and I was smoking pot and drinking within two weeks, but it never became a problem again.
BRUCE: Celebrity Sleuth once mentioned an urban myth about you cutting off some guy's little finger in a cigar cutter?
BIJOU: Look, some jerk was coming on to me all night, grabbing my ass while I was dancing with my friends.
BRUCE: Where was it?
BIJOU: At Spy. We were all smoking cigars, and there was a cigar cutter. I dared my friends to put their fingers in it, and they're like, "Yeah, Bijou. Whatever. Go away." And then I saw that jerk who was bothering me, and I thought, "Oh, that guy, he'll do it." So I said, "I dare you to stick your finger in there." And he goes, "Well what does it do?" I mean, if he's dumb enough to stick his finger in the fucking cigar cutter in the first place, then he deserves a little nick. I gave him a little nick and that was it.
BRUCE: And there was blood, no doubt.
BIJOU: He was bleeding for a minute, he grabbed some napkins and wrapped them around his finger. Then he came over and asked for my phone number. He said I owed him dinner.
BRUCE: So how does that turn into an urban legend?
BIJOU: Because a lot of people were there that night, like Leo and all those guys saw it. Everyone was like, "She cut the fuckin' finger off, man, the finger was on the floor, she picked it up, it was horrible. I don't know, dude, she's fuckin' nuts. Fuckin' nuts."
BRUCE: [laughing] That makes a better story than if you'd actually done it.
BIJOU: I was so young. I'd grown up with a family that was just a bunch of fucking junkies so I didn't have any manners or life skills.
BRUCE: You were a feral child.
BIJOU: Yeah, basically a little fucking monster.
BRUCE: You were going to Spy almost every night of the week. Didn't anyone ever say, "Hello, you're a fifteen-year-old youngster."
BIJOU: No, they didn't care. I was getting press for the club. I was friends with the owners and the people who worked there. They would kick me out every now and then. They would punish me as if they were my parents when I did something bad — like when I cut off that guy's finger.
BRUCE: But you were fifteen and this guy was grabbing your ass.
BIJOU: I was so nuts and crazy. I just didn't have respect for humans. I didn't have respect because I'd never been shown respect by my parents. I'd always been treated like an object, not like a human. In my old age I've come to find that if you respect other people, you feel better about yourself. You have better relationships, and you can be a real person who can love and care and feel about someone else. I never had that.
BRUCE: It's amazing that you've come to that conclusion so quickly.
BIJOU: My sister had been a junkie until she was thirtysomething, and I just figured I had to get all the bullshit out of the way by the time I was twenty.
BRUCE: [laughing] That's a good plan.
BIJOU: So far so good.
BRUCE: Now, according to Celebrity Sleuth, Lemon Dando — I mean, Evan Dando — deflowered you. T or F?
BIJOU: Basically, yeah. We'd been going out for about two weeks, and then I threw a barbell out a window and almost hit Anna Sui in the head.
BRUCE: [laughing] Almost!
BIJOU: And he had a heart attack, like freaked out and got so mad at me. "You could have killed somebody! You can't just throw a barbell from the twentieth floor in New York City! You just can't do that!" Then he calmed down and we were making out, and he said, "Should we have sex?" and I was like, "Um, I guess."
BRUCE: And you were how old?
BIJOU: I was sixteen. Or was I fifteen?
BRUCE: You could've busted him.
BIJOU: And then he dumped me four days later.
BRUCE: [whispering] Was it ... you know, big?
BIJOU: No. And it was over in about five seconds. I was like, "That's it? Isn't it supposed to last longer?" And he said, "Well, I was really excited." I said, "Yeah, the barbell must have really worked you up." And he dumped me four days later.
BRUCE: Was he a jerk?
BIJOU: Afterwards, yeah. At first he was like, "God, I love you, I want to marry you." And I was just naive. But he was a rock star, and I had this daddy thing. I thought I could make my dad jealous if I was dating a cute young rock star.
BRUCE: So tell me about the movie you just shot in Toronto.
BIJOU: Tart. It was fun. It was kind of nuts.
BRUCE: You were hanging out with Dominique Swain.
BIJOU: And Bradley.
BRUCE: Brad Renfro. Tell me some Bradley stories. Bradley's a nut.
BIJOU: I've been sworn to secrecy.
BRUCE: He's seventeen.
BIJOU: You like Brad.
BRUCE: I like Brad. I have a good picture of his penis.
BIJOU: How'd you get that?
BRUCE: He was peeing in his hotel room and he let me take a picture.
BIJOU: And you're like, "Can I take a picture of your cock?"
BRUCE: Well, I didn't say "cock."
BIJOU: Guys don't like the word "cock." Why is that?
BRUCE: I don't know. It sounds dirty. Guys like "dick."
BIJOU: Or "penis."
BRUCE: So now you tell me a Brad story. What was he like to work with?
BIJOU: He has such a big ego that he makes it difficult to act with him. He'll either take it to a hundred or go way low.
BRUCE: Way below the speed limit.
BIJOU: He'll either way overact the scene and ruin the moment and not let it be fresh for the camera, or he won't even give it to you. He'll just be a dick about it.
BRUCE: You and he and Dominique are interesting because you've all lived really hard before the age of eighteen.
BIJOU: Yeah, it was the first time I've been in a situation where people were way more crazy than I was. I've calmed down now, and they haven't, so it was weird.
BRUCE: But Dominique is pretty level-headed. She was discovered when she was thirteen or fourteen, and Brad was only twelve. His stories are insane. He had fucked-up parents too.
BIJOU: Yeah, he's a crack baby. Poor Brad.
BRUCE: Tell me another good story or I'm going to get fired.
BIJOU: But you have so much already.
BRUCE: Do you think you got your musical genes from your father?
BRUCE: It was so cool the other day when we had lunch at the Beverly Glenn Diner, and one of his songs came on the radio. The one that goes, "And no one's getting fat 'cept for Mama Cass." Does that happen a lot?
BIJOU: That I hear a Mamas and the Papas song when I'm out somewhere? It happens about once a week.
BRUCE: What's your favorite song of your dad's?
BIJOU: [singing] "You're going to trip, stumble and fall ..." It's my theme song.
BRUCE: I don't think so, young lady. You are going nowhere but up, with both feet on the ground.
Delightful insiders' look at the infamous 'Daddy' tattoo on the ass of Bijou Phillips. Image courtesy of Paris Hilton. REAL TALK.
Posted because I wanted to place some truth on the speculation and whisper arounds regarding Bijou going on since the beginning of this scandal. Also, to let ONTD get a bit more perspective on the greatness that is Bijou Phillips.