NFC Nirvana Information Articles and Interviews Courtney Love interviewed by Barbara Walters

Courtney Love interviewed by Barbara Walters

TV Interview - 03/24/97

Barbara Walters' infamous interview with Courtney Love from TV

Barbara Walters:What's the biggest misconception about you?
Courtney Love:That I'm not educated...and that I'm not clean and that 
I'm not-
BW:Clean being clean in person or clean on drugs?
CL:Oh, both.
BW:You are on nothing?
BW:You are on nothing today?
CL:No, no.
BW:No heroin?
CL:My god. (defensively)
BW:I'm going to ask you all the questions people think.  No more 
CL:No, no, no, no-
BW:Finished? Prozac?
CL:No, no, no, stop!
BW:Prescription drugs?
CL:Didn't work, the prozac didn't work.
BW:Did you use heroin while you were pregnant?
CL:Yes, in the first month of my pregnancy, absolutely I did.  Never 
denied it.  Never have denied that.
BW:Are you a good mother?
CL:Yes, I'm an excellent mother.
BW:Ever do drugs in front of your child?
CL:My God!  What a question.  No.
BW:Courtney, you know these are the things that people say.  Some 
people feel that you, in a way, have a death wish and that you're 
going to end up dying long before-
CL:I think that's what the stage diving was about.  Like "Alright, 
kill me.  Crucify me.  Get me, come on.  Tear my breasts off.  Take 
off my underwear.  Little shreds.  Go on, do it.  Take out my hair.  
Break my arms, break my teeth."  I lost a tooth.  You see, right here.
 (points with her finger) They knocked it out.  I got a cap.
BW:Is that over?
CL:Honestly?  No, I don't know if it ever will be.  It's always been 
BW:Why Courtney?  Why do you have the feeling that you got to do away 
with yourself?
CL:I'm a rebel and I'm pissed, I'm mad that I feel like that 
Americans feel like "Well, this soap opera would be so much neater is 
she was dead."  So they project this onto me.
BW:Angry with you that you're still alive and he's not?
CL:Not even angry, hostility, so much as like "finish it off."
BW:Let's get rid of this story.
CL:"It's the soap opera.  We've been watching `General Hospital'  for 
years now. You're supposed to die now."  I have a daughter, and it 
makes me just want to flip them the bird.  It makes me angry.
BW:That people want to see you finished because it angers them-?
CL:Yhea, there's a part of me that has amazing huge guilt and anther 
part of me that's like...(lights cigarette) forget it.  I'm going to 
be 95.  So I'm torn between the two places.
BW:Courtney, your childhood reads like, um, some kind of novel that 
people wouldn't believe.  What was your childhood like?
CL:I don't know my father, my biological father.
BW:You don't know him personally?
CL:Not really.  I mean I've had interactions with him, more like 
altercations with him.  He had custody taken away from him when I was 
BW:Why...Your father was not allowed to see you unsupervised till you 
were an adult.
CL:He wasn't allowed to see me at all.  Never.
CL:He gave me acid when I was three.
CL:Because he wanted (laughs) you won't believe's so 
hysterical.  Apparently he wanted...he was a Hygienics freak and I'm 
biologically part Jewish, part Irish.  It's no wonder I'm neurotic.  
And he was antisemitic, his father was antisemitic, as was he, and he 
also made acid.  Three people testified that he gave me acid.  He 
wanted to make a superior race, and by giving children acid you could 
do that.  Now he denies this and...who knows.
BW:And at fifteen, at least from what I read, you began to travel 
around and earn money as a  stripper.
CL:Um-hum.  Yhea, well, I did once.  Then I have stripped erraticly 
over the years.  Yes, but at fifteen I went to Japan and I remember I 
called my mother from Japan and I'm like "I'm in Japan and I'm 
stripping." and she didn't believe me.
BW:That's hard to believe.  How did you get over to Japan at fifteen 
to start stripping?
CL:I had to give up my passport in order to get back after I realized 
what was really going on.  I turned myself in for deportation. (She 
sips her tea)
BW:You're mother is an intelligent woman, a therapist today, who... 
simply wasn't there for you?          Yes?  No?
CL:Yes, I was the first child and also the child of a man that 
repulsed her.
BW:Did you feel abandoned?
BW:To say the least?
CL:Yhea, but a lot of people get really into...The name of my band 
came from a conversation I had with my mother.  People always think 
it's obscene.  And I guess it has that on top of it.  As someone who 
always wanted to be a poet, there was no money in it.  I've always 
been looking for the quadruple entendre, you know, the barge, you 
know, what Shakespeare could do.  And my mother said to me "Now 
Courtney, you know you can't walk around with a hole in yourself just 
because you had a bad childhood."  And I remember thinking "What a 
brilliant name, HOLE."
BW:You talk about lyrics but...there are times on stage when you 
simulate you're husband's death. To some people, that's really 
terrible taste.  Why do you do it?
CL:What do I do?  Do I ignore it, do I acknowledge it, is there a 
middle ground?  What can I do?  Do I sit here, play Betty Crocker, 
and pretend that I don't write music, and die?
BW:So this is your way of what?  Paying tribute to him by doing that 
on stage?
CL:It's more catharsis.  It's catharsis and there's not a thing I 
could or would take back because it was for me, not for them, and yet 
they get something out of it.  I'm not a clown; I would never 
dishonor my husband, and I don't think I have.
BW:Do you blame yourself?  Cause I know that there were fans of his 
that blame you.
CL:Yes, I do.
BW:What could you have done to him? (Courtney sips tea, hand 
shivering) And what do you blame yourself for?
CL:About a thousand things.  About a thousand million things.
BW:Could you have stopped it?
CL:Yes. (Holds back the tears in her eyes)
BW:Could you have stopped it permanently?
CL:No, but...(wipes there tears from her eyes) I could have been... 
diligent.  Oh, God please.
BW:Let's talk about something else.
CL:No, finish it, damn it, finish it.  That's what they want to know.

BW:Okay.  Why do you think your husband killed himself?
CL:He was ganged up upon.  I don't think that intervention works on 
certain people at a certain age.
BW:Ganged up upon by people trying to get him off the drugs?  
(Courtney nods)  You think he should have stayed on the drugs? 
(Courtney nods again) If he stayed on the drugs would he have been 
alive?  Do you really think-
CL:I don't know!
BW:-that his death is your fault?
CL:In this instance, yes.
CL:Because I didn't need to call for the intervention.  I shouldn't 
have called for the intervention.  I just panicked.
BW:Because you tried to get him off drugs and because he wasn't able 
to get off drugs, even though you were trying to do the right thing, 
it's your fault?
CL:He thought he was a waste of space.  Yes, yes...I told him he 
dropped the baby.  And I was mean about it.  I wasn't really mean, 
but I wasn't nice about it. (She sniffs)  You know, we were really 
polite to each other, generally.  And I told him on the phone, I'm 
like "You know you dropped the baby...the other day (when he was in 
rehab), you dropped the baby." He was like "What?!"  I'm like "You 
dropped the baby, you dropped Francies on her head."  She was wearing 
a big hooded coat, HE DID NOT HURT HER, and I DID NOT NEDD TO TELL 
BW:And you think that's why he did it, because you said-
CL:I think that's a major reason.
BW:Oh, Courtney (sympathetically)
CL:I do, I think that's a major reason.  Also he felt like a waste of 
space, and a sellout, and he had made everything too huge and it was 
his fault that everthing was too huge, know what I mean?  I mean it 
came like a mac truck.  First it was magical, it was so weird.  It 
was surreal and magic in the air. Everybody my age remembers that 
period when his band got big, and then huge, and then the grown-ups 
knew, and then the boomers knew, and then, you know (points to 
Barbara) I'm not putting you down or anything mean-
BW:And then I knew, someone as square as I knew.  Sure.
CL:Person to person, heart to heart, whatever, age wise and lifestyle 
wise we're different.  And..and he was too famous.
BW:What about your own career?  Does that have any meaning to you?
CL:I wouldn't be alive if I hadn't gone on tour and if I hadn't 
BW:Are you good?
CL:Am I good?
BW:Yhea, critics say you're good.  Critics say she's more than Mrs. 
Kurt Cobain, she's good.
CL:I'm a poet.  I couldn't have gotten anywhere if I wasn't good.  
You know, you wouldn't be talking to me now if we actually sucked.  
We don't suck and-
BW:What's the opposite of not sucking?
CL:We're really good.  And that might sound arrogant and I'm sorry, 
but that's just the truth.