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Obviously a BIG Stallone fan!!

Friday, February 10, 2006

ON THE SLY - 1995

ON THE SLY by Stephen Rebello

1. No whistling around Sly.
His father used to whistle just before he’d beat the living mess out of him.
2. Don’t mention his hair or check out his hairline.
He’s got plenty of hair but he’s freaking because he thinks he’s losing it.
3. He can be sensitive about height so try slouching a little when you’re
around him.

I figured that if I were going to be warned off any topic, it would be Sly’s recent broken engagement to this year’s model, Angie Everheart. Or the outrageous salary he’s due to collect on future projects despite (lukewarm) boxoffice for The Specialist & the outfight nonperformance of Judge Dredd. Or the rumors about his having had more plastic surgery than Cher. Or to his alleged use of steroids.

When I show up on the set of Assassins, no one knows exactly where Stallone is. “Try the golf course”, a crew member cracks. While people go looking for the missing star, I content myself with sitting beside Richard Donner as he directs co-star Antonio Banderas, who plays a young contract killer out to unseat the aging master of the trade played by Stallone.

Stallone remains among the missing, so the director makes his cast & crew available to talk behind Sly’s back. Co-star Julianne Moore says, “It’s excruciating to watch him sometimes, because he’ll do something in a scene, then go, ‘No, no, no!’ He’ll want to do it again (& again). He’s very hard on himself.” (A cinematographer) says Stallone “has certain bad points in his face & he knows it. He knows exactly where the lights should be. In fact, he knows everything about moviemaking.”

Enthuses Antonio Banderas, “We were working together in a scene in a car for 9 days. When things are that tight, there can be problems. With him, nothing. Probably everything I’ve seen him in except for the 1st Rocky is based on muscle. But here, he’s introverted, full of pain, & he’s very believable. I tell him, ‘You’re doing great’ & he is.

Stallone has been found. Just before I make my way to the trailer, which is situated for maximum comfort close to the water, someone gives me a last bit of advice: “Sly thinks Antonio’s great – but, like the relationship of the 2 guys in the movie, this time Sly’s really working on his acting chops because Antonio’s a young, gorgeous actor who could run off with the movie.”
Stallone greets me in his Arctic-cooled trailer, bronzed & rippled despite pushing 50, garbed in a black Planet Hollywood T-shirt, gym shorts & tennis. The trailer is actually smaller than those I’ve seen lesser stars in. He looks up, shark-eyed, from whatever it is he’s watching on a video monitor, 7 offers me a seat & an iced drink.

Stallone is the 1st actor I’ve ever interviewed whose mother I’ve interviewed first. – “Oh, yeah, she’s a love expert,” Stallone says with sarcasm, adding, “Is that why she married a jockey once?”
Is it for real that, as papers recently reported, his mother is bankrupt, but won’t ask her son for a handout? “My mother has nothing to worry about for the rest of her life,” Stallone insists. “She is an unguided missile, truly an eccentric, & for some reason lots of eccentric people have this need to look as though they are bag people.” Stallone warms to the topic of his mom’s weirdness.

Given his well-publicized relationship woes, has Stallone ever felt that having such – a mother – might have skewed his view toward women? “I’ve always liked mocking things. I like mocking myself. She will burst anyone’s bubble, not in a malicious sense, but just to get a rise. So will I…”

So how did she let Stallone in on the facts of life? “From early on, I’ve always been extremely attracted to the opposite sex & was extremely aggressive in that way. When she figured that out, she sat me down & she didn’t pull any punches. I was aghast at how graphic she got. She skipped right over the birds & the bees…” (My first experience) I was about 12”, he recalls, “which, back then, was rather advanced. My friends didn’t learn anything about anything until they were 14 to 16…My 1st time was with a beautiful person who I was completely immobilized by. Her name was Ingrid, a wonderful person because she had no personality at all. She inherited all these lovely physical attributes with no mental stimulus whatsoever. Flypaper was more interesting to hang out with. Social graces & the ability to communicate weren’t very high on my list back then.”

He sighs so deeply at the memory that it’s obvious something went (wrong) with his dream girl. “She sent me crashing to earth”, he says. “The day after she & I got together, she was off with Joey Bambatts, then kept going to Eddie Mannuno, then to …..she worked her way thru the whole school. I was just a key on her giant xylophone of love. And, you know what? Nothing’s changed…The interaction is still the same..."
After many rumored affairs, & one very public one with Susan Anton, he divorced his wife of 10 years, Sasha, in 1985. The same year, he married Danish-born model-actress Brigitte Nielsen.

Three years later, on the heels of Nielsen, and very spiked heels they were, too, came a daisy chain of serial steadies that included Alana Hamilton Stewart, Corneilia Guest, Vanna White, model Dena Goodmanson & actess Joanna Pacula.
Then there was that long-term, on-again, off-again thing with model Jennifer Flavin, which was interrupted by a fling with ‘70’s model Janice Dickinson. Her successor was model Angie Everhart, but when Stallone & Everhart broke off their engagement this past June, Flavin was back again. No wonder intimates familiar with Stallone’s amatory attention span call his present love Flavin-of-the-Month.

“I’ve had my share of scorching by the flames of love”, he observes… “Each time, though, you become a little bit wiser. With love, you’re bound to get hurt, but, in the end, intelligence and a good sense of self-preservation will prevail. With me, there hasn’t been any irreparable damage. People read this stuff about my love life & it’s like, ‘Oh, he did a dumb thing again.’ But as you know, love makes you do incredibly inane things. You’re not a rational person when you’re in love. It’s a temporary form of insanity, but that’s the beauty of it.”

Even by Hollywood standards, Stallone’s love affairs seem to flare up & burn out in short order. “In show business, we live in a high-pressure, high-paced, all-accelerated world,” he asserts, “where in 6 months, you’re in a different part of the world, with different people, different everything. Relationships come & go at a much more alarming rate than would be normal in a job situation where you deal with the same people for 25 years.

But isn’t dating models & wanna-be actresses asking for it?... “In my world, that’s who you deal with 99% of the time. Models are wonderful but I feel bad for them because I feel a lot of them have been wounded. They’ve been deprived of a normal life. Their priorities are distorted very early & when modeling begins to fade, they are left in limbo, like Rambo. They’ve been used for a certain purpose, then discarded. You can’t expect to be able to say to someone who has been on the road, on a runway, ;pampered, under ultimate scrutiny, then dumped, ‘Ok, now get a job at JC Penney’s or in a fast-food chain.’ What do they do? Where do they go?” To Sly’s house, maybe?

Anyway, while we’re talking dolls & their brief burst of physical glory, what’s with Stallone & plastic surgery? What about the rumor that the studio forced him to cut an entire plastic surgery subplot he had written into the script of RockyIII to help “explain” the drastic change in his appearance since the last Rocky? “I haven’t had any cosmetic surgery,” Stallone insists. “The problem was I had lost so much weight that that I looked dramatically different from RockyII…I wore rubber pieces, appliances, in 3 different places in the 1st Rocky. I took them off, that’s all. The only thing I ever had done is, see, my mouth leans on one side because I had a forceps accident at birth. There is a cut here because these muscles had to be pulled up. But they go, ‘You had a face lift, & I say, ‘What? I ran out of money & couldn’t do the other side? Or they gave me a half-price deal?’ I think you should never have cosmetic surgery. If you have a face that has become your blueprint for the world & you change that, you are no longer that person. You are now a mask. If you wanted to fool with your look a little bit, but not change the essence – whatever gives you tranquility & doesn’t hurt anyone else, do it.”

(And the penile implant rumor? Stallone tracked it down to a Canadian newspaper.) “I called the editor & said, ‘Tell you what I’m going to do. We’re gonna have an x-ray done & you’ll see that there’s nothing in there…& you’re gonna be out of business. ‘ He goes, ‘We had a doctor from New Jersey…’ who went on record, but I checked it out & the guy’s a veterinarian. I sued them to the point where they couldn’t pay any legal bills & they were shut down.”
(So what about Sly & Angie Everhart?) The announcement of their engagement was “very, very premature, to start off with. I went, ‘Oh, my God, how do we reverse this?’ Rather than say, ‘Stop the presses,’ & have everyone truly embarrassed, I went, ‘Ok, let’s ride it out.’ I knew that having the announcement out there, if a breakup were to occur, would make it take on a more serious tone than if it were just a minor dalliance. I’m not opposed to long-term relationships. I keep all those avenues open. The promise, great expectations, that’s terrific. When I’m in love, I’m energetic, feverish…I feel very, very light. I tend to hover.”

To hear Stallone tell it now, he & Everhart did not hover all that long. “But with Jennifer Flavin, see?” he says, referring to the woman who is back in his life. “This is a good spirit. This is a good soul. And she has proven herself time & again to be someone of impeccable credentials in every way. “

How does Stallone regulate his (love) life? One hears that comely young working girls & models have been slipping in & out of Seattle with alarming frequency since the actor blew into town. “Oh, right, they’re lining up now in the lobby, they’re taking numbers to go to my room, like at the bakery,” he says, rolling his eyes. “I wish I’d known that, because they sure don’t make it up to my room. They must have gone to someone else’s room. Up here? Never been one. Not one. If I’m lying, I’m dying…People give us too much credit…We like to mingle, we are social creatures, but we are not orgy-bound every night. Believe me, the reality is far less exciting, but there’s no way the papers are going to say that Stallone was home at night eating French toast this weekend.”

At this, Stallone takes a stroll around the trailer, laughing, saying, “Don’t mind my flipping around here, but I suffer from a malady called ‘attention span deficit’ & I just have to move around.”

(Stallone was supposed to star in Robert Evans’ The Cotton Club but because of Sly’s dislike of him, he declined. He called the guy “pathetic” for showing him lewd pictures of Angie Everhart when she was 18.) “I realized he was demented, but he blames me, I guess, for having had to go out & get someone else to star in his movie.” …He also nearly did Waterworld.

What a roller coaster Stallone’s career has been. As he readily admits. “It was a disaster when I tried taking my career on a whole different road…” Cliffhanger & Demolition Man saved him from years of career bottom-fishing in such stuff as Rhinestone, Stop!..., Oscar, & Over the Top. “I had started to hate the business, but then said, ‘It’s not the business. It’s me.’ My confidence weakened. I reached out desperately, thinking, ‘Change your image,’ only to work under disastrous circumstances with people who didn’t have a clue about what I was or even what was funny. I knew that if it continued, I would have been embittered…But, on the sets of these movies, I couldn’t open my mouth because I had gotten a reputation for being very movie set dominant. I bit my lip and watched my career go down & down & down to the point where I had lost all hope.”

“I took it out in art, painting 100 of the angriest, blackest paintings that are like fingerprints of my soul,” asserts Stallone, who owns a mighty art collection. “Luckily, I had my painting & exercise, which for me, is like going to a psychiatrist. Exercise is truly a narcotic.”

(Acting?) “For some odd reason, the audience identifies with me when I react physically rather than a verbal one-on-one…Action films are a physical challenge…Acting is a great pleasure, but I just don’t think, as I become more & more mature, it’s going to be as vital to me. I find myself trying to regain a bit of that fire down below by writing screenplays…I’m gearing up to direct again, because I think that’s where my strong suit lies. If Judge Dredd does well internationally, I wouldn’t mind trying a sequel.”


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