Interview With Jane Fonda About Prime Time

Q and A With Jane Fonda on Boyfriends, Sex, and Being a Teenager in Your 70s

We're happy to present this article from one of our favorite sites, Yahoo! Shine:

Jane Fonda doesn’t lie about her age. She’s 73 and happier than she’s ever been. That’s saying a lot when you consider her 20s: sex symbol and rising star in Hollywood. And her 30s: Academy Award winner, blockbuster romantic heroine, and controversial activist. And her 40s: exercise guru, comedienne, and movie mogul. These days, she’s a mom, a grandma, a cancer-survivor, a best-selling author, an ex-wife times three, and a girlfriend. She’s also a sexpert. In her new book Prime Time, a memoir-style self-help guide to embracing your “third act," Fonda gets frank about life in your 70s. Her book offers financial advice, funeral-planning straight talk, mental health and exercise, and lots of sex. We only had a few minutes with the living legend, so we went straight for the last item on the list.

Shine: Is life really better in your 70s?
Jane Fonda: As I was going through my 60s and entering my 70s, I realized I was happier than I’d ever been. I didn’t expect to live this long, much less to be happier; I wanted to know if this was unique to me. For this book, I spent four years interviewing doctors and researching this very subject. I came to understand a majority of people in their 60s and over feel the same way.

S: So you're saying those of us in our 30s can look forward to a better time?
JF: My life is much better now. My "good old days" were really more so-so old days. The 30s and 40s are very hard. If you have kids, you have figure who you are in relation to them and to your husband. I was not a very good parent, I suffered eating disorders and I had a hard time in my marriage. The 40s, you have perimenopause and you don’t know who you are anymore. In my research, I discovered that in your 30s and 40s you’re still experiencing the effects of an unhappy childhood. But an unhappy childhood has very little effect on you at an older age.

Learn Fonda's frank advice when you read more.

S: What age range was the hardest in your life?
JF: I had a hard time in adolescence, the way a lot of girls do when you’re trying to be popular and fit in and you feel like you have to be perfect. One of the tasks of being older as a woman is to rediscover the girl you were before you went through puberty. For some of the years I was married to Ted Turner, I had a therapist, and it made all the difference to me. She introduced me to the concept of a "life review," which I talk about in the book. It’s where you look back at who you were, who your parents were, and try to find the girl you were before you went through puberty. That helped me put a lot of things to rest and have forgiveness. For so long, there was really no "me" there. I was only the woman the man I’m with wanted me to be. I always thought I was never good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough. Going back and doing a life review helped me understand there is a "me" there. I’m honest. I realized I had a lot of good qualities, but I have to discover them on my own. The things that happened were issues my parents were grappling with, and it wasn’t about me.

S: What was prepubescent Jane Fonda like?
JF: I made a concerted effort to find those friends from when I was young and reconnect with them to find out. Several times I heard stories about myself like this one: One day in seventh grade, walking home from gym class, a group of us found a snake in the road, and we put it in the desk of a teacher we didn’t like. When she opened her desk, she had what was basically a mental breakdown and called us all into the principal’s office. I was the only one out of all them who fessed up. I realized even then I believed in owning up to the things I did that were good or bad.

S: Speaking of owning up, you’re incredibly frank about everything from masturbation to erectile dysfunction in your book.
JF: My favorite chapter head is “The lowdown on getting it up in the third act." I was very proud of that line. I was in the bathtub in a bubble bath when I thought of that.

S: How important is sex in your 70s?
JF: I make a point in the book of saying sex isn’t necessary for a happy third act. It’s OK if you want to put it away. I am still involved in a relationship [with record producer Richard Perry], and it’s very important to me. So I make a point in the book to talk about what happens to our bodies and our sexuality as we get older and how we negotiate it through the years.

S: You recommend candles for setting the mood, and "turn-on" music. What’s on your playlist?
JF: Richard’s in charge of the music and he’s very good at it. It's nice to have a boyfriend who’s good with music, so you don’t have to think of it. But Sade comes to mind. We listen to a lot of Sade.

S: Is your generation more liberated about sex than, say, the Internet generation?
JF: I certainly think the boomers are. They think they invented sex. Because boomers are becoming senior citizens, we can look forward to more discussion and cultural portrayals in the third act. The sexual liberation happened on their watch. I’m a bit older than the boomers. My generation and those older than me tend to be a little more conservative.

S: On behalf of every generation, mind if I ask you one gratuitous burning question — best onscreen kiss you ever had?
JF: Best kiss. Let me think. Well, I always look forward the most to kissing Robert Redford. But he doesn’t like to do love scenes. I hope I get to do another with him again.

 

— Piper Weiss

Related links:
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