Kari Wuhrer in Night Magazine


Night Magazine #43, Robert Henry Rubin, October 1999 Night Magazine interviews Kari Wuhrer in an extensive discussion.

Do you wish there were more than twenty four hours in a day?

Absolutely. So I could get some sleep. Right when I am getting started, and on a roll, the day is ending. Or should I say, so I could “probably” get a little bit of sleep before the next day.

How do you know when it is time for you to go to sleep?

I push it, and push it, and push it. I am afraid of sleep right now because it means being alone with yourself, with the lights off, until you fall asleep. It is not the sleep that I am afraid of – it is the time right before it. My mind has been so active lately, in the last couple of months. I am going through a really big change right now. This period in my life has been quite tumultuous. And very exciting at the same time. Personally. Spiritually. Anybody that knows me, right now, knows I can’t shut up about, “These self-discoveries I am makingl” It is pretty pathetic. It’s like talking to somebody in a cult. People keep asking me if I am in some strange cult.

My friend and I came up with a word this morning, I can’t remember what word it was, but that one word, it starts with an A, and it means very self- involved, I’II have to get out the Webster’s later and see if I can find it, but that is why I am not able to sleep right now.

What self-discovery have you recently made?

My biggest discovery was….it is like connecting what you know in your head with your heart, and what you feel, and then making the change. We all know that we should not date the guy that is abusive but we do it. But when we feel it, and learn it, and experience it, and really know it, not just with our heads but our hearts, then that is when we start to change our patterns, our attitudes, our lifestyle. And that is what I have been going through. All these things are clicking right now. Mind you I am not saying that I am successful at the application, that is a different story all together.

Do your friends think you have been behaving weirdly recently?

Everybody thinks I am on drugs or I am completely insane. People are worried. But then, the people who are closest to me are really happy because they have been waiting for this to happen to me.

Describe your current behavior.

I am out-of my mind hyper. My life force, my energy, is shooting out and I can’t control it. And it has been bizarre. I usually jump to this place of energy and personality, a performance-like mode, when I am insecure. It has been my lifeboat, That and my sexuality. And, lately, my energy , my life force, has been really genuine. But then when I do use it as my lifeboat, my security, it is out of control, it is not real, and it is not me. It is insane. It is like a comet shower. It is like the Big Bang. And people don’t get it. My emotions have-always been double, triple, ten-fold intense compared to everybody else’s that I know. And I have always worn my emotions right on my sleeve. Now my wall of energy is so intense that people are running away from me scared. It has been very difficult. I have been very self-conscious about it. And that is the opposite of how I need to be.

How do you intend to gain control of your out of control life force?

I am going to the let process take its toll. I am involved in a place called The Pathwork Center. It is this incredible study of lectures given by a woman Eva- Pierrakos, who has been dead since 1979. I have been involved in this, basically, since I was thirteen. It’s guide lectures for self- transformation.

It’s a simple, psychological self study. It is nothing religious or anything like that. It is about finding your higher self through working on it, learning, discipline, and awareness. The reason that I am there now is that I made one simple connection. Which is…l am not going to set goals any more and live for those goals. Because I look back on my life and it is like I wasn’t really living it.

I wasn’t really participating in it. I was waiting for it to begin. I was waiting to attain these goals, whether they be career goals or personal goals or whatever. And now what I am doing, the discovery that I have made, is that you have got to enjoy the process.

The process of your life. Getting to where you want to be. The process of it. And since I have decided that that’s the way it should be, everything has changed. It’s really hard to explain. You open up more channels in your body to actually achieve your goal because your focus is on your personal integrity.

How you are going to do it rather than just getting it any way you can. And that is another thing I have been struggling with. I have done a lot of movies that I probably shouldn’t have done. And while I was married I felt very controlled, and manipulated, and I didn’t allow myself to be who I really was because “he” didn’t like me that way. And now that I am on my own I get to make decisions by myself. Based upon my own heart. And it is has been a real interesting thing. I only have to take care of me now.

So, for example, I turned down Playboy for lots and lots of money. And I am passing on movies. I am trying to build from the inside out now. And maybe the applications are not there, and maybe I am not making the right decisions or acting the way I want to right now but I am not going to worry about that.

I know it is going to happen. And ever since I have been going through this thing, whatever it is, I don’t even know how to describe it, my behavior has been a lot more erratic. It is like somebody took that glass globe, with the little city in it, with the snow, and shook it up, and now I am waiting for it to settle in the right places. It’s been challenging. And hard.

What determines the outcome of our lives?

We definitely control the outcome of our lives. We get out of it what we put into it. Some people call it karma. Same people call it fate. Some people believe in action and reaction, the simple laws of physics. I am sure, whatever it is described as or named as, it is basically the same thing in everybody. It is about trusting yourself, getting to your true inner reality, and experiencing every emotion.

Feeling afraid. Getting in touch with your fears. Feeling the pain. Living your life fully – every single aspect of it. It is amazing. I decided, “Okay. I am going to be as honest with myself as I can. I am going to take my personal criticism. I am going to listen to what others around me are saying; people I care about, people I trust. I am going to start to trust myself.

I am not going to blow people off in the ridiculous way that I have done in the past. I am not going to bullshit around things that hurt. I am just going to be honest. Even if it hurts me. Even if it is painful. Even if it is difficult. To see what happens.” And it has been incredible.

My relationships with people have gotten a lot better. People are starting to trust me more. I am listening to my own heart rather than listening to other people’s advice for what is right for me. And all these doors are opening for me. It is creating a lot of chaos, also, but I find that things are coming to me more now. Friends. Work.

Why does love contradict intelligence?

That’s an easy one. Because there are three forces in life. There is the sex force, which I fully believe controls our creativity, our work, our creative focus – in the ideal self. Then there is eros. Your erotic force. Which is almost like the catalyst to love. It is what shows us how to be passionate. It is what takes the fraidy cat in us to a place where we can actually love, even though it might hurt us.

It is what drives us that way. It is what we mistake for love all the time. It is the chemistry. It is the passion. And the reason it is there is because we need to have it in order to take us to a place where we want to jump in the cold water. And then there is love. And love is a learned experience. It is not eros because it stays.

Love is a permanent state. It is an action, not an emotion. The eros is the emotion. I don’t believe a lot of people know what true love is. And I am not saying that I do. But I will tell you, the closest I have gotten to a pure love experience is with a girlfriend of mine, who I don’t have sex with, who has an unconditional bond with me, so far, who I am not co-dependent on.

We have been friends for nine years and it has just grown into this in the last year. It takes work, communication and respect. I don’t think people have that as lovers. Love gives people community. Separateness is a safe place for us. When we are separate, nobody can steal our personality, nobody can change us, nobody can rob us of our accomplishments, nobody can use us, nobody can hurt us.

So, ultimately, we don’t get as intimate with people as we think we are. Because it is a lot safer to have control over who you think you are. People think that when you love somebody they take that away. But they only take that away if you let them. That is why true love is such a rarity. It is only really possible in a spiritually aware person, somebody who is not afraid to admit, or has admitted, that they have fears, that they are scared of intimacy.

Somebody that is aware of these fears of intimacy and change is the only person who is ever going to get past them, and through them, and be able to have love for somebody else. I really believe that. I have experienced it. I know it.

Is expressing sex or repressing sex beneficial to the creative process?

It is whatever you choose to do as long as you know where it is in you. Some people believe that if they have sex during the creative process they lose their energy. But it is not about having sex. It is not about the physical act of sex.

To me, it is a force that comes from a part in you that is human. Sex, not necessarily meaning fucking, copulating, but meaning your hormonal makeup, your biological designs. That biological design is what creates spiritual life principles on a higher plane.

But on this lower pane, when sex is unspiritualized, it manifests itself as a vehicle, as a manipulative outer shell. It is not really a positive thing. We use it. We think it brings us closer to somebody because it is almost easier than diving into somebody’s soul in other ways. It is a false intimacy.

But on the higher plane it is one of intense physical involvement. It is not only about being spiritual and aware with your mind but, also, with your body. People forget that. Your body is such a powerful instrument that it has got to be involved with your spiritual growth, with your personal growth.

You have got to have a strong body to have a strong soul; however you see being strong. Whether it is through working out or through movements. Being able to take in life through your body. Energy. Like Tai Chi, which, basically, is a study in core-energetics or bio-energetics. It’s science.

Are there people who wish you evil?

Oh, definitely. Definitely. A friend of mine always says to me, “When you point that finger, notice there are three fingers pointing back at you.” It is a projection. People want bad things to happen to you because they are self-sabotaging themselves. And by bad things happening to you, it is okay that they are allowing bad things to happen to them. It is a way of trying to feel good about themselves and it is backwards and ridiculous. People call it envy.

I see it as self-sabotsging energy. I haven’t had that problem in a long time. I have been really aware of my envious side or my desire to do harm to other people. I have had experiences with that.

There was a girl who I did a television show with, who had so much confidence that even if she wasn’t the most talented actor in the world, she had everybody else believing it. It was this blind confidence of youth that came out so strongly in her. It was one of her gifts. It was probably the place she ran to for security.

Who knows how she really felt inside? But whatever it was that she had or did, it manifested itself through this bold confident behavior or energy. People would see it and they would be like, “wow! She is tremendousl” And I was really, really sick about it. To the point where I wanted her to fall on her face. and I was horrible to her. I was really bad. And everyday it would hurt me because I knew that it is was my own problem. Instead of celebrating that thing in her, I tried to destroy it.

So years later I saw her after a long time, and she was so sweet to me, even though I know she must have felt this negative energy, this evil, coming out of me. And I saw her and I told her, “This is how I felt and I am apologizing to you for brandishing you with this horrible energy,” and she totally accepted it and forgave me. And it was totally cool. And I got rid of it.

And now I have this feeling once in a while, there are a couple of people in my life that I feel this way about, but every time it surges up in me, I try to deal with it by taking self- inventory and going, “What is it that I need to work on to fix this? Because it is not that person. It is me.”

Has MTV destroyed popular music and culture now?

People have been challenging MTV since its very beginning. Everything happened and everything changes and evolves. Rock and roll has evolved in so many different ways. what are you going to do? Try and control it? MTV can destroy music for an individual if that individual lets it. Pop culture?

There has always been something to drive it or to express it or deliver it to the masses. It is not like MTV is any different than American Bandstand was. MTV wouldn’t play music that people didn’t want to hear. Because, basically, MTV is about making money. It is not like MTV is Big Brother or some overlord who wants to brainwash people. MTV is just trying to make money and the only way to do that is through programs that people want to see.

Why is popular music and culture on a low intellectual level now?

Our society is dying. We are dying. We are finding ways to anesthetize ourselves and not really live. And we are getting bored, we need more shock value, because we are becoming immune. And so it keeps growing and growing and growing. And it is becoming evident in the kids, and their guns, and their shootings. If kids were disciplined to read more, to explore other areas of time spending, then things would be different. But it is a whole society.

It is the village that raises a child, it is not just the parents, and the village wants to make money. It is an economic social disease. Something has got to give. Nobody thought Prohibition would happen in the Twenties. It didn’t work but they made some major changes. I think I am responsible to help but I really don’t know what is going to happen.

All I can do is start small. I can start with my kids, if I ever have them. I can try and encourage kids to get out of that anesthesia that we as a society are putting them in to make a buck. I am going through the Big Sister program, and trying to do that, but I really don’t know what is going to happen. It is difficult. And really sad.

It is a lot less evident than going into the Rain Forest and smelling the smoke and watching the trees burn but it is just as powerful and, probably, just as important.

Do you care what others think of you?

I would be lying if I said, “No.” I don’t want to care what other people think but it affects me. I am trying to make decisions based upon what I think, and, hopefully, that will turn that around for me. I am trying not to care, I am not broken by it, but, yes, I do care.

Why are motion picturas released on celluloid in movie theaters more respected than motion pictures released on video tape in home video cassette player machines?

It is the Hollywood high school popularity contest. It is very infectious. My brother is really funny, he is in marketing, for computers, he does marketing for websites, I don’t know what he does actually, but he was a marketing major in college, and he compared me, in this really long e-mail, to an inanimate product, a box of soap. Because he was challenging me with the Playboy offer.

And he sent me this e-mail, and it was very logical, and it was like, “Well, it could have nice packaging but it is going to be sold in shopping malls in Middle America and do you want your parents to put it in their cart in the grocery store? He was making this similarity, this parallel, between my career and that box of soap. And I was devastated by his e-mail.

It was packed, loaded with love and emotion, but it wasn’t approached that way. It was the way that I know my brother loves ma that came through to me. He was trying to appeal to my intellect. But you know what? He doesn’t have to appeal to my intellect. Because my head knows, and always has known, that the choices I have made in my career have not been the best.

But, again, I have always had the fear of saying, “No.” The fear that I will never work. All these insecurities coming through in a major way. That “If I don’t take this job I am never going to be offered another one.” Or “There is nothing wrong with nudity. I can take my clothes off!” When, in effect, I am using nudity as a suit of armor.

I felt more clothed naked, because it gives me power and it hides me, than I did not taking off my clothes. Or thinking, “I am not pretty enough. Or good enough. Or talented enough just to sit back and be me. I have to put it out there. I have to give them everything in one gulp so that I am shocking and they remember me.” It’s a retarded way of thinking. And I am not saying I have changed that behavior but I am trying to. It is like years and years of reprogramming yourself. It is very tough.

What was your question again? I went totally off the track. Why are films respected more than videos? It is because people are believing the hype. And, most of the time, because they have got more money. Films that are made for movie theaters are made better than films made for video.

There is a big difference between the independent film market in New York and the independent film market in L.A. There is a lot of art being made in New York. I have rented movies that I thought were incredible that never made it to the theater. But it is because people are approaching it from an art perspective.

Now video makes a lot of money worldwide so a lot of companies aren’t even concerned with getting to the theaters. They want to impress to the German finance guy who wants titties in his movies to sell over there in Europe. It is about making movies that make money. Video generates a lot of money and you don’t have to put as much money into a video project .

Was is stressful for you to perform a striptease dance in front of Jack Nicholson in the motion picture The Crossing Guard in 1995?

No. Actually, not at all. At that point, it was very empowering. If I wanted to approach it nowadays it would be very difficult.

Was it difficult for you not to laugh at the face of Jack Nicholson whenever you performed in a scene with Jack Nicholson in the motion picture The Crossing Guard?

Yeah. Sometimes. Or being in awe of him, more likely. When we were doing that one strip scene, where he had the bottle of Jack Daniei’s, it was completely hilarious. It was really funny. That was a great day. And you know what7 He tried to keep me honest that day. He leaned over and… Jack Nicholson tried to keep me honest.

People judge him, they really do, but that guy, he might have an anger management problem or whatever he has got going on, but he really respects the work. And he tries to do it honestly. A lot of people go, “Oh, he did that one with Jack-isms.” But what if the Jack-isms are him? What are you going to do? Change the way he is?

How did Jack Nicholson try to keep you honest when you performed with Jack Nicholson in the motion picture The Crossing Guard?

Rather than selling yourself short by putting on an act, by playing a character, he was trying to help me stay in touch with the reality of the character and be that character. “Don’t force it with this energy of fear and insecurity. Just relax and let it happen.” . And it was a great gift. I have been consciously aware of it since then. I have been improving. But, of course, I still resort to that performance mode when things get scary and very difficult to dive into.

A great actor is an actor without fear. You might think that a lot of actors are fearless because they’ll take off their clothes or play characters that have to gain or lose fifty pounds but it is really an internal process. And when somebody gets-it – it’s magic.

Like Brando. Brando got it. He was scared shitless of himself, you can see it, but he knew it and he was honest about it and faced it. That is probably why a lot of artists that are really good get so screwed up. Because they are facing these fears to create and they are looking at themselves really closely, and they don’t have the tools to deal with it. They don’t work it out. They face it and then they sweep it under the carpet again.

What acting scene would you be reluctant to perform?

A lot of scenes and I can’t really say why. Maybe in a lot of scenes, even though they don’t really parallel my life, there is something deep down subconsciously in me that it touches and I might not know what it is. The more obvious scenes that do parallel my life,

I am intrigued by the challenge of facing the fear. It is not really a concern of mine because I am not aware of what would really bother me. But it has happened.

A month or two ago, I finished up a film that I was challenged by. A short film by a first time director, he’d been an assistant director at Dreamworks, he was making his own short film to show everyone at Dreamworks so he could become a real director, and it was written by a great writer, and it was a story about two guys and a girl, and I was the girl, and I really tapped into the character. Now I wasn’t going to do this short film because I lied to the director. I didn’t show up for a meeting with two other actors because I knew I couldn’t do the film, because I had another project lined up and I didn’t want to tell him, and I didn’t want to be honest because it was scary or whatever it was to face him at that point, or I was lazy or whatever the reason was, and I had made up a story and I never showed up.

I didn’t even call, actually. I said I was on my way and then never called to say I wasn’t coming. And it was a horrible thing to do. A terrible thing to do. I felt really guilty a couple of days later and I called him and said, “Look. I have to come clean with you. I don’t expect you to forgive me. But I have to tell you the truth because I think you are great and you do deserve an explanation. I lied. I just didn’t show up. I lied.” And that was hard for me to do but I had to do it because it was eating me up. I guess it was part of the changes that are going on in me. And he respected me for that.

And I said, “Wow! If I just come clean like this more often then people would probably trust me more.” And that was a really big step. So, anyway, the girl he hired didn’t work out, and my film project got cancelled, and he calls me up and goes, “Will you do this?” And I was like “What? You really want me to do this?” And he goes, “Yeah”. And I go, “Why?” And he says, “Because you came clean with me. And I believe you. There is something there.” And then I said, “Well, if I can write you a contract,” because I felt as guilty as hell. And I wrote him a contract in which I said I was not going to be late, that I was going to be responsible, that I was going to work hard, and that I was going to give him an incredible performance.

And without even thinking about it or trying, I could not be anything but honest in that performance, in that character; or at least try as hard as I could. I am not saying I was successful one hundred percent of the time, but there was something in me that had a total aversion to the way that I would normally work – which was blindfolded. And it was really scary.

And in this short film I had a love scene. And I had to be naked in front of this scaled down crew. But I wanted to rise to the occasion because I really wanted to give the director what he wanted. But it was really hard for me to take off the clothes. because, for the first time, without trying, really just living this character, I could not use my nudity as a mask, as a way to manipulate. I had to approach it from an honest place within me and I was extremely vulnerable, and I was scared shitless, and I had never felt like that before. And I was shocked. And I said to myself, “You know what? I think I just learned the first thing about honesty and integrity”. And I got through it, and it was very difficult, and, of course, it was really appreciated.

But it taught me a lot. I want to cry right now because it was the first day of taking personal inventory as to how I felt deep down, without the masks, without the fears, without the weapons, without the lifeboat. It taught me where that place was. It was like it showed me my G-spot. And I can go there now.

Do I always make the right decisions? Can I have the tools all the time to stay there~ No. And thinking about it has actually created a lot more problems for me; where L sometimes go there even more because I am running away from running away. I am aware of the fears now and I try to convince myself that the fears don’t exist, which I can’t do any more, so I overcompensate even more sometimes.

So I am aware of it now, and am learning from it, and I am trying. I know where I am going. And if I don’t always go in straight line, that’s okay. I am not going to condone the behavior but at least I am not going to beat myself up if I don’t always meet my mark. Because it is a process and I am just going to enjoy the process of it. I am going to surprise myself a lot and I am going to try to approach my work from that place because when I do I am ultimately successful.

I don’t care if anybody else thinks so or not. If I think so then I can hold my head up. And that’s what matters. Like the gig we did in Atlanta. We played at a music convention, and Del-Fii doesn’t have a lot money, so we couldn’t bring a band like everybody else could who played at this convention for Navarre [record company distributed Kari Wuhrer music album cd Shiny], and I showed up with a guitar, and John Entwhistle played, we opened up for him, and his bass rig was bigger than the P.A. People were doing it up.

And then Teddy {Ted Landau, guitar/bass], and I go up on stage with a guitar and a mike, and nobody paid attention. I mean, I am not saying nobody but the murmur in the room was as loud as the music. And I made a couple of comments to try and make them pay attention but I eventually just slipped into the music because I was trying to be as focused, aware, and real as I could be. I was like, “You know what? I am not going to give them any sort of suped-up push. I am going to try to approach this as I would if I were sitting by myself.” And maybe they didn’t listen but I walked off the stage just remembering my being in that vapor.

Being in that place of harmony with my music. And that was all that mattered to me. But then another band played and I was like, “Well, now I am going to get noticed!” And I got up and danced on stage in my underwear. So I resorted back to that old place once again. But part of that really is me. Part of that is my just trying to be a free spirit. Trying to get attention for the sake of challenging people or whatever it is. It is not all a big phony bologna. But I went there and I consciously went there.

But where it really mattered to me was my music. And, of course, the little write up later in Billboard was not about my music but about the fact that I jumped up on stage and was in my underwear. But Billboard probably wouldn’t have written about my music anyway. So I look at it as, “Well, at least they mentioned me.” I am like a car wreck. People crane their neck to see what is going to happen to me next.

Are you a freak?

Well, you know, my parents always called me that. My brothers always called me that. I hated that word: freak. My family would call me that and it would send me into fits of terror and rage. I would have done anything to avoid the pain of it and facing it. Because I knew it was true.

In high school, I didn’t fit in because I was very emotionally driven, I was very open, I wore everything on my sleeve, and I made people run away, and they called me a freak. So I expressed myself in the way I dressed, and in my Punk music, and in everything I did. I hid behind it because·l thought, “Well, they are calling me a freak because I obviously am a freak,”· rather than thinking about my character, my personality, my growth. So I would say, “Oh, it is the clothes,” or “I am so outgoing!” and hide behind it. When really I knew deep down inside that I was different. I was smarter, I was was evolving differently.

I had a different awareness than they did, a lot of them, and I could tell. And rather than facing that, and dealing with that, I hid behind the exterior nonsense. I still consider myself a freak. But I wear it a little prouder now. Even though what is going on with me in L.A. right now. Hollywood is acting like high school right now for me, they are making fun of me on the E channel, and it is tormenting me. It is hurting me because I am reliving a lot of my high school experiences through this.

I am facing it, it is painful, but it is not breaking me. And I just have to come back to the freak thing and say, “You know what? I am not wearing it proudly because I want to be different. I am wearing it proudly because I am facing up to my weaknesses and I am going to deal with them.” And that is different from most people. If that makes me a freak then I will own up to it.

Who do you want to meld your mind with?

Jesus. It would be cool to see how you could love so selflessly. Cool to know what is going on beyond this world.

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