There’s a line — a quick but salient one — that Pat Benatar began her speech with at this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction: “I want to say that all is forgiven.” But if you watched the HBO broadcast of the ceremony, you wouldn’t have been privy to these eight words. What gives? Well, it was cut along with a blazing performance of “All Fired Up” that preceded the remarks. When I told Benatar about this omission, having been present at that celebratory evening to worship her presence, she flashed a smile and couldn’t help but laugh. “Cowards!” she responded. “I was being a smart-ass. They made me wait 20 years.” I’d say this retort was Benatar in a nutshell, but she demolished that shell decades ago — stomping down the bullshit and the boys’ club with her leonine armor.
November was a prolific month for the singer-songwriter — even for someone whose career has been blessed with the beauty of longevity. (In fact, she hasn’t released an original album since 2003 despite having “hundreds of songs written,” she tells me.) In addition to her long-awaited Rock Hall induction, an honor she shared with her creative and romantic partner of over 40 years, Neil Giraldo, the duo premiered their first musical, Invincible, which reinterprets Romeo and Juliet through their work. “This is really important for everyone to know,” Benatar says. “This is an adaptation, and all of the songs have been reorchestrated into theatrical pieces. You’ll recognize them, but you won’t hear them in ways that you’re used to hearing them. It’s the most incredible experience to be in this room watching songs that you wrote about personal things or things that you observed about others, that you wrote from how you were feeling, your brain, your heart and watching them be now put into an entirely different story.”
Given that Benatar has influenced a generation of women with her feelings, brain, and heart, it’s no surprise that our conversation embodied that ethos.
There are so many songs that have so much importance. “We Live for Love” is the first song that SpyderBenatar’s affectionate nickname for Giraldo. and I worked on together. He wrote it, and he says it’s always been for me. And I tell him, “Bullshit, you were still with your old girlfriend at that point.” But he swears it was for me. “Promises in the Dark” was the first song that we wrote together, so that’s very important. “Hell Is for Children” is monstrously important for the impact it had and the good it did. But I have to say, overall, “Heartbreaker” is the song, because it’s the culmination after three and a half years of trying to convince everybody of what I was talking about — they were all patting me on the head saying, “Yes, we understand,” but they didn’t understand me until I found Spyder, who was the person I was looking for.
I wanted a band, a partner. I didn’t want to be a solo female artist standing up in front of everybody. Like Robert Plant and Jimmy Page — I wanted that kind of relationship. I needed that strong, incredible guitar heft to be able to sing the way I was intending to sing. “Heartbreaker” was the song that initiated everything, because we played it together first. It was the first song we recorded, and it was the first song Spyder played. I knew it right then.
It was amazing on so many levels, because first of all, you wait your entire life to be in this moment of being signed, getting to record, and doing this for real. Not just recording in your basement but recording for a professional record label that’s going to actually go out on the radio. That added, really, to the clandestine thing of meeting Spyder. Besides knowing, musically, this was the person, he was romantically and emotionally the person for me. I was madly in love with him on so many levels from the first moment I saw him. So it was pretty spectacular to be in the room doing something that you’ve waited all your life to do with the person you love the most.
That’s kind of crazy, because when we’re making records, our style is anthemic. We always have at least four or five of those monsters on an album. Then we have our lovely ballads, which are sometimes anthemic. When I’m doing a live show, and I start stringing them together back to back to back, and I’m doing 14 anthemic songs together with only two ballads in between, then I realize how many there actually were. “Invincible” is massive, especially now because of the Me Too movement. I’ve been a liberated brat all my life. I’m the total female-empowerment girl. There’s a whole tone to that — they all know in the audience, and I project and I do it. I send it out to all my sisters always. They can pick for whatever reason how they want to be invincible. It’s an individual thing, but everybody goes right for it, because we’re all on the same page in that way. I’m out there bashing, and it’s what I love to do.
Most defiant song
“Invincible” and “Heartbreaker.” Those two are the most ferocious in attitude when they’re being performed. I mean, everything is heavy and always attacked with such ferocity. I always say it’s a good thing I’m not a politician, because they do that thing with their thumb where they don’t point. Because if I couldn’t point, I wouldn’t have a gig. You know what I mean? I’m the one looking at everybody all the time and pointing. I don’t think that you can learn or fabricate that type of defiance.
I’ve always been just a little absurd. Even when I was little. I lived on a block with mostly boys. I was raised in a sweet community that was really working class. Most of the kids I went to school with — their fathers were laborers. My father was a sheet-metal worker. My mother was a hairdresser, and their fathers were clammers. This was not even moderately well-to-do. Being on a block with all boys and enjoying so much of what they were doing rather than Barbies and nail polish. I was a nice girl growing up — polite and very studious. So the conflict was that, inside, I was the person who was like, when we were playing in the backyard, “You’re not going to get to tie me up unless I get to tie you up.” But outside, I was toeing the line. It was scary, because it was not really acceptable at the time. This was before the ’60s even started. When the women’s movement began, I gravitated to it immediately. I read everything that Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem were writing. It finally sounded like something I could relate to. Now I didn’t exactly know how to implement this. I was studying opera at this point in my life, because that was the only thing I knew how to do. Somewhere along the line, I decided that was enough. I felt confident. I started to feel like it was getting more acceptable to be like this as a woman.
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The top 10 women celebrity crushes we all have
Look, we all know we are more interested in looking at female celebrities than male ones (except you Ryan, calm down). Here are the top lady crushes most women have:
10. Emma Stone
Emma Stone burst onto our radars as the quirky, offbeat comedy star with a difference. Yes, there’s no denying that she’s beautiful but she’s also a little different, funny and not your typical Hollywood starlet. They say you can’t have it all…
9. Olivia Wilde
Not just a pretty face, Olivia took the stage name Wilde after the one and only Oscar, a testament to her brains too, perhaps? No, mainly because her real name is Olivia Cockburn. No, it is. Not only does she act, she also models, writes, acts and directs. Oh and she just did a shoot with Glamour where she showed just how beautiful is is to be a breastfeeding mum. Swoon.
8. Miranda Kerr
Miranda started out as a Victoria’s Secret model (no surprise there really) and rose through the ranks to become one of the most famous Supermodels of recent times. As if that wasn’t quite enough, she’s also a fashion icon and has the worlds cutest baby with Orlando Bloom. Life envy much?
7. Christina Hendricks
Christina, or as most of us will know her, Joan, the steely star of Mad Men, is as famous for her acting skills as she is for her curves and she never looks as good as when poured into another of those fabulous vintage costumes. Not bitter at all…
6. Mila Kunis
Mila is another classic case of being the girl that every man wants and every woman wants to be. Not just content with being hot, smart, funny and oh yes, engaged to Ashton Kutcher, she’s also a serious film actress when the time calls for it. *Sigh*
5. Jennifer Lawrence
Who doesn’t love Jennifer Lawrence? She proved herself as a worthy actress from the get go and her popularity has been on an upward spike ever since. The fact that she appears to be so grounded, normal and funny only helps to increase our admiration (and love) for her.
4. Alessandra Ambrosio
Brazilian born Alessandra is a Victoria’s Secret model (no surprise there) and there isn’t really much else to say here, so just look at the image below and feel the awe rise up around you. If you aren’t blessed with her genes, you can always use party casino research to understand how you can win elsewhere – right?
Pretty much every sane girl in the world would agree that Rihanna is one of the hottest females ever. She appears to have it all. The looks, talent, money, men (well…), lifestyle, friends. So thank you Rihanna, we officially want to be you right about now.
2. Blake Lively
Blake, the tall, beautiful Gossip Girl star has since moved on from teen dramas and married the equally beautiful Ryan Reynolds. With legs up to her armpits, the most lusted after hair in the business and a wardrobe full of clothes that merely highlight how goddamn hot she is, Blake, we applaud and really want to be you.
Come on, you had to have known that Beyoncé would be our number one. It’s Beyoncé for gods sake. A stellar career, the most amazing figure on the planet, riches and an ability to rock a leotard like nobody else, there isn’t much to do apart from just look on in wonder.
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In defence of Cassie from Euphoria
I am a Cassie Howard apologist. Yes, even after last night’s episode of Euphoria. I sympathise with her, even if I don’t condone her choices, or even enjoy watching them most of the time. The problem with being a Cassie stan – as is the case with any of the characters in the Euphoria universe – is that every week the show tests that stance, pushing our problematic faves to new depths of debauchery and dubious morality. Cassie’s character in particular has practically become a meme in itself, with TikTok asking itself, week-on-week, how she can possibly fall any lower in our estimations. Of course, she does it anyway.
Some have speculated online that Cassie is a character foil for Rue, both of them addicts, with the show telling the story of their desperate needs. For Rue, the object of her addiction is opiates, for Cassie, it’s love. Rue’s backstory illustrated to the audience how her life up until now – her family trauma, a healthcare system that over-medicates its children – had primed her for addiction to drugs. In the same way, Cassie’s – growing up with an alcoholic mother and absent addict dad, being se**alised at a young age by older men – primed her for a dependency on male validation. But it’s undoubtedly harder to root for Cassie in spite of her flaws the way we rally for our flawed protagonist Rue to finally get her shit together.
Maybe that’s because Cassie embodies so many of the things we hate, or at least the things we ridicule; the things we collectively recognise are objectively incredibly annoying. Her problems pale in seriousness compared to the others – she’s not self-harming or addicted to opiates or dealing drugs or framing innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit – and so her struggles seem so cheesy, so silly. Cassie’s main dilemma is that she’s sleeping with her best friend’s ex-boyfriend. And she makes such a big deal about it. She falls into a depression spiral and treats her friends badly and dr*inks too much. She throws herself at a man who clearly doesn’t want her. She gets messy and throws up at a birthday party. When she’s exposed by Rue, she deflects the blame with pani*cked vindictiveness. Cassie is completely wrapped up in herself and her struggles, to the point where she doesn’t seem cognisant of the power and privileges she still possesses.
It’s easy to dislike her, I would ar*gue, in moments like this, because it’s relatively easy to see ourselves (or at least our teenage selves) in her messiness. While the problems faced by characters like Cal Jacobs or Ashtray might be so far away from our own lives that we can safely say we’d do it all better and never let ourselves get in those dangerous situations, Cassie’s cheugy, messy emotionality and teenage angst are uncomfortably close. It’s no surprise then, that Cassie has become an emblem of equally painful-to-follow toxic female characters, like Fleabag or the unnamed, but similarly self-indulgent protagonist of Ottessa Moshfegh’s book My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Cassie is in her Fleabag era, but unfortunately for her, there is no Hot Priest-shaped respite for viewers, only Nate Jacobs. And while we do get moments of being able to say “finally, go girl give us something”, like when Cassie walked out of an argument with Nate after saying she was crazier than Maddie, the show almost always instantly subverts them with having Cassie crawl back for more abuse. Annoying to watch? Perhaps. Realistic? From a lonely 17-year-old, sadly yes!
Even when she’s dealing with more serious problems, Euphoria is never far from reminding us of Cassie’s ridiculousness. When she asks Lexi whether she looks different, shortly after finding out she’s pregnant with McKay, Lexi becomes a stand-in for the audience, lashing out at her sister and pointing out how absurd she sounds. For the audience, the dramatic irony is even more potent: we know that while Cassie is experiencing her own personal trauma, she was also totally unequipped to deal with McKay’s (who had just experienced a violent hazing at the hands of his fraternity brothers, and was coming to the crushing realisation that he would never be a professional athlete), which many viewers interpreted as an unwillingness to engage with it too.
Euphoria’s total disregard of character development for McKay – he appeared in the first episode of season two, and has been missing in action ever since – compared to its almost lecherous lingering over Cassie’s every move, has been singled out as one of the show’s many problematic recent decisions. And while online rumours have speculated over whether that was down to actor Algee Smith’s views on vaccinations, the fact remains that Euphoria’s choice to ignore McKay’s struggles in favour of Cassie’s make her OTT breakdowns even more painful to watch. That much is fair: but the fact audience complaints are directed at the fictional character herself, not the polarising showrunner behind those decisions (Sam Levinson), a little more unfair imo!
One constant criticism of Levinson’s writing and of Euphoria as a show, even amongst its hardcore fans, is how over the top and ridiculous it is. How its storylines would never happen in real life (at least not all at once, to one friendship group, in the middle of the school year), and how none of the characters would pass dress code, and how it doesn’t make sense that there are no uggos, only hotties. It’s true that much of the show’s audience has never picked up a suitcase of narcotics and carted it around town on a bicycle, or secretly recorded all of the times we’ve cheated on our suburban wife, or dropped out of school to care for our ex-dr*ug baron grandmother. But you might have drunk too much at a party and thrown up. You probably debased and embarrassed yourself trying too hard for someone who didn’t want you, or ug*ly cried down the phone to people who think you’re being, honestly, a bit self-indulgent and annoying. Every week, Cassie acts out the kind of things you remember at two in the morning and cringe so hard at that it’s impossible to sleep. But it’s hard to admit you were more embarrassing than you currently are, and mortifying to watch someone else do the same, and so we’re like: No, Cassie fu**ing su*ks.
And she does, of course, but I would argue no more so (and in some cases, a lot less so) than any other character in season two of Euphoria. In last night’s episode [spoilers here!] Cassie tries to get out of being exposed for sleeping with Nate by calling Rue a drug addict, after Rue loses her temper with Cassie’s naive attempt to reassure her she can take rehab “one day at a time”. Was that advice cringey? Yes! Is Cassie’s response cruel? Yes! Is it worse than Rue calling Leslie a bad mom? Or Laurie injecting a dopesick 17-year-old with morphine? In the case of the former, I would say sleeping with your best pal’s ex is dubiously worse. But the latter? I mean, probably not! Judging by the episode’s response today on Twitter and Reddit though, that sliding scale of perspective is not a popular excuse for Cassie’s increasingly dumb behaviour. But, I digress!
Cassie know good and well she could’ve played that off better like baby you gotta learn how to LIE
— HOOD VOGUE is tired of poverty (@keyon) February 7, 2022
So yes, I am a Cassie apologist. But, I must caveat, no more so than I am an apologist for any of the other flawed, broken, ug*ly characters in the relentless, unforgiving universe that Sam Levinson created for them to live in. That’s the beauty of Euphoria. For all the criticism the series has received (some of it deserved, some of it TikTok hysteria) its success lies in its ability to make the audience empathise, even for a second, with a man like Cal Jacobs, who created a life of amorality and toxic masculinity to compensate for internalised homophobia. Or with a character like Jules, so lonely and hurt that she’ll cheat on the emotionally unavailable Rue with Elliott. Or Rue, so desperately addicted to drugs that she’ll attack her mother, sister and best friends. You might recoil at their choices but on some level you understand what drove them to those choices too.
It’s entirely possible, of course, that I will regret this appeal for moderation when it comes to burning Cassie Howard at the stake for crimes against humanity and friendship and fashion. There are still another four episodes of season two of Euphoria left, and with things looking bleaker than ever for the universe’s characters, who knows how much further she can sink. Sam Levinson has created a world with only two certainties: one, that we will complain every week without fail about his characterisation and then tune in to watch anyway. And two, that Nate Jacobs fu**ing su*ks.
Watch: Katherine Heigl flashes knickers as she strips off in middle of busy New York street
The 36-year-old comedy starlet can clearly laugh at herself, and her facial expressions were a picture when she got caught stripping off in the Big Apple yesterday.
Katherine was spotted shamelessly undressing and redressing herself, transforming from her neon pink and black cycling outfit to a more work-ready white pencil skirt and turtleneck top.
But the American beauty gave onlookers an eyeful when she unwittingly flashed her knickers during her rapid wardrobe swap.
While most would be left red-faced, Katherine had an excuse for her peculiar behaviour because she was filming scenes for her new CBS show called Doubt.
The mother-of-two was joined by her co-star Dulé Hill, 40, who played the perfect gentleman by clutching on to her handbag while she was otherwise occupied.
The crew are currently filming a reboot of the pilot episode, with Katherine being cast as successful defence lawyer Sadie Ellis alongside Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox who will play a trans Ivy League-educated attorney.
Meanwhile, Katherine’s husband Josh Kelley recently spoke out to defend her after she was branded “difficult” for blasting her own 2007 film Knocked Up.
I mean, it’s very interesting because somehow a bunch of haters just created a whole thing that she’s ‘difficult’,” he said. “That girl’s never been late, never missed a mark, she’s the least ‘difficult’ person in the world.
“I’ve been to every movie set since we were together, and everybody loves her. “So it’s really interesting how people can make s**t up and then it can get a heartbeat.”