Penthouse Retrospective

by Nanette Varian Originally Published: December, 1990

Roseanne Barr

There are some really, really good people here: Everybody says you just have to wade through the assholes to get to them. I feel like I have gotten to them. But then maybe that’s because I’ve changed. Maybe I’m just seeing good things in people better than I did before. Maybe that’s it. A lot of the peo­ple I like now are people I used to not like. I’ve gone through a real profound change being remarried and going through what we’ve gone through to be together, [as well as] what my kids have been through.

What advice would you give people who want to make a career change and think there’s no way out?

Barr: The thing is so much in your head. I hope that when people see what hap­pened to me, they go, “Wow, if she can do it, I can do it.” Because you really can. But the hard thing is that you have to be a little bit crazy to believe that you can. Nothing’s ever going to happen unless you believe that it can. Nothing’s going to happen without the crazy thought first. You’re just not going to go walking down the street and fall into something. You have to believe in yourself and have a plan- and be will­ing to give up everything for it. Be­cause I think, in the end, you do give up everything for it.

What have you given up?

Barr: Privacy. I loved to go shopping. I have seven minutes – I have it calcu­lated – to go in some place and get out before people start surrounding me. I love to go looking at everything – junk stores, good stores, clothes, shoes, makeup.

Can’t you wear a disguise?

Barr: Once I wore a blond wig and a cowboy hat and sunglasses. I think they get a look at my body and that’s it. There’s no way to disguise my body. I think that there’s only one body like this, and it’s very noticeable. I miss that [the shopping]. But Christ, look at the other stuff. Look where I get to live!

Now that you don’t have to worry about paying the rent, what keeps you up at night?

Barr: The same personal stuff that keeps everybody up. My kids, my ca­reer – that really keeps me up. Trying to outthink everybody, [which is] prob­ably just a female thing. We do that. It’s just an awful way to live. We totally drive ourselves crazy. Men don’t seem to do that on the grand scale that we do. One thing I really admire about men is the way they make decisions. They live their lives. They don’t ponder and cry and stay up nights for weeks and months and years.

If this all ended, what would you miss the most?

Barr: I would miss stuff like this interview, because I just love to read what I say in print. It’s just awesome to think that somebody really cares what you think about anything! I would hate that nobody cared anymore.

There will be a time when it’ll happen – and not too long from now – and then I’ll be able to go shopping again, and it’ll be cool. Whatever happens, whatever will change in my life, one thing I’ve learned is that I’ll be able to take care of myself and I’ll be okay. I know that now. And that’s a really good feeling. Maybe I’ll go to Paris and start writing poems. I’ll always find an adventure.

No matter how insane people make her out to be, when you hear her words, Roseanne doesn't seem much different than any other intelligent woman with an ax to grind. Unless, of course, she's talking about how insane she is...

Leave a Reply