On Life in London & Raising Chickens

Steven Hempel chats poolside with Jerry Hall.

Steven Hempel
Posted:
June 03, 2013

Jerry Hall sauntered into our makeshift photography studio at the The Omni on Riverway, hand on hip, hair fluffed and a twinge of cigarette smoke still curling about her. “Did you bring clothes?” she beamed. As tall as you think she should be, and more beautiful at her age, 56, than anyone we’ve ever known, Ms. Hall banished our breath. In town to promote the I Am Waters Foundation at the annual luncheon, this iconic model, ex-wife of Mick Jagger and, most recently, actor is preparing for her role as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. We think she’s ready.

Here, some bits and pieces of a life well-lived.

It all started at the beach in a bikini crocheted by her mother. My mom and I had been watching To Catch a Thief (at home in Gonzales, Texas ), and she said, “You have to go to the Riviera.” I went to the beach in Saint Tropez in a pink crocheted bikini and high heels, with my hair below my bottom and pin curled, and within 10 minutes, a man walked up and asked me to be a model. I said “yes” immediately.

On where she lives and what she does at home. She does not work out. Ever. I live in Richmond, outskirts of London, by a river. I raised four children there. I never, ever, ever, ever workout. Working out is such a waste of time. I like gardening. I want to expend my energy on something useful and productive. Going to the gym is a total waste of time. So I do chores. Fix things, move things, garden. And I cook — I do all the cooking, I cook three meals a day. I’m the cook! It’s lovely. And I love to try new recipes.

I love raising chickens. My chickens are lovely to watch. And there is nothing more heavenly than going to get a nice warm egg for breakfast; it’s just the best treat! I have my chickens at my home in London. We have four — they are Rhode Island Reds, which are good layers. They lay almost every day.

Well, I spent all my summers on grandma’s chicken farm in Gonzales, so I have a deep love of chickens. Chickens and vegetable patches, so I guess I’m getting back to my roots as I grow older.
 
The kids are all right. Elizabeth is 29 and lives in the mews house behind my house. Jimmy is 28, lives in his own house. Georgia is 21 and just bought her own house, but is remodeling and living with me for a few months while work is being done. And Gabriel is 15 and lives with me … He wants to be a history teacher; he knows everything about Texas history, and he hopes to attend UT in Austin.  His middle name is Beauregard, and he’s named after a Texan general Beauregard, who fought in Gonzales.

On escaping to London. I go to the theater a lot. I love art. I’ve been friends with a lot of artists and posed for a lot of artists. Andy Warhol five times … I loved Andy Warhol, we were great friends and had great times together. I hosted his TV show, and he painted portraits of me … Lucian Freud also painted my portrait. My favorite restaurant in London is The Wolseley, right next to The Ritz.  You see all kinds of luvvies … theater actors.  Lucian Freud used to go with me all the time. 

On missing the States. I miss the U.S. a lot. I recently bought a house outside of Austin — my kids love it. It’s on a lake with a big wooden canoe, which my children and I love to mess around in. My daughter Elizabeth helped decorate; we found a lot of great things at old thrift shops.(Their favorite place is Uncommon Objects in Austin). Also, my son Jimmy has a band, Turbogeist; he played three gigs at SXSW, and he just signed a five-year contract with Universal. 

While Jimmy played at SXSW … I actually performed there once. I read my poem, “Country Recitation,” with Pete Townsend.  I like to write poetry and like to amuse myself.

And back home in Gonzales … I went in April and had barbecue with my cousins. The meat store in the square has the most delicious sausages you can imagine.

On gathering no moss. Well, let me think … I did have a lot of amazing adventures being with Mick Jagger for 23 years (and married for nine). He’s the father of all my children. I used to tour with The Stones … We used to take private tours of the Prada at night when it was closed; all the doors to the world were open for us. We did have to leave hotels hiding in the back of a FedEx van covered in stuff to avoid the fans. Or we’d get snuck out in laundry baskets. But we met so many amazing people and had such great times. We met royalty, presidents; it was quite exciting. I love a challenge. But you know, I’m not really very ambitious. Really. I just meet the right people and say yes to things.

On meeting the Queen. I’ve met her several times. I think she’s loyal and hard working. I love Prince Charles, too.  I’m an ambassador of The Prince’s Trust and do charity work for him. I once went on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and won $500,000 and gave it to The Prince’s Trust.

She’s the captain of her life. I have a home in the South of France on the beach … with a boat — I’m a captain with my captain’s license. It’s the perfect place to summer.

Keeping busy — next projects. Well, The Graduate in Melbourne, and I recently did a campaign with Georgia for Sunglass Hut. It’s coming out; it’s a mother-daughter thing.

Her advice for her kids. All my kids get the same advice: “Be on time and be nice to everybody” — that’s all you need to do. And the rest will take care of itself.

Is it fate or luck. It’s a combination of making the right choices when opportunities arise, and there is an element of luck. All I’ve done is say “yes” to the wonderful opportunities and been nice to people. And put in hard work. There’s always hard work … I think there is a certain amount of intelligence in that I know what to say no to.

On being decisive. I always make up my mind instantly. I just know about everything. Decorating, clothes … I don’t like shopping. I go in, find what I want as quickly as possible and leave — I do that with life, too. I’ve never ever had a plan, never.




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