Dennis Hopper on Marilyn Monroe: Creamy Trouble Doll

Interview with Dennis Hopper
Conducted by James Grissom

Do you know about trouble dolls? I think they're Guatemalan, and they've been given to me a lot over the years. The years in Peru, the years in New Mexico--the floors and the ledges and the shelves were littered with trouble dolls, and my life was littered with trouble. Supposedly, you can pick up these little, handmade, beautiful dolls and tell them your worries, your troubles, then place them in their box and they will worry for you. So you can get some sleep. Well, I put all my troubles in cocaine and booze and heroin and pot and guns and pussy. Those were my trouble dolls. I should have confided in the dolls--the little, handmade ones--more often.

I have a point. I swear I do.

Marilyn was like a trouble doll for a lot of people: A lot of people needed her because she was beautiful and she was sweet and she was pretty much what a lot of people believed was a perfect woman--a sexual machine with a heart. And a lot of people needed her because they wanted her to fail or to cry or to die, because they wanted to believe that all of her gifts--physical and otherwise--wouldn't save her or make her happy. So the ugly and the mean-spirited could feel better about their lives and their various lacks. And a lot of people looked at her and saw money and sex and power and an evil sort of joy that comes from getting off. She was a product, a commodity to them. And a lot of people needed her because she so clearly needed a friend, needed some love, and a lot of people really wanted to give this to her.

So Marilyn Monroe was this creamy, sweet, beautiful trouble doll for a lot of people, and we whispered to her image or her memory and told her what we needed, what we desired, and then we believed that things would happen or change.

And she got put in her box and was put on an eternal shelf, where we can continue to ask of her what we need.

© 2014 James Grissom


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