A Quick Hit of Jane
Hass, Nancy, Newsweek
Byline: Nancy Hass
With a new book out and ready for her own 'third act,' Fonda talks politics, aging, romance--and the joy of sex after 70.
As celebrity social crusaders go, it doesn't get any more vivid than Jane Fonda. She has spent her life raising a glamorous fist: against the Vietnam War and armed conflicts abroad, for women's rights. She even pumped up the plump with her exercise tapes.
Now, at 73, she is on a new tear: campaigning for sex, hormone replacement, seated tricep lifts, Zen--anything that will help those 60 and beyond live the good life.
Her new book, Prime Time, is about what she calls her third--and final--act. Filled with snippets of research gleaned from experts, poignant recollections from her past, and instructions on everything from masturbation to the Monte Carlo financial-modeling system, it is, she says, her gift to the generation that has stuck with her, in all her incarnations, through half a century.
"I feel like I need to be there for them," she says, as we speed through the city in the back seat of a black Escalade headed for Newark Airport after a three-day media tour of New York that included appearances on Charlie Rose and Live With Regis and Kelly. She travels alone without diva trappings; no assistant, no hair and makeup people, no lap dog. Just a couple of carry-ons and a garment bag. "We're the first generation to be in this situation, to be aging but also to be active and really alive. There just aren't any road maps. It's terrifying."
Posture perfect, her manicured hands in a constant state of motion in tandem with her whiskied voice, Fonda doesn't look terrified. In fact, in a form-fitting green pullover (lots of cleavage), tailored khaki carpenter's pants, and loafers, she looks as she always has: ready for anything and about to bubble over with passionate asides and unbridled wonder. In its September issue, Harper's Bazaar features her in profile in a tight black dress with illusion lace down the sides, no undergarments; her head is tossed back mid-laugh, her hand on her hip.
"I think it's important for everyone to know that people in their 70s can be sexually attractive and sexually active," she says. "They don't have to be, of course, and lots of people have opted out of that, but they can be. I can be. I mean, I am." As usual, she isn't much for self-censoring. Such candor, along with her fiery liberal politics, has often gotten her in trouble, from her perceived antipathy for veterans during the Vietnam War to the 2009 contretemps regarding a letter she signed in protest of the Toronto Film Festival premiere of 10 films about Tel Aviv. "I feel like my honesty gives people the freedom to talk about things they wouldn't otherwise."
She is quick to sound off about the current political landscape at home: "I don't know why Obama can't seem to make people understand that the rich, especially the super-rich, have to be taxed more. And I count myself in that. I mean, I'm not super-rich, but I know them, and plenty of them think so, too. You can't have a stable country when there is this much disparity between the rich and poor. He has to be tougher."
As for women's rights, she feels we've come a long way, but not far enough. "Consider that there is only one woman so far on the new 12-person 'supercommittee' to deal with the deficit. They're all white males. What does that say?"
Is there anything Fonda won't talk about? "I try not to talk about my children [her daughter, Vanessa, by French film director Roger Vadim, and her son, Troy, by California politician Tom Hayden], because they don't like it. And I've never talked about my sex life with Ted." That's Ted Turner, the media impresario to whom she was married for most of the 1990s. "I mean, at least I haven't talked about the specifics."
Prime Time took her four years to complete. She started it soon after she published her chart-topping confessional 2005 memoir, My Life So Far. …