Oprah Talks to Tina Turner
Tina: The seed is planted. People are feeling it. We're becoming more aware. There's a whole new way of thinking about age, too. People are not that worried about being old anymore.
Oprah: Is it that people don't care, or is it that we just don't care?
Tina: There are some who think that when you're 60, you have to cut your hair and wear certain shoes. But a lot of people aren't doing that now. They don't think, "Oh, I'm old, I really have to start behaving differently." In this millennium, a new world is coming. After destruction, there's always something good.
Oprah: A rebirth.
Tina: Yes. It's that feeling you have when you're sick. You suddenly know how good you feel when you're well. People are open to new things now.
Oprah: I hope you're right. What do you want to accomplish with your life?
Tina: I believe I'm going to learn something about how to help people think. We are not thinking correctly. I want to tell people how to live spiritually. After you've bought all your houses and your clothes, you want something bigger. I want my gift to become a gift for others. We're caught in a stagnant belief system passed on to us from our parents and what's been given from the churches. I believe there's another truth. Dancing and singing is all good, but the ultimate gift is to change people's minds. What else is there?
Oprah: There isn't anything else. When people hear your story, they are changed.
Tina: And yet I've never seen myself as a star. That's why traveling to America this time has been incredible. These people are acting like I'm...
Oprah: Tina Turner.
Tina: But I always felt that my show was second-class, because I'm not a star like Barbra Streisand or Maria Callas. I'm just dancing and singing.
Oprah: You don't see yourself as a star?
Tina: Stars can be bitchy and full of themselves. I've never had that attitude. I feel like my dress is great, I can sing, and I'm here to put on a good show for the people.
Oprah: But don't you see yourself as a legend? Not even during your last three sold-out world tours?
Tina: I finally accepted that, and it is incredible. I never had as many records as Whitney Houston or Aretha Franklin. But after years and years of work, people finally came to see me in my 60s. I said, "Why are these people still coming? What is it? I dance and I sing and I make the people feel good. So what?"
Oprah: You don't just dance and sing. You represent possibility. When people see you performing, they know you've come up from the ashes, from the depths of despair. It means that however down a woman is, she can be like you.
Tina: Thank you for saying that.
Oprah: Is it because of the constant performing that you've stayed in such great shape?
Tina: Well, my legs are starting to go a little bit. I've been able to get by with short dresses, but I've had to make sure that each dress is absolutely perfect. I'm not complaining, but I've got some cellulite, and I've lost some tone.
Oprah: I don't see it.
Tina: I'm not going to let you see it, Oprah.
Oprah: Did you make a decision to defy age? It was because of you that I decided to rock on through the 50s. It was because of you that I said: "I'm not going to stay where I am. I'm going to get better."
Tina: That's wonderful.
Oprah: Are you happy in your life?
Tina: Very happy.
Oprah: I know I get annoyed by the marriage question. Do you?
Tina: Yes. People often ask me why I don't marry. I have love. I have a good life. I don't need to interfere with that. For some people, marriage means "You're mine now." That can be the beginning of the failure of a relationship. Psychologically, something happens when someone says, "You're my husband or wife. You can't do this or that." It's about ownership. That freedom of two people loving each other and wanting to be together—and being able to leave if anything is wrong—is gone. Neither Erwin nor I feel that we need to get married. We've been together for 18 years. What would marriage give me that I don't already have? Marriage would be about pleasing the public. Why do I need to please the public if I'm already pleased?
Oprah: Did the age difference ever bother you?
Tina: I don't worry about age or color. In the past, I knew the difference when whites made us remember that we were black. But that has passed. And age? When I went for Erwin, he was 30—just three years older than my oldest son.
Oprah: How old were you then?
Tina: Forty-six. I didn't know he was 30, and I didn't care. Erwin was more mature than most 30-year-olds. I've observed older men, especially the more conservative ones who wear suits all the time. There's a grumpiness that doesn't allow for laughter and fun.
Tina: Yes. They don't mean to be. It's a male thing. They hope that a young woman can wake them up and make them feel good. But it doesn't happen a lot, so she ends up a decoration. If I were with an older man, I'd have to work very hard. I would refuse for him to be old. He would have to wake up, laugh, and have fun. If I were single, would I give an older man a chance? Only if I saw life in him. Only if he didn't say, "Now that I'm 60 or 80, I have to get to bed at a certain time." Many older men have set rules. And they still have that "I am the man" attitude. I refuse to live in that culture.
Oprah: It's oppressive. When you're with Erwin, do you remember that he's younger?
Tina: No. It just feels like me and Erwin. Even at night, there's nothing that makes me feel like I have to work at looking pretty in bed. We're past that. What's love got to do with it? A lot!
Oprah: A lot! But you've really never worried about getting old?
Tina: There's an expression, "You'll never get out of this world alive." It's true. We won't. Go forward. Do your best with your makeup, hair, and clothes.
Oprah: Would you ever have plastic surgery?
Tina: No. I'm afraid I might end up not looking like myself. I had my nose done [because Ike broke it]. That drove me nuts for such a long time. What might happen if I had plastic surgery on some other part of my body? No. I'll use makeup, and I don't mind wrinkles—though I don't have any yet.
Oprah: Do you mind people saying your age?
Tina: No problem.
Oprah: That's fantastic. I don't, either. I own every damn year. What principles do you live by?
Tina: I think health has a lot to do with happiness. When you're healthy, you think more clearly, and you can work on yourself. But it's not about extremes. I eat everything I ever ate, just not too often.
Another principle is that I shouldn't allow others to influence me. I lived a whole life with Ike and the drugs. Once when Ike tried to give me drugs, I blew it in his face. That doesn't mean I think I'm better. It just means I have principles I feel good about. I like me very much. When I look in the mirror and my skin glows back at me, I think, "Wow, that sure is pretty." I have a simple, childlike view of life, and I want to keep it. That's why I never got into that Beverly Hills world. So many pretentious people. They just aren't real.
Oprah: Yes. Your new CD is called All the Best. Do you believe that better is still to come?
Tina: I don't limit myself. I feel good, and I'm happy. My home is great, and I'm doing as much as I can for my family. My wish is to give the kind of truth to people that will help them change their minds. When that happens, I'll be the best that I can be.