That’s a good argument. Does it work?
It does work. And then, of course, the other weapon is, “There are kids all over the world who are dying to go to school, who cannot, and here you are complaining about it. Shut up and go to school.” They go with me to Africa and they see kids going to a school that I built and see how grateful they are to walk to school in their bare feet and sit in a two-room building on very basic chairs and desks. And they see how grateful they are to learn, and it puts everything in check for them.
Years ago, you were asked what kind of mom you thought you would be, and you said, “Very affectionate, but probably domineering.”
What does “domineering” mean, though? Like, bossy? What mother isn’t? I mean, I’m very involved in their lives and very opinionated. But my daughter just went to college, and that’s a lesson in letting go. I can no longer dominate her. She gets to do what she wants to do, and that has helped me become less domineering.
Unlike a lot of other creative people, you seem to lack a self-destructive impulse.
Everyone has a self-destructive nature in them. It’s whether you feed it or not. You don’t have to be a pop star to feel connected to destruction or self destruction. But self-destruction is self-obsession, and self-obsession is not really possible if you’re engaged in raising children. And if you have a spiritual life, you’re constantly being asked to see yourself as one small fragment in the bigger picture. Also, the idea of service to humanity, put- ting yourself in situations where people have much less than you do, puts life in perspective.
There’s songs on this new record that are spiritual and searching, and other songs that are basically about f*cking.
You just said a bad word! Are they about that? I don’t know. Maybe you shouldn’t take them so literally.
Would you like to be specific?
Well, there’s the song “S.E.X.,” for one, and “Holy Water,” which is about oral sex.
But whenever I write about sex, I always do it tongue-in-cheek. That’s the one thing that people misunderstand grossly about me. “Holy Water” is obviously meant to be funny.
And you do have introspective and sexual songs next to each other on the album, which is interesting.
Originally, I wanted to have two records – one was going to be all of my envelope-pushing, mischief-making, provocative music. And then there was going to be the more romantic side of me, the more vulnerable side of me.
You’re showing that you can be spiritually ascendant and also kind of…
Interested in sex?
Yeah, I guess. But also able to sing about it and be…
And why not? But once again, I’m defying the convention that you can’t be both, or that you have to be one personality trait. There’s no law that says that you cannot be a spiritual person and a sexual person. in fact, if you have the right consciousness, sex is like a prayer. It can be a divine experience. So why do they have to be disassociated with one another?
If it’s one theme that you and Prince, once again, have in common, it’s that sometime intermingling of…
Spirituality, yeah. “Like a Prayer” – was that a deliberate reference just now?
Nope, as I said it, I was like, “Oh, I just referenced one of my songs. How perfect.” I’ve had a teacher I’ve studied Kabbalah with for years, and we have discussions about sex. I also wanted to understand the Koran, and I was studying Islam with an Islamic scholar. And in the Old Testament, in the Koran, sex is not a bad thing. There are certain religious groups who have turned it into a sinful act. I’ve always tried to open people’s minds to the idea that it’s not something to be ashamed of.
You took a lot of flak for moving the culture to where it is now, for things that no longer seem shocking.
Well, think about how crazy everybody went when Truth or Dare came out, and now everybody has a reality show, and nobody thinks twice about it. And I got so much shit for my Sex book, and no one gives Kim Kardashian a hard time. It’s so crazy. So I guess I had to be the scapegoat.
To what extent would you characterize yourself as Jewish? Would that be a good label?
[Laughs] No, I don’t affiliate myself with any specific religious group. I connect to different ritualistic aspects of different belief systems, and I see the connecting thread between all religious beliefs. I have not converted to Judaism. I’ve studied Kabbalah, as you know, for many years, so there are a lot of things I do that one would associate with practicing Judaism. I hear the Torah every Saturday. I observe Shabbat. I say certain prayers. My son was bar mitzvahed. So this appears like I’m Jewish, but these rituals are connected to what I describe as the Tree of Life consciousness and have more to do with the idea of being an Israelite, not Jewish. The tribes of Israel existed before the religion of Judaism existed, so you have to do your history… So, am I Jewish? I mean, some people would say, well, you do a lot of things that Jews do, but I would say I do a lot of things that people did before Judaism existed. And I believe what I practice has to do with something deeper than religion, that it embodies all religions, including Judaism. And Christianity. And Islam.