Buenos Aires [Saturday, February 24, 1996]:
Woke up this morning with tears streaming down my face and a wet pillowcase. I dreamed that I was Evita and I was watching the finished version of the movie we are making in a screening room all by myself. As I watched the film I realized for the first time that I was dead and I began to cry and soon I was choking on my own tears and sobbing violently and then I woke up.
Buenos Aires [Monday, February 26, 1996]:
The last two days were night shoots and I woke up both mornings feeling ravaged. Unlike everyone in this city, I am not a night person. My body rejects the idea of being ordered around and following directions at after midnight. We filmed in La Boca district, which was once a very chic area, but in the 20s yellow fever swept the neighborhood and the rich moved to another part of town, making way for an onslaught of Italian immigrants. Today it is still inhabited by poor immigrants who showed they were not happy to have us there by throwing rocks. We had to work around them and I spent the night listening to catcalls and dirty old men throwing me kisses and making lurid propositions. There were children everywhere begging for money and between takes they would swoop down like birds on the tables outside the cafés where the extras were sitting and gobble up all the food and run away. I have to say I found myself rooting them on.
Buenos Aires [Wednesday, February 28, 1996]:
As I descended further into this labyrinth called movie making I am stunned by the number of possibilities for feeling lonely and alienated. While I have become more and more accepted by the Argentineans, I feel increasingly more cut off from the rest of the world. I rarely speak to my friends and when I do I find it impossible to share what I I am experiencing. In the beginning I received letters and care packages all the time. Now I come home and my fax machine is empty and there are no phone messages. My family and friends are the people in the movie. They have seen me bare my soul and yet they know nothing about me. There is a kind of shyness that occurs when someone is required to be extremely vulnerable in front of complete strangers. When you are lonely you notice things that you otherwise wouldn’t. Like the cricket in my room. I don’t know how she got in and I cannot see her, but I know she’s here to warn me that it’s going to be another blisteringly hot day. Perhaps it will rain.
Buenos Aires [Saturday, March 2, 1996]:
I am so disappointed. I have just seen the shooting schedule for our last two weeks in Argentina and we will not be shooting on the balcony of the Casa Rosada. Now I will have to settle for a set on a soundstage looking at a bunch of crew guys and they will film my P.O.V. of the crowd in Budapest. I hate settling. Why should we settle when we have the real thing? Today we filmed in the shantytown which doubles for the village I leave to go to the big city. It’s right next door to a slaughterhouse and all day we had to smell the rotting decay of animal flesh. We were told that the diseased cows are not slaughtered but instead cooked in a giant vat of boiling water. What we smell is the remainder of the bones and fat cooking. At first we all felt like retching. Then we got used to it. It’s amazing what you can adapt to when you have no choice.
Buenos Aires [Tuesday, March 5, 1996]:
Friday has come to visit me and brought me massive amounts of caramel corn, Fiddle Faddle, peanut brittle, and licorice whips. This is by the way, fairly reliable way to get to do things I’m not keen on doing. Which is exactly what I did yesterday. A video on my day off! I’m so immersed in the life of Eva Peron and the movie music that I could not remember the words to my own song, no matter how many times I tried. It felt funny to be me with green eyes, hair down, and Gucci caftan. I consciously rejected the idea of being me. I am on strike. I am temporarily laid off, I do not exist until movie is finished. But I did enjoy my candy.
Buenos Aires [Wednesday, March 6, 1996]:
Last night there was a full moon. But I didn’t need an excuse to feel violent, hostile, and unusually aggressive. Yesterday I snapped when the producer arrived to ask me for the millionth time if I would move out of my hotel because we were going past shooting schedule here and the rooms had been previously booked. He wants me to move to some shit hole next door. Of course I told him what he could do with his request and he walked away mumbling something about hotel’s having squatters. Squatters? At this point I wanted to rip my hair out, but I couldn’t, as I was wearing a wig. I shoot six days a week and rehearse on my days off. I have done enough campaigning to win a local government election and I do it gladly in the name of the movie. The least they could do is stop trying to push me around like I am an extra. Then to add insult to injury they saved my close- up till the last shot of the day, after midnight, in the 12th hour of shooting, which is not a nice thing to do to a lady. I should have refused. My makeup was cracking off, the lace to my brunette wig had been glued on one time too many and it wouldn’t lie flat against my head, and I could barely keep my eyes open. Darius kept looking at me and shaking his head and suddenly I burst into tears. I was going to walk off the set, but I took a deep breath and agreed to go back into the trailer and make one last attempt. We ended up cutting off all the downy blond hair that grows around my hairline and now I look like Bette Davis in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. We finished the shot and on my way out I was informed that we may be filming the balcony of the Casa Rosada this weekend. Meaning two days from now. Meaning I am not prepared. Meaning, Oh shit!!
Buenos Aires [Thursday, March 7, 1996]:
Yesterday I was finally and formally invited for a drink to the home of Mrs. Fortabat, on of the wealthiest women in B.A. and certainly on of the most clever. She is very good friends with the president, and I am told she is considered a saint by the labor-union leaders because she has been so generous to them. What really interested me was her art collection, which my dealer in New York insisted was amazing. For weeks she hesitated to meet with me, either because her deceased husband was a devout anti Peronist or because she thought I would bring a torrent of photographers with me. Mrs. Fortabat’s building was surrounded by what seemed to be a secret service police, who whisked me out of my car, then silently led me into the building and up a private elevator, which opened directly into her apartment. It was all very Mission: Impossible. This beautifully coiffed, elegantly dressed woman greeted me, kissed my cheek, and said that she hoped I hadn’t come to talk about Eva Peron. I said I was there to see her art and she seemed relieved. She led me through rooms decorated in Louis XVI style until we reached the main sitting room which had the most breathtaking view of the city and the El Tigre River that I had seen. We sat down to talk there and I tried in vain not to be distracted by the Légers and Mirós around us. We talked about Frida Kahlo, whom we both adore, and she invited me to her apartment in New York City, where her Kahlos are. She insisted I called her Amalita and went on to talk about her late husband, who she was sure he died of anti-Peronism. She, on the other hand, quite liked Evita and spoke about her in a very loving way. Amalita told me that she once had a very good masseuse, the best in B.A., and one day Juan Duarte, Eva’s brother, came to visit and inquire about the masseuse and see if he could borrow her services. It was not for Eva, who was very ill at the time, but for his mother, Dona Juana. Apparently the mother and the masseuse became friends and Dona Juana confided a great many things about Evita, which the masseuse told Amalita. When Evita was very ill and confined to her bed, Perón forbade any visitors except for immediate family. He himself rarely visited, because he could not stand the smell of her room, her body, her cancer. He would merely open the door and wave and she would invite him in and he would say he had things to do and would come back later, and one night Eva woke up from a bad dream and got out go bed to go to the Perón’s room because she was scared. They had slept in separate bedrooms for several years. When she woke him up, he smelled her and shouted, “Get out of my room, get that thing out of here!” I almost cried when I heard this story, but Amalita went on. Peron knew how instrumental Evita was to his popularity and it was he who decided, before she died, to have her body put on display after her death. He wanted her to look good, but she was losing weight and starting to deteriorate, so he talked to a mortician and they decided they would have to start injecting her with chemical concoctions which would preserve her organs and flesh. God only knows what effect the injections must have had. To make matters worse, she was not allowed any painkillers, because they would have interfered with the preservation process, so I can only imagine how she must have suffered. I was disgusted by this whole story and Peron’s cruelty and it was hard for me to enjoy the rest of the evening. Amalita told me that my skin was like Evita’s. She said that Evita did not have a good body or nice legs, but she had a beautiful face and she knew how to dress. Then she said that Evita had the sweetness of revenge running through her veins.
Buenos Aires [Sunday, March 10, 1996]:
Last night was like a dream and yet it happened so easily and effortlessly I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that I haven’t imagined it. Last night I walked out on the balcony of the Casa Rosada in front of thousands of people and sang “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.” In the exact place she had stood so many times before, I raised my arms and looked into the hungry eyes of humanity, and at that moment I felt her enter my body like a heat missile, starting with my feet, traveling up my spine, and flying out my fingertips, into the air, out to the people, and back up to heaven. Afterwards I could not speak and I was so happy. But I felt a great sadness too. Because she is haunting me.
She is pushing me to feel things. When you want something bad enough the whole earth conspires to help you get it.
Buenos Aires [Tuesday, March 12, 1996]:
I dreamed one of my teeth felt loose and I wiggled it and it fell out of my mouth. Then I felt the rest of my teeth and they all started to break off and fall out of my mouth. I went to the doctor’s and asked what was wrong with me and he said it was one of the first signs of cancer.