I could do all kinds of things," he says enthusiastically. "I could go very commercial – very, very commercial American pop. Or I could go for just ordinary, straight rock & roll, in an English way. Or I could mix it up: some very... you know, some hits, and some things that are a bit more experimental."
"Outside of this kind of mainstream rock," he fairly burbles. "More like the stuff Material [a New York jazz-funk unit] does. Slightly left of the mainstream, you know what I mean? You could do some interesting things in that area."
"I have a lot of stuff," Jagger says. "I think I'm gonna do it relatively soon."
In the musical sphere, of course, Mick Jagger can do whatever he wants. But what is there really left to do? "No one seems to be doing anything very innovative in stadium shows," he says. "I've seen David Bowie, I've seen Talking Heads and the Police, and I mean, is that really all there is? Keith thinks that rock & roll shows should just be a few lights and a good sound system and a square stage. That's his idea of what it should be. But I like to do more than that. I want to have more lights, a better stage. I want to be able to see 360 degrees. I want to give the people in the back something to look at, and I want it to look right."
Getting the Rolling Stones to actually roll out on tour, of course, is another headache entirely. "I don't know whether the Stones are gonna go on the road next year or not. We're gonna sit down and talk about that in the next few weeks. I mean, Charlie obviously doesn't want to go on tour," he says, referring to drummer Charlie Watts. "But yeah, I love it. It's kind of in my blood. It would be awful if I went on and tried to do things I couldn't do. But if the body is in good enough condition to be able to sing and have the breath and the legs ... then there's no reason I shouldn't be able to do it for a few more years. But as soon as it starts to show... well, I'll see it on video. I'll see it straight away."
The dwindling of Jagger's high-voltage performance style may not be imminent, but it is inevitable. This may be one reason why he continues to yearn for a breakthrough in his long-simmering movie career: something dignified to fall back on.
The Stones acquired the screen rights to Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange back in the Sixties, but because potential censorship problems seemed impassable, the production fell through. So did subsequent projects. Jagger finally made it to the movies in 1970, starring in two films. He played a noted Australian outlaw in the Tony Richardson film Ned Kelly ("He looks too sissy," said one crusty local after the movie's outback première). He also appeared as the retired rock star Turner in Performance, a movie co-directed by Nicolas Roeg and Jagger's painter-turned filmmaker friend, Donald Cammell ("Loathsome," John Simon called the pic in the New York Times).
Jagger's name was subsequently floated in connection with such screen projects as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Ken Russell's bizarre film bio of Franz Liszt (which eventually starred Who vocalist Roger Daltrey). In 1981, Jagger actually spent several weeks in the steaming Peruvian jungle working on Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, but that ill-fated film fell behind schedule, and when Jagger was unable to extend his stay because of the Stones' U.S. tour, his footage was scrapped.
"But I wouldn't have missed it for anything," he says, with perhaps an iota of irony. "There was a nice moment when I came out. After waiting three days for transportation at this logging camp in the middle of the jungle, sleeping twelve in a room in hammocks with these loggers – and my Spanish is really rudimentary – well, this seaplane arrived. I had done myself up: best suit of clothes; I'd cleaned up, even shaved. And I stood up on the float of the seaplane, and just as I was about to open the door, I lost my balance and fell into the Amazon." The response he recalls hearing as he flubbered about was "just fits of laughter."
He remains game, however. He has acquired a powerful new theatrical agent (Rick Nicita of the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles), and he continues to test for parts, like any aspiring actor. Recently, he auditioned for Milos Forman's production of the Broadway stage hit Amadeus; the part of Mozart didn't pan out, but Mick remains unfazed.
"You have to have your nose to the ground for what parts are going around the major studios, which are very few," he says sagely. "They're mostly written with some guy in mind, and you only get the part if he gets ill or something. Which may be how Sting got that part in Dune, for instance. I'm not saying he won't be good in it, but it was an opening that came up, I think."
Things are brightening a bit on the extramusical front, though. Not long ago, Jagger sold a screenplay he cowrote called The Tin Soldier ("and got paid pretty good for it," he says proudly). He'll probably also sell the screen rights he acquired some years ago to the Gore Vidal novel Kalki ("No one wants to make it into a picture"). But it looks as if he finally has found financing for a project that he's wanted to do for a decade, a movie whose working title has been Ishtar. It seems to concern a video director and some terrorists; Jagger will be in on the action and may even star. Michael Butler, the money man behind Hair, is reportedly a likely backer. "We have the money and everything," Jagger says. "We have the script and some of the main cast. We're just arguing a little bit about the deal."
Mick II's movie career may yet pan out, who knows? Certainly his thespian setbacks are nothing compared to the battered fortunes suffered by Mick I in the world's gossip columns over the last twelve years. You'll recall that Mick I assumed a life of his own back in 1971, when Jagger married Bianca Perez Morena de Macias, a Nicaraguan diplomat's daughter, in glittery St. Tropez. The well-connected Bianca opened up all sorts of new social possibilities for Jagger (she, of course, benefited equally by her marriage to Mick), and soon, the favored couple was partying at "21" with Yves St. Laurent, dining at La Grenouille with Andy Warhol and checking out the gay floor show at the Continental Baths (where Mick was recognized and, according to one report, "had to flee from an army of eager queens clad only in bath towels").
None of this flouncing about with the fashionable set made Mick appear to be a very serious person. And unfortunately, the Jaggers' mid-Seventies jet-setting coincided with (and perhaps contributed to) an unprecedented slump in the Rolling Stones' music (think back to Goats Head Soup, It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, Black and Blue). Nor did the marital glow last for long: Bianca, who had given birth to a daughter, Jade, a few months after the wedding, couldn't have been too pleased when Marsha Hunt, a black American singer, filed a paternity suit against Jagger in 1973, claiming – and ultimately proving – that he had fathered her daughter Karis, who was born in November 1970. Eventually, Bianca began to complain about Mick's randy habits, and in 1978, she sued for divorce on grounds of adultery – the particular object of her ire being Jerry Hall, a six-foot-tall, $2000-an-hour fashion model from Mesquite, Texas, whom Jagger had wooed away from singer Bryan Ferry.
The Jaggers' divorce was a noisy one, great fun for the gossips. It was finally settled – for $2.5 million out of Mick's pocket – in 1980, allowing Jagger and Hall to make like real lovebirds. Jerry was subsequently portrayed in the tabloids as uttering let's-make-it-legal noises, but no wedding ensued. Then, in 1982, she dumped Mick and took up with multimillionaire racehorse owner Robert Sangster, a man who, in Jerry's deathless phrase, "can buy [Mick] out ten times over." Quel scandale! Mick was said to be keeping company with a young Venezuelan model named Victoria Vicuna. It was all terrifically silly.
How Mick got Jerry back is not entirely clear. According to the gossip sheets, Sangster claimed that "Mick broke down on the telephone and cried like a big baby, begging her to come back to him." According to Jagger, "We just broke up for a while." Whatever the case, Jerry returned, bliss reigned and, as if in confirmation of their reunion, it was reported that she was pregnant. The baby is due in early 1984. Mick III answers the unavoidable question with some ambivalence.
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