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Yoko Ono Flies High

The odyssey is just beginning for musician/artist

Yoko Ono is everywhere: in dance clubs, in art galleries and even
on the spine of an indie rock album.

Her music — thanks to remixes by the Pet Shop Boys, Danny
Tenaglia, Felix Da Housecat, Orange Factory and others — is
turning on the ears, and feet, of a new generation. Ono recently
watched a crowd in a New York club dancing to her music, and she
requested a mike so she could add some live orgasmic moans to the
track’s recorded ones — not something the average seventy-year-old
does at 3 a.m.

In the last week, Ono has debuted two more remixes, “Will I” and
“Fly,” as well as a DVD of rare and unseen footage of late husband
John Lennon she compiled. And her artistic life is currently as
frenetic as her musical life. One exhibit, “Odyssey of a
Cockroach,” is on at New York’s Deitch Projects; and she recently
approved a musical based on Lennon’s songs that will be coming to
Broadway. Last month, after nearly forty years, Ono recreated “Cut
Piece” in Paris. She sat on a chair onstage at the Ranelagh Theater
as each of the 200 members of the audience cut off her clothes
until she was in her lingerie.

And when the California rock band Beulah wanted the title of
their new album to denote love, change and artistry, they came up
with Yoko.

When you first did “Cut Piece” thirty-seven years ago,
it was considered very cutting edge.

In those days I was expressing my emotional turbulence and
anger, and I was communicating just with a small group of people —
mostly artists and intellectuals. And now it’s anybody. It’s a
wider audience. I did it with love for the world and you and me. If
you can carry some feeling of love for each other, that’s very
important.

Isn’t love the hardest emotion to draw out of a
stranger?

No, I don’t think so. I think it’s the easiest emotion. Life is
so beautiful that it’s hard not to love it.

What inspires you?

I really don’t know. I get inspired by anything. Newton found an
incredible thing from a drop of an apple.

In some lights art is viewed as passive, but you’ve long
worked for peace, a physical job, because you must persuade
governments, persuade people and change philosophies.

Well, how do you persuade people? I mean, you can go in front of
the White House and just kind of bang the doors and say, “You
better do what I’m telling you to do.” Or you could be writing
something in the newspaper. There are many ways of doing it, and
I’m not using just one way. Art is an expression and that is a way
to communicate the importance of the idea of world peace.

Beulah singer Miles Kurosky said, “Yoko had to
be the title since the record is about love, my growth as an
artist, and the changes I’ve been going through as a human being. I
wanted to make a more mature, confident and daring artistic
statement. The word ‘Yoko’ says it all: change, progress and
risk.”

He’s very eloquent. I really blessed Beulah, because they’re
going back to being real. Beulah are starting to do something on a
different level. It’s very close to the kind of writing that was
done in the Sixties. It’s good, and it’s coming back.

When “Open Your Box” came out in the U.K. in 1971, it
was banned. Now, it’s a huge dance hit.

I’m very thankful that that happened within my lifetime. I’m
experiencing it with a sense of wonderment.

What do you think the difference is?

The main difference is the usual difference: step by step we’re
getting wiser, all of us together.

What were you thinking when you heard the first remixes
of your music?

When I first heard “Open Your Box” by Orange Factory, I just
started crying. It was so beautiful that somebody understood my
work so well.

Why do you think the dance genre is so open to your
music?

It comes naturally to me. I’m one person who’s really mad about
dancing. I love it.

Some of your music — “Open Your Box” and “Yang Yang”
for example — is very sexual and some it is very graphic. Do you
think people are more open to that now?

Definitely. It’s to celebrate life. Life is sex, and sex is
love.

In This Article: Yoko Ono

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