old were you when you first came up on stage?
Nina Hagen: I can’t remember anymore.
EW: I mean as a teenager, a teen, or a 12-year-old
or 11-year old?
Nina: I can’t remember.
EW: It is just that you have this indomitable
spirit – as if you belonged there always.
Nina: Always. I do. Yes,
because I was looking for the truth.
EW: Who isn’t. I assume everybody is.
Nina: … and the truth was looking and looking
and looking, and it took a long time.. And bit by
bit it was revealed, and it was the truth, and nothing
but the truth. So I was really searching for
it for the longest time, and then I found it, and
it was graciously given to me. And then
I was more happy about my place in the world. But
I was singing and doing art before my quest for
the truth., My vision quest was fulfilled.
EW: You actually were born behind the Iron
Nina: No, I was born in a hospital
(laughs) You, too.
My father was a half-Jew, because my Grandmother
was from Germany, and my Grandfather was Jewish.
And then they had three children, including my father,
when they were allowed to marry, eventually.
And then there was World War II, and most of our
family we made it out by immigration. But
my father was not only a half-Jew, he was also an
anti-Facist, so he was fighting in Spain with the
other anti-Fascists, and he was conquered there,
and he was brought to a jail, and tortured, he had
swastikas ripped inside his skin everywhere on his
EW: How awful.
Nina: Yes. And my father, and
later also my stepfather, they were both German.
And I wouldn’t be here if the Americans had not
liberated us. They finished the whole thing off.
EW: And then the Communists came, right?
Nina: Oh, they were there before.
EW: They were there before?
Nina: Yeah, and they were not so bad
before, but then they came into power. And
that what happens with many, many people and
with Communists and any other ‘ists.’ They became
a little ugly when they get the power. Before they
promise to be very humble, and then they get the
EW: You were allowed to leave East
Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Is that correct?
Martina: Actually, they were begging
you to leave, wasn’t it more like that?
Nina: Well the divine destiny construction
consignment company said, “You stay 21 years there,”
and then that happens.
Ron: Nina, I just recently saw my name
in a Stasi file.
Nina: Really? How interesting.
Ron: Have you ever gone in and searched
for a file on you?
Nina: Yes, my mom did. They
were listening to telephone calls.
Ron: Isn’t that amazing?
Nina: German telephone calls, conversations
we had with friends where we were discussing art
and Dostojevski. We were very intellectual young
people then in East Germany. Oh my God! (laughs)
EW: What kind of music could you find
in East Berlin? How did you start?
Nina: Oh well, that’s Janis Joplin
and the Beatles fault. I got nothing
to do with it.
EW: No Sex Pistols, no Ramones?
Nina: The Sex Pistols were much later.
That was basically many, many years later that inspired
me to find my way.
EW: I can see that now, you are still
creating very prolifically.
Nina: Yes, but I am also an actress
– a very funny one. I perform in comedies
EW: Your eyes are very expressive,
and so is your face. Do you practice in front
of the mirror?
Nina: Yeah, of course, (screams). Don’t
we all? We all should keep practicing that.
EW: Perhaps I should.
Martina: I heard you sang a Nirvana
song today. Have you ever had any contact
with Kurt Cobain?
Nina: Yeah, after he died. He
came into my dreams a couple of times, and I was
praying for him, so when you pray for someone who
died, then of course somehow you make a connection.
We are very good friends, by the way. Just
for the record.
Ron: I remember being in Berlin, and
listening to your music, and Lou Reed, and Iggy
Pop. And there was always this rumor that
all of these people were always hanging out in Berlin.
Nina: They did, yeah. But that
was before our time. That was before 1976.
[Nina took the opportunity to leave to country when
her stepfather, the dissident poet-songwriter Wolf
Biermann, was expelled from East Germany in 1976]
Ron: Boy, your songs sure brought back
EW: What other creative things are
Nina: I am a movie star. We even
had our premier at the Tribeca Film Festival this
year in May. [The
Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert
De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff as a
response to the attacks on the World Trade Center.]
EW: What’s it called?
Nina: It was called Seven Dwarfs
– Men alone in the Forest, and it is a comedy
adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
And my daughter plays in it, my real life daughter.
She plays Snow White, and I play the Evil Queen.
And we did the sequel. Cosma is still Snow White,
but I am not the queen anymore because the queen
gets a punishment. She has a horrible hairdo. And
now I’m a witch. I mess up a spell because
I forgot the most important ingredients. I
am trying to make an invisibility potion. And I
cannot get the most important ingredient, that sort
of frog creature. Kröte.
What is it called in English? Die
The toad. It is called toad.
Die Krrrrröte!I had to stand and do it over
and over again all day. It was the second
hardest job next to giving birth (laughs).
And now I am playing in a movie with Angelica Huston
(laughs). It is a story about three sisters.
Martina: So you
guys play sisters?
Nina: Yeah. I
am one of the sisters. And I will also play
in a trilogy based on Dante’s Divine Comedy.
that why you moved to LA, so you could be in the
have been in Los Angeles since 1980. We are
all in a movie. Everything is a movie. We are on
Candid Camera all of the time. That is why
everybody is so paranoid (laughs).
But they said you are living in LA on an off.
So do you sometimes travel back to Europe?
am an international artist, but I don’t have paparazzi
following me around all of the time.
That’s a good thing.
is a wonderful thing. If is such an odd situation
would occur, I would leave the country.
you miss Europe?
can I miss Europe? I am always everywhere.
Except in the war zones. I don’t go there.
do you feel about the Iraq thing?
Nina: It is not my place to comment
Martina: Why not?
Nina: Why? Would it make any
difference what I think? It would not make
any difference how I feel about anything.
It wouldn’t make a difference. It would not bring
any dead person back. Only in the principle of reincarnation.
Everybody comes back anyways. But, I am not
here in this country [where I’m] being allowed to
work as an artist to criticize politics –
I cannot do that. But if America goes somewhere,
and makes boom-boom, I go and make a charity for
that territory. When they wanted to get rid
of the Taliban, we did a huge charity w for the
reopening of the hospital where the Afghan children
could go. And then me and my daughter volunteered
to help open an orphanage in Kabul. And my
daughter was there already, twice.
Martina: So do you do a lot of humanitarian
Nina: It is not my position to take
any stand on any political decisions the United
States makes. It would not make any sense
and it would not make any difference. And it is
not my position to take. I cannot say, “Iraq, good
or evil.” No.
EW: It is not that simple, anyhow.
EW: You had mentioned that you were
doing a benefit to support gay marriage.
EW: So, how busy is your day?
Nina: Like yours. Don’t we have to
EW: What time do you get up in the
Nina: What time do you get up?
Martina: He gets up late . . .
Doug: I get up later, and stay up later.
Martina: That’s right.
Doug: I have my rhythm, but no,
it is not 16 hours.
Nina: If you had a 15-year-old son
who goes to school every morning, so maybe you could
jump to conclusions what I’m doing every morning…
EW: You are a momma.
EW: How do your children feel about
Nina: You would have to ask them about
Martina: Where does your your daughter
actually live? Otis lives here …
Nina: My daughter is 24 years young.
She does the freak when she wants.
EW: Does either one of them have any
aspirations to perform?
Nina: My daughter is a most wonderful
artist, and a popular actress, and she has so many
awards and prizes that it would be impossible to
EW: You must be very proud.
Unknown voice (a relative): And she’s
Martina: Yeah, I’ve seen pictures of
her. She is also very expressive.
(a picture goes around)
Nina: Yes, but she has so much make-up
Martina: But she is very beautiful.
Where does she live?
Nina: In Hamburg. She did some
interesting work in Iran with some interesting other
EW: What else are you doing musically?
Nina: I also have some surprise projects
coming out, which I am not gonna talk about, because
otherwise it wouldn’t be a surprise.
EW: Do you ever think you will retire?
I know right now that seems premature.
Nina: Will I retire? When I am old
and crazy, and the Alzheimer’s sets in. When
I can say and do all kinds of old things?
Do you think I will lose my connection to the youth?
EW: And then you can yell at everybody.
Stop that. Don’t do this.
Nina: I don’t do this. Oh, and by the
way I love the holistic approach of looking
the emotional possibilities. Have you heard
of Louise Hays? [Louise Hays’ books explain illness
as a bodily manifestation of an emotional pattern,
upset or disorder, and see bodily symptoms as metaphors.]
EW: A belief that one’s emotional stress
can directly affect one’s health?
Nina: Oh, definitely. Especially
EW: There is nothing ironic about your
Nina: Is there anything ironic about
being a human being? No, there can’t be anything
ironic about a human being, being of a spiritual
nature. But still, we have the humor (she
barks). It is important that we can laugh,
and dance, and do other normal things.
God must be amazing to create such an. . .
EW: Complex beings?
Nina: Complex? Yes.
Voice from the crowd: And the animals,
Nina: The animals. Yes, of course.
Cats. Cats are amazing.
2006 All content property of European Weekly unless where otherwise