Cindy Sherman's Un-Famous Ex-Boyfriend Finds That Being A "Wife" Is The Pits

Illustration for article titled Cindy Shermans Un-Famous Ex-Boyfriend Finds That Being A Wife Is The Pits

There's a documentary premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival called Guest of Cindy Sherman, directed by Sherman's ex-boyfriend and fellow artist, Paul Hasegawa-Overacker (aka Paul H-O). Anyway, the documentary is all about Paul H-O's inability to deal with living with what he refers to as "Cindy World." Cindy's World is a place where H-O's "identity went into hibernation or was subsumed by this much greater force... In the old days there were these things called Rolodexes with little cards. Mine had like 10 cards, and hers had 1,000. And, you know, Salman Rushdie would be in hers. Her world was a lot bigger and more powerful than mine." At some point in the film, H-O also says: "I know what it feels like to be a wife that no one pays attention to." Salon writer Joy Press points out that "for centuries women have gotten used to being the second fiddle," and H-O responds, "I acknowledge my inferiority to the greater body. But then, I got tired of it."

I have no idea how Cindy Sherman treated H-O in the course of their relationship — maybe she was completely selfish and denigrated his needs. But the thing is, Sherman was scads more famous than Paul when the pair got together, it's not like her art stardom was something that should have come as surprise to him. Cindy had mixed feelings about Guest from the get-go. She told the Financial Times during filming, "I was and still am extremely ambivalent about the film, not that I don't think Paul will do a great job, but that I'm in it. I wish he could tell the story without mentioning me. I thought it could be fictionalised or something. But I told him I didn't want to participate actively; any past footage he had of me was OK to use."

Although — according to H-O — Cindy got final cut veto on the documentary, Cindy has since disassociated herself with the production, and Variety reports that Sherman said, "I apologize to all those who participated, thinking they were doing me a favor in giving interviews and otherwise assisting in the fabrication of this film. Against my better judgment, it was clearly unwise to cooperate with the project at it's inception."


In a video on Salon's website, they show H-O being interviewed on the radio by two women. Paul says again, "I know what it feels like to be the wife," and one of the women, poignantly, responds, "You see how sexist that is? How come women have to put up with this? Why shouldn't you put up with this? What's the problem?"

I Dated Cindy Sherman ...And All I Got Was This Documentary[Salon]
Cindy Sherman Rejects Doc[Variety]
Gallery Beatnik Turns The Tables [FT]

Related: Guest Of Cindy Sherman

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Dunno if this has anything to do with this doco, but the (dare I say it?) British comedian Noel Fielding made an interesting comment on a TV show over there.

He said that when you get accustomed to the attention and affection from an audience, it becomes difficult to function in a normal relationship. You can trick yourself into thinking you don't have to work so hard with your partner, because if you don't get the adoration you want from them you can just hop up on stage and get it.

Maybe Cindy Sherman was like that, maybe she wasn't. I can see how it's really challenging to be with a famous person, and I would be interested in anyone who has insightful things to say about it.

But whining about how your ego isn't gratified enough because your partner is too famous doesn't qualify as insightful in my book. So if that's what this is: pass.