Big Sue and her Big Beautiful Quotes

Left: Lucian Freud’s ’Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’, Right: Big Fabulous Sue Tilley

So, Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping has sold for a record $33m (A life-size Lucian Freud painting of a naked Jobcentre supervisor sleeping broke the world auction record for a work by a living artist when it sold for more than £17 million, Christie’s said) but what is most fascinating in all of the articles I have read so far are the quotables from the subject Sue, “Big Sue”, Tilley. Yes, I used quotes in my last post about Donkey Kong and the decline of Western Civilization, but sometimes the quotes are the most delicious and savory way to make a point. But then, I never order entrees when eating out if the appetizer list is long enough so it makes perfect sense. Big Sue is the incline of Western Civilization. If you analyze her words carefully you can clearly see that. It is that obvious. Pure genius. I had a phone number once that spelled pure-awe. I then had to change my number because I moved. And so it goes.

(oh–and this fabulous anecdotal bit: ” After completing the painting 13 years ago, Freud gave Ms Tilley a print of her portrait which she later offered to bailiffs seeking to recover £700 of unpaid debt. They laughed at the offer and instead seized her electric kettle. The print was sold at auction in 2005 for £26,000. Ms Tilley posed for Freud for four years in the early Nineties and in most of his paintings of her he would cover her tattoos.)

I want to party with Big Sue — especially after reading how she stood up to a TV Presenter (<–Biotch) who presumed to accidentally (and passive-aggressively perhaps?) call her “Fat Sue”. Sue, call me. I am standing by…

ok ok–now the big and beautiful quotes:

[Freud] “got value for money” because he “got a lot of flesh”

“My life’s changed overnight, I’m beside myself, but then lovely things are always happening to me. Still, I’m not surprised – in a way, I always thought this might happen. I love that painting.”

“I know it sounds weird, but even though there’d be no one else there I’d get dressed or put something round me just to go to the loo. I didn’t want to become a regular nudist.”

“Not exactly cultural, is it? No one seems to understand it was all about art. I’d never taken my clothes off before I sat for Lucian and I don’t intend to again – well, unless it is for a really fantastic artist, and I can’t think of one off-hand. It’s one thing to sit in the nude for an artist. It’s quite another to be photographed naked. But few seem to make the distinction.”

“The first painting he ever did of me [Evening in the Studio, 1993] was finished while there was a big show of his paintings on at the Whitechapel gallery, so they put it up for the last week of the exhibition. I went in there one day and there was a man giving a talk in front of the picture, saying, look at this revolting woman, she’s so fat and disgusting, there’s obviously something wrong with her skin. I just started laughing. The man stopped and asked if there was anything wrong. I said: ‘That’s me you’re talking about,’ and he just looked like he wanted to die. After that I didn’t really mind what people said.”

“I’m not the ‘ideal woman’, I know I’m not. But who is? And he never made the skinny ones look any better. He picks out every single little detail.”

“and he made me look so horrible. I’m shaking now as I think of it.”

“It was lovely and comfy [the couch], and I just lay on it, really, for nine months.”

“I might arrive at 7am. Then we’d sit in the kitchen, have a little chat, have breakfast, a snack. The first session would be quite long, when we were both quite fresh and there weren’t many interruptions.”

“Sometimes he’d take me out for lunch, which I liked, and we’d work again in the afternoon. It was quite exhausting, just lying there. I know it sounds silly, but it was.”

‘I never had much ambition, my ambition was to get into Heaven [a popular London venue for gay men] on Saturday nights when girls weren’t allowed in.’

‘One bloke kept inviting me to parties with no booze, no food and no music. I told him, “That’s not a party in my book.” Well, in the end I had to tell him, “I can’t be your friend any more. You’re too mental.” He was all right about it. He wrote me a letter a few weeks later thanking me for being so honest. He’d gone to the doctor and the doctor had diagnosed him as autistic.’

“I’m thrilled. I still can’t believe such a bizarre thing has happened to me. It hasn’t sunk in properly.”

“At first, I was a little bit embarrassed but after a while I just got used to it and it became a completely normal thing to do, like going to the doctor.”

“I never weigh myself because I can’t be bothered,”

‘Oh, you know, easy come, easy go. I can’t be bothered.’

‘Yes, it is rather nice. But I’m not really happy when you call me Fat Sue because that is not my name. And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call me that, thank you,’ said Tilley, leaving a blushing Derham [british tv presenter] apologising profusely on air.’

‘I couldn’t believe what I had just heard,’ said Tilley. ‘I was really taken aback. I just said quite firmly – and not rudely, I hope – that that was not my name. I don’t want to go through life with the whole world calling me Fat Sue.’

And I’ve certainly got the impression that some people think I’m a bit unworldly. Just plain old Sue from the Job Centre who doesn’t know very much.’

‘Then another Sunday tabloid rang me up. And she was really turning it on. “Oh, we want you to recreate iconic nude poses,” she said, ‘like American Beauty. You know, the one with all the petals.” Oh, and she suggested I do a Christine Keeler.

‘Give me a break. Do you think I’m going to do that? I’d look absolutely ridiculous. But she wouldn’t give up. Oh no. “What about iconic Marilyn Monroe, with the white pleated skirt flying up?” Nope, don’t think so. “Or Audrey Hepburn?” I think she was getting a bit desperate by then.’

‘Most of the magazines have been a bit low rent. You know, the sort who write about women going off on holiday to Turkey and coming home married to the waiter. Does that make me sound snobby?’

‘I like people who are charismatic and arrogant,’ she says. ‘People who make me nervous. I like the frisson of not knowing what’s going to happen next.’

Image: The above cat is fat. I put it there for a reason. I’ll explain later. Maybe. It’s kinda like a secret. Maybe if you ask I will tell you why.


How Big Sue became art’s biggest muse

Freud picture in £17m record sale

It’s lovely,’ says benefits supervisor whose portrait is set to sell for £17m

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping may fetch £17m – Lucien Freud

NEW! Artist Market and Tag Sale
Starting May 25, 2008
10-5 every Sunday afternoon

(Weather permitting)

Canal Gallery Court Yard
380 Dwight Street, Holyoke, Ma.

An eclectic mix!

36 Responses to “Big Sue and her Big Beautiful Quotes”

  1. ok–a hint: Search Engine Terms

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  2. Big Sue is now my new imaginary friend. We talk on the phone all the time. Sometimes I have to tell her I will call her back in 1 hour and 52 minutes, because that is how long it takes to charge my battery, and then I do and we talk more. Oh, how we laugh properly. We laugh at the tatty couch she posed on and how she’d fall asleep at sittings. We have virtual tea and crumpets. I hope to be the only other artist she will ever pose for. I will model one of my appliances after her. She laughs at the idea but I can tell she is thinking it over. I have unlimited minutes on my phone plan so I can spend this much imaginary time big Sue-ing it, as we say. She can’t be bothered to be mad at that TV Presenter. I am trying to be frisson so she will find me intriguing and be my imaginary friend even more. Big Sue rocks.

  3. I am thinking of making a post entirely out of comments. Each comment will be like a chapter perhaps. It won’t be a proper post but I can’t be bothered.

  4. It’s crazy–you know? This is like a secret post because no one reads the comments. So I can have a secret private post-ly life here in the comments. Only Gnome de Pleuhm will notice. I wonder if I spelled it correctly but I will find out if he notices.

  5. Malraux emailed to say that i made a double-entendre. I asked what was that? He said the big beautiful quotes bit was clearly about Big Sue’s upper torso accoutrements. I didn’t do that on purpose but now that it is pointed out to me it seems so. I am reading another book from the free pile–short stories by Kafka. the introduction says he wrote in allegories. But Kafka never said that himself. Studies of his work are all posthumous like his fame. What if he only accidentally wrote that way? What is he had no idea? Maybe he accidentally thought in allegories and his writing automatically came out that way?

  6. In my post about my job about the real world I said, “My first job after college was at a large women’s clothing retailer and I struggled to fit in.” and Gnome pointed out to me that that line was clearly a pun-like thingie. I laughed. I hadn’t noticed that. It was accidentally inadvertent and all that. But upon a second reading it would seem so. I don’t often like puns although I do like double-entendres sometimes with my tea. And crumpets. This is getting ridiculous. according to Merriam-Webster entendres are obsolete. WordPress keeps trying to change that word to “intenders” or “tendrils”. Maybe it is obsolete. I am not usually risque. (WordPress wants that word to be “bisque”.)

    Main Entry: dou·ble en·ten·dre
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural double entendres \same also -ˈtäⁿz; -ˈtän-drəz\
    Etymology: obsolete French, literally, double meaning
    1 : ambiguity of meaning arising from language that lends itself to more than one interpretation 2 : a word or expression capable of two interpretations with one usually risqué

  7. Um, am I the only one that noticed that the automatically-generated possibly related post that wordpress inserted at the end of my big Sue post above has seemingly no relation to said Big Sue post whatsoever?

  8. I had a boss once who was so full of puns that they’d just bust out of him all day long. After each pun he’d say, “bu-duh-BUM!”, like a drum roll sound.

  9. Ok — hate is a strong word. I emotionally vomited over that.

  10. The puns, I mean. Especially if I had a hangover.

  11. This was in my early 20’s. I am in my tardy 30’s now. Plus 5 ish. That makes me early 40’s.

  12. Back then we’d go out to The El Phoenix Room for margaritas a lot. They came in a huge draft glass. The bartender liked us. it was diagonally across the street from my apartment in a building called, “The Peerless”.

  13. So even in a blizzard we could go there.

  14. We’d just bundle up and cross the street.

  15. The falling snow would ruin my hair and make up but I couldn’t be bothered. Just like my idol, Big Sue.

  16. It really was called “The El Phoenix Room”. yes–it’s redundant. that’s a hugepart of why we always went there. They had great nachos. They baked them. Microwaved nachos are tatty. And dodgy. They are wanker nachos. They are mental.

  17. It would seem that wordpress has no limit on how many times I can comment on my own blog. I just scrolled up and looked at the number of comments and I laughed. It was more like a snicker.

  18. Ok–I am running out for a minute—I’ll be right back…

  19. I could just use this comments section for therapy. I could call my therapist in the morning and beg off future weekly sessions (politely, of course) saying that I have found a new outlet–one that is there for me 24/7. Except for when I am sleeping of course.

  20. I wonder if the WordPress people will mind. This is like performance art, is it not? It’s brills (slang for brilliant). What if you do a performance art and no one comes? Did it even happen? Is it art? Is it actually a performance? If it is, does that make my journal performance art? Life is so hard when one is forced to ponder such things. I haven’t scrolled up in a while to see how many comments I am up to now. I snicker at the thought. I will hold off to make it more funny when I do.

  21. When I was little my neighbors had a dog named Jennifer. I liked her. I didn’t have a dog. For some odd reason I called her Jennifee. I distinctly remember calling her Jennifee but I have no recollection of why. Why Monkey, Why?

  22. Ok–I am going to bed now but first i will finish reading The Metamorphosis.

  23. My horoscope from Rob Brezny at
    Seems you’re pushing to learn all you can from places and ideas you barely even know existed a few months ago. Your experiments continue to provide such valuable lessons that you’d rather not wrap them up yet. That’s fine. No rush. Take your time. We here at the Grind will welcome you back anytime you’re ready. We completely understand if you want to stay out there on a limb until you’re absolutely sure that the butterfly won’t have any reason to try changing back into a caterpillar.

    that’s deep.

  24. Goodnight everyone.

  25. 26 comments. That’s hilarious. 27 is a good number. I am done. BUT–my next post will be in comment installments. Will anyone notice?

  26. Hey MO,
    Seems like You and your friend fat Sue are having some fun here……….
    I love the way your mind works….the little twists and turns…..and then you find yourself back where you started…..kinda like a Seinfeld episode ..but way better……..rings really…..Mo Ringley……ya that makes sence…..:-) Mo = meaning More….and Ringley meaning the little rings that tie everything together……..on another note……Have you heard much about the Orphan works art bill? I am wondering what you think about it……… Looking forward to coffee soon!
    oh ya ……so what is up with the fat cat?

  27. Gnome de Pluehm Says:

    1. Please note spelling. The e is a replacement for two dots that should be over the u, but I forgot how to do that on a keyboard. (The e follows)

    2. “I am not usually risque. (WordPress wants that word to be “bisque”.)” Brisque is a better descriptor for your style.
    3. Nigh t’night!

  28. Sue Tilley Says:

    I thought that i would frighten you and actually write on your site….I love the collection of my quotes. I’m at a loose end tonight because i thought that i was going to a party but my friend got it wrong and it’s next Saturday…so th sofa and the Eurovision contest beckons!!!
    Sue x

  29. Henri from Burlington Says:

    I read the comments for blogs everyday! But then, I am a rooster and I get up early. I especially like the secret postly things…

  30. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Flatulent.

  31. Hello, great site!. How do I subscribe to your RSS feed to ensure I get notifed when you make new posts? Thanks

  32. fat lady, fat cat, pics bring smiles 2 my stummy

  33. Personally, I love that painting, and I do think he painted her beautiful (and beautifully). How he painted every undulation of light on her body, you can almost feel his brush touching her as he painted. It’s more lifelike than a photograph. I’m no art critic, but it really does seem like a masterwork to me.

  34. […] Big Sue and her Big Beautiful Quotes | Benigngirl – ok ok-now the big and beautiful quotes: … He said the big beautiful quotes bit was clearly about Big Sue’s upper torso accoutrements. I didn’t do that on purpose but now that it is pointed out to me it seems so. […]

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