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.
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Starting May 25, 2008
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