I am writing this letter to address last week’s screening of my film, GIFT, which played for the first time in 20 years at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, as part of the Modern School of Film’s highly acclaimed mentor based filmmaking program. I was not invited to attend, or to take part in the Q&A. Instead the movie was represented by my ex partner, Perry Farrell, who co-directed, co-wrote and co-starred in GIFT.
I had already come to terms with not attending the film. MSF said that the subject of the evening would be Drugstore Cowboy, 25 years later, and that GIFT was added as a companion piece. Though I was a director, I presumably wasn’t a big enough name to invite, which disappointed me, because I would loved to have shared my creative journey, and met Gus Van Sant – after all we shared a talented cinematographer, Eric Edwards. Being snubbed artistically never feels good but I’ve learnt to live with it over the years. I have no legal leg to stand on, as regrettably I signed the rights to GIFT and all other Jane’s related artwork over to Perry in a non-confrontational settlement that didn’t favor my best interest. You see folks, I was still in love.
GIFT played before Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy, and between movies, Perry and Gus fielded questions from the audience. I have not spoken to Perry in over fifteen years, and therefore was surprised to hear that he spoke ill of me during the Q&A. At around the 30 minute mark, a fan asked if Perry and I were really married (as is shown in GIFT), and if we were still in touch, to which Perry responded no, we were never married; that he took me to Mexico to get married by a Santeria witch as a way of placating me and my desire to be wed to him. He told the audience that he never wanted to marry me because he knew that it would have been a mistake, therefore, HE chose to dupe me and bring me to Mexico, where our marriage didn’t hold legal merit in the United States. He spoke of my addiction problem, and our personal financial issues during our ten-year relationship. In the next breath he said that he doesn’t keep in touch with me because I am “mean” and he avoids me to this day.
I feel that Perry made me look like a fool and I want to clarify here that GIFT was and still is a precious document to me, and that my love was real. That Perry would be unkind publically, when he has so much in the way of fame, wealth, family and happiness is upsetting. I am a different person than I was 20 years ago, no longer possessed by the needle, but at my core I am the same woman, with a sensitive forgiving heart and a fiery creative soul. Though it was yesterday, I choose to remember the greatness of our time together, and I will always cherish the love we once shared.
My wedding to Perry was a real exchange of vows. We made two separate trips to a remote part of Mexico to consult with the priestess who performed our Santeria ceremony. On our first trip we were told we needed to purify ourselves before she would marry us, so we took that instruction, and returned some weeks later in a healthier place, physically and emotionally, and to our excitement she finally agreed. We exchanged blood and ceremonial coins, and honored the religion’s many beautiful ritualistic traditions. My reasons for marrying Perry were pure and honest, for me, I was marrying my best friend. Yes, I admit that we’d seen happier times, but considering our lives were in a constant state of flux – we were using hard drugs, in the middle of making a feature film for Warner Brothers, juggling project after project, while touring-our relationship began to suffer. The pressure just became too much for me, and with Perry’s rising success he grew more and more distant from the once, magical creative world we once shared.
For me, GIFT represents a beautiful, wild, bittersweet, chaotic time in my life. Above all, GIFT is a love story, and at that time in my life, it was my love story. I loved Perry unreservedly, and fragments of that love endure to this day. The difficult side of that time is that I was severely addicted to drugs, and I sought through the filming of GIFT to highlight but not glamorize that fact. Perry and I split up shortly after GIFT was completed, and I began a very long journey towards recovery, something I couldn’t do while existing in the insanity of the 24/7 party lifestyle that Perry continued to embrace. It took me years to get to the point I am at now – back on my feet, drugs behind me, with a thriving career, and a wonderful family. Humbled by the beauty of nature, wiser and stronger.
As an artist I am very proud of GIFT, and always have been even when I was the only one fighting for it to get the recognition it deserved. Over the years, I’ve received many emails and letters from fans who were inspired by GIFT to have non-traditional wedding ceremonies, soul unions, and play the film’s wedding song, Classic Girl, at their own nuptials. I have always been thrilled and touched by these letters. I feel Perry has a moral obligation to me, and our fans, to respect my wishes as to how our collaborative film (and other artwork) is represented in the future. I am not asking for money, I am asking for a say in my own art. I have a lot to lose, a career and a young family to protect, and it is my wish that this film never be re-released or screened in public without my blessing.
As the ex of a celebrated and famous musician, and it’s not easy to explain my side of those early Jane’s Addiction years, because I don’t have anywhere near Perry’s level of fame and influence. But to hear that Perry was unkind, and the film itself was also undermined, made me write this letter, as a way of taking the only action I really have access to. Writing my fans directly via the internet.
I only wish Perry peace. As I embark on the journey of writing my story in book form, I had held out hope that we might one day become friends again. While that had always seemed a distant possibility, it now, sadly, seems like a hope that may never be realized.
Love & Turtles,