Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist


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Glen's Close Encounter With Marlboro Man

Daily Express 16th July 1993

THE Big Country. Every living soul has a fifth of a square mile to himself. Montana is the size of Japan and around here smoke signals are still part of what the 800,000 residents call their unique life style.

People say good morning to strangers but anyone who trespasses on another's land stands as much chance of being shot as getting the time of day.

It is vast. Empty. Remote. Ranches can cover more than one million acres. But this is as much of a state of mind as place.

A land where men are as big as mountains and pioneer women equal to their ideas. And all of them are content with their creature comforts. For the cowboys, ranch hands and loggers these include magazines which have pictures of naked ladies in provocative
poses.

We're talking about girlie magazines. Not blatant pornography, but more the suggestive men's publications which are available on most high streets.

Ms Glenn Close, 46, a five-time Oscar nominee moved here two years ago and has a well-kept property on Sypes Canyon Road. She's also the partner with her sister Jessie in the Leaf And Bean Coffee House on Bozeman's Main Street.

And, more importantly to Marlboro Man here, owner of the Poor Richard's newspaper, magazine and tobacco shop next door.

You see, the politically correct Close, who told me how happy she was with her bulging breasts in Dangerous Liaisons (just before filming she had given birth to her daughter Annie who's now five years old), has banned the men's magazines from her premises.
This has dismayed the locals. Close, as the manipulative Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons, was popular here in the movie which was shown at the Rialto Cinema across the street from the Leaf And Bean.

And if you recall Close's erotic encounters with Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction and the barine of her breasts in The Big Chill you will understand how emotive the issue is. We have a storm in a coffee shop. The residents are squaring up like in a scene from the OK Corral.

"More people have died from cigarettes than masturbation," said Billy, the owner of Miss Kitty's Adult Shop, which is a moment's walk from the Leaf And Bean. He added with a grin: "Which is just as well if you think about it."

Billy, who claims the credit for inventing the inflatable sheep sex toy ($15), is amiable enough about Close's actions: "I think it was pretty brave of her, for it represents 25 per cent of her place's business."
Yesterday, at the Leaf And Bean the customers sipped their non-fat milk cappuccinos and read the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. On the police round-up column they can read about two men having sex in public on Wilson Street, just around the corner.
"Is it the espresso coffee that's getting them excited?" asked Amy Brewster, 30, who manages the next door Cannery restaurant.

AS SHE  answers  her question, she tells the real story of Bozeman and the Big I Sky state of Montana.

These people come here with so much money and their noses in the air and they want  to  change everything. They want us to be correct, but we're not correct. We're us.
"I was born and raised here and this is Montana — not California. Since Glenn Close moved here she's tried to change things. She's moved barns to create a bird reserve, but now people are looking at buildings when before it was just wide open space.
"Here we do things our way. We don't need outsiders coming here and telling us what's right and wrong.
"Now Michael (Batman) Keaton has a place here but he's quiet. Then you have Glenn Close and it's a big stage presentation. We like it small here, but now I have to line up to buy grain for my horse.

That's why we have that bumper sticker."
The sticker reads: "Don't Californicate Montana."
Glenn Close isn't in town at the moment, but local reporter Dan Burkhart was kind enough to give me his notes from a recent interview with her.
She told him that she resented the critics who felt that, as a newcomer, she was too outspoken and too adamant with her views.
She said: "I'm here because my brother Sandie and sister Jessie live here. Jessie has been here 10 years. Mv parents live in Wyoming, so they've been here in the area quite a while. I'm not a Johnny Come Lately capitalising on some star scheme to make Montana the next jet-set place to live."

But it seems they may be trying to close the stable gate too late as the rich and famous rush to buy homes in the state.

Celebrities — anybody with money really — can't get enough of the Big Sky state. Mel Gibson, Whoopi Goldberg and Jeff Bridges all have lavish spreads in the area. Dennis Quaid, who is about to play Doc Holiday to Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp, and his wife Meg Ryan live an hour's drive away.

Montana's attraction is that it's so behind the times. Becky Fonda, wife of Peter Fonda, said: "In Aspen in Colorado there are 100 restaurants, but we have about three and they're miles apart. There's no social scene, no designer boutiques."

NEVERTHELESS, in Montana they do get excited   when   big names come into the state. When Robert Redford   was   here making A River Runs Through It he went to a restaurant in Bozeman.  He  took  along a bodyguard. Everyone asked for his autograph, but otherwise  didn't  bother  him.  He ordered a Caesar salad and sent his bodyguard home. That made him a big hit.

But Jane Fonda and her media moeul husband, Ted Turner, are not so popular. They own the 127,000-acre Flying D Ranch near Bozeman, where a man-made lake takes up 14 acres. The ranch is dominated by a rambling homestead, which has a work-out room for Jane.

Politically correct Ted sold off the 11,000 head of cattle he bought with the property and stocked his land with more than 2,000 buffalo. The other week Jane Fonda and her spouse spoke in Wisconsin on the lower calorie, better diet benefits of eating buffalo meat to beef.

Their attitude and actions have upset their neighbours. Cattle men fear that the buffalo may spread diseases to their livestock. And, not too surprisingly here, Fonda's actions over Vietnam, her Hanoi Jane period, still upset many in this macho land.

Meanwhile, at  Stacey's Old Faithful Bar, ranch hand Ray Divan thumbed through a copy of Good Housekeeping and declared: "It's fine but it's not so much fun."I had bought the magazine and several others at Close's shop earlier in the day. I also bought a copy of Soldier Of Fortune, a publication which included advertisements for mercenaries — hardly politically correct.

But the 36-24-36 question of whether or not girlie magazines should be on sale in Bozeman is now established as something political in Montana, which is America's fourth largest state. It is to do with the notion of Old West liberty — of the freedom of choice. Of the open range. And the open mind.
"It doesn't matter to me what someone else is doing," said chef Mary Chappell. "It is their lives.
"This woman comes here and tries to dictate to us. And she's shown her breasts in films. If it makes money for her that's OK, but not for anybody else. Forget it. She should just have buffalo dinners with Jane Fonda. They could have dinner topless."
CLOSE has been busy rehearsing for her role as Norma Desmond in the American version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's   Sunset   Boulevard. She has also spent much of the year filming The House Of Spirits, with Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep in Europe, as well as completing The Paper with her Montana neighbour Michael   Keaton.   And  there was a narrating job for a Disney television special.

But, between jobs, she spends as much time as she can in the unspoilt open country of Montana.

In her interview with Burk-hart, Close said that she believes in land conservation, but admitted: "I don't want to talk about it because I haven't read up on it this year.
"I'm tired of the lemming rush of actors to Washington pretending to be experts on everything."
Could be that's how the good folk of Montana feel.

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