Sinead O'Connor on child abuse, suicide and Cobain


Today's snack: mixed nuts.

With a fourth album on the way, Sinead O'Connor is back in the media loop with torrid tales of her own private Troubles. Unable to censor herself, the fragile banshee of rock and roll twists up a joint and does the very bitter bard thing with England's sharp Q magazine.

"Child abuse is the source of all our problems," and "Ireland is like a child that's been battered," she says, regaling writer Phil Sutcliffe with details of her own bruised youth. Her mother, she says, would "make me take all my clothes off and force me to lie on the floor and she would stamp on my abdomen with the intention of bursting my womb. That's what she said, 'I'm going to burst you.' "

The big angle in the Q piece is Ms. O'Connor's attempted suicide of 1993. A year after tearing up the pope's picture on "Saturday Night Live" and bearing the loathing of the fickle American public, she broke down in a hotel room and swallowed sleeping pills and a bottle of vodka. Ultimately a cry for help, Ms. O'Connor's attempt opened her eyes: "When I woke up, I was glad that I was alive." The singer, 27, admits to feeling "relief" about Kurt Cobain's suicide, "as if he'd died on my behalf. . . . I can understand why he did it."

By the way, she's softening her anti-look. No longer bare and prickly, she's sporting an inch or two of soft brown fur.

Sheen sounds off

Movieline for September has a cover story on Charlie Sheen -- no big deal unless you enjoy watching a young star spew venom without the career fear that makes most Hollywood interviews so plastic. Like Howard Stern, or even Sinead O'Connor, Mr. Sheen seems unable to gloss over his truths.

In one quick article his victims include Julia Roberts, Marisa Tomei, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Keanu Reeves. About Mr. Reeves, he wonders how Francis Ford Coppola, "one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, [can] see Keanu Reeves' work and say 'That's what I want in my movie'?" Yes, and Bertolucci and Branagh as well.

Along with confessions about his business relationship with Heidi Fleiss, losing his virginity to a prostitute and his affair with porn star Ginger Lynn, Mr. Sheen admits to a small preference: "I'm a foot guy, you know. Terrible foot fetish. I'm not saying terrible as in 'bad,' I'm saying it's just tremendous." Thanks for sharing, Charlie.

Bernhard and role models

The September Out magazine has a mixed cover profile of fame terrorist Sandra Bernhard. While she has typically explosive comments, writer Kevin Sessums gets in her way a bit.

Too often, the article is more about Mr. Sessums, his questions and his Hollywood elbow-rubbing than it is about his fabulously loose-lipped subject. "Bernhard and I have circled each other for years in our homologous worlds of media and entertainment. We've often joked about how each is a kind of motif in the other's life, and now, for the very first time, the sweet ennui of nostalgia has nestled itself into one of our conversations." Thanks for sharing, Kevin.

Ms. Bernhard, for her part, militantly continues to resist sexual categorization, to the disapproval of some gay people. "If they need me as their role model," she says, "I'm there as their role model. But not because I'm going to placate and pander to the lowest common denominator of sexuality. I'm a role model because I'm a good person."

Seinfeld's no hipster

Esquire for September has an interview with Jerry Seinfeld, an overplayed subject who's given some goosing by profiler Bill Zehme. In pieces on such celebrities as Cindy Crawford, Mr. Zehme has repeatedly proved his ability to elevate an icon without sacrificing irony.

Expressing admiration for Mr. Seinfeld's hygiene ("If he is capable of sweat, I have seen no evidence of it"), Mr, Zehme also has a heated Batman-vs.-Superman discussion with the comedian -- a topic nearly as volcanic as the Samantha-vs.-Jeannie debate.

Also, Mr. Seinfeld, it turns out, has a modest streak: "I don't think I'm hip," he confides. "I'm like in the hip sidecar."

Faludi falls down

The New Yorker for Sept. 5 has a disappointing piece by Susan Faludi on The Citadel, a South Carolina military academy waging a court war to oust a female student. Ms. Faludi doesn't articulate why the all-male school is up in arms about a woman's presence, though she elaborates on the violent hazings and the alleged homosexual impulses of the cadets.

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