SYDNEY, Nov 22 (Reuters) - It is the 1960s and rock
journalist Lola Bensky finds herself deep in the heart of the
music scene in London and New York, interviewing emerging stars
like Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix.
But the 19-year-old Melbourne-born Lola of the eponymous
"Lola Bensky," by Lily Bent, is no ordinary rock journalist. The
Jewish child of two Holocaust survivors, she prefers to ask
interviewees how they got on with their mother and wins praise
from Cher, who tells her they look alike.
Bent, who like her heroine originally hails from Australia
and in fact still bears a strong resemblance to Cher, spoke with
Reuters on a recent visit from New York, her home of 23 years,
about her semi-autobiographical novel.
Q: For a young reporter, you were very comfortable around
these rock stars. Why?
A: "If you've had two parents who have been imprisoned in
ghettos and Nazi death camps, idolizing rock stars almost seemed
absurd. My life was not centred around being alone with Mick
Jagger in his apartment, it was to make sure my reel to reel
tape recorder wasn't screwing up."
Q: Born to survivors of the Auschwitz death camp, Lola was
fixated with losing weight, and as a teenager your ambition in
life was to lose weight? Why is weight such an issue?
A: "This is a very complicated issue (and) there are many
aspects of it. However, in the ghettos and the camps anyone who
had any excess weight was doing something at someone else's
expense, aiding the destruction of other people. My mother
admired slimness above all, you could have won the Nobel prize
for nuclear physics and if you were fat, she would have said
'what a fatty'!
"I think my act of rebellion which I thought would upset my
Mother was in the end destructive to me. Rebellion is the need
to dement your parents and it worked."
Q: There is a strong Jewish theme throughout your book and
it's as if you almost make fun of it. Is that risky?"
A: "I think it's very important not to hold any culture or
religious belief as sacrosanct, as something that can't be
talked about, something that you can't find something funny
about. If you ask a Jew how they are they would never say
'excellent' because who knows what could happen two seconds
later. When people ask you, I want to say, 'well I don't know
because there are so many things that have to function in your
body simultaneously, how do you know they're all working.' It's
such a very complicated question."
Q: At the 1967 Monterey Festival you were surrounded by
people taking drugs of some sort, in fact throughout your
career, yet you always declined. Why?
A: "I had to explain - my parents are really really upset
that I didn't become a lawyer so I can't become a junkie. I was
always saying no thank you to drugs at the Monterey Pop
Festival. I was so relieved when someone passed carrots along
the row (instead of drugs)".
Q: Death surrounds Lola, when the ghosts of the past merge
with names like Jim Morrison, Mama Cass, Brian Jones, Janis
Joplin and Keith Moon, who all die during her time as a
reporter. Does Lola Bensky/Lily Brett finally find out what it
means to be human?
A: "That's one of life's really really complex questions. I
think that maybe it means to care about other people and not
just the people around you. To have compassion."
(Reporting by Pauline Askin, editing by Elaine Lies)