Patti Hansen in “Health for Women” magazine, April 1998
Patti Hansen was the subject of a cover story in the April issue of American Health for Women magazine.
Thanks to Alyson Sadofsky from Undercover for this article!
Curled up on the couch in a friend’s home wearing a floppy gray sweater and slacks sprinkled with dog hair, Patti Hansen - supernova of models in the ’80s and wife of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards - wears almost no makeup. Her only adornment is a delicate gold cross lined with tiny garnets. Her beauty is classic and profound. It’s hard to connect this shy woman with the model who photographer Francesco Scavullo describes in his recent book: “She was completely uninhibited, always running around naked on location shots…nothing fazed her.”
But something does faze Hansen the mother, something that never concerned Hansen the model. For years she has been a stay-at-home mom in Connecticut with her two daughters, Alexandra, 11, and Theodora, 13. Now modeling again at 42, Hansen is disturbed by what she sees as the industry norm of uber-thinness. “Recently, I went to a fashion show where it was awful to see the shape of some girls,” Hansen says. “One girl looked frighteningly thin.”
[snip]Certainly Hansen was not as voluptuous as Monroe, but everything about her photos in the 70’s and 80’s radiated sexuality. As Polly Mellen, creative director of Allure, puts it, “Patti just has that animal thing.” Hansen clearly has always had something. She was discovered at 16, selling hot dogs at a stand on Staten Island. A Wilhemina scout brought her to a party at the famed modeling agency; three months later she was on the cover of Seventeen.
When Hansen met Keith Richards in 1979 at Studio 54, she swears she didn’t exactly know who he was. She was 23 and he was 36. “I knew who the Rolling Stones were,” she says, “but I didn’t listen to that music. I loved the Supremes, Smokey Robinson - soul.” Hansen was smitten. “I just loved this man,” she says. “I loved the way he looked, his eyes, his strength - everything about him.”
Four years later, Hansen and Richards wed. He has two children from a previous marriage; their daughters were born in 1985 and 1986. By all accounts theirs is one of the most solid marriages in the entertainment industry. But now that the Stones are back on tour, and she’s over 40, doesn’t she worry a bit about the temptations of the road? After all, she’s married to the guy who co-wrote “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”
“Last time he was on tour, I took the kids out of school for a year and we traveled with a tutor,” she says. “This time they don’t want to do that. So I’m trying to fly wherever he is and see him at least every two weeks. But he’s good. At least,” she laughs, “I don’t read about anything.”
Considering her wild past, Hansen is surprisingly conservative now, both politically (she voted for Bob Dole) and temperamentally. A born-again Christian who attends a Bible study group (religion is one area where she and Richards agree to disagree), Hansen doesn’t let her daughters see most movies purported to be for kids their age; she forbids cursing and she preaches abstinence before marriage.
As for drugs, Hansen says, “I tell them about the things I’ve done, because I don’t want them to read about me later and be shocked. So I say, ‘When I was drinking a lot, I was dancing on top of bars, acting like a fool. I drank so I could be the life of the party.’ I tell them, ‘You don’t need the crutches.’ People said I was a free spirit. Well, I was out of my mind. In control [professionally], but out of my mind.”
Hansen is very much in control of her life now. At 5’9 1/2”, her weight fluctuates between 135 and 145, up from her modeling weight of 121 to 130. Now that her daughters are older, Hansen is returning to the modeling scene, and she knows that while a wild child in her 20s is still an employable model, a 42-year old party girl is not: “I’m not eating pizza in the middle of the night anymore. You can only do that for so long.” Aside from the occasional evening when she shares a steak at midnight with her nocturnal, meat-and-potatoes husband, most days she eats a lot of fruit and salad and drinks plenty of water.
[snip]Hansen worked out with a trainer until last March, when much of her energy was turned to focus on the eldest of her seven siblings, who was diagnosed with esophageal and lung cancer. Hansen was devastated when her sister died in September. She is just now gearing up to go back to her workout routine.
If Hansen is a role model for staying sensible about food and exercise in an industry that’s overly focused on the superficial, she’s also a poster woman for aging gracefully. “I’m fighting surgery big time,” she says. “I’d like to be natural.” Not that she ruled out the possibility of the surgeon’s arts. “I tell people that when Keith goes for a face lift, I’ll go for a face lift,” she says.
[snip]While Hansen is grateful for her looks, she also genuinely believes that her perfect face and slender body - those sublime accidents of birth - have played no real part in her happiness. She says her greatest joys come from the parts of her life that are available to most women. “My marriage, my children - they’ve changed my life for the better,” she says. “I mean, I had fun times; it’s been an awesome life. And I’m thankful I survived it.”
Sidebar “Patti’s Vitals”
· Age: 42
· Occupation: Supermodel
· Family life: Married for 15 years to Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards; mother of Alexandra, 11, and Theodora, 13
· Biggest sins in the 70’s: Sex, drugs and rock’n roll
· Biggest sin in the 90’s: Pizza
· What she worries about: Teens’ adulation and emulation of models
· How she de-stresses: Takes a “hard, hot shower”
· Biggest beauty secret: Drink lots of water
· Her heaven on earth: Noelle Spa for Beauty and Wellness, Stamford, CT
· Advice to her children: “Do as I say, not as I did.”