interviews

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I SMELL MEAT!
by Dave and Johnny Navarro
Bikini - #26 November 1997

In her new film Breaking Up, actress Salma Hayek is in love, but confused and searching for inner freedom--yet the emotional renaissance she encounters on the big-screen doesn't even compare to that of her moving, real-life experience in the steakhouse with Dave and Johnny Navarro.

There was a great deal of anticipation on our part in regards to this interview. Things went from fair to better during the preliminary arrangements. Originally the idea was that we were to meet Salma Hayek for "coffee" at a pre-determined meeting place. A coffee house... No, wait...a juice bar...A restaurant that we frequent in Beverly Hills... Then, the day before our appointment with Salma Hayek, her publicist Becca phoned.

Becca: Salma has decided she'd like to move the appointment.

Our immediate thoughts: What the hell is going on here? Are we being blown off? Is there any chance of our meeting being moved to a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont? That last thought was quickly dismissed when Dave discovered on the Internet that Salma is happily (or is it haply--who can say?) involved with an English actor, Edward Atterton.

Becca: Salma has decided she'd like to have dinner with the two of you.

Dave & Johnny: (thinking to themselves) Yes!!!

Becca: And, she'd like to have steak. She wants to meet for dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Beverly Hills.

Tremendous. Johnny is quite the meat-eater and Dave has recently elected to allow meat to enter into his intense eating regimen. (If we went into all the details about Dave's eating regimen we'd need an extra 1,000 words and several elaborate charts.)

We arrived early, as did Salma's publicist. (Okay, so we're being chaperoned. That's all right.) Salma was a few minutes late. Okay, she was more than a few minutes late. Okay, she was like 20 minutes late. Hey, she's a movie star, remember? She has more important things to do than to share a T-bone with the likes of Dave and Johnny Navarro. We wondered if she'd ever read our movie column. We wondered if she was familiar with Dave's music. We wondered who was going to pick-up the check...

Salma: (arriving) I smell meat!

Dave: That's it! You just named the article. "I Smell Meat!" We couldn't have asked for a better title.

We were immediately impressed with Salma. The first thing we thought was that she's much smaller than we'd imagined. You know, on screen she's like 20 feet tall. She's incredibly petite. But, she packs so much impact and charisma into that tiny little frame that if she were any taller she'd be completely intimidating and overpowering. Salma Hayek is an enormously impressive person. It is really no wonder that she is so successful, because if she brings any of the dynamism that she displayed for us to any of her meetings with studio people, they'd basically be handing her the papers to the studio by the end of the meeting. She's intelligent, articulate, gorgeous, sexy, and funny. A lethal combination. Not to mention the fact that she's Latin. Which brings up so many visceral responses on our part, because, you see we are Mexican-American.

Salma: Eating a little bit of meat every once in a while is a good thing.

Dave: I need the extra iron. John, what do you recommend?

Johnny: Well, I think we should start with a little ahi tuna and then...I've got to tell you something, if we don't do beef, I think the lamb chops are the move.

Becca: The lamb chops!

Johnny: They're like...little lambs...dead.

(Blank stares all around.)

Johnny: Hey, it's the cycle of life.

Dave: Frankly, they were asking for it. I'm thinking of fresh lobster myself...

Johnny: Really?

At this point, as Dave ponders the lobster, it's important to explain that Dave has this "phenomenon," we'll call it, in that odd, interesting "occurrences" follow him around. Call it luck. Call it fate. Call it what you will. If Dave was walking down a crowded street with 10 of his friends, the crazy/homeless guy would come up to him asking for money. It's that kind of phenomenon....

Johnny: So what is this "Chupacabra" thing?

Salma: (laughing) I don't know, but I love the name. It's one of those odd stories, you know, like a fable.

Johnny: It's like a half man, half goat, right?

Dave: It's like a legend?

Salma: It's a new legend. But the name is the really funny thing. It's like, (makes a sucking sound.) SHHHHHHSLLLL....

Dave: (laughing) What's the literal translation?

Johnny: Goat sucker!

Dave: Really? That's a great band name....

Johnny: We are "Chupacabra." We'll rock you like a hurricane!

Salma: (to Dave) ¿Hablas español?

Dave: (points to Johnny) He does... I grew up in Bel Air with a blonde, blue-eyed, Anglo-Saxon mother. Not a lot of Spanish goin' on there. I can basically get by in Mexican restaurants.

Salma orders the New York steak with broiled tomatoes and a side of spinach. (from "Taxi Driver") "She could've ordered anything she wanted." Johnny goes for the lamb chops, about which Salma has a comment:

Salma: Be careful, because I'll be the Chupacabra. When you're not looking I'll suck up all of your lamb.

Dave: (to the waitress) I'll have the lobster.

Salma: (to Dave) So you two are brothers?

Dave: We're cousins.

Note: the fact that we are cousins somehow makes us that much more "Latino." You know how Latinos are always hanging out with their "cousins"?

One cute thing about Salma: If you took away her hands, it would intensely hinder her ability to communicate. She has this adorable quality in that she uses her hands to illustrate her comments. It's like one of those famous Caravaggio paintings where the woman is pointing to the heavens and her eyes are looking up and to the left.

Now the waitress comes to our table carrying a tray with a live lobster on it. There's an awkward moment as she stands off to Dave's right with this tray. Unbeknownst to Dave--and to Salma and Johnny's horror--the lobster is actually fingering Dave's shirt from off the tray with its little lobster "fingers." Salma's eyes get as large as saucers and Johnny is choking back laughter. Dave is wondering what the hell is going on--in that "What, do I have spinach caught between my teeth!?" way. All at once he turns to his right and is face-to-face with his impending meal, which is now completely writhing on the platter, basically clutching Dave and begging him: "Please don't eat me!"

Dave: (stunned) Jesus! Oh my God! (beat)

Salma: (to Dave) You want to kiss her good-bye? You want to kiss her before they kill her?

Lobster: (staring woefully at Dave)

Dave: (to waitress) I didn't know you were going to bring it here...alive. You know, you should really tell people that you're going to do that. Let someone else kill it. I can't eat it. Can I see a menu, please?

Salma: You know, they do that in fancy restaurants. They make her do it, because a lot of people want to see that they're really fresh....

Dave: The worst thing was, that that guy over there (points to some big, meat-eating, urban-professional, sports fan) was, like, eyeing my lobster, basically saying, "Hey, that's a good-lookin' lobster!" and trying to bond with me. I just can't allow myself to relate with that guy on any level. That alone is enough reason to send it back!

Salma: (laughing) So, is this the first interview that you guys do?

Dave: Is it that obvious?

Salma: No. I just thought I was so lucky to be your first.

Dave & Johnny: (thinking to themselves) It's really just that obvious....

Salma: (to Dave) You have a devilish face. You have sweet eyes. But, a little bit... devilish.... You know, with the goatee and...the tail...and the two horns. I can see it.

Dave: No. I'm not a devil. I sent the lobster back, didn't I?

Johnny: (hands her an issue of "Bikini") I brought the magazine if you'd like to see what we do. We do their movie column.

Salma is scanning our "Movies & Crap," which, if you've ever read it, you know that it's just a piss-take on movies, and actors, and music, and us. But she takes it somewhat literally....

Johnny: (to Salma, who's reading) We kind of go after Andy Garcia in that article.

Salma: Really? Why?

Johnny: He's not a good actor, Salma.

And then, suddenly, Dave & Johnny begin rambling...they're treading water but sinking fast....

Dave & Johnny: Oh, you know...Trek Mountain bikes...Silverchair...they got thrown in jail!...like...Rene Russo...Mel Gibson...Dave...David Letterman show....Finally Salma breaks in with the verdict on our "writing."

Salma: This makes me think, are you really, like, um, how shall I say, criticizing the films that you say here?

All at once, it has dawned on us. We are sitting face-to-face with a potential victim of one our "reviews." It's kind of horrific. We never thought this would happen. I mean, we were just having some fun. These aren't "people," they're actors. We're thinking about the lobster....

Johnny: (furiously back-peddling) Usually, we try to put at least one review in that....Well...I mean...it's not to be taken... too seriously....

Dave: (saving the day) Our readers know that's it's not serious. That it's all in fun.

Salma: Okay. 'Cause I was going to say....

Dave: I mean...you've got to understand...I've been personally torn apart in print before. Not just my music. I mean me personally. In fact, just recently a magazine lashed into me...and...

Salma: So you take it on us! What the critics do to you...you take it out on us actors? You do!

(silence--awkward instant)

Salma: I'm kidding! You know, you're not so devilish anymore. Your face changed. Now you're just a little boy!

Dave: (thinking to himself) She could be my mommy any day of the week and twice on Sundays. And I don't mean that in any sexual kind of way. It's been a long time since I've had a mommy in my life....

We begin to discuss movies and music and film and Salma is upset at herself that she doesn't know more about "things." She's too busy "doing."

Salma: I get mad at myself, because I should know. And I am supposed to know. I mean, sometimes I work with people that I should know...what they did...who they are.... They are my colleagues. And I should know...my colleagues' work.

Dave: Why should you know?

Salma: They are colleagues. I should appreciate my colleagues' work. You don't understand the embarrassment, that has happened to me.

Dave: I understand. But you know, when I run into a musical colleague, and I have no idea who he is, I just feel really good about it.

Salma: Really? Why? But, what if they know who you are?

Dave: The thing is that, like, I'm focused on my work....

Salma: Me too....

Dave: And, I don't really have time for the periphery....

Salma: You know, I feel selfish, though....

Dave: You should be....

Salma: I feel like I'm depriving myself from feeding myself as an actress...through someone else's expression....

Dave: Maybe you should be feeding yourself from real life....

Salma: I do too...I do that too....

Dave: Any creative art form, is a selfish art form. It has to be.

Salma: It's true....

Dave: It's completely self-centered and self-involved. And, when I don't know who someone is, I feel like I'm doing something right.

Salma: You're right. You're right..but then..then again....

Salma refuses to let go. She won't ease up on herself....

Salma: You've very right.... But, then on the other hand again...America is so influenced by television, that you should take the time to know the source. And it's interesting to know what is it that they're hearing....

Dave: Sometimes it's important just to know what not to do.

Salma: Exactly. Then, on the other hand, maybe it's good to detach yourself. Because it is a more pure way to come up with more original ideas.

Dave: Music and television are so all over the place that even if you don't listen or watch them, you can't help but be influenced by them in some way. I have to admit that I'm in touch with my egotistical side and I'm also incredibly insecure.

Salma: Most artistic people are.

Dave: I guess that, on top of everything else we said, it kind of feeds the ego a little bit when they know who you are, but you don't know who they are.

We proceed to discuss the meaning of Dave's tattoos, numerology, lucky numbers (Dave & Johnny's is 13, Salma's is 2), astrology, signs (Dave's a Gemini and Johnny's an Aquarius and so is Salma's boyfriend). And this brings us to relationships.

Salma: I have to get some meat in me before we go into this....

Dave: Have you visited some of the web sites that are in your honor?

Salma: No.

Dave: Well, I knew we were going to do this so I visited some of your web sites, you know, to find out more about you....

Salma: What do they say?

Dave doesn't have the heart to tell her that, for the most part, they are chock full of sexy photos. Half-nude video stills lifted from Desperado, etc.

Dave: You know...where you came from, what you've done....

Salma: I wonder if they have the right information...if it's correct....

Dave: (thinking to himself) It's correct, all right. Anatomically correct.

We move on to movies. What we like. What we don't like. Salma is a big fan of A Little Princess. What the public likes. What they expect. What's happening in the motion picture industry with the big event films. And how, basically, Salma is being asked to compete with a dinosaur. And that "little movies" are still our favorites. Her influences:

Salma: You know what was one of my favorite movies? And I keep calling it, "one of the films that changed my life": Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. Another film that I really love: The Champ. It sort of keeps the child in you alive. Those movies keep dreams and fantasies alive.

Johnny: I have a problem with a lot of the actors out there today. Like, Andy Garcia.

Salma: (defending Andy) Oh, why don't you like Andy?

Johnny: "Big Hair Actor." You know what I mean? Every shot is all about his hair. And then there's the breathing actors. Like, William Hurt. Big breathing actor. Every scene he's like, (imitating William Hurt in The Big Chill) "You know?" LONG BREATH. They named that movie The Big Chill because they were referring to the "big chill" he was giving all of his co-stars as he was breathing down their necks. And then there's the great school of forehead actors--who give you this:

Johnny demonstrates the fine art of forehead acting by furrowing his brow to show "intensity."

Salma: There's someone who does that.... Who does that?

Dave: Slater does that.

Johnny: Slater does that a lot. (to Salma) Who bothers you? We won't print it.

We fence with Salma for a while to dig some dirt out of her and finally the tape recorder is shut off and we spend about eight minutes talking about whose acting skills bother Salma. And, guess what? We're not printing it.

When the tape was shut off, we found ourselves getting a lot closer to Salma. We discussed some "real life" issues and some of our individual problems and fears, and movie ideas that we'd love to see get made. What was to be a brief encounter turned into a full-course meal. And, yes, we all had dessert. At one point we both felt a little bit in love with Salma--each of us at our own independent moment, and then, together, again, at the same time.

She has this quality. She has this magical way of making you fall in love with her. She's an incredible person and any attempt by us to try to portray that for you here would simply be a clumsy effort. She has the sisterly thing, she has the motherly thing. She's the kind of woman that you would want to take home to meet your parents, but you'd be in fear that your older, more handsome brother would try to put the moves on her.

Oh, another element of that "Dave Phenomenon" thing was when the waiter spilled an entire tray of drinks on him.

As "professionals," we should tell you that Salma is currently shooting a film in New York with Russell Crowe that's about relationships in the '90s. Fear of commitment, abandonment. It's called Breaking Up.

She's also been tapped to play artist Frida Kahlo in the story of her life. For this much sought-after part, she beat out Madonna and Laura San Giacomo. This film will, no doubt, put her over-the-top in terms of exposure. She's so excited about it. She's doing the research. We wondered if she is going to do the "one brow" thing in make-up, but were too afraid to ask.

Salma left a booming acting career in Mexico to come to the U.S. and start at the bottom. And after a couple of short years she's really taken off. She's influenced filmmakers like Allison Anders to create roles for her and it's little wonder.

If it sounds like we're just gushing over Salma Hayek, that's because we are. She asked to "keep in touch" and we hope we will. Basically, she touched us and we're only too happy to return the favor....