How did you have time to write each other 2-3 times a day? Back then did you feel that getting to know him might make you famous?
Answer: At our first meeting, there was an intuitive understanding and a deep respect. Henry confessed that he and his son, Tony, were great fans of mine after viewing the “Eiger Sanction,” and that he was just as excited to meet me as I was to meet with him. We did not need anything from one another, but we had the desire to create something together through unconditional love!
Henry became the most important person in the world for me. I knew he could die at any moment and I treasured the opportunity to make him happy. To share the end of his life with me was intimate and an honor. As soon as I received a letter, I would eagerly write back.
Oftentimes, I would write during breaks while on location making a film, rehearsing a play, or teaching ballet. A few times, I wrote a note while standing in line at the grocery store. Writing to Henry was not an interruption in my life – it was the best part of every day that soon became the foundation of my writing career.
You lit Henry Miller’s last years with happiness and love. You even said that as long as he could fantasize, he could shrug off the aches and pains. Is that true for all older men and women?
Answer: Fantasies keep the passion burning in your heart and soul. We must have our fantasies to live a full and fabulous life, even to our last breath. Oftentimes, fantasies can keep one alive.
Henry Miller had the mind of a twenty- year-old, but his body would not follow. It is true that the physical body can fail you, while the mind remains laser sharp. The body can be immobile, while the mind is brilliant, resilient and beautiful.
In one of the letters, Henry Miller’s advice was “don’t give yourself too recklessly. Wait till their tongues hang out.” Did you follow this advice in your life?
Answer: As a young girl, my mother had taught me to refrain, to remain mysterious, to be patient and wait for what I wanted. I’m not certain I do it well, but it is inbred and a natural characteristic. I was following Henry’s advice long before I met him. Also, being a Scorpio, mystery is inherent. When I feel the moment is right, then I go for it!
What do you want from a man and how do you get it?
Answer: Honesty, trust, respect and a sense of humor. I love a man with a great sense of humor — one who can make me laugh, uncontrollably, is the best. When I fall in love with a man, I desire his unconditional love and I do my best to give it to him. That’s REAL LOVE!
How many sex partners have you had? Does number matter? Does age matter?
Answer: Amazingly, not many. Sex is very important to me and I do not give myself freely to anyone whom I do not completely and passionately love. I do not separate love and sex: to me they are synonymous. When I fall in love, I want to devour every part of my man’s anatomy and I want to treasure him and stay in that relationship for many, many years.
The number of sex partners? That, indeed, does matter! When you have sex with anyone, you have sex with everyone with whom they have been in contact, sexually. It’s best to be extremely careful!
Age? It does not matter!
How do you keep your body so fit and your face so young? What is your secret?
Answer: BEING IN LOVE IS MY SECRET! And I work out two hours every day, plus a ballet barre and a long run up a mountain that’s close to my home. It’s invigorating. It makes everything better.
You always said that a good lover shouldn’t be too serious. What kind of men have you met in your life? Were they mostly fun and witty or a bit overly serious?
Answer: As I said earlier, humor gets me through the day. Every man with whom I have been in love has always had a great sense of humor. I cannot imagine a relationship without humor. It would be so boring and dull. No matter how accomplished my man, he cannot take himself too seriously.
Did you always love literature? Henry Miller liked talking about books with you, especially passionate ones such as Tristan and Isolde.
Answer: … Heloise and Abelard, Romeo and Juliet, Zelda and Fitzgerald and on and on…
Yes, I was an English major in college and I have always loved literature. It’s heavenly to turn the pages of a fine book. Henry gave me many first editions that he ordered from Europe and every few months, I take them out and re-read a book or two, and it feels exquisite to hold them in my hands.
Henry was a romantic, a sensualist and most of all, a renaissance man. He observed everything and everybody. He never missed a detail or a nuance. He cherished and relished every moment. He respected the average man as though he was the most important person in the world. He listened to them and brought them to life in all his books.
What are other passionate novels inspired you and led you through life?
Answer: That would take a page in itself! However my have-to-read lists starts with the Nobel Prize winning Knut Hamsun from Norway. Many thought him arguably superior to Dostoevsky.
You believe that one of the formulas for success is to learn from the best. Who were your teachers?
Answer: My mom and my dad who formed my character as did the great teachers who gifted me with their dreams and experiences — Clint Eastwood taught me about filmmaking, Ken Marcus, about photography, Yuri Smaltzoff shaped my ballet career, and Henry Miller taught me about life!
When I met Henry, I was prepared to let him change the direction of my life. I was acting, loving the attention and drama, but Henry wanted me to be more fully expressed as a writer. It was through this incredible journey that I became a best-selling author.
You are a very brave woman, not afraid of your body or your thoughts. However, have there been moments when you felt you made a mistake and felt foolish?
Answer: Everyone will feel foolish at one time or another. We can only grow from experience, and part of growing is taking a fall. Teddy Roosevelt’s quote comes to mind: “… CREDIT BELONGS TO THE MAN WHO IS ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA, WHOSE FACE IS MARRED BY DUST AND SWEAT AND BLOOD… there is not effort without error and shortcomings… if he fails, at least he fails while daring, greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Did you always get everything you wanted?
Answer: To some people, it may appear that way. But everything comes at a price. It depends on how badly I want something and what price I’m willing to pay. However, I am persistent… I know what I want and I go after it.
Is there a man in your life right now?
Answer: Yes! He is funny, wonderful and surprises me every day. I do the same for him.
Have you ever married or had children? Why?
Answer: Marriage has never been a priority! I was engaged once to a man who died in a car accident. He was only 33 years old. It was just two weeks before we were to be married. Since then, I have come to realize that it’s the relationship, not marriage that really matters. I have loved very deeply. And I love very deeply, now.
Children? I have taught ballet to children all my life and love nurturing my students. My art became my child — an all-consuming, self-expression of my love for life.
How do you spend your days now?
Answer: Working on my projects. I recently finished producing and directing my film, “Love and Sex in LA.” that took four years to complete. I picked up the cover wrap last week and I was very proud to hold it in my hand. It was definitely a labor of love. My cast consists of seven Playboy Playmates, a Mr. Universe and a Miss Universe, plus a cameo by Kareem Abdul Jabbar, among many other inspiring people who happen to live in LA. It showed at the Venice Film Festival and now I’m selling it on my website: brendavenus.com
You told me your ballet master is from Latvia? Who is that and does that mean you still do ballet?
Answer: His name is Yuri Smaltzoff. He is my family in LA. And yes, I do ballet every day. It keeps my body fit and flexible, my mind disciplined, and my heart happy.
Have you ever been to Lithuania?
Answer: No, I have not, but I would love to visit. A few years ago, I had a ten-day-stay in Moscow as the guest of President Putin. I attended opening night of a play entitled VENUS about my relationship with Henry Miller and my life, in general. It was wonderful to watch the performers of the Bolshoi Ballet and to see Svetlana Khorkina perform so brilliantly.
What an amazing adventure… snowing in Moscow, staying in the presidential suite overlooking the Red Square. Definitely a time to remember! Perhaps my next visit will be in your wonderful and romantic country.