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Celebrity Interviews
in February 2010
A South Florida award-winning Independent Filmmaker, Photographer and Artist, Christopher De Stefano turn writer has written several screenplays and is finishing up his first novel, “What’s In Box 13?” which soon will be hitting the literary world. In the meantime, Christopher has been writing some Celebrity Interview articles for Models & Designers for our now on-line magazine readers. Hope you enjoy the interesting topics and subject matter.
Victor M. Vega
CEO & Founder

Belinda Jo Carlisle was born in 1958 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.  Ms. Carlisle is a Grammy Award© nominated American singer who is the lead vocalist and a founding member of the groundbreaking All female band, The Go-Gos. Belinda became a successful solo artist in 1987 with her solo album release of Heaven on Earth. She has released four studio albums (and eleven singles) with the Go-Go’s and seven studio albums (and thirty-one singles) as a solo artist which includes her 2007 released of her seventh album, Voilà in French. Belinda performing the role of Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray: The Musical with Phill Jupitus as Edna Turnblad at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London from 2009-2010. Belinda is also the new spokesperson for NutriSystem®. In May 2010, Belinda released her autobiography, Lips Unsealed: A Memoir.

In 1986, Belinda married Alexander Morgan Mason who was born in 1955. Morgan has been a Politician (former Chief of Protocol of the United States, former Deputy Chief of Protocol and former Special Assistant to the President, Ronald Reagan of the United States of America), film producer and actor. Morgan is also the son of the late Academy Awards-nominee© British actor, James Mason of Alfred Hitchcock’s timeless classic, North By NorthWest. Morgan made appearances in films as a child actor with two-times Academy Awards-winner© Elizabeth Taylor and Academy Awards-nominee© Sir Richard Burton, CBE.  He also appeared in his wife’s videos, “Mad About You” and “Heaven Is A Place On Earth.”  They have one child together, a son, James Duke Mason, born in 1992.

Today we have two special guests, Belinda Carlisle-Mason and James Duke Mason with us today. Good Morning to you both and welcome. First of all, I want to take this time out to say thank you for doing this interview for the launching edition of Models & Designers magazine and my first Celebrity Interview. Ms. Carlisle let’s start off this interview with your first.

What could you tell our new inquisitive readers about yourself that has not been said or mentioned by you before?

BC: One of the things people may not know is that I’m actually planning on starting a donkey sanctuary in India - my favorite place in the world. I also have an online shop starting later on this year that will feature exotic accessories from around the world, including clothing and jewelry. It’s an exciting time willed all sorts of new projects. Oh, and I forgot, I have a book coming out in May!

At present, you are living in London temporary due to the theatrical production of Hairspray. How long have your been living in London for? and how does it compare or differ from living in France?

BC: I just got back from London, having spent 4 months there, for the show. I’m there all the time though; it’s like my second home, and has been for the past 30 years. We live in the countryside in France, which is about as different from London as it gets. I like the contrast.

When was the last time you were in the United States, especially in Los Angeles?

BC: It’s been almost a year since I’ve been in Los Angeles!

Do you miss home?

BC: The only things I miss about LA are the Golden Bridge Yoga Center (in Hollywood), the Beverly Hot Springs in Koreatown, the pacific ocean, and of course my family and friends.

What about you James, do you miss your home in Los Angeles?

JDM: I really do - and I’m so excited to be moving back later this year, in July. Coming home is something I’ve dreamed of for years, and now there’s just a few months left to go, so it’s exhilarating.

So I understand you are in your last year in high school in France and you graduate this year. When did you start your education in France?

JDM: I’ve been going to the same international school for the last 10 years. It is in France, but it’s English-speaking, and all of my friends there speak English, so I honestly might as well be in America. It’s interesting though, because we have students from 33 different countries; I’ve had the chance to meet teenagers from all walks of life. It’s been a beneficial experience, but I’m ready to take the next step in my journey.

How have you been doing in school?

JDM: School’s been good! I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best student, but I do try to do well, and I was elected to serve as president of the Student Council this year, so it’s been cool. I’m definitely going to miss the friends I’ve made there when I leave.

How does it compare/differ to the education in America vs. the education in France?

JDM: I really don’t think it’s that different! Like I said, I go to an international school, not a French school, so it’s as if I’m going to school in the states. I’m actually in the midst of organizing our school prom that we’ll be having towards the end of the year, so we’re basically doing the same things that our peers in the states are doing.

Belinda, being who you are and James being your son … what benefits is there in raising James in France over raising him in Los Angeles? In regards to the areas of education, religion, political, cultural (values), family life (values), friendships, engagements/events and so forth?

BC: I think that the biggest benefit, to put it simply, that James has received from spending time and being educated in Europe, has been that he has a global view that many people don’t have the benefit of having.

James what are your views on this subject matter?

JDM: I love Los Angeles, and I personally would have liked to spend more time in the states during my childhood. Despite that, however, I understand why my parents made the decision they made to move; they wanted to try something new, and were making decisions based on what they thought was best for me and the family, and I can’t blame them for that. The past is history, and I’m moving forward and focusing on the wonderful future that I hopefully have ahead of me back in my hometown.

Do you believe your parents are making the best choices for you in these areas of your life?

JDM: Well like I said, I would have done it differently, but their experience is different than mine. They spent 40 years of their lives in the states, so they were looking for a new adventure; me, I’ve spent so much time abroad, so coming back to the states permanently is my equivalent of that.

What is your favor subject in school and why?

JDM: I love history! I guess it’s my favorite subject because of its strong link to politics, which along with acting is my main passion. I love learning about the past and how the actions of previous generations have had an impact on our world today; it’s inspiring, because it reminds you about how if you stand up and fight, you really can make a difference and leave a mark on this planet. That’s a message that I think all youth today need to hear, including gay youth.

After high school, what college/university will you be attending? What will you be majoring in?

JDM: I’ve got a variety of options in front of me, so I haven’t decided definitively where I’m going yet. I’ll decide by April or May. I’ll definitely be majoring in political science though, I’ve been certain about that for a while now.

I was recently in London this past November and I saw your performance, Belinda in Hairspray. This was my first time seeing this London Broadway show of Hairspray beyond the 1987 original motion picture production and the 2007 remake.

Belinda, how were you approached in playing the role of Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray: The Musical?

BC: I auditioned for the part on Broadway, which I got, but unfortunately the show closed due to the state of the economy, so I was asked to do it in London instead.

What made you decide to do the role?

BC: I think it’s an amazing show with amazing music, and the character is camp and hysterical. I have to say that a little bit of Velma lives in me - I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!

About the wardrobe for the role of Velma Von Tussle … How different in wearing those 1960s outfits to today modern fashions?

BC: Very, very uncomfortable! That’s all I have to say about that!

Belinda and James … what are your views on past, present and future fashion styles? And where do you see yourselves in the fashion world of today?

BC: I still don’t get 80’s fashion! It was hideous then and it’s hideous now. My favorite decade for fashion would have to be 1940’s and early 50’s. I used to be an avid follower of fashion but now it really is just about great cut and fabrics.
JDM: I have to disagree with my Mom on 80’s fashion! I’m a big 80’s fan. I love the old Miami Vice look, with the aviators and jackets with rolled up sleeves. It was dorky, but I think it was cool at the same time! As for my place in fashion, I’m becoming more knowledgeable about it as time goes by.  I used to be totally clueless, but I’m improving!

Do you think that fashion is important in your life?

BC: No. Maybe as far as shoes go!
JDM: Increasingly so, especially as I get out there more and more and want to be involved in public life. I’m learning about the different brands and designers, keeping up with what’s in and what’s out, and learning from my Mom a lot actually! She says she doesn’t care about all of it, but in truth she has a great natural style that I’ve tried to pick up on.

Who are your favor designers, if you have any? And why?

BC: My favorite is Dries Van Noten. It’s classic with a Bohemian edge. I love Rick Owens, and Ann DeMeulemeester as well. For shoes, Lanvin and Henry Beguelin.
JDM: Mine aren’t that sophisticated, but I’m a huge fan of the brands J. Crew, American Apparel, and Abercrombie & Fitch. I also love Ted Baker and Steven Alan.

What do you look are fashionable clothing when you shop? Is it style, design, comfort, simplicity of the material or something else?

BC: Comfort is important to me more than anything else. I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard. I don’t like that at all.
JDM: I care about style and design, but like my Mom, comfort is important to me as well. If I’m wearing something uncomfortable, it bothers me a lot, so that’s definitely a priority.

Would you like to have Miami’s newest fashion designers, Franovik Designs to create something interesting for you both to wear?

BC: Ya, why not? I’m up for it! I like their fashion sense.

JDM: For sure! They’ve created some beautiful designs.

What would you like to see them create in your customize designed clothes?

BC: I have to think about it!

JDM: Interesting question! I wonder what they think would look good on me!

Since Morgan Mason, father and husband worked in the political arena during the Reagan years … and living outside the United States, what are your political views of our present government on policies, appropriations, bills, stimulus, deficit and views of our 44th President?

BC: I love Obama! I think the current debate on healthcare is ridiculous, because free coverage for all Americans is something so common sense that you’d think it would be be easy to pass. I think our president is trying really hard, and I support him 100%.
JDM: I think the president is doing the best he can, although I’m really disappointed with the way things are going in Washington right now. If Obama can’t pass healthcare reform, then I don’t think anyone can, and for me, the fact that millions of Americans continue to live without health coverage is an absolute disgrace. I’m also discouraged by the lack of solid action on immigration and LGBT rights; I understand they are controversial topics, but they’re extremely important, and deserve real attention.

James, being an openly gay activist and actor, what do you think about our government is NOT doing to insure the “The Declaration of Independence,” “The Bill of Rights” and “The Constitution of the United States” to the American people?

JDM: I think it’s insane that we’re still debating whether or not to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or pass ENDA. Both proposals have huge support from the American public, but the politicians in power are still too cowardly to take them on. I think denying LGBT Americans the right to serve in the military, the right to fair employment, and the right to marry is absolutely unconstitutional, and I’m hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court, at least on the issue of marriage, will be affirming that in the near future.

What would you both like to see changed in Washington D.C. during this presidency (if possible) that will benefit the American people?

BC: Healthcare and gay marriage. Those are priorities for me, as well as a withdrawal from Iraq.
JDM: By the end of Obama’s presidency, I hope we’ll have a country where everyone is equal, where every American has equal access to healthcare, where immigrants are welcomed and encouraged instead of shunned and mistreated, and a country where most people have jobs. I know that sounds idealistic, but if young people are willing to speak out and be active in the political process, then those goals can certainly be achieved.

What was your first initial reaction to James when he told you his sexual preference was at the age of 14yrs?

BC: I was shocked at first, but I think that’s natural for any parent who finds out for the first time they their child is gay. I was totally cool with it though, considering that gay people have been a big part of my life and career for so many years. Most of my friends are gay or lesbian! And I have a large gay fan base, so I’ve always been grateful to them for that and have taken an interest in their issues.

What is your take on that James?

JDM: I think that’s absolutely true! It was an emotional experience for both of things and us when I came out, but that soon wore off went back to normal. There was a little bit of controversy online recently when a gossip website took my Mom’s words from another interview out of context and made it sound as if she had a problem with my sexuality, but the fact is that she’s been supportive from the beginning. She continues to be a strong supporter of mine to this day, and encourages my activism.

How did it all come about when you informed your parents? Why at the age of 14yrs and not 17yrs or 18yrs to tell them?

JDM: Well I’d never been raised with the idea that being gay was something to be ashamed of; so personal acceptance was never an issue for me. I would have come out even earlier if it weren’t for the fact that I was afraid about the impact it would have on my ambitions. I’ve wanted to be involved in public service for as long as I can remember, and I feared that if I were openly gay I would never succeed in U.S. politics. After a lot of reflection, however, and watching two amazing movies, “The Trip” and “Beautiful Thing,” both about loving gay relationships, I decided that living an honest and happy life was the most important priority for me, no matter what effect it had on anything else.

Belinda, being a parent of a gay child, how has James changed your life before and after he told you he was gay?

BC: Well he’s certainly helped educate me and keep me informed about issues like gay rights, but apart from that, we’re the same as we always were. We’re just as close, in fact we might even be closer than before. If anything, it’s had a positive impact on our relationship.

Before James told you he was gay, what were your views on gay people when you came into contact with them?

BC: Like I said, most of my friends are gay or lesbian, so it was never something that bothered me. It is different when it’s your own child, but my experiences with my friends did help quite a bit.

Did everything change dramatically for you and your husband after James told you he was gay?

BC: Not really. I mean, it took my husband a little more time to get used to it, but now things are absolutely fine! It’s not an issue at all anymore. It’s a part of our lives just like anything else, and both Morgan and I are 100% accepting

How is your relationship now with both of your parents since that day?

JDM: I think it’s improved! Certainly I feel more open with them now and feel like I can tell them anything. It was a huge relief when I came out; I used to be so afraid of them finding out the truth, but boy have things changed! I talk to both of them all the time about the latest gay issues in the news, and keep them in the know about my activism and various gay-related TV/film projects.

You think you’ll ever give your mother and father a grandchild(ren)?

JDM: I’d love to adopt kids one day! I love the idea of settling down with a nice guy, getting married, and starting a family. Things have changed, and now that’s a real possibility for the gay people of my generation.

I hear that you are going to be acting in a movie later on this year. What’s the name of the film and what is the film’s storyline?

JDM: The movie is called “You Can’t Have It All”, and it’s a romantic comedy. It’s really sweet. It’s about two middle-aged men, one deeply in the closet and one out and proud, who despite their overwhelming differences, fall in love with each other. My character is a 20-year-old gay guy named Zack Murray. It’s a really good funny role, and gives me the chance to really showcase my abilities, so I’m looking forward to it.

Also, I heard that there maybe some future prospects on a TV show synopsis that you have written? What’s going on with that?

JDM: There are a bunch of different projects I’m working on. Perry Moore, the executive producer of the Narnia trilogy, is developing a TV adaptation of his novel “Hero”, and I’m in consideration for the lead role in that. I’ve also written a few film treatments, including one for a remake of the groundbreaking 1961 film “Victim”, and a few high-profile directors and writers are looking that at right now, so it’s all going great.

Any other future prospects for you both in the works or soon will be?

BC: Aside from the book and website, I’m also working on some new musical material too. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with it, but maybe I’ll have a new album coming out soon!
JDM: Apart from the acting, I’d like to get involved in writing as well; I’ve already done articles for some magazines, and I like being able to express my opinion on issues that are of interest to me. We’ll see what happens; it’s all very interesting.

You are also the grandson of British actor, James Mason who played Phillip Vandamm in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest. I consider that film to be one of my favorite films. AFI’s 100 years of 100 movies ranks it at # 40 in 1997 and now ranks it at  #55 in 2007. Have you seen this film and what do you think your grandfather’s awesome performance in it?

JDM: I’ve seen it many times! My grandfather was definitely a terrific actor, and although I never had the chance to meet him as he passed away 8 years before I was born, I feel as though I know him very well through his films. He could do all sorts of roles, but was at his best when he played a villain. His role in “North By Northwest” is probably one of his most famous. It really is an iconic movie.

What other films of your grandfather have your seen and which one(s) are your favorite(s) and why?

JDM: I’ve seen many of his films, but out of all them I would say that “A Star Is Born” is probably close, if not at the very top. To this day my Dad finds it hard to watch it because of how powerful his performance is in it; the ending is so tragic, and it’s amazing how relevant it is to this day. He got nominated for an Oscar for his performance I think.

Do you want to aspirer to be like your grandfather and follow in his footstep in acting or be totally different and also maybe follow the political footsteps of your father or your mother musical career or all three?

JDM: Funnily enough, all three are of interest to me, except I don’t know how to sing, so that kind of takes music out of consideration! I’d love to be an actor who uses his films and influence to break barriers and change attitudes. Sidney Poitier is a big role model of mine; I love how he saw art and the media as a means to send a political and social message. Down the road, after that, I’d definitely love to run for office.

Now being the grandson of James Mason, and the son of Belinda Carlisle, do you think people expect from you, with your life in the film, political and/or music or something else?

JDM: One of the things that my parents instilled in me when I was a young kid was a real sense of freedom. They wanted me to do whatever it was I wanted to do in life, that they had no expectations and would allow me to tread my own path. I really appreciated that, and it just so happens that some of their interests and passions are of interest to me as well. I haven’t felt any pressure to be honest with you, except maybe in terms of my grades in school! My parents were always hard on me about that!

Does that in your own opinion puts any pressure on you, because of your lineage?

JDM: It really doesn’t to be honest. Although obviously, like anyone, I want to be as successful as I can. I want to be successful so I can help make all the changes I want to see in the world. That’s what it’s all about for me.

Since your grandfather died in 1984, what would you liked to have discussed with him, if given the chance and why?

JDM: I would have loved to hear his stories and views about the movie industry, and would have simply appreciated his advice and feelings about life in general. He was a very intellectual, creative individual; very eccentric, not your typical Hollywood movie star. He was definitely unique.

Belinda, did you meet your father-in-law before his passing?

BC: I sadly never had the chance, as he died a few months before Morgan and I first met. I did know who he was though, and was an admirer of his work.

What was your impression of him?

BC: He was a very elegant man, definitely a special human being. You could see that in his work; he was different from everybody else.

Some men/women are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them?  Which one of the following statements best represents you?

BC: I think it really comes down to putting the work in and believing in yourself. I was just a girl from the valley who had a dream. I think determination and confidence goes a long way in achieving your goals.
JDM: Anyone can achieve anything if they put their mind to it. I think that is the honest truth. People constantly put themselves down and say they can’t dream big dreams, and I think that’s wrong. We all have the potential for success, it’s just a question of having faith and never giving up.

On the subject now of travel, where have your both traveled to in the world?

BC: Because of my work, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to so many different places! It’s actually amazing when I think about it. I feel really privileged to have had that chance, because we live on such a diverse and fascinating planet. I’ve been pretty much everywhere, except maybe Antarctica!
JDM: My Mom has taken me with her on a lot of her trips, so I too have had the amazing opportunity to experience different countries. I’ve been to Africa, Asia, more than half of the U.S. states- it amazes me as well, I feel very lucky.

What country did you liked the most about in your travels?

BC: I love India! I feel like it’s my new home. I only really discovered it a few years ago, but it’s grown on me quickly! It’s so interesting and different from the western world. I’m going to be spending a lot of time there starting later this year.
JDM: That’s hard to say! Fiji is an amazingly beautiful place - I went there with my Dad about seven years ago. You feel like you’re on another planet when you’re there. You feel so far away from everything and sometimes I think we all need that. It’s so peaceful there. But hey, for me, nothing beats America! I went to Hawaii for the first time a couple of years ago, and it’s definitely among my favorite places.

What country that you have not traveled to but would like to visit in the near future?

BC: I’d love to go to the Middle East and explore that part of the world; it’s kind of tough now with everything that’s going on in some of those countries, but one day, who knows?
JDM: I really want to go to Australia! That’s been on my radar for a long time. It seems so similar to California, and sounds like a great place to go on vacation. Maybe we’ll go there for a family holiday someday, huh Mom?

So, Belinda, James … are you both excited in moving back home to Los Angeles?

BC: I’m sure we’ll be renting a place there or something, or come into town now and then to check in.
JDM: I’m totally ecstatic about it! I’ve literally got a countdown clock on my iPhone, which I know is crazy, but what can I say? I’m psyched!

Belinda, how do your define your relationships between your son, husband, family and friends?

BC: Everything is going great for me right now. I love my family, I love my friends, and I love the way that things are turning out. Life has it’s twists and turns, but thing are running pretty smoothly as of lately.

James, how do you define your relationships between your parents, family and friends?

JDM: I feel privileged to have parents as supporting and loving as mine are, and to have so many friends who encourage and believe in me. My life is just getting started, but so far, I have no complaints!

We are coming to the end of the interview. So I want to make the last question important.

Belinda, what advice can you give to James about his future he will encounter after graduation this year and then off to college for further studies?

BC: Just work hard, keep your eye on the prize, and stay away from drugs! That last one is important! But he knows all that, he’s always been good and responsible.

James, being a newbie … what do you look for in a guy that you want to date and then introduce to your parents as your boyfriend?

JDM: I’m very picky when it comes to guys! I guess for me, honesty and pride is very important; I like guys who are confident and secure in who they are, and aren’t afraid to show love and affection. So many gay guys seem to have this hang up about being “straight acting” and being masculine, but there’s nothing more attractive than a man who isn’t afraid to show his sensitive side! As for looks? I have two words for you: Ryan Phillippe!

Well, I thank you both again for doing this interview with me today. It’s been a real honor and a pleasure.

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