The playwright and activist on honouring her body, secret initiations and being happy in her 60s
Born in New York, Eve Ensler, 66, premiered her play The Vagina Monologues in 1996. It has since been translated into 48 languages and performed in more than 140 countries. She established V-Day in 1998, part of a campaign against gender-based violence, and the global campaign One Billion Rising in 2012. Her latest book, The Apology, is out now. She has a son and lives in New York.
When were you happiest?
In my 60s. So many things that tortured me when I was younger have fallen away. Writing The Apology, the letter I wrote in my fathers voice, apologising for abusing me, has freed me from the last vestiges of anger, confusion, rancour and hate. It released me from a frame that had determined my life.
What is your greatest fear?
That humans wont wake up in the next 11 years and well become extinct.
What makes you unhappy?
Where to begin? Two hundred species disappearing a day; white supremacy; gay and transgender people who are bullied and shamed. Men who will never carry a baby thinking they have any right to legislate what goes on inside womens bodies.
If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
What is your favourite smell?
Clean river water or the fragrance of peonies.
What is your favourite word?
What is the worst thing anyones said to you?
I dont believe you.
What does love feel like?
What has been your biggest disappointment?
That most men have not yet come to understand the impact and the devastating consequences of violence against women.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I would have honoured my body, I would have lived inside it, cherished it and protected it.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I would love to have been part of the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries in ancient Greece, to have experienced those plant medicines and been part of that secret initiation.
How do you relax?
With trees, running water, birds, turtles, breathing, dancing, laughing, hot baths, sex.
What is the closest youve come to death?
Nine years ago I discovered I had stage 3/4 uterine cancer and went through nine months of excruciating surgery, illness and chemotherapy. In that time, I touched death and it was the most powerful transformation of my life. I was forced to learn to take care of my body.
Where would you most like to be right now?
Curled up with my singing dog, Pablo. Hes a street dog from Tijuana and hes gifted.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Going off all technology.
How would you like to be remembered?
As being useful.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Give what you need the most.
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