Glorious Broad #7: Dina Paisner

Dinah_4.jpg
 Photos by Leah Runyan

Photos by Leah Runyan

GLORIOUS PROFESSION: Actress, Dancer, Poet

GLORIOUS PERSONA: The Muse of the West Village

GLORIOUS QUALITIES: Bohemian, Blunt, Wiseass

GLORIOUS PHILOSOPHY:

Where there’s life, there’s hope. Now that’s a cliché I like.

GB: I thought she would last forever. But, of course, no one does.
Dina Paisner — actress, model — was one of the first Glorious Broads I interviewed. She “approved” of the GB project saying “Sign me on. I like to stay involved.”

She didn’t tell me her age — "you'll make assumptions." I now know she left us at 98. But her VERVE — when she wasn’t ushering at the theatre, she was acting, when she wasn’t acting, she was dancing. I remember her telling me about yet another “free” dance event (Dina loved free — or any kind of  deal) in a space I hadn’t heard of. Her response? “What’s wrong with you. Are you NEW here?” as she scoffed at my “youth.” A staple in the West Village with her wild-ass mane of white hair and — shall we say — unique sense of style, we all loved her fierceness — and kindness.

I was waiting for “the perfect moment” to post this interview when I asked her for tea in my apartment — and am sorry I did not put it up sooner. Well, the perfect moment is now.

A TRIBUTE TO DINA PAISNER, 1919 - 2017

GB: We met a while ago and it’s been tough chasing you down! Shall I remind you what Glorious Broads project is?
Don’t bother. Just ask me the questions. Let me take off my shoes and cuddle up on your couch.

How do you spend your time? You’re still — everywhere ...
My favorite thing in the whole world is an improvisational dance/theatre class I take. I can be dead tired but when I get out of there, I’m ready to conquer the world. And I see everything — dance, theatre, opera —  if its below 14th street.

I love to hear a person's passion.
That’s a good name. A better name than what you have: A Person’s Passion. Write that down. I like those P’s.

You seem remarkably independent. Were you always like this?
Independent is a loaded word. I ask for help. I go out in the morning with an empty tote. And by the time I get home I have a full cart. I wait in front of my door for a nice strong young man to pass by and ask him if he’d help me take my stuff up. I make wonderful friends that way. When you get to my age, people expect you to be eccentric, and boy do I take advantage of that. I never wait on line. So, dye your hair white if you want to save yourself a lot of time.

And you’re a still a working actress!
Oh Yeah! I’ve played the cleaning lady on “Sex and the City“ to Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. The more complicated the role, the more thrilling. I don’t like predictable things or predictable art and I think that’s where the independence comes from.

I’m not a “Lady Who Lunches.” Ask me to the theatre so we can enjoy something together. I’m not sitting down with small talk. And I don’t hang out.

How do you stay so happy?
I avoid negative people. Like the plague.

Any desire to be 20 again?
No. It would be torture. That question’s asked all the time and people always say: well, if I knew then what I know now … that’s bullshit. You didn’t know then what you know now.

Do you tell your age?
You know why I don’t tell? Cause I’m still working … I once lost a big job because I didn’t know it was illegal to ask me. So, no.

Are you the same as when you were younger, has your core changed?
I’m not the same person. I learn every day and sometimes they are hard lessons. But then it’s such a joy when you learn something new! Putting on a seat belt is a big job for me. When I do, it’s high tech. It’s a riot.

Do you feel freer as you get older?
A lot freer. To be free, be aware of what is going on in the moment. And forget about thinking. Don’t be so smart. Be dumb.

Do you have a message for younger women?
Yes. Daydream. I don’t mean “visualize” — a cliché word. Daydream. Waste a lot of time. Percolate. Let things stir. Sleep enough. Play with your cat. Talk to a stranger. Drink tea. Eat well. Don’t worry about your weight. Be creative. Anything you do that connects with your essence is creative. Don’t stop yourself. Just let go.

RIP Dina Paisner. The village will not be the same without you. And neither will Glorious Broads ...