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Lucy's Wild Home Life
At Home With Lucy Lawless
New Zealand Woman's Weekly
5 June 2006
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Scans / Transcript by MaryD
Article contributed by Calli
She has a successful career, loving family and a heart of gold - but Lucy Lawless has some strange house guests
Lucy Lawless knows there's a snake hiding in her and husband Rob Tapert's LA home. She came across its shed skin on the floor recently, so it's most definitely alive and slithering. There's a possibility it is cosying up to their pet tarantula somewhere, but it has more than likely found a nice warm spot in four-year-old son Judah's bedroom. After all, he was the one who let the darn thing loose in the first place.
"Judah used to get up in the night and do terrible things!" laughs Lucy. "Once we found him sitting naked with the snake on his lap. We ended up taking all the chairs away and putting the snake up on a high table but, in the middle of the night, Judah pushed an armchair to the table, got up and let the snake out.
"He was absolutely silent. But his dad and I heard a slight plop in the night and we thought, 'What was that?' And then we thought, 'Oh, nothing,' because there was silence after that. It turned out it was the snake being dropped."
The harmless 1.5m corn snake is nothing compared to six-year-old son Julius' tarantula though, which at this point isn't roaming free.
"Julius is very diligent about his animals," explains Lucy. Feeding the spider isn't such a problem at the moment, but it might require some aerial skills in the future.
"At this point, we're feeding the tarantula crickets, but it will graduate to birds when it gets larger," explains Lucy, as though this is the most normal thing in the world.
Most people have cats, I say. "We have cats too," she says. "But this is America."
Lucy (38) has always been full of surprises. Her latest is agreeing to be included on the compilation CD Unexpected Dreams: Songs from the Stars, which features Hollywood stars singing lullabies, accompanied by the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. Others on the CD include Scarlett Johansson (singing Summertime), Ewan McGregor (The Sweetest Gift) and Teri Hatcher [Goodnight).
We don't really think of kick-ass Xena as the singer of lullabies. She did join Dave Dobbyn on a concert tour in New Zealand a few summers ago, proving she could hold a tune. But prior to that, her most famous singing performance was The Star-Spangled Banner episode at a live televised hockey match. That was a musical moment surpassed somewhat by the surprise appearance of one of her breasts.
Until now, she has never laid her voice down in a recording studio, despite her obvious musical talent.
"I'm friends with vocal teacher Eric Vetro - it was his idea for the album - and that's how I got involved," explains Lucy.
But the concept also appealed to her "charity queen" side. Part of the proceeds go to Music Matters, a fund to bring music education to disadvantaged American youth. Lucy says we take it for granted in New Zealand that music is part of the school curriculum, but that's not how it is in the US.
"Music and arts have been cut out of the curriculum in public schools. They just do English, maths and science, unless the parents make an effort to include the arts. They have to get together on a PTA and organise music if they want it for their kids. It's considered an extra."
While many disadvantaged urban kids in the US are not getting a musical education, Lucy can't imagine having grown up without music in school and at home.
"My mum had a lot of records like Mary Martin and old showtunes. Annie Get Your Gun was my favourite as a kid and musically it still is, I have to admit. Even though it's as corny as can be, something about the music really gets me. I think it's because I listened to it when I was tiny, until I was old enough to put the record needle on myself. "The first songs I remember as a child were Puppet on a String and I've Got a Brand New Pair of Rollerskates," she laughs.
That was aside from her mother Julie's singing. Lucy says her mum has a beautiful voice and her dad, Frank, can belt out a tune too. "Yeah, he can sing! He's great," j says Lucy. She's delighted he has recently been discharged from hospital and is i recuperating at home after treatment for cancer.
But Julius can't bear his mother singing to him. It's not that he doesn't like Lucy's voice - quite the opposite. "Julius is really sensitive to music," Lucy explains. "When Rubber Ducky goes into a minor key he would cry, and on The Wiggles album there is an operatic song that would set him off too. He would end up howling but, at the same time, we were never allowed to rewind or fast-forward it. He actually loves it, but it's too intense for him.
"Julius has been so connected to me in a way I almost can't understand. You almost can't understand somebody loving you that much."
Lucy is similarly close to her own parents. She's currently filming the TV series Battlestar Galactica in Vancouver, Canada, but will head home to New Zealand to see her parents in August, in time for their wedding anniversary. She credits them with instilling admirable qualities in her that have kept her down-to-earth and caring.
"They have developed in me the ability to see who people really are on the inside," explains Lucy. "I don't see people's ages and I don't see what they look like. I get a good feeling for who somebody really is.
"'My mum gave me a real sense of needing to contribute to be a part of your community. I remember her saying, 'You have to try to leave the world a little bit better than when you came into it. There is no point being here if it's just to take.'"
Lucy has certainly done that, gladly lending her name to charity fundraisers for Starship, World Vision and Breast Cancer Research, to name a few.
One way she contributes to charity is by throwing a few colours on to a canvas from time to time. "I'm hopeless but my daughter Daisy paints all the time. I have given away every single painting I could possibly give to charity - and they sell! So I need to paint more. That means stealing a canvas and paints from Daisy and painting something, which admittedly is rotten, but it's usually funny. My fans seem to like these things and want to support these charities, so that's good."
On the wall in her own home more celebrated Kiwi artists like Dick Frizzell take pride of place. "I love to have a bit of New Zealand in the house," she explains.
That doesn't stretch to having a pet kiwi, though. Although if she was allowed, she probably would. It's just with the growing pet tarantula looking forward to its first feathered feast, a flightless little kiwi wouldn't stand a chance.
We have 10 copies of Unexpected Dreams: Songs from the Stars to give away to lucky readers. To be in to win, write your name and address on the back of an envelope and send it to Unexpected Dreams CD Giveaway, New Zealand Woman's Weekly, PO Box 90267 by Saturday 17 June, or enter online at www.nzww.co.nz