Public eye: Natalie Bartner, 83

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

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Photograph: Zenith Richards


Madison Ave between 34th and 35th Sts

May we take your picture? Yes. You know, I have much more exciting pictures of myself in the snow in Vermont. Naked.

Oh? It invigorates me. I stick my face in the snow. It changes your whole mind-set.

In terms of what? In terms of your pussy. Anyway, I'm trying to die, you know.

You don't seem like you're trying to die. My husband died at 90, the day after Christmas last year. I was married for 63 years. Him dying was his Christmas present to me.

One that you were happy to receive? No, no, he was a very giving man.

So what's with this wanting to die thing? I'm 83 and in total pain. I've never been this old in any of my past lives.

What have you been in your past lives? In one life, they burned me on a marble slab for being a virgin. I also remember being three months old—that was in this life. I saw a door, and a light and my mother. And I said to myself, What am I doing here?

Always a worthwhile question. What have you done here? I didn't really work. My husband had a leather handbag store on 14th Street in the '50s and '60s. I made handbags from scratch. But I never made a dime, and nothing even had my name on it—my husband's name was on everything.

So you were the cheap, faceless labor. Right. I let my husband do whatever he wanted to do because it wasn't for me to say no.

So what sort of liberties did he take? All of them.

Yikes. I survived very well. I'm a Pisces, you know. And I was told that I was psychic. The day before the
Twin Towers fell, I was sitting in a restaurant and I said, "I feel as though there is a war zone around me."
It was a premonition. It was weird.

Do you use your psychic powers for good? Yes, because I never want to come back again to this planet.

Are you planning on coming back to any planet? Only God will have carte blanche as to where to send me.

More from Natalie

"I used to wear a button that said I AM A WHITE TINA TURNER."

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