Jon Savage

Johannesburg - Musician, actor and director Jon Savage has just released his partly crowd-funded vanity project, Stone Cold Jane Austen, on the local circuit, a movie which got him invited to the Cannes Film Festival this year. Theresa Smith chats to him.


First holiday memory?

When I was very young, I lived in the UK for a while. My parents took me out of school for a few weeks and we took a boat and sailed to Portugal. I remember that it smelled really bad and I listened to a lot of Queen. For some reason, I remember that I had a Queen – A Kind Of Magic jigsaw puzzle.

Then I went back to school and had to pretend that I had been sick for two weeks.


Favourite place in SA?

Where there’s a place to surf, there’s a Jon.


Best holiday?

I think Zanzibar was my greatest holiday. Jane and I went in March, when the weather was perfect and there weren’t many people there.

We drank and read and swam all day, every day. In the evenings, they’d have a strange cover band who would do famous western pop songs in an African style. We would always play “guess the next song” because their repoirtoire was about seven songs only and then they’d repeat! That place is paradise.


What have you learned from your travels?

When I was in the band Cassette, we spent a lot of our lives travelling the world. These weren’t holidays, this was plain old hard work. We never got the sense of the place but made a list of places we wanted to see. Our trip to Japan was epic though! I know I said Zanzibar in the last answer, but Cassette’s tour to Japan was one of the best trips ever!

I still haven’t answered this question, have I?

Ummmm, I’ve learned that it’s expensive.


Ideal travelling companion?

Jane, my wife. She’s just awesome. It can’t be helped and no one can compare.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I love the beach but I don’t bum, I surf! I definitely love to do city stuff when I’m out in the world so I’m a culture vulture too. I don’t enjoy adrenalin sports.

Once, Jane and I decided to go paragliding off the Swiss Alps. Except, I didn’t do it. Jane was flying around for ages and I was frozen on the top of the mountain and couldn’t bring myself to jump. The guy said I was the first person in seven years not to jump. Obviously that didn’t help my ego.


Greatest travel luxury?

Headphones! Cannot go anywhere without them.


What destination has seduced you?

Japan is the greatest travel destination on Earth. Most places in the world are similar.

From the US to Europe to Australia – everywhere is kind of similar. But when you get to Japan, it feels like you have landed on the moon! Everything is different and everything is cooler.

I love the place!


Worst travel experience?

Waking up in the middle of the night in a horrible hostel in the UK – on tour – with my drummer, Andrew, pissing on the wall next to my head. I love the guy, though!


Best hotel?

Although I love staying in hotels for short periods, they are all the same to me. I can’t tell them apart. Favourite walk, swim, ride or drive?

I walk every morning with my two beautiful dogs in Klein Constantia – it is epic. I surf at Muizenberg regularly because it’s close to where I live. I hate riding! I like to drive long distances.


Best meal abroad?

I once went to this dingy diner in Los Angeles inside a fake train. It was a s****y, smelly horrible diner. But it was a diner straight out of the movies.

To quote John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, it had personality. Even the burgers weren’t great but they had personality. Sometimes it’s not quality, it’s personality.


Favourite city?

New York. It’s just a place I would like to go back and live for a couple of years and raise my kid there. It’s the centre of the “ideas” universe. And it’s just such a cool place. I know it’s a cliché, but I love it there. I once went to a midnight screening of the 1933 King Kong there. They have 24-hour Chess-piece shops! Where else in the world can you find those two things?

Where to next?

To bed. I’m exhausted…

Saturday Star