An Olsen intervention

Girls, before you turn 18, read this! Expert advice about becoming a woman from Janice Dickinson, J.T. LeRoy, Annie Sprinkle, a Ying Yang twin and more.


Corrie Pikul
June 11, 2004 2:10AM (UTC)

Once upon a time, way back in the late '80s, there was a baby princess. Her name was Ashley Olsen, and she had a cute little dollop of a nose and wide green eyes. But this was no ordinary baby princess. Just after she was born, a kindly old witch had put a spell on her, and according to the spell, Ashley would live a fabulous, charmed life with all the riches and jewels she could possibly imagine. So that Ashley would never be lonely, the witch made another baby princess several minutes later that looked and sounded exactly like the first. She was named Mary-Kate Olsen, and she fell under the same spell. All who laid eyes upon the princesses would become instantly smitten. Other young girls, especially, would become obsessed with them and would do anything to be just like Ashley and Mary-Kate.

The two grew up in a Full House with lots of nice, attractive fairy godparents to coddle them, to compliment them, to laugh uproariously at their bewildered recitations of lines like "That's cool!" and "Right on!" And after the Full House emptied, they embarked on a series of deliriously fun high jinks, traveling around the world in search of adventure, excitement and wealth.

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But it all had a catch: At the stroke of midnight before their 18th birthday -- this Sunday -- Ashley and Mary-Kate would suddenly turn into real women, and would face the same curses, difficulties and challenges that all flesh-and-blood girls are forced to confront when they become adults. They would no longer be protected from destructive rumors and evil lies. They would be publicly taunted with promises of unconditional love and endless romance. No, they wouldn't have to worry about piddling issues like rent or food -- they would now inherit their own billion-dollar merchandising empire, Dualstar Entertainment -- but now that their guardians and managers would no longer be able to tell them what to do with their money, they would have to think for themselves and control their own future. Worst of all, the hordes of little girls who worshipped them would suddenly wake up and see them for what they really were: Women, subject to the same foibles and missteps as anyone else.

Will they live happily ever after? We've consulted with a wide range of experts to help guide the girls in their merry path to womanhood. Listen closely, girls. With the right advice you could be Doublemint Jodie Foster or Sarah Jessica Parker -- or guest stars on the 2014 season of "The Surreal Life."

Atoosa Rubenstein, editor in chief of Seventeen

Since we're featuring the Olsen twins on special front and back covers for our July issue, I've actually been thinking about them a lot recently. If the Olsen twins want to mature into adult credibility, A-list cred, they've got to be aware of rule No. 1: they can't continue to create cheesy projects for the express purpose of increasing revenue. They need to put quality over quantity. The fact that "New York Minute" was such a financial and critical disappointment really says something about them and the way their standard model is floundering. They have a major challenge ahead of them right now.

When the girls were here for the shoot, they were really terrific. Contrary to what many people think, the Olsens are not cheesy, in fact, they've very down-to-earth. They're the kind of girls who, if you ask them about their virginity, they clam right up, like it's none of your business. That's a nice quality today, when so many young girls in the entertainment industry will just blab on and on in answer to whatever question is thrown their way. The Olsens have a nice maturity about them; now they just need to reflect that in their work.

The twins mentioned how much they love Cameron Diaz, and they seem to relate to her. So, I think they should follow the Cameron Diaz model. Cameron went from being a B-list model-turned-actress to being one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood, and she did this by taking secondary roles that she could really hit out of the ballpark. When you're Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, you're used to being the top dog in whatever project you're in. It's time for the Olsens to make the transition from the small pool to the big pool. We viewers need a few key secondary roles to whet our appetites.

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Like a lot of people, I agree that the Olsen twins should split up. They already have different personalities; it's a matter of letting the world see that. People want to see a glimpse of the real person underneath the movie star persona. It's hard to relate to a twosome because you don't know who they are individually.

Among our readers, I wouldn't say their popularity is fading. However, teen girls are definitely curious to see what the Olsen twins will do next.

Simon Doonan, creative director for Barney's New York and the author of "Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons From Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women."

I have some very, very important advice for the Olsen twins: Start spending less time together. And I mean IMMEDIATELY! Because, you see, everything that is fabulous about having a twin -- the nifty camaraderie, the ultimate companionship -- all of that can, under certain circumstances, become a terrible, raging disadvantage. Psychologically, girls, the inertia that can result from twinness can send you straight to Barbie Twinsville. Let me explain: A twin, as your nearest and dearest confidante, can also be a validator of dreadful obsessions. Nonstop togetherness can lead to a deranged cul-de-sac where all your darkest obsessions (bulimia, big boobs, body-cutting) are validated by each other! It's a sad fact that most celebs end up getting strange at some point, finding themselves in weird cults and whatnot, but from what I can tell, twins are worse off than most. Everything that went wrong with the Barbie twins should serve as a cautionary lesson to the Olsens.

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It's just not enough to have your stars a few feet apart on Hollywood Boulevard. What they need is a serious separation. Here's a suggestion: Make a pact not to see each other for a six-month period. In that time, open the doors! Blow out the cobwebs! Get wildly gregarious! Start hanging out with intelligent, fun, intensely charismatic people. Intimidating people. Perhaps some of that attitude will rub off on them. Why not ring up Camille Paglia, for example, and ask her to come on holiday? Or maybe start pals-ing it up with the people at the New Yorker? Ooooh ... maybe they can get Tina Brown to throw them a party!

Financially, I personally don't have too much advice for them. It seems to me that these girls were simply born into this world to make hundreds of millions of dollars.

Style-wise, the poor things already look like they've had work done. (Is that a bit o' Botox I see? A pinch of collagen?) They already seem to have that altered appearance. That's fine, I suppose, but they need to stop right there! Again, I refer them to the Barbie twins: Please, girls, don't start getting any weird cosmetic procedures done. Nail varnish and lipstick are fine, but the weird cosmetic procedures must cease ... if the Olsens want to stay on top.

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A last word of advice: Please, girls, there are many things you can do with your talents, but stay away from politics. The last thing we need is another celeb (or two) spouting half-baked policy ideas.

Nick Chester, store manager and creator of the Twin Tracker, which cross-references the age of the Olsen twins with the age of legal consent with each of the 50 states of America. He says he had plans to update the site as the years passed and the Olsens' birthday approached, but subsequently lost interest in it -- especially after receiving a cease-and-desist order from the Olsens' lawyer, demanding him to take the girls' images down from the Twin Tracker site.

It's hard to give the Olsen Twins advice on what direction they should take now that they're turning 18. Soon they won't be able to get away with making corny, faux hip-hop videos about the plight of high school crushes or plaster their faces all over boxes of third-rate beauty supplies, and that can be quite a problem, no?

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One viable option is to astonish the world and ring in their newfound "sorta kinda adulthood" by going all out and giving the people what they want: a Hustler spread. On the other hand, and more seriously, if they ever do intend on being taken seriously as actresses, they're going to have to do some projects independently. Because until Mary-Kate releases a solo record or Ashley lands a role in which she doesn't have a twin sister, they're still the Olsen twins and not individuals. Because at this point, it's just getting creepy.

Annie Sprinkle, prostitute/porn star turned sexologist, educator, multimedia artist and utopian entrepreneur. Her new documentary, "Annie Sprinkle's Amazing World of Orgasm," will have its world premiere in San Francisco's Frameline Film Festival on June 22.

My first piece of advice to these girls is to devote some time to learning about and understanding their sexuality. As I haven't gotten the sense that they're very sexually savvy young women, I think they would really benefit from a crash course on basic sex education. Sex ed will help them lubricate the difficulties of a such a huge, high-pressure career. In addition, these are beautiful young women. As they become increasingly aware of their sexuality, they will need to learn how to manage the power that comes with that.

These girls need to know that there is a treasure chest of wonderful possibilities for their sexuality. Aside from the obvious (sex is fun, it can improve intimacy, etc.), sex can help relieve stress! And I can't think of anyone who would benefit more from a little sexual stress relief than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Living in the public eye can be terribly demanding. They need to make time for personal, private pleasure, which is something I'm sure they're not doing right now (whether it be due to lack of time, lack of understanding, or lack of interest). At this stage in their lives and their careers, I think it would really benefit them to embrace masturbation, to practice reaching orgasm. They need to get comfortable with making themselves feel good on a daily basis, to help them feel prepared to face the challenges of their busy little lives. Personally, I've really come to value the orgasm experience in times of stress and strain. As they get older, the twins will probably become more and more orgasmic (while our culture values youth as sexy, women actually become much better lovers and much more sexually empowered as they age), but good masturbatory habits start now.

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I am almost positive the girls are still virgins (just look at them!). And that's great, that's fine. Virginity is highly valued in this society. The Olsens should take their time and wait for the right time; they shouldn't rush things. The whole world is certainly watching, especially now that they're turning 18. While there are benefits to being a publicly sexual person and to exposing that side of yourself, there is also a real beauty to privacy. Frankly, they'll be lucky to get rid of their virginity, but whether they are open about it or keep the secret to themselves is up to them.

Some 18th birthday gift ideas for the Olsens include "The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex"; "Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving," by Betty Dodson, a private sex tutor; or a nice pair of vibrators.

Jeffrey Wolf, partner and director of account planning at Deutsch New York

The Olsen Twins need an evolution, not a revolution. The worst thing these girls could do is to suddenly try to be something they're not. A brand is enduring because it stays true to its values. As it grows it expresses itself differently, but the values it espouses must stay the same. The Olsens are about wholesomeness, good stuff, and they need to stay true to that. But here's what they're up against: Britney, the Hilton sisters, Jessica Simpson. Those women all care about being fabulous. They are concerned with surface over substance. In contrast, the Olsen twins are more concerned with substance. As the Olsen twins turn 18 this week, their problem (and I don't really know the answer to this) will become: Is it possible to be a "good girl" in your 20s and still be popular? Is it possible to be a sweet, nice girl and still be relevant to our times? The other girls have found great success with the mantra of "Watch what a slut I can be on TV! Can't believe it? It gets worse!" The Olsens are the exact opposite of that sleazy look-at-me...

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They certainly have the brand equity to leverage in that area. Maybe, as they enter adulthood, their days of making money as entertainers are over. You know when those child stars grow up and you see them years later and they're freaks? I would hate to see that happen to the Olsens. But there's a strong chance that their persona might not translate into hot entertainment with broad appeal today. A lot of people have successfully managed to merchandise themselves, and right now might be the ideal time for the Olsens to get out of entertainment. Suzanne Somers might be a good model for them.

While they already sell so many products under their name, they might want to consider moving into the self-help realm. The Olsen twins seem to do everything right. To most little girls, Mary-Kate and Ashley are perfection personified (twice). They could team up to write a line of advice books: "How to Get the Guy, Olsen Twins Style," "How to Get the Perfect Job, Olsen Twins Style," "How to Achieve Inner Peace, Olsen Twins Style" (mind-body-soul is getting very mainstream now). I think they have a book publisher already, so they could work with them to develop their books. Then they could expand to a talk show, or a call-in radio program. Better yet, get on the Internet! Their target audience is all over the Web, so they should be, too.

J.T. LeRoy, novelist ("Sarah" and "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things"), band member and associate film producer

I gotta hand it to them: They kind of took the dirtiness and the shame out of the words "straight to video." They made their movies, then turned around and said, "You wanna laugh at us? Well, take a look at all this money!"

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But the world of the Olsen twins is definitely not X-rated. I hear what people say about Britney Spears and other young female stars betraying their image by getting all sexy once they hit 18. I don't necessarily agree with that. Girls are always interested in what people are thinking of them. From puberty on, they know that older men are looking at them; that becomes their idea of power. I don't think that the Olsens would turn off their young female fans by entertaining this gaze. Nooo ... I think a lot of people live vicariously through them. They live the dream of what life would be like if you didn't have any acne, if you were beautiful, if you had lots of money, if you were a beloved, cornfed kind of classical American girl. Craving male attention is an extension of that.

And now that the Olsens are becoming adults, they're able to express their sexuality without any kind of wacky Christian condemnation. Magazines will be able to showcase that and capitalize off that without seeming all weird and creepy. I don't think that by sexing things up, they're betraying themselves, their image, their fans, at all. The Olsens are not necessarily interested in men or boys, because those aren't the people who will buy their videos or their products. These girls understand where power comes from. No one wants to see the Olsen twins get all fat and pimply ... not even the women who hate them.

They're sort of like Macaulay Culkin. If you look back, he was pretty hated by hip, punk types of my generation -- he was the antichrist. But now, yeah, I'd say he's pretty cool. He's trying, at least, and he's working on developing a kind of snarky appeal. It works for me, because Culkin's got a lot of rage, which I can understand.

See, that's where the Olsens need to go. I know they have a sense of humor -- look at that remark they made about being Howard Stern's fantasy -- and they've showed spunk, not prudeness, in response to the "almost legal" comments. If you can joke about yourself, that shows indie potential, a punk-rock attitude. I could totally see them in an indie film. Something would have to happen first, though. People who are into them wear "What Would Jesus Do?" T-shirts and make virgin pledges. They're just so squeaky clean. The twins would have to endure a torrid event, a public disgrace, because our society has very set rules. In order to change perception about someone, we need to be seriously shaken, like an Etch A Sketch. Look at Brooke Shields -- she had to do some big fat fucking falls on her face before she could move forward in her career. Their best bet would be to simply disappear for a while. Maybe one of them could break off from the pair and take on a lesbian role (but not with the other twin!) in an edgy foreign film, a role that would really prove some acting chops.

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If they want to move into indie films, I would advise them to forge personal relationships with directors who believe in them. Here ya go, girls: Find some director whose daughter is a huge fan of yours and send them tons and tons of free shit, then convince the daddy that you are true actresses. Remind him: "Hey, who took John Travolta seriously? Whoever thought Macaulay Culkin or Brooke Shields should be taken seriously? That could be you, man. Just take a chance on us."

D-Roc, from the Ying Yang Twins hip-hop duo

Shit, I ain't never had that kind of money like them other twins have. I'm still trying to get that much. The first thing I be sayin' to them: Manage your cash properly, don't spend it all in one place.

Shit. I'm still thinkin' 'bout all that money!

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Yo, I grew up with those Olsen twins on "Full House." I totally remember them. First off, if they wanna move forward with their career, they gotta get comfortable with their image. There be no fakin' in, you know what I mean? Be yourself, girls, and the rest will follow. From what I can tell, they haven't ventured out on their own. They always be chillin' together! They gotta get their own thaaang. Ya can't predict a person's future, ya gotta let them show you who they are, what they wanna be. One might wanna get into a whole new look, a whole new person. How they gonna know that until they try?

I hope these twins can enjoy our music, that they can have a good time out at the club, gettin' crazy, havin' fun, all that. However, they may notice that some of our lyrics are a little ... well, we be jokin around when we made 'em up. We was trippin', trash-talkin', you know what I'm sayin'? Havin' fun. By no means are we advocating drugs or alcohol, especially for underage teens. These girls, they're turning 18, it's OK to have a drink once in a while, and maybe even after they turn 21, they can get drunk every now and then. But these Olsen twins, they gotta keep their image clean. That's what the little girls want, that's what the boys want, that's what's best for them. Keep that wholesome look, and they'll keep raking in the cash. And they should definitely stay off the drugs. Absolutely.

Peace out (times two).

Janice Dickinson, judge on the UPN program "America's Next Top Model" and self-described "world's first supermodel"

I'm on a hit show, I'm gorgeous, I feel good, and I'm so grateful to be me ... but wait! We're talking about the Olsen twins here. I adore the Olsen twins! I once met one of them in a pet shop. Which one was it? Hmmm ... I think it was the other Olsen, although I can't be sure. They look so much alike.

I'm the perfect person to give the Olsen twins advice. Everyone in their generation refers to me as "the Oracle." My daughter is 10, and I am always hanging out with her and her friends at their school, so I KNOW who is hot and who is not with that crowd. Lemme tell you, The Olsen twins are HOT. The young girls love them. Children don't care that their movie, "New York Minute," didn't do well at the box office, because children don't give a rat's ass about numbers and ticket sales. They just care about who they can identify with. Those Olsen girls are like modern-day Shirley Temples. My daughter absofuckinglutely loves these girls. In fact, the way for them to really move their careers forward is to have them send lots of free Mary-Kate and Ashley products to our house. Address them to Savvy, my daughter (get my info from the UPN people). Savvy is gorgeous and doesn't really need any of it, to tell you the truth, but it'd make her happy to get Olsen products, and of course, that would make me happy.

Don't the Olsen twins sell their stuff at Wal-Mart? That gets me soooooo excited, because I adore Wal-Mart. As a Vogue model and a Vogue reader, I just love that store. The first thing I do when I get in that store is grab the microphone and start yakking. Wal-Mart rocks. I hope they know that I think so. The Wal-Mart shopper understands me. They get me. I love them.

Being the world's first supermodel, the only things that matter to me are oxygen, hair, makeup and clothes. Children, dogs and, of course, society come second. I love fashion. The Olsens need to get into fashion like me. I grew up reading Vogue, so the Olsens need to get familiar with Vogue. They need to stay up with the trends. Think like French women, girls, and get chic, chic, chic! Buy lots of expensive jewelry and wear it all the time! Have lunch with Anna Wintour (even though I have not always supported every single one of the photos that she has picked). Tell them to start wearing Zac Posen and Heidi Slimane. STAY AWAY from Puff Daddy! No Baby Phat for these babies!

They're so adorable, I think they should forget acting. Become little mini-model icons. If they were contestants on "America's Next Top Model," I totally think they would win. We'd just have to stack them one on top of another, to make a whole Olsen.

When I saw the other Olsen in the pet shop, I could just tell she was a good girl. I knew she wasn't into drugs and alcohol. And she should stay that way. Just say No, honey. I would recommend the Olsen twins to surround themselves with nice, sober friends. Always have someone very smart around that they can turn to, that they can trust.

Oh, those awful countdown clocks! That kind of thing makes me SO MAD! You tell all those fucking pedophiles that they are going to have to deal with me, Janice Dickinson. I will kick their asses, cut off their dicks and send them off to Mississippi. They are fucking pigs. They need help. THEY are the ones who need to go to therapy. I feel bad for the Olsen twins that they have to deal with all those child molesters ogling them and staring at them and fantasizing about them.

One thing that I absolutely must put my foot down at is PLASTIC SURGERY. In response to those Web sites that say the Olsens have had surgery, I don't buy it. NO! They're just too damn young. Personally, I did not have plastic surgery until the end of my shelf life as a fashion model. Now, of course, I'm totally fake. The other day, a photographer told me to smile, and I said, I AM SMILING! It's the Botox. But what's good for the geese is not yet good for the gander. To the Olsens: DON'T DO IT GIRLS! DON'T GIVE IN TO THE PRESSURE!

My last words on the subject: Tell them to dump whoever has been managing them and give the Oracle a call (get my number from the UPN people). I will be their new manager. I'll tell them exactly how to talk, how to walk, where to shop, what to wear, how to get invited to the best fashion shows. And I'll send a mobster after all those fucking countdown-clock pedophiles.


Corrie Pikul

Corrie Pikul writes about women's issues and pop culture. She lives in Brooklyn.

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