The Russian Chronicles of Young Poets Interview


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The Russian Chronicles of Young Poets: Today we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Astrid Magnussen, the daughter of Ingrid Magnuseen, the poet that was recently released from prison on a life for murder charge. So Astrid how has your life been, and what have you been up to.

Astrid: Well I've been well. Seen better days though. I now live with my long time boyfriend Paul Trout in a small apartment in Berlin, Germany were he sells his art. He is a comic book illustrator and writer.

TRCYP: Wow so you've been pretty busy. Before this interview you were talking about all the places you have been lately.

Astrid: Well when I was old enough I left my last foster home in L.A. to New York to find Paul. We lived in a small apartment there in St. Marks, then to a squat in South London, after that an un-insulated barge in Amsterdam and then Senefelderstrausse and now Berlin.

TRCYP: Wow! So do you have a place were you want to go next?

Astrid: Somewhere where I can be warm. Like Italy or Greece. I hate these cold weather places.

TRCYP: Wow! So what exactly are you doing right now? Are you still following your artistic career?

Astrid: I'm actually not working right now. I'm kind of slacking so I can expand my artistic horizons. And I have actually been using what resources I have in my house to create a sort of "museum" of all the foster homes I've been in. I use them and little knick-knacks from around the house. When I sell them it will be like releasing those bad parts of my life. But I haven't been doing any sort of paying job.

TRCYP: Well could you tell us about your foster home life? The people you loved and hated. And maybe how you felt when your mother was in prison. How'd you feel when she got out?

Astrid: (laughs lightly) Well let's start with the last two questions. When my mom was in prison I had mixed emotions growing up. From about 12-15 I worshipped my mother and couldn't wait for her to get out. But as I got older I realized she was only playing me like some kind of game.

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When she got out I really didn't care because I was an ocean away and she couldn't find me if she tried. Foster homes, wow, haven't thought about that question in a long time. Well my first foster home was a trailer house in a wash. I lived with my foster mom, Starr and foster dad, Ray and her four kids: Davey, Carolee, Owen, and Peter. This was the normal trailer park drama. Starr was a recovering alcoholic that went to AA meetings and church with a very fake preacher. Ray was her hippy boyfriend. She always accused me of sleeping with him. He taught me how to play chess. He smoked pot and drank cheap beer. Davey was the geeky kid I hung out with and we always caught lizards and he told me such interesting things. Owen and Peter were the typical little kids, always playing in the mud and eating worms. Carolee was a great teenager. She loved making her mother mad and always ran out in the middle of the night to go meet her dirt biker boyfriend. One night her and Starr got in a big fight and she left, we never saw her again. I had to leave this house because Starr finally caught me sleeping with her man and shot me in hip. Great family life huh?

My second home was with a lady named Marvel. Her husband's name was Ed and they had two toddlers who were Justin and Caitlin. This house was a common suburb--happy blissful place, until you shut the door. Marvel was a Mary Kay makeup sales woman. She dyed her hair a different color for every different season. I found a friend there named Olivia Johnston. She was a prostitute. She showed me what it was like to live life not worrying about anything but expensive vases and cashmere sweaters. She also drove a red wine-colored corvette. I had to leave that house because I got plastered and slept over at the "whores" house, which was strictly off limits.

So I got kicked out and went to a place I hated. The foster mother was named Amelia. She was an interior decorator and only did foster care for the money. I demanded to be let out of that place because she never fed us and all the girls hated me.

The next place was defiantly my favorite the whole time I was growing up but also the most tragic. It was with Ron and Claire Richards. Claire was probably the only lady I ever thought of as my mother. She was a beautiful blonde actress and Ron was a director that filmed odd things like weird pictures on toast and killer ghosts in the bathroom. I spent two years of my life with them and it was great. We went on an all summer camping trip in Oregon and I caught my first fish. We seemed like a happy family but there was a feud between Ron and Claire who were having a fight about her alcoholism. Claire also thought Ron was cheating on her. Ron ended up leaving Claire because she was drunk and accused him of cheating right in his face. She ended up killing herself by overdosing on insomnia pills. That was the end of my happy life as a Richard.

After that I went to the most dreaded place in all foster care places. It was nicknamed Mac but its real name was MacLaren Children's Center. It was fine for me because it's where I met Paul. And I had to cut my hair because of some girl that was jealous because her boyfriend thought I was pretty and I got beat up. Paul left for New York to a foster home and left me an address to a comic shop that I could write. I left when a Russian woman that I spent the rest of my young life with adopted me.

Her name was Rena; her boyfriend was Sergei, whom I couldn't stay away from either (winks), her two foster kids were Yvonne who was pregnant and Niki who was a rock star. She woke up early every Thursday morning and drove around for hours picking up old stuff that no one wanted and she thought she could sell for money. She made me sell everything I had gotten from Claire. I graduated from high school and never went to the graduation because I had no motivation to. I helped Yvonne deliver her baby and she never really got to see it. I had my second run at drugs and my second run at another ladies boyfriend. Sergei and I were very close until I started to contact Paul and then I cut that relationship off. I left this place because I wanted too and I wanted to meet Paul.

TRCYP: I'm honestly quite impressed. That was a life I never thought I could live through. So we never quite go the story on this. How exactly did your mom wind up in jail from your point of view?

Astrid: My mother dated a guy named Barry Kolker. He was a writer. She always said, "Do not let a man stay the night because dawn has a way of casting off the night magic."
She was stupid and let him stay the night. About two weeks later he dumped her. Actually he made love to her and said she had to leave, because he had a date. So we went down to Tujunga and bought these pills that help stuff absorb into the bloodstream. After that she boiled white oleander, a very poisonous plant, in water and put it in his food, door handles and even in his laundry soap. He died the next day and the police came knocking on our door.

TRCYP: Hmm, that's probably the most honest answer we've had so far. Well were out of time. Thank you again Astrid, it was an honor to interview you and we thank you for your patience and truthfulness.

Astrid: It was an honor to be interviewed. And I enjoyed this very much.


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