44. Boundaries in the Life and Legacy of Tina Turner
Mary: Let’s talk boundaries. I’m here with my sister Chime, and we’re discussing boundaries in pop culture today.
Chime: Hey sister.
Mary: Hey girl. And we are gonna talk about Tina Turner. You guys saw that Tina Turner died?
Chime: I know. She’s such an icon.
Mary: Yeah. So that’s kind of a way to you know, honor her and talk about boundaries. We’re gonna have this podcast episode all about Tina Turner.
Chime: All right. Let’s go.
Mary: Let’s go. You wanna give us a summary of her life?
Chime: Yes. So Tina Turner was actually born Anna May Bullock in Tennessee. Her family were sharecroppers. They grew cotton in Tennessee. She was born in 1939. She didn’t have a great childhood. Her parents were abusive towards each other. She’d say her mom did fight back, but eventually left. I don’t know how old she was when her mom left, but her mom left the family. She’s young and just disappeared and poor Tina just kept hoping she’d come home for her. And then her father eventually left too and left her with family members which brought her out of Tennessee and to the place where she met Ike.
Mary: Yes. And when she met Ike, cuz she was 17, he was 25, so eight years difference. But at a time when eight years is a big difference. In that stage of your life. And they met at a nightclub. She went to a nightclub with her older sister and met him there and she was mesmerized by his music.
Chime: Yeah. I kinda got the vibe from how they were talking about it, that she was not into him. It didn’t seem like she wanted to date him. She just was into the music. She was struck by his talent and into the band, and the girl wanted to sing. She would go every night and ask to sing, and eventually Ike was like, fine, I’ll let you up on, on stage. And then it was a Oh, oh. You’re pretty good.
Mary: Yeah. So she started seeing backup for Ike and eventually they got together and he changed her name.
Chime: Okay, so wait. Back up. Back up Mary. She’s singing back up. I mean she’s singing with Ike. And they’re getting a lot of good publicity and I think Ike was recognizing that she’s a star. Yeah. Yes, Tina is a star. She’s going to make his band and Ike decides I have to keep her. That I think was his goal in marrying her and dating her was he had to keep her. Because if they’re married, he can not just keep her in a relationship, but keep her in the band. He went to great lengths to ensure that.
Mary: That’s right. So he changed her name to Tina Turner without her knowledge. Yeah. And he trademarked the name so that if she and him ever broke up that another person could come be Tina Turner.
Chime: No one else could be Tina Turner.
Mary: Right. Little did he know. So they get married and it’s an abusive relationship.
Chime: Yes. So the relationship is all kinds of abusive, it’s all the abusive types of relationship. Super sad. He controls her money, he controls whether she sings, he controls her time, he control how much she got to see her kids. He would make all of the plans for the tours, how much they would sing. At one point they were doing three to four shows a night. Which is just an insane amount of singing and performing. She was only home a few months out of the year. He would write up a contract for her and she would just sign it. And so basically she got nothing. And then it was physical abuse. It was sexual abuse, it was emotional abuse. It was verbal abuse. It was all the abuses. And that went on for 16 years.
Mary: A long time. And Tina talked about in the documentary I, Tina, which by the way, we are kind of basing our podcast episode off of that documentary I, Tina. And she talked about the reason why she stayed with him was for loyalty. That it was that he had previous other people that had kind of had a hit song and then left and she had promised him that she would not leave. And so she decided to stay with him for that long because she really felt loyalty to the promise that she had made to him, but also she discussed reasons of obligation, of guilt, of fear, which when we’re making decisions, you know, those are pretty terrible reasons to stay in a relationship; guilt, obligation, fear. And then there was a turning point where she decided that she was no longer willing to participate in this relationship the way that it was. And initially she started fighting back, like her mom had demonstrated to her and that wasn’t really working, and so she decided to leave Ike.
Chime: Yeah. So it was very dramatic. They had in a fight in a car, and then she fought back and talked back, which she didn’t usually do. Mm-hmm. And then he really, really beat her up. They show up to a hotel Ramada Inn. She’s wearing a white suit. Shes covered in blood. She said her face was swoled out inches. You know? Yeah. And she’s like, no, I’m not doing this anymore. He falls asleep in the hotel. Nobody says anything. Ridiculous. And then she runs away.
Mary: She had 38 cents.
Chime: 38 cents and an ID that said, I’m Tina Turner
Mary: And a mobile gas card.
Chime: Yeah. That’s all she had. And the guy at the Inn let her have a room, which was very nice. Cuz she couldn’t pay for it. And Yeah. And then that started her journey to be the Tina Turner that we all really think of.
Mary: Yes. And so at that point is really where kind of her boundary decisions come into play. And so I’d like to talk a little more about the boundaries.
Chime: But I also wanna talk about, you know, it was a long time that she was with him. But I feel like, you know, I love that she left him when she could. You know, you change your boundaries when you can, and you move forward when you can. Wherever you are in that time of your life, you just do it when you can. There’s never too late. You just do it when you can, right?
Mary: Yes. So she was empowered and she made the decision, and I’m proud of you for that tina Turner. Thanks for being an example of having some boundaries and leaving an unsafe situation for you and your children. So let’s talk about when she left Ike and they were getting divorced, what her boundaries were. She was very clear that she was not willing to fight for marital property, so she did not fight for or get money, cars, royalty, any of those things. But she did fight for her freedom, her peace of mind, and her name.
Chime: Yeah. That was it. That’s all she got. And all the bills from the tour that she didn’t do.
Mary: Yeah. But she reclaimed her name. And got the copyright for her own name. Because she knew that she could be a successful solo artist.
Chime: Yes. I really think the main story of Tina Turner is she’s a survivor. She survived this abusive relationship and then she continued to survive and she knew her name was part of her survival.
Mary: So, Right. And those days after her divorce, when she was starting her career as a solo artist, were not easy for her. She was willing to do any work anywhere. And in the documentary they talk about her working on the Brady Bunch and on Hollywood Squares and moving all the way to Europe,
Chime: Vegas shows.
Mary: Yes. Mm-hmm. Yes. All the things she was willing to do to establish that career as a solo artist and she was not willing to give away this story of abuse, what she called give it away. Yeah. Right. So she did have some boundaries around how much she was willing to talk about the abuse. How much she was willing to participate in the story of her abuse and she said she was not willing to play the part of Tina Turner in the films.
Chime: Yeah. So I feel like she knew that she didn’t want to really dive into the abuse. She didn’t wanna relive it. That was one thing she said over and over, like, if I have to keep talking about it, if I have to watch all of this, it’s like reliving it. That was a part of her past. She didn’t wanna relive, that was a boundary for her. But how that played into moving forward as a solo artist, I feel like that boundary changed often. At first, she didn’t wanna talk about it, but then everyone kept asking her about it and everyone kept assuming it was this great relationship that she had with Ike and that she did wanna set the story straight.
Mary: Yep. She was not willing just to allow people to think and discuss and publicize that it was a healthy marriage because she knew that it wasn’t. Yeah. And that was her truth.
Chime: So I think that was the first time she talked about it was in a I think it was in people Magazine article that she had mentioned that Ike was abusive. You know, she was hoping that would put it to bed. That she wouldn’t have to keep pretending that she had a great relationship with him. But unfortunately people really hung on to that story. And so they would then, instead of talk about Ike and her in a positive relationship, then they would talk about Ike and her in an abusive relationship. Yeah. She didn’t want that either.
Mary: Right. So she really did have some boundaries around how much she was willing to participate in the conversation, especially the public conversation around her relationship with Ike and if it was healthy or not healthy or abusive or not abusive. And guess what? She gets to decide. Thank you for setting that example of you getting to make that decision, Tina. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome.
Chime: So this kind of went on and they made a movie. So this I thought was interesting. They, she did a book hoping that would put it to bed. People kept talking about it. Then they made a movie off of the book and I don’t remember what year the movie was, but they were interviewing her about the movie and they asked her, you know, like, Did you see it? And what did you think about it? And she said, I didn’t see it. She said, I don’t wanna relive that. I don’t wanna watch it. Yep. Yeah. Boundary.
Mary: She didn’t wanna watch her own movies. Yeah. Hard boundary there. I love it. Yeah. So then she has success as a solo artist because she’s amazing. Because she is like, a rockstar lady. And she has success as solo artistes and she meets a man named Irwin Bach.
Chime: Also at this time though, I think it’s important to, to note that music has always been hugely important to her. And Ike controlled the music. And now as a solo artist, she gets to control the music. Yes. She was like, I wanna be a rock singer. Yep. I wanna do stadiums. I wanna pick my songs. I wanna pick how I sing them. And she was able to do that, which I kind of think is also what made her extra amazing. Yeah. Once she left the band with Ike.
Mary: Absolutely. Absolutely. So she did it her way. She took her power back. And she met a man that she loved named Irwin.
Chime: I know, I, I love before she met Irwin and she was talking about how she said she never felt loved before, so she really wanted to feel love. She wanted to love someone. She said, I want a man without shame. And she said, he has to be a strong man, but not dominate me. She had very clear boundaries even before him. Right. Which was great.
Mary: Yeah. So she decided her boundaries, she found a man. That she was willing to have a relationship with and she wanted to have a relationship with, and she was pretty open and clear that this is what she wanted. And she had a healthy relationship with him I know for a long time. And they seemed to really love each other. And when Ike died she chose to forgive him because she didn’t wanna suffer. But not until after he died did she choose to forgive him, which happens sometimes. I see that too in my work with folks. And then she decided that she was gonna bow out of the Broadway shows in America and have a little bit of a break at the end of her life. And that kind of set some boundaries around, like how much she,
Chime: how much celebrity she wanted to still be.
Mary: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Chime: She lived in kind of a fairly secluded area in Switzerland. She didn’t go to a lot of public things. She just had this sweet life with her husband and that was what she wanted.
Mary: Yeah. Yes. And I love her for her big hair and for her tenacity and for the music that she’s provided to us. And what’s your favorite song?
Chime: Oh gosh. Which one?
Mary: Proud Mary?
Chime: Oh, proud Mary. So good. Roland on the river. I know. I know. It’s a good one. That’s a fun one. Simply the Best.
Mary: Oh, simply the best.
Chime: Cause she really is simply the best.
Mary: That’s right. Tina Turner.
Chime: You know what? In the docuseries, Oprah said that she watched Tina Turner one time when Tina was first coming out, and she’s like, Tina had the fever and I was feeling it. And I think that every time I see her now, I’m like, yes, Tina’s got the fever.
Mary: Tina’s got the fever.
Chime: She’s simply the best.
Mary: Simply the best. Tina Turner, we love you.