The photographer Cynthia MacAdams, 77, is sitting in the dining room of her Los Angeles apartment admiring two walls she recently painted red, in accordance with feng shui principles. “It’s a healthy red. It brings joy and energy,” she says. She’s surrounded by her work (including a large framed print of an Egyptian pyramid) and simple drawings of nudes by her former lover, the artist and feminist writer Kate Millett. And then there’s the looming image of the Hindu goddess Kali—fierce, ready to fight—whom MacAdams views as both her protector and a destroyer of obstacles. She pops the cork of a Champagne bottle, pours a couple of glasses, and recounts the time she went to Peru to act in Dennis Hopper’s infamous The Last Movie—a cocaine-, LSD-, and sex-fueled 1971 production that costar Michelle Phillips jokingly says “almost became the last movie for all of us.”
MacAdams, who studied at the Actors Studio, in New York, with Lee Strasberg, has been friends with the Mamas & the Papas singer ever since. Phillips characterizes MacAdams as someone who follows her passions and makes strong impressions along the way. It’s no wonder the men who navigated the boat that took them on an excursion down the Amazon while on location for the film never forgot the topless blonde standing at the helm, her arms outstretched in homage to the local gods.
“Yeah, I was a nudist, but I also impressed them with my blow-dart-gun skills,” MacAdams says. “I was 30 years old and went wherever the winds took me. I think we’re fools when we stop going with the wind, because the wind is a great guide.”
Read more at W Magazine.