John and May once experienced something so surreal and other-worldly that the very subject still inspires intrigue.

“The UFO was an experience. There wasn’t much to do after that except to know that we saw one. People, of course, have contacted me over the years because it was us two that had seen it. And it was very interesting. Because I always truly believed there was something out there. I cannot think we are the only people in the universe, that there’s no other life or another world, another galaxy. I think it would be silly to think that.

Look at the sky; it’s infinite. You read thousands and thousands of reports of people who have seen something out there. People are afraid of the unknown. Remember not that long ago they’d put people in the looney bin for expressing views that weren’t ‘the norm’.

John was a big believer that there might be another galaxy and he used to buy UFO magazines which I still have somewhere. He was a subscriber. It made it even more realistic for him. You can believe it but when you actually see it, it’s even more so.

When you read about peoples’ experiences, people you’ve never met, in different countries who have exactly the same experience, what do you say to that? It’s not written, unless they tell their stories, but you saw it. People have to own up to that, that there’s something out there.

We can use a bit more critical thinking. Like our new person in the White House. He doesn’t believe in climate change. Are you kidding me? How can you not believe your own eyes? Icebergs are melting. We’re already being flooded by routine storms. We’ve got to do address it and we’ve got to do something to help.

Again, it’s what people choose to believe, because the unknown is a scary adventure and people don’t want to venture out of their comfort zone.”

What of the collaborative highlights that occurred during the time she and John were together? And the fact that he re-bonded with loved ones?

“I take pride in that all of the collaborations happened when we were together The majority of people that he saw a lot of in a lot of his work was during my time and a lot of people don’t realize that. I was happiest to see him with his “brothers” and his son. That, to me, was important. Family.

Julian and and his father not only became closer during this time; he even played drums on ‘Ya Ya’.

“Julian and his father—he hadn’t seen him in three years. And so I worked awfully hard to rekindle that relationship and keep it going. I wanted to make it easy and I also arranged it so that Cynthia was in the picture; he hadn’t seen her either. They never had proper closure. I was just trying to make it all comfortable and easy so that everyone could move on.

When he saw his three brothers, George, Ringo and Paul, and they picked up where they left off, it was great.”

May has accomplished so much in her career. What is she most proud of?

“Wow. It’s hard because I think I’m proud of everything that I do. Everything I set my mind to, for example, I wanted to do a little bit of acting which I’ve done. I’m actually in the Screen Actor’s Guild. A lot of people don’t know that. You can see me in the film, ‘Heartburn’. It’s brief, but I do get a credit at the end.

I remember Andrew Oldham (the Stones’ former manager and producer) said to me, ‘May, I just saw your credit at the end. What exactly did you do?’ (Laughs) Like I said, it was so brief, but I still got it at the end. I’m just happy to do some acting.

I make jewelry; there are things that I’m still involved in. Except there’s not enough time in the day to do everything I’m still involved in. Some things have to take a back seat, because I’m trying to catch up. You can only do so much and then think, ‘Why can’t there be ten of me? It’s not fair.’

People say, ‘When are you going to do this?’ ‘Okay’. If I were like Bloomberg, or any of these people that have tons of money, it would be great and I could hire people to do all the things that I couldn’t do.

I’m still unpacking from my move last year. It was tough. I took many years off to raise my kids in a big house and then to move back to the city where I grew up, it was difficult. I have never felt so stressed. When they say moving is one of the most stressful things in life, I’d say I totally agree.

People think you can just do it, but when you’ve lived in a place for over twenty years and you’re left with everybody’s stuff, it’s overwhelming. If it were just me and my stuff, fine. I had to make other people’s decisions. I threw out a lot. I had garage sales. But I still ended up with a ton of things.

I came from a home that was very large and every day you bring something in. And it’s so terrible because I look at my kitchen and I go, I loved my old kitchen. I designed it. I’m also a gadget person. I would love to be a tester for kitchen products, for tech products. I’m that person.

I have friends, especially female friends and they say, ‘I don’t know how to turn this on.’ I’m a big Apple product person. My girlfriend’s mom is 91. She had an iPad but she couldn’t turn it on. They had been trying to call Apple all morning.

So I told her what to do and she said, ‘Why aren’t you a tech person?’ I said, call me if you have a problem, instead of Apple, call me first. 91 years-old and she’s still hanging in there and her iPad was her big thing.

There are tons of things I’d like to do. I would love to be a tour guide for certain things in New York. I would love to do voice-overs. There are still a lot of things I’d love to do if given a chance. I don’t like to sit around. Music gave me a platform and an opportunity that came my way and I wanted to grab every opportunity. I wanted to work and soak it all in.

We turned out attentions to another subject, dear to her heart. May is passionate about humanitarian efforts. She serves as an advisory member of the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT).

“Yes, and that is a big thing and I’m so proud to be part of it. I’ve also gotten Julian involved as an advisory member. I’ve known the people since its inception. I met Dr. Mark Plotkin when he was still working at World Wildlife, and when he started this organization he asked me to help in any way I can. I helped him out with a few fundraisers and asked people to come perform and things like that. He and his wife, Liliana, are the founders of this organization

I went into the rainforest last November and it was fascinating, the most amazing trip I’ve ever been on, one that you don’t forget. Meeting the Shamans--I had met one or two, but to be in their home, in their environment and to see how happy they were and that the organization had helped to save their land that they thought they would never see again; that the government would not return the land to them. It’s not only about saving the land, it’s about saving the indigenous people that won the land.

They know what is in the forest that we don’t, so we have to save them as well. The rainforest is important to the wellbeing of the planet and hold the key to our own health. It’s very important.

I’m very proud of be part of it and I’ve met some amazing people in this organization. It’s a nonprofit and everyone who works there is a field person, or out working. They’re not just in an office pushing papers.

Julian took fabulous photographs of the Kogi Indians. He’s one of the first to document them. You look at them and go, ‘Wow, what they have and how they live!’ They build new houses that are ‘more modern’, but when you walk in, they’re not modern at all. The kitchen is a hole in the ground with some wood, a place where they can put a big pot. For us, we can’t live without our modern tech amenities..

I’ve been to the Amazon, which is amazing. I visited other tribes in the area. We had to go through the Andes Mountains where we hit a rock slide. It’s a trip you don’t forget on that level.

On my way back I found myself in a city called Pasto standing under a big poster for a Beatles tribute concert. And people were on the street talking about the Beatles. I just laughed. I said, ‘I can’t believe this. They’re everywhere.’ When you go back and look at it, The Beatles were not just a band. They changed a whole generation. A couple of generations, in fact. They united people and they opened the doors up for so many possibilities.

I went to Mexico City last September. The minister of tourism is a huge Beatle fan and his son bought him a life-sized John Lennon figurine. The arms and the legs were made of silicon and everything else was like a mannequin. It was so lifelike. The minister was telling me what the Beatles meant to him, especially John. How we think of him, he’ll never be old. He’ll be exactly the way he is.

I’ve been very fortunate in my life to have met so many interesting people--the Beatles are up at the top.

When you think about it, over 50 years later Paul’s still touring the world playing to sold-out crowds. He’s amazing. I saw him in concert last week in Brooklyn and I did get to say hello to him. This man sings for three hours and doesn’t take a sip of water.

The last time I saw Paul was fifteen years ago when we were all together at the Concert for George. It’s so strange to me to think that two of them are gone. And John always used to say to me, ‘George is like my kid brother,’ and those are the two that are not here.

People think that John and I were only in L.A. and acting crazy. We actually lived in New York for the better part of our relationship. And John was in close contact with all the guys. It was great when Paul and Linda would just show up. They’d ring the bell. ‘Who is it?’ ‘It’s us!’ ‘Well, come on up!’”

May is a keen observer of the political scene and has even run for office. Having known so much about John Lennon’s hopes and dreams during their special time together, I wondered how she thought John Lennon, if alive today, would react to current events and technology.

“In my opinion, he’d probably be in a Twitter war with a certain someone. And he’d be winning (Laughs). Of course he’d weigh in. He was living here and I tend to think that he would still be living here and I think he would have to take a stand.

It’s a shame that he’s not here to see life as it is now, all the tech stuff, because he always wanted things NOW. ‘Can we get it done today? In ten minutes?’ He’s missed the entire digital age. He never heard a CD. He was a television addict who had a big 27” Sony Trinitron. And the fact that you could send emails would have just fascinated him. To be able to record studio quality music in your own home, without a whole bunch of people, he’d be loving every minute of it.

But as far as politically, of course he’d be saying something. We could’ve used his voice on 9/11. I think every one of them has said something. How do you keep quiet amidst all this insanity? Paul throws his support behind some of our candidates and has hinted he’s written a song about the current occupant of the White House for his up-coming album. You can tell by the way he chooses who to perform for, so they all make their statements. It’s important.

What I think now is amazing. I’m just trying to stay calm but I can’t believe I’m seeing a country so divided.”

As our lively discussion comes to an end, one of May’s responses tugs at my sleeve and grates at my conscience. There is no room in her life, it seems, for idle observation. She’s a woman who cares deeply about getting things done and encourages those who are still on the fence, to get onboard in a serious and compassionate way, whether though grassroots efforts or art.

Four persuasive words say it all: “How can you not?”

Photographs © May Pang. Cannot be used without written permission.

Lisa Torem would like to especially thank Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper, Blue Coupe, The Dennis Dunaway Project) for his help coordinating Pennyblackmusic’s first interview with May Pang.

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