What if John Lennon’s infamous “lost weekend” really wasn’t?
Pang, 72, reclaims the narrative in new documentary “The Lost Weekend: A Love Story” (available Friday for home viewing on demand and Blu-ray). The film depicts a productive period when the former Beatle enthusiastically collaborated with Elton John and David Bowie and happily patched up his relationship with Paul McCartney and son Julian Lennon. It’s a provocative retelling of the year and a half when Lennon regularly made tabloid headlines for his rowdy nights out, culminating in an incident when he was ejected from The Troubadour for heckling The Smothers Brothers.
Her relationship with Lennon − who would have turned 83 today − began inexplicably, even by ‘70s standards. Pang, then 22 and working as Lennon and Ono’s personal assistant, says Yoko walked into her office in 1973 and told her, “John and I are not getting along, and I know he’s going to start seeing other people. And I want you to go out with him.”
“John Lennon charmed the pants off me,” says Pang, now divorced with two grown children, in the documentary.
Calling from St. Louis, where she’s battling a cold as she promotes her new photography exhibit, Pang spoke at length with USA TODAY about her relationship with Lennon and bearing witness to rock ‘n’ roll history. (Edited and condensed for clarity.)
Question: Yoko comes to you with this surprising proposition. We see your reaction in this documentary: shock, protest, not knowing what to make of it. What was John’s reaction?
Pang: She goes in when he’s waking up, and she says, “I fixed it so you can go out with May.” And he’s like, “What are you doing? How do you even know I like her?” I didn’t want to come out of my office, he didn’t want to come out of his bedroom. It was like “Oh, no, no, no.” I’m thinking, please let this be the nightmare that just goes away.
Q: Why did you agree to this? What were your expectations when you went into this relationship?
A: He’s John Lennon, he doesn’t need me, he could go with anyone under the sun. I’m sure if he went out on the street and said, “Oh, I want to date that person,” they would say, “Yeah, let’s go.” But I was surprised that he decided he would pursue me. He said, “OK, she doesn’t care? I’m going for it.”
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Q: I really felt for you as a young woman in an unusual situation when you said you cried after the first time the two of you had sex. Why was that such an emotional experience?
A: It was hard enough trying to get a date. I was still a minority in certain ways. Did he really like me? Where were we going, where does it lead to? It was just a whole lot of confusion. So, yeah, I cried. I said, “I don’t know where this is going.” And John goes, “And neither do I, but we’ll do it together.”
Q: You must have been very angry, or at the very least, confused, when he later referred to this as his “lost weekend.” Did you ever discuss that with him?
A: I knew what it was about. When he went back to the Dakota, it was (Pang pauses) an easy way out, an easy way to say it.