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On Bořek, love and her son

Fast Confession - Leona Machálková: I would like to fall in love

Karolína Lišková
27.Nov 2019
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7 minutes

Leona Machálková has been active in the Czech show business for a number of years. Aside from her own songs and concerts she has ingrained herself in people's memory by acting in many musicals, such as West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Dracula and others. On top of that, she was also the partner to the genius artist Bořek Šípek, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer three years ago. Leona remembers her late partner fondly and with respect to this day. She even held an exhibition in his honor with her son Artur. In her interview with the singer speaks not only about her past, but about the future she envisions for herself too...

Leona, describe the exhibition that's currently taking place at the Dancing House. Where did all those beautiful works come from?

At this exhibition you can see exhibits from private collections, some provided by mister Skala, the owner of the Dancing House, a real admirer of Bořek and a lover of art in general, then some by glasshouse Anežka in Nový Bor and many other collectors of Bořek's works and art connoisseurs.

Why is it happening three years after Bořek's death? Was it his wish?

Why three years after Bořek's death I'm not sure; but there's the fact that this year, Bořek would have been 70 years old on 6/14. It's not just nice, but also symbolic.

What should the visitors take away from it?

The visitors will be amazed by the broad scope of Bořek's art. They can admire glass sculptures, furniture, porcelain and many other things. If I wanted to express it on an emotional level, I'd say that it will captivate the visitor with how emotive, precise, modern and timeless his art is.

Funkcionalistická vila na prodej, Praha-západ
Funkcionalistická vila na prodej, Praha-západ, Okolí Prahy

What did Bořek bring into your life, if I leave out your son. How do you view architecture and beauty now?

Bořek gave me courage. Because of the way he was, what we'd talk about... As an example, he told me that the only important thing is what kind of life I lead, not what's written in the tabloids...

In hindsight, how do you remember your late partner?

I don't look back through rose-tinted glasses either, but I definitely see him as an amazing artistic genius, a person who lived life to the fullest, who was creative, giving and humble... He was helpful, generous, educated and a polite person.

People say that living with an artist is... harder than with somebody who has a 9 to 5 office job. You're an artist yourself... what did the cohabitation of two artistic souls look like?

It wasn't easy, I don't deny that, but it was a dynamic, unusual connection. Something was always going on, it was a ride, simply put. The ones in the know will know what I'm talking about. We would make time for everything. Work, family, experiences, traveling, just everything. It was great.

How is your private love life now? You present as single in the media, but I think it'd be a pity for this kinda "hottie" to be on her own...

I'm very glad you see me that way. I'm still single, even though it really isn't my image of a fulfilling personal life. The only thing I can influence is my growth as a person, work on myself...

Your son is growing up to be more and more like Bořek. How is he dealing with his life, not only with puberty, but with being the son of two famous people? How did he view his father's passing? Isn't he more grown-up than he should be?

He doesn't wrestle with it too much. I'd say that he enjoys every phase in his life. He's a chill guy who likes the adrenaline of snowboarding, he loves tennis, he's interested in music, he's patient... I don't know whether he's more grown-up up than he should be, I think he's just the right amount of childishly adult-like and the other way around. I never bothered him with worries and troubles, at least I tried not to, and I see that he's a happy boy. That's enough for me.

How is he turning out? Will he go in his father's footsteps, or in yours...

He doesn't know himself, he's studying at a language focused grammar school and letting things flow on their own.

What are his hobbies and interests, is he a buddy to you? Has he already introduced you to your future daughter-in-law?

At the start of his childhood I'd tell myself that I'd given birth to an "old soul". It is a fact that he is empathetic and sensitive. It won't be easy for him in this day an age, but he can see it himself to a point that life isn't a breeze. He can see it in my case too, what kind of lies are circulated about my person and he's proud of me for handling these "battles" like a lady. He does like women, "there will be grandkids"... so I'm personally glad that I have a future as a grandmother.

I haven't seen you in public for a long time, the kind of tabloid events. Where can you be seen, at which theaters, concerts, where can fans meet you or see you, where do you like to go?

I'm busy performing with my band, recently I've been performing the program Musical - My Love, fans also come to my pop music concerts and in the advent time to the Christmas ones. What's also great is that I collaborate with some big bands and can sing swing with them too, which I enjoy and find fulfilling. Right now I still take part in the Dracula musical at HDK and I've been deciding between two musical offers for the next season.

When we're talking singing - you've studied History and Czech language - remind me how you became a singer?

I became a singer rather naturally. I'd been singing since childhood, I was a part of a kids' choir, went to music school, I used to sing in amateur bands in both high school and college. After graduation in 1990 I left with one of them - Znamení dechu - for Prague to freelance. After that I was also lucky to get an offer from Semafor theater within a year, or to work for the Evropa 2 radio, or in Ondřej Soukup's studio. And from there on it started rolling.

Karel Gott has died recently, tell us what he meant to you, did he help your career? Any funny story featuring him in your life?

Karel Gott really meant a lot to me. He discovered me in Dracula and he and mister František Janeček immediately offered me the opportunity to be a guest artist in Karel's 1996 Christmas tour. I enjoyed his favor for many years and sang at many of his concerts. He was an outstanding singer, a shining star, an intelligent and sensitive man, a nice person...

It's been a while since you celebrated your 50th birthday, but you still look thirty. What do you do to stay beautiful and how much of it are your mom's genes?

I'm lucky to enjoy a good genetic makeup, both my parents are over seventy and they really look rather young. Personally I take care of my body, I'm active in sports, I like getting my hair done, going to a cosmetologist, for lifting massages and I've been putting my body back together with a physical therapist.

Travelling - a whole another chapter in and of itself - what's the last place you've been to, what captivated you there, any stories?

I'm one of the people for whom travelling is a part of their nature and I often look forward to it. The truth is, I travel a lot thanks to my job, but that doesn't mean that I prefer "stable relaxation" in my free time. That might be great, but I'm always drawn to experiencing new things, be it a country or cultures.

Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2
Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2, Okolí Prahy

I have many stories from my travels, but the truth is that it's mostly pleasant ones. I've been in some harrowing situations while travelling though. For example, I remember the tsunami in Thailand in 2004. While we were in Thailand at the time, we were on Koh Samui island, where we watched the tragedy in the media. It was really terrible and any relaxation was completely out of question. Right after that we moved on to Bangkok where we were in contact with our ambassador and the consuls from the embassy. From them we had the information about the fates of many Czech families who were affected by the tsunami and we did cry a lot at the time. There really was no escape from the "mood". It was very touching and affected us deeply as people. As you say, I'm grateful to fate to this day for sparing me from that misfortune.

I've noticed that you support many charity projects.

I realized that helping others is also the best thing you can do for yourself. The help we give to others gets repaid to us not only because of the good feeling, but because you see the meaning of it, when you appreciate kind words from others, there is no doubt that you are on the right path. I see a lot of inspiration around me and I'm glad that others view me this way too and don't hesitate to come to me to ask for collaboration. At this time I am the ambassador for the organisation Smiling Crocodile, I cooperate with the Vize 97 foundation, as well as Kapka naděje, Adra, Unicef, Dobrý anděl, Mamma Help and many others.

Are social media a so-called pain in the ass for you or do you view them positively?

For a long time I resisted social media and I was one of the more conservative people who do not really get involved. However, mainly because of my fans, among whom I count most organizers that I work with on my concerts, you have to make a name for yourself on social media as an artist, but also as a person. I think that I float through social media at just the right amount, I'm interested in them, but I wouldn't say that I'm their slave.

What do you think about the political situation in our country? You even knew Havel.

The political situation in our country isn't exactly bright and I'd wish for a fresh change in our society, as Havel would say, to get out of that "awful mood"...

How happy are you in life? Is there anything you're missing?

At the moment I'm feeling really good, I'm fine, I experience lovely moments of happiness. The one thing I'm missing in order to be happy is a new partner that I'd love to find and get to know, just to be with someone...

What would you like to accomplish in the new year?

I'm going to repeat myself, I'd like to fall in love.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Fast confession:

What were you doing on 11/17 30 years ago?

I was supposed to perform a concert at a college club in Brno with my band, Znamení dechu. However, only the sound check took place and that was about it, because actors from the Na provázku theater showed up around then. And it snowballed from there. There were discussions, hearts racing, eyes rolled back. We were at it until late at night, and after that, all worried, I returned to Olomouc where I was studying at the Faculty of Arts. Everything was up in arms there too, everyone really came alive through it. Simply put, the revolution had started. I'm happy that I could experience it as a student, that I took part in all that was happening. I painted posters, it was pure adrenaline.

What did you do on 11/17 this year?

This year I celebrated in a calmer fashion. In the morning we went for a walk in the woods, then we had lunch with friends and family. In the afternoon I had a band rehearsal, so there's the music once again, and in the afternoon we celebrated the revolution. We went for a walk and enjoyed the mood and the celebration of democracy.

The greatest exhibition you've ever seen?

It was in 2002 - Bořek Šípek - Design Nomad at the Old Royal Palace, I'll never forget it.

When I say the name Bořek Šípek, what's the first thing that comes up on your mind?

I imagine my favorite person who, when he was happy, would hug you in such a way that you'd feel like he was going to break all your bones. That's who Bořek was - an avalanche of joy and emotions. It was never just so.

Karel Gott's greatest song?

It's hard to pick, I like a whole range of them, but one of the best ones that I always love to listen to is called Když jsem já byl tenkrát kluk.

Who is Leona Machálková in one sentence?

A Moravian girl who likes people, life and loves to sing.

The recipe for eternal youth?

Be active and keep your spirits up.

What'd you say to mister Babiš?

I'd ask him to leave, to not expose the nation to these insecurities and worries by marrying his personal interests with our political ones.

What was the most recent nice thing your son has said to you?

I love you, Mom.

The sexiest man in the world?

I can't remember his name now. It's this actor we like a lot. It's the reason why my son uses the Savage fragrance actually. It's Johnny Depp.

What's the biggest flaw of today's kids?

Impatience, I'd say.

What constitutes luxury for you?

For me it's encountering beauty, be it an experience or a thing that will make my jaw drop with admiration. That I have to go back to. The experience then makes me want to annoy everyone and tell them about the encounter with such beauty.

What would you like to change about yourself?

I'd like to be more patient.
Question by the interviewee to the editor:

How are you, are you happy, do you enjoy life?

I'm great, save the voice, I enjoy life and now I'm really looking forward to the exhibition.
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