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21st June 2017

Mary Bartnicki, 86

‘Grandma Mary’ became a You Tube sensation along with her two sisters after a video of them all discussing the Kim Kardashian sex tape went viral, getting almost four million hits. They have since appeared on Oprah and launched their own YouTube channel, 3GoldenSistersTV. Bolder met and photographed Mary at her home in Los Angeles.

“I was a hairdresser most of my life – doing that job you listen to people all day long and you become a bit of a psychologist. You go home grateful for what you’ve got. It made me feel one of the luckiest people in the world – even though I knew I wasn’t. I grew up in the Bronx and dropped out of school early. Growing up in New York, you get an education without an education. You’re outdoors all the time, you quickly learn what life is all about. There were six of us kids and we were very poor, but we loved each other. Money isn’t happiness.

If you think you’re going to change someone, you can’t. You can change yourself maybe, but not someone else.

At 15, I had my first kiss with Jack, who was to become my husband. That kiss melted me away and then he took my virginity at 17. In those days, you had to marry the guy, how stupid is that? Now, women can sleep with a hundred men and then get married. Anyway, my parents hated him because he was Polish, not Italian like us – they’d have preferred me to marry Tony Tintorello, the local butcher. We had a great marriage though and we had two sons together; they are both in their 60s now but they still come over for lunch every Monday.

To tell you the truth, when my husband died five years ago, I felt free. Like I’d been let out of a cage. I’m the merry widow! We had a great life together and I knew he loved me unconditionally but if I so much as touched his toe he’d be on top of me! He was so jealous too – he used to say ‘I married you to be with you 24/7.’ And if you think you’re going to change someone, you can’t. You can change yourself maybe, but not someone else. The genetics, the blood that goes around them, it’s not going anywhere. If you have kids together, you’ll see they are half of each of you. I think the secret to a happy marriage is not to take anything too seriously. Any bad things Jack said to me went in one ear and out the other as I knew he was crazy about me.

I think happiness is self-inflicted. I say that to everyone. You can’t wait around for somebody else to do it for you.

Regrets? I would have loved to sleep with a bunch of other men. I wouldn’t date now though. What are we going to do? Men take too long and I’m too tired for that. I would like to date for companionship, but not for going to bed. Maybe with the lights out! Anyway, I’m happy by myself. I think happiness is self-inflicted. I say that to everyone. You can’t wait around for somebody else to do it for you. I keep myself busy, too. If you’re bored, you’re boring.

I look crappy now. I used to be pretty but I don’t care. I would never get plastic surgery – everything is within you. I had a girlfriend with a face like a potato but after ten minutes you fell in love with her – you forgot what she looked like. It’s the same with men; they can have a big nose or be cross-eyed but speak to them and everything changes. I wear perfume every day, though. I buy it when I win in Vegas. Men come up to me and tell me I smell nice – apart from one guy who told me I smelled like his dead wife, the jackass! Fashion is not important to me, although I have picked out a beautiful dress for when I die. There’s so much more I want to do before that, though.

I would never get plastic surgery – everything is within you.

I’m free of pain so I’m very lucky. My friends all have knee replacements or hip replacements. I dance for an hour every morning – that’s my exercise. I don’t want to go to a gym, so I go around every single room in the house dancing polka. I relax a lot, too. It takes a very intelligent person to do nothing well – I’ve got that phrase embroidered somewhere. I nap every day and I love food. I eat my last meal of the day at 2pm with a glass of wine, so at night before I sleep I’m thinking about what to cook the next day. Baked macaroni, meatballs, spaghetti, stuffed lamb shank, brijoles – everything. I’d really like to do a cookery show. That’s what I want to do next.

My life motto? Laughter is the best medicine.”

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