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Barbra Streisand on Her Netflix Special, Trump, Her Next Album and Why She 'Still Can't Wait To Get Off Stage'

Barbra Streisand
Kevin Mazur/WireImage for BSB  

Barbra Streisand performs onstage during Barbra - The Music... The Mem'ries... The Magic! Tour at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on Aug. 13, 2016 in New York.

At 75, Barbra Streisand is the only artist to have landed No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 albums chart in six successive decades. The legend earned her 11th No. 1 on the chart in September 2016 with Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. “That’s quite thrilling at my age, to have No. 1 albums,” she says. “I’m very proud of that.” 

Songs from her latest set are among the highlights in Barbra: The Music…The Mem’ries…The Magic!, which debuts on Netflix Wednesday, Nov. 22. The special captures the Miami stop on the superstar’s most recent -- and according to her, final -- tour. If it is, Streisand is going out on top: The 16-date 2016-2017 outing grossed $53 million, according to Billboard Boxscore.

In a free-wheeling conversation, Streisand talked to Billboard about singing with Jamie Foxx, her own mythology, plans for the next album, her disdain for touring and even her favorite ice cream flavor. 

In the special, you do your own make-up and call Joe’s Stone Crab to place an after-show order. It seemed like you wanted to bust your own myth a little.

That’s interesting. What is the myth? 

The myth that you are perfect.

I believe there’s no such thing as perfection. It’s very interesting because I’m writing a book for the last three years, and I don’t know how people perceive me. When I try to read from old articles, I’m [thinking] “Who the hell do they think I am?” 

How much did working on your memoir inform the concert?

It helps, because I have to be retrospective about my life [in the show]. I really did not want to have to write the book. If I had had a chance to make the movies I have in my head, believe me, I wouldn’t have written a book. But that’s one of the few things I can control -- what I write and what I record. And when I have the honor to direct a movie, I can control that. 

You said earlier this year that the budgets weren’t there anymore for the movies you want to make.

Yeah, studios weren’t interested in love stories. I don’t know, maybe it’s ageism, I’m not sure.  And also, I think they’re afraid of strong women. That’s even one of the reasons Hillary [Clinton] wasn’t elected. 

You’ve been very outspoken politically. How did you decide the right tone to strike on stage? 

I didn’t say a lot of political things [in the Miami show] that I said earlier against Trump. I [tried] to be more expansive in what I say, because I have been booed on the stage when I mention my comments about Trump in certain states.

In the beginning of the doc, your longtime manager Marty Erlichman says you always think you could have done it better. On this tour, how close did you get to your own high standards?

Oh, I’m never satisfied. If I had more time, I might have changed camera angles so I would have had more options, but [the Netflix special] was a one-time shot. Whatever we got we got because it cost a lot of money to do those shows. I have to pay for them before I can sell them… What happens with me is when I finish something, I put it out of my mind. I go to the present and the future, I don’t dwell on the past.

What was your pre-show ritual?

Well I always had my dog with me, as you saw. [Streisand’s dog, Sammie, died earlier this year.] I touched her and said a little prayer about making me at ease. I was nervous at the beginning of this because I knew it was being filmed and one time only,you know. Did it seem like I looked nervous? 

No, you were very playful with the audience. When you start “The Way We Were,” you even tell a fan to close his mouth.

That’s right. I was more in the moment at this show and on this tour than ever before. My comfort level was much better, but I still can’t wait to get off stage. I’m like, “How many more songs? I’ve got two more, I have to get through two more.” It’s not fun for me.

When Jamie Foxx comes out to join you on stage, he does an impression of you and you dance together. Was that scripted?

No, God no. First of all, he’s a real showman, so he comes out and commands the audience. He started yelling “Bar-bra, Bar-bra," and making the audience do that. I was in shock and thinking, “Wow, what guts this guy has. He comes out and just takes over,” which was wonderful. I had someone on stage to lean on. He’s just so sweet and kind and generous, i can’t say enough about him. 

Have you thought about doing a duets album with him?

Then you’d probably get too much of a good thing. Has there ever been an album of duets with the same person?

Sure. Often they were married couples like Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence or George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

Well, then, I’ll just have to marry Jamie. Divorce my husband and marry Jamie.

I think James Brolin may have an issue with that.

I hope so! We’re about to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

In the special, your husband is standing with you when you come off the stage and when you go on.

I say to him, “Don’t you want to just sit at home and watch TV?” He says, “No, I always find that [the show] is never quite the same, so I love watching it.” I can’t watch something over and over again, even though I like it. I can’t. I think it was so sweet he did that.

Do you think this was your last tour? 

Yeah, I do. I love buying paintings. I love being able to afford them and that’s kind of the reason I did this little tour. For a painting. 

Is there a piece of art that this tour bought?

Yep. It’s by Modigliani. It’s now hanging in the Tate Museum for a show in London. I had to say goodbye to it on Monday and they just sent me a picture today of it hanging in the Tate. 

At the end of the special, you’re having your Joe’s Stone Crab meal, although you say you’re supposed to be dieting. You’re every woman in the world at that moment.

I did this podcast with Alec Baldwin. All through it, I’m eating. I talked about my love for McConnell’s Brazilian Coffee ice cream and Alec sent me six pints. I usually have one pint, and then I try not to have it in my house, because I’ll eat it. All at once, a pint. A cone is not enough for me, to satisfy my cravings, but then I’m up at night because of the caffeine.

Are you still going to make records?

Of course. I love the process of recording because it’s private, it’s alone. It’s me and the music and my team. I can eat anything I want. It’s pleasurable and I always have good food at recording sessions, because that’s my reward. 

What’s next?

I have an idea for this next album that’s different from my other albums, and I look forward to that, a different kind of rhythm. Time goes by so fast that I’ve never gotten to make all the albums that I had in my head. I found my list of songs that I wanted to sing when I was 18 years old. I’m going to do [one] on my next album. It’s called “Will I Find My Love Today.” I heard it on a Johnny Mathis record, because he was my favorite when I was a teenager, and he still is. I adore his singing. 

Johnny just turned 82. Tony Bennett is 91. You’re a young whippersnapper compared to them.

I’m a young whippersnapper! You’re right! [Laughs.]