An open letter to Chloe Sevigny : a reply to her comments about Manchester

Dear Chloe,

I’m sorry you did not enjoy your well-paid six months stay in Manchester.

I heard that you found the city ‘grim’ and that all  the girls dressed like ‘chavs’. I’m sure that things may look different in your expensive hotel suite as you peer down at the peasants running around in the streets and I am certain that Manchester is quite different from your LA mansion, but with a tiny bit of effort you would have found that the city – like all northern cities – is not ‘unfriendly.’

I am not here to slag you off, that would be pointless. I am just a bit concerned that an obviously intelligent women like you can be so short-sighted and confuse the modern Manchester with the industrial city of its past.

Of course parts of the city are indeed, ‘grim’ but maybe that is because of the inequalities of modern life, where entertainers can get paid a fortune and normal people get nothing. I am sure you know all this and I am sure you are deservedly well paid for your work, as I do recognise your name and your work in indie films which would make me think you would understand a city like Manchester.

I mistakingly had you down as an actress who was bit hipper than the rest, and that, combined with your experiments with drugs in the past, should have made Manchester a city that you should have connected with. You rebelled against stuffiness in your youth and spent six months in a city that doesn’t do stuffiness- surely a perfect coupling!

This letter is not an anti-Chloe letter, I am sure you are a fine woman and have been, hopefully, misquoted. It’s just that I am bit bemused by your comments. This letter not some sort of ‘live in the North, die in the North’ pride thing, but surely a big time actress like you, who spent six months in a big city, would be able to scratch below the surface.

Your claim that it was hard to make friends in Manchester  is odd, because for a city of its size it is a friendly place. Maybe you should have come out of your hotel suite more and hung out with normal people at the 40-plus gig venues in town, or all the bars, restuarants and all the other social places where normal people go to. After all, hotel suites can get a bit boring, wherever you are in the world.

It’s a long time since Manchester has been cloth caps and whippets, this is a modern city with a lot going on and with a great history. It was once the most radical city in the world, the world’s first industrial city, a radical city of Karl Marx, suffraggetes and revolution, and an amazing pop culture. Surely there must have been something to interest you?

You would then have noticed that,  like most Northern cities in the last ten years, Manchester is hardly ‘grim’, and that all the girls don’t dress like ‘chavs’, whatever dressing like a ‘chav’ is. Is that last statement a touch snobbish? It certainly sounds a bit like Marie Antionette telling the peasants to eat cake – maybe you did not mean it that way.

I see that you complained about the rain as well and, true, it does rain a lot, but with the 21st century heading into a massive drought it leaves the city uniquely placed as some sort of water boom town and surely Chloe you would have had a flunkie holding up your umbrella for you. And who is really that bothered by small droplets of water falling out of the sky? Chloe, could you not look on this as one of the wonders of nature?

Please don’t dismiss a city viewed from cliche and penthouse luxury detachment. Next time you are in the city give us a call and we will show you the real Manchester, just like many Americans have kindly showed me the good things in their cities over the years. It would be like me thinking LA is a wet city because it rained for three days when I was there once and no-one got put of their cars. Fortunately I made a bit more effort and found a great city a long way away from the plastic surgery cliched image of the town.

Thanks for your time Chloe and we still enjoy your film work despite you missing out on so much in our city.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Dissapointing Chole called Manchester ‘grim’


    Hoping she was misquoted as in this article with the Guardian she says she was last happiest ‘When on the dance floor in Manchester.’

  2. Disappointing Chloe called Manchester ‘grim’


    Hoping she was misquoted as in this article with the Guardian she says she was last happiest ‘When on the dance floor in Manchester.’

  3. “…your experiments with drugs in the past, should have made Manchester a city that you should have connected with.”

    Erm, what?

  4. I would imagine CS was mis-quoted by the press… no really… it does happen..
    As for being lonely in the city… well.. there are people who get “Socialist Donkey Jacket” points for being rude to Americans…
    My mother is American and it was ALWAYS the left wing people who would subject her to a barrage of racist remarks in a self-righteous manner, which is why I’ve always enjoyed the phrase “shut the fuck up you piece of hippie crap and leave my mother alone.”
    (She would fall about laughing, but I had to give it up when I reached the age of 11 and was religiously inclined to forgive the racist fuckers.. that wore off though.)
    Americans get racist remarks from “Left Wing” (or are they?) Mancunions. FACT.
    Oh, Lecturers from MMU also get “Socialist Donkey Jacket” points if they are rude to people from Wilmslow… its true. The SWP sends them a free Boys from the Blackstuff circa 1980 Donkey Jacket if they are rude to people from Wilmslow. Not Chortlon..cos…that’s where they live. No. Wilmlsow. But you can double your points if you are rude to an American female from Wilmslow, which is why my mother has has fifty years of crap from this idiots. She’s an American in Wilmslow. Oddly enough, they don’t try this racist crap with a LARGE BLACK MALE AMERICAN SPORTS GOD who lives in Wilmslow…. possibly because they’d get a well deserved slap?

  5. Im not accusing you of supporting or being a part of Anti-American racism John. I’m pointing out that it is a very real problem. There is an American Ex-Pat group that meets up regularly and as each new American joins, the same comments and surprise.. “Oh my God, why are they so racist and hostile to Americans in Manchester.” I always reply, “The Majority are not. The Minority are the Guardian Reading Academics and they like to feel good about they deliver racism disguised as morality, to those they think wno’t fight polite American females.. The answer? FIGHT BACK. ALWAYS FIGHT BACK..AND KEEP FIGHTING. DONT STOP.”

    If Chloe Sevigny got any racist remarks that made her feel isolated and unwelcome, I would imagine she would fight back. She wouldn’t have got to where she is without the ability to fight back.
    But did she?
    Or is an article designed to depict her as “some idiot who doesn’t like Manchester” probably bollox and designed to depict her in a way that certain people LIKE to depict American females. ..

  6. who cares about her comments really ! and as for dressing like a chav so fookin what people might like dressing like chav i do on a night out chavyy eye lashed an all so wat if it makes me happy, Like i am sure having quiffs make rockerbillies happy:) but manchester people are too cool to ever give a rats arse, especially when mancs produced Smiths oasis, joy division,

    ps dont forget she never said let them eat cake!

  7. I went to Manchester last January, had to go to a funeral near Preston of an old mate which was grim in itself but not as damn dark and grim as Manchester. Had arrived about 5 minutes and near Picadilly station saw an indian bloke and an older white guy kicking the crap out of each other. On the way out of hotel later, saw another set to, this time between a cycle courier and some white van man. This entailed more slapping and kicking each other across the road…

    I don’t know anyone in manchester, so went like a tourist to the Dry bar which I am sure is 20 years past its glory days, saw they had sandwiches called the ‘joy division’ and ‘a certain ratio’ so got the fuck out of there asap. Went further into the northern quarter, seemed to be all sharons and traceys lying on the ground pissed. Every bar seemed to have a photo of tony wilson and bernard sumner in it……

    Did find some great curry houses and record shops, but did get the impression that the great mythical manchester of factory records, the hacienda, the smiths, stone roses was long since past, dead and buried.

    Maybe such great music has come out of manchester in the past…(not recently mind)…….is because its such a contrary, grim, fuck you of a place?

    • Seth…you could be right..that paints a picture of the Manchester I knew in the late seventies, (although without the painful Factory nostalgia, obviously.)

      But I still think Chloe Sivigny was probably misquoted by some chip-on-shoulder-journo. She’d be too media savvy to “trash” a city and its inhabitants.

  8. I’m surprised Chloe had room in her mouth to say anything at all.
    Last time I saw her on screen she was choking on 6 inches of Vincent Gallo man meat – all for the sake of art though.

    Then she has the nerve to call other girls ‘Chavs’.

  9. @Johny McButter…..if you’d said, “you seem like that sort of man from WILMSLOW..who reads the Daily Mail…” you’d have got ten points towards your SWP 1980 style Donkey Jacket.

    You wouldn’t have been accurate, but I don’t think that matters at all…

    If you go into a rant about the Daily Mail, and its links to Hitler 60 or years ago, you get points towards the “Priory Escapee Welly Boot” decorated in Roses. Very fetching Mr McButter..just right for Glasto

  10. @Ian, do you want people to know about your Phd in Feminism, or is that brain dead cave man “front” working out just find for you?

  11. There’s really only one reply to this, and it comes to us via every stand-up comic who ever replied to a heckler:

    “Hey, Chloe, I don’t come down to where you work and knock Vince Gallo’s c**k out of your mouth.”

  12. Having been to LA it has its darkside too. I’m unclear on where CS stayed. manchester is cosmopolitan, hotel staff tend to be from every nook and cranny in the world. I go out in the city and meet people from every continent. How can CS be sure where the female ‘chavs’ were from. It is grim up north – thats why we’re all so friendly. Manchester has one of the largest student populations in the world, it was built on industry, maybe its the working class CS has issues with – i dont suppose she thinks the working class appreciate art or go to the cornerhouse to watch her perform arty felatio. If she did say it – what an absolute cocksucker she is!

  13. Excellent open letter – my daughter saw her a couple of times stalking Oldham Street ….. she’s 9 parts lesbian anyway ….. (Chloe that is, not my daughter) xx

  14. Personally I don’t care if she likes Manchester or not. Purely and simply it is her choice. I don’t like her much and that’s my choice.

  15. Manchester isn’t that bad, it’s certainly better than London. Now there’s a city that’s best described as ‘grim’

  16. So pathetic the way people want to ‘defend’ Manchester by abusing Chloe Sevigny for being a woman! Two people who hate her for having oral sex with a man , though I notice that they both watched, and one who objects to her being ‘nine parts lesbian’ even though that’s just his own little fantasy… No wonder she didn’t like the place if this is what she got when she got here…

  17. Sorry, THREE people who hate her for being a woman and having Oral sex – I’d missed the ‘cocksucker’ remark… It’s like life on Mars was set last week rather than thirty odd years ago…

  18. Four sexist renarks if you count the original Chloe comment about all manchester girls being chavs. That’s if you ate so sad that you think any criticism of silly remarks made by an actress is sexist…

    • You’re right of course. On reflection I feel foolish for interpreting the suggestion that she’s a Lesbian as being something to do with her being a woman.

  19. Well done John it’s nice to see someone standing up for Manchester not into sitting here slagging anybody else off for what they may or may not have said just the defence of such a friendly and cosmopolitan city is all that’s needed

    To subvert a skepta song I’m too manny man too manny manny man

  20. As I have been so many times since Chloë Sevigny’s Manchester remarks were first scandalized in the media, I am once again profoundly disappointed in the misinformation and disguised bitterness in this article. Let this be my open letter to you on this subject.

    Let’s rid ourselves of all pretension from the start. I am a fan of Chloë Sevigny, as an actress and outspoken personality. I’m also not from Manchester. Indeed, I’m not even from the UK. That said, even as someone who follows Chloë and her career closely, I am capable of looking at her and her work critically, and *as* someone who follows her closely am quite up to speed on both her and the media coverage on her, which has been less than unembellished at certain ends.

    Let’s start off at this basic premise: Chloë did indeed call Manchester “grim”. In fact, here is the relevant bit from the interview in full:

    “Kim Gordon: You were filming in Manchester, right?
    Chloë: It was very hard being in Manchester. I know you guys must’ve played there so many times.

    Gordon: Depressing!
    Chloë: It was one of the grimmest places I’d ever been in my entire life, and I was there for so long. I hardly had any visitors. I was so alone. […] It rained every single day I was there.”

    That’s the quotation from Chloë’s feature in the February issue of Interview which the media quickly picked up and re-reported all over as news for the next month. Then The Independent Magazine ran their story on Chloë on April 28 with the following bit:

    “Sky are hoping for a second series of Hit+Miss should it prove a hit rather than a miss. Would she be tempted back? ‘I think I’d like to see how it comes out and what they would have in mind,’ she says. ‘And more importantly, how long I’d have to suffer Manchester.’ I don’t see the locals putting down the red carpet for her somehow.”

    A similar quote was also picked up, most notably by Manchester Evening News, from the June issue of Psychologies. All three interviews were conducted last year not long after Chloë had wrapped nearly six months of filming with a six-day-a-week schedule in a foreign country.

    Chloë likely said both things as they have been reported, and she owns that, and especially earlier this year, when the Interview feature was the only thing people had to go on, the uproar was absolutely understandable. Today, however, when Chloë has already several times and publicly explained herself, in the UK press especially, I find your “open letter,” posted only days ago, as short-sighted as you find Chloë.

    Since that Interview article, there have been several interviews in which Chloë has explained herself regarding these comments both in the press and the spoken media. Here’s an excerpt from her interview with BBC Radio’s Richard Bacon:

    “Richard Bacon: And you filmed in Manchester, which according to an interview with you, you didn’t really enjoy.
    Chloë: Man, was that picked up! [laughs]

    Bacon: Particularly on Twitter.
    Chloë: What I said around that one remark was of course removed, but it *was* hard in Manchester. I mean, the subject matter of the show is really hard, it was the biggest part I’ve ever played, the most demanding physically and emotionally. And so my frame of mind was, you know, really… I was very sensitive. And the weather there is, as everybody knows, not that great. It’s like, in a valley, so it rained for four months straight every day. We had a couple of spots of sunshine here and there, but… And the shooting schedule was really tough and we were out on the moors [with] like, really strong winds and rain, and I was wearing practically nothing, were freezing… just very demanding all around.

    Bacon: So when you were interviewed and you gave these comments, you were just a bit drained, at a low ebb.
    Chloë: I was, and also I was talking [in Interview magazine] to a close friend of mine, who was in a very famous band called Sonic Youth, and she’s toured a lot and she’d been to Manchester many times, and you know, had a sense of Manchester of her own, so we were kind of finding common ground a little bit.

    Bacon: The one quote that particularly stood out to me was [when] I think interviewer had said, ‘If this show works and Sky Atlantic wants to make a second series, would you like to make a second series?’ And I think you said something like, ‘It depends if I can suffer Manchester again.’
    Chloë: Ooh. Did I? [both laugh] I think I would have to go about [filming] in a different way, because I really isolated myself, I didn’t have any friends come to visit because I was working on the accent and all the physical stuff and I didn’t want them to be a distraction. I think if I went back again it would be different, because I feel more ease in the part, with the accent and whatnot, and therefore I could have more people coming in now. You know, when you’re away from home for six months and you don’t have any of your friends nearby, it can get very lonely.”

    Find more comments in a similar vein in e.g. the Summer issue of Attitude magazine, Chloë’s interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and the May 13th Sunday Times.

    Anyone who also read the late April Independent Magazine feature (another interview conducted just a day after filming had wrapped, as the article states) in full could not have missed the part where the interviewer rather blatantly tries to get a rise out of Chloë by bringing up The Brown Bunny — a movie made 10 YEARS ago — and its controversial oral sex scene (because in 10 years she has apparently made nothing else worth talking about, including winning a Golden Globe for Nicki in Big Love, one of her most acclaimed ever roles). The interviewer having made his research so well as to know of the film and its content, hardly could’ve expected Chloë to be particularly tickled by this subject, and his overall attitude towards her anyway is pretty apparent throughout the article.

    But of course none of this is very interesting, not the least because it turns out Chloë is in fact neither an asshole nor after ‘your’ hometown. And isn’t it just so much easier to hate on someone than getting all the facts? I mean, God forbid you had to look up another website..!

    I’m sorry I have to come out against you in this way, because I’d like to think that if you *had* had the full story you would perhaps not have wanted to be as severe on Chloë as you have been, but this finally needed saying. More than trash you specifically, though, the point I’d like to make is, shame, shame, SHAME on MEN, The Daily Mail, The Independent Magazine & co. for their unfair and appalling sensasionalist reporting. Chloë’s initial remarks may have been inconsiderate, but this kind of slamming she did not deserve.

    Admin of, unofficial fan site

    PS. Chloë does not live in an “LA mansion” in “penthouse luxury detachment”. She has apartment in New York, and actually recently paid two visits to the Occupy camp in Union Square Park. :)

    • Sandra,

      I think the open letter has been written with a sense of humour and is not nasty to Chloe in any way and is poking fun at her comments. Hopefully she has more of a sense of humour.

      • Poking fun at her comments, certainly, but I fail to see the humor in snide remarks about her apparent wealth and supposed snobbery when she has already been so widely and one-dimensionally represented on this subject, not to mention partaking in that representation. And in any case, like I said, I did not pick this article because of its any particular offensiveness as much as just to get this alternative point of view out.

      • If Mancunians could have a little more of that ‘Sense of humour’ perhaps we wouldn’t be at this point. I live in Manchester and it really is *not* ‘all that’ – just like everywhere else, in fact….

  21. I’m sure if you’re Chloe Sevigny then Manchester would be a bit grim to be honest. I’ve lived in Manchester all my life, I was raised in one of it’s Council estates and I’ve lived it’s suburbs and the centre. I have travelled more than most and can say with all honesty that it is a bit of a dump. Despite all that a place is only as good as the people who live there and therein lies Manchester’s redeeming feature. I’ve been around the world and there’s no one more real than my fellow Mancs.

  22. The fact that so many jaded bloated old-Factory Records-Stone Roses-John Robb ‘professional Mancunain’ types have got so indignant about someone’s honest opinion about the city proves Manchester is not the glittering cosmopolitan these tired individulas constantly try to promote.
    Born and raised in Manchester the simple truth is it is a dark, dank post-industrial ugly city in which there exists a vibrant population and out of which some great music/culture/art has been created, but Paris it sure is not. Get over yourself Mr Blackpool and when will you old men leave the past behind. Nostalgia…nostalgia…nostalgia (and no just saying you like WULYF and a few other new bands does not mean you are in touch with present.
    Idiot Joy Showland…………………….

  23. […] we ran on open letter to Chloe Sevigny after she made comments about Manchester being grim. It wasn’t meant to be an anti Chloe letter and more done with a dash of humour. We are fans […]

  24. I really enjoyed Hit or Miss, however unbelievable & flawed it was. If Chloe wasn’t misquoted, then I’m sad to hear her remarks about northern people and the area. I come from the north and experienced some of the more clichéd, northern grimness. I was on the punk scene in Manchester in the 80’s and have very fond memories of the place. Yes it’s true, Manchester still does have it’s… erm, raw side. To be polite about it. However, it’s not really appropriate for privileged & affluent actresses living in uptown Manhattan to be making public comments about people that have obviously had less opportunities in life than herself.

  25. Is this the new gossip tabloid? Trash. She was probably misquoted and misquoted again by John. That seems to be the going rate with his articles.

  26. Manchester, and the entire rest of the UK is, indeed, grim. The most grim cities are up north of england. Leeds, Manchester etc. And northern cities are unfriendly, or should I say, even more unfriendly, than the rest of the miserably cities in england. The only way you can get people to be friendly if you mimic their accent and pretend you are indeed, somewhere from england. Otherwise you won’t find welcoming faces and helping hands. Or you must come from the middle east or India. Those countries are also pupular here. All they need to do is ask and boy, they get it. Otherwise the entire of the UK is volatile, hostile, dangerous and very, very unfriendly to say the least. Won’t believe me? Go see it for yourself. But take some friends or book a safe hotel in the very centre of town. And dont ever leave the hotel after dark. Im not joking.


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