The other day at the newly opened Lohan Beach House, families played on the beach alongside topless women alongside the religiously covered up, while a shirtless and ripped Romanian man with several teardrops tattooed on his face and the image of a person doing cocaine inked on his abs danced near the bar. None of these people who had paid dozens of euros to recline on a thick Lohan-branded towel harassed, or even seemed to notice, Lindsay Lohan herself, in a red swimsuit and her trusty red baseball hat with the word "RUSSIA," who had just taken a seat directly oceanside.
Parked along a healthy stretch of the Kalo Livadi beach, the beach club, which includes a restaurant, a bar and a football field’s worth of sand, is a serene sprawl of wood decks, lush canopies and overstuffed chaise longues. On the lazy, winding ride there — all of the cabs in Mykonos seem to cost €35 and arrive no sooner than 30 minutes after they are called — the driver described the club as a genuine island success.
Among his passengers, he said, the destination is approaching the popularity of even the vaunted Nammos beach club, despite having opened only a few weeks ago, with a marketing campaign apparently limited to a recycled clip from a 2011 film the artist Richard Phillips made of Lohan swimming in a pool.
Lohan's assistant Nichola is a tall blond woman who would not be out of place on the set of Westworld. She had confused Lohan's 6 pm interview with The New York Times with another interview, scheduled for the same day, with The Sunday Times, a British newspaper. And that appointment had already been postponed, Nichola said, because Lohan had a cold.
Still, Lohan eventually agreed to speak.
Lohan said this mix of a clientele is by design, in part because most of the island hot spots cater to the sunset crowd. That leaves her beachside club almost the entire day to entertain the diurnal, even if that is the only trait some of her patrons have in common.
Lohan betrayed no trace of the European-tinged accent she has exhibited in past interviews, and she was excited to talk about the Lohan brand. After licensing her name last year to a club in Athens — she has since been bought out of that project, she said — she decided to strike again this summer, exercising the creative control she felt she lacked in Athens. This time, her partners are opting to remain silent.
So she designed the Mykonos club down to its playlists, she said, which skew toward Top 40 with a healthy serving of deep house, culled in part just to show she can compete with Scorpios, a club down the coast.
Another Lohan club is scheduled to open soon, in Rhodes.
She said she is also working on plans to design a Lohan island in Dubai.
She also has a lawyer.com sponsorship, plans for a “Vanderpump Rules”-style reality show for MTV centred around the club, and a general outlook that, at this point, if Lohan can believe it, she can achieve it.
“There’s a business side to my life now, but I’m not in America, so no one knows about it, which is nice for me,” Lohan said. “Because I get to actually focus on the result of things.”
If there is one thing Lohan wants the public to know about her personal life, it is that there is almost nothing that she wants them to know. She hoped, she said, that people realise “I’m a normal, nice person. A good person. I don’t have any bad intentions. And my past has to stay in the past.”
“Like, people have to just let go of it and stop bringing it up because it’s not — it’s gone,” she said. “It’s dead. And that’s the most important thing to me.”
Despite decades of breathless tabloid coverage of her life, she said the public has never known the real her at all. Recently, that has been by design. “I think success is the best revenge — and silence, as a presence,” she said. “When I chose to change my future, my life, I was like, ‘Where’s the one place I can find silence?’”
That place turned out to be Dubai, where unmarried women can still be arrested or deported for the crime of becoming pregnant. It is also a place where intruding on privacy via photography can often be illegal, and Lohan feels protected enough there to leave the doors of her penthouse apartment unlocked.
She said she first discovered Dubai in 2008, when she hosted the opening of an Atlantis resort. On her second visit, she realised there were no cameras tracking her. "That click — Karl Lagerfeld said, 'It's like they're shooting guns at me,' when I first met him at Fendi," Lohan said. "And I felt it. You feel like you're always watching out, you're paranoid. It creates this paranoia in your head that's not necessary."
That is part of the reason she does not see herself moving from Dubai anytime soon.
“It’s the safest place. It’s less demanding. America is always like, ‘Go go go go go!’” Lohan said. “I don’t have to turn on the news and see about the Kardashians. I don’t have to see anything anymore. I choose what I want to see and how I want to live.”
That also means she has not been following the last year in America closely, where Donald Trump's presidency and the #MeToo movement have transformed the country's culture into something unrecognisable from the days when Trump held a position of power over only the contestants on The Apprentice and photographers made sport of shooting pictures up Lohan's skirt as she got in and out of cars.
At the same time, it is an eerily familiar landscape. In 2004, Trump publicly mused on whether the freckles on Lohan’s chest made her more or less sexually attractive. She was 18 at the time. (He left that question unanswered but concluded that her “wreck” of a father could only add to the experience of sleeping with her.)
"She's probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed," Trump told Howard Stern on his radio show. "How come the deeply troubled women, you know, deeply, deeply troubled, they're always the best in bed?"
That is another thing Lohan wants to leave in the past. “Here’s the thing: very simple with politics,” she said. “He’s the president. No matter what anyone says, he’s still the president. I have no feeling. I have no emotion.”
She did say that Trump's daughter Tiffany, an old friend who is visiting her next month in Greece, is "a really sweet girl. Nice person."
Lohan’s own safety and well-being are her chief concerns. Though she is still close with her family, she has been keeping in touch mostly at an arm’s length, primarily through FaceTime. “Look, I’m not in control of my family,” she said. “I’m only in control of myself. We’re all friends. My mom and dad are friends, everyone’s good.”
Just now, turning 32 at the beginning of July, and for the first time in her life, she says she feels safe.
“If anyone in my life for one second, I feel unsafe with, they’re out,” Lohan said. “Very simple. This is it. I’m not going to complicate things. Because I’m a caretaker, I always want to give to people.”
As she said this, she noticed a steady stream of tears pouring from my left eye, which was directly in the line of the bright sun hanging behind her. I assured her this happens all the time; she silently pulled out a cup and a glass bottle of mineral water from a large ice bucket beside her and slid them across the table to me.
“I know who I am as a person,” Lohan said. And that still includes being an actress, even if she has grown uncomfortable with the publicity side of it.
"I don't want any judgment on me. You know? My acting is good, my work is good, and I love work," Lohan said. To that end, she has been quietly picking up projects; she recently filmed the British series Sick Note, and says she has several more roles planned, scattered around the world.
She says she craves the structure of performing and points to the 2014 London production of Speed-the-Plow as a turning point in her life, where she says she found comfort in just doing the thing night after night. "Just the diligence of being on a stage. It's not like a movie where you can miss a line. You're live, there, in front of everyone," Lohan said. "Very structured. And I love that. And that gave me, like, a calmness. And that kind of changed a lot of things for me."
Though not particularly religious, Lohan said she meditates at least twice a day, a habit she picked up from Oprah Winfrey, who turned her on to the book The Untethered Soul. She also subscribes to the forecasts of astrologist Susan Miller, whom she calls a friend. (Asked if she knows why Miller routinely and famously posts her predictions long past deadline, Lohan shrugged and said she has just learned to wait a few days to check.)
She also agrees with the numerology proposition that life can be divided into approximately 30-year cycles, a theory that dovetails with a chain of events she said was set into motion in the summer of her 30th birthday, which she celebrated on a nearby beach.
It is the same place where her former fiancé, the Russian socialite Egor Tarabasov, was filmed assaulting her a few months later. “It happened, here in Mykonos, on the beach. And that was the moment where I switched and I was like, ‘I’m going to take control of my life completely, and fire everyone and just rehire them when I’m ready,’” Lohan said. “And that’s why I’m here today, because it was on that beach where I got hit. I said, ‘You know what? If there’s anything I can do, I’m going to get that beach. It’s going to be my beach.’”
Her 30th birthday was also the day she defied fate to option Tina Seskis' The Honeymoon, a psychological thriller that Lohan declined to spoil for me, saying only that she saw herself in one of the characters.
“I was at Nammos and I was reading it,” she said. “I’m reading this book and taking notes on it, like, ‘This is like my life, something that happened to me in my life, oh my God! I need to buy this book! I need to meet this woman!’ She’s incredible.”
At the time, Lohan was staying with a host family in a small church in Greece, “because I wanted to be, like, with a family, alone.” She got a call from Seskis, who had seen a paparazzi picture of the actress reading her book. Seskis was phoning to apologise because she had already sold the rights.
“I said, ‘No no no! Let me buy it! Please, let me buy it! Let’s write it together,’ Lohan said. “She goes, ‘No, they want somebody else to write it.’ I said, ‘No, we’re going to write it.’” A year and a half later, they are writing the script together, and when Seskis visits Greece this summer, Lohan wants to work with her on the same beach where it all began.
Lohan also sees the project as a sort of catharsis for the abuse she suffered. “There was this moment where it was like, ‘I don’t really need to be worried about a guy hurting me, I don’t need to live in fear.’” she said. “Because when women show fear, I feel like that makes us powerless.”
Despite Lohan’s new and relaxed lease on life, there was one arena in which she was inflexible: photos of her.
Nichola said Lohan could do a shoot the next day, around the same time The Sunday Times would get its rescheduled interview. Lohan would have had her hair and makeup done, "and we'll make something work," Nichola said.
But the next day, as reporter and photographer waited under the sun dappling the stained wooden deck through the sand-colored canopy, Nichola delivered some news: There would be no photo shoot unless Lohan, who was currently in Athens anyway, was paid for it.
"She shoots for magazines like W and likes to do fashion," Nichola said. "We can give you exclusive photos, but she only does paid shoots. And if you want to have that discussion, you can, and maybe she'll consider it." (The New York Times does not pay photo or interview subjects.)
It was a flicker of classic Lohan terror from the tabloid era. But it was also in line with her new ethos as a sophisticated international businesswoman. That first day, after I left her sitting on her oceanfront chaise, I spotted her filming two young women in black bikinis and rubber unicorn masks frolicking in the waves.
She posted the video of them, geotagged to the club, on her Instagram story, to millions of followers. A few minutes later, I watched as she put down her phone, stood and walked directly down the beach and into the ocean, her shoulders perfectly squared, her hair falling in neat waves down the middle of her back. From under the canopy at the restaurant bar, it really did look just like a frame from the Richard Phillips video. The beach was hers.
Lohan dove under the water, the unicorn women rejoined their friends, a waiter carried a tray of Aperol spritzes off the deck and onto the beach, and the man with teardrops tattooed on his face swayed in bliss to the music. Lohan swam in even strokes away from the shore, and no one took any pictures.– © 2018 New York Times News Service