“Suzanne Elrod… mother of Leonard Cohen’s two children and a female of conspicuously sultry beauty and appetites, was on the phone [to Leonard] from the Greek island of Hydra making the one telephone call the police would permit her.”

Suzanne Elrod, 29, better known since meeting the Canadian poet in 1969 as Mrs. Leonard Cohen (though they’ve never been legally married), mother of Cohen’s two children and a female of conspicuously sultry beauty and appetites, was on the phone from the Greek island of Hydra making the one telephone call the police would permit her. Separated from Cohen, 44, for the past six months, Suzanne’s enjoyment of younger men and their rituals had become something of a sore point with her tradition-bound village neighbours on Hydra who loved Leonard and were protective of him—according to their own lights. There on the white-washed walls of Leonard’s old house, Suzanne had hung erotic woodcuts beside religious icons. Next to pictures of the saints, prints of Eastern rituals involving exaggerated and enthusiastic phalluses decorated the walls. “I warned Suzanne,” explained Cohen later, “the local cleaning lady would be offended.” The combination of an illustrated Kama sutra on the wall and the absence of the appropriate patriarch in bed was too much for the community. Suzanne and her young boy-friend-of-the-moment were arrested for drug possession after aggrieved villagers complained about “commotions” at the villa. Though all charges were dismissed against Suzanne when the case was investigated, the cost of lawyers, Greek justice and bail for the young man took close to $25,000 out of Cohen’s pocket. “These days I work to support my wife, my children and my responsibilities,” says Cohen.

From Leonard Cohen Says That to All the Girls by Barbara Amiel. Maclean’s: Sept 18, 1978. Now available at From the archives: Leonard Cohen and the Casanova paradox