Literally Unbelievable collects stories from The Onion as interpreted on Facebook by people, who, as source of all things interesting, Laughton Sebastian Melmoth points out, “think ‘satire’ means ‘not sat there’”.
The site is curated by Hudson Hongo, who is a contributor to McSweeney’s, The Morning News and The Bygone Bureau.
1. History. You can’t have a one-night-stand role model. No one can become a role model in 24 hours. It helps a lot if you knew them when you were young, so they sort of grow or fester with you, like Johnny Mathis was for me.
2 Be extreme: all my role models have to be. They have to be braver than I’ve ever been. Even to survive success is hard, no matter if it’s widespread success like Johnny Mathis had, or Bobby Boris Pickett, who his whole life just had to sing one song [The Monster Mash]. Today too many people are trying hard to be extreme. For the people I admire it was natural, and they turned it into art.
3 Style. You can have bad style, but you have to have some style. That’s why I wrote about Rei Kawakubo, who reinvented fashion to be damaged and to be everything you hoped it was not when you bought an outfit. And she quadrupled the price. That’s a magic trick.
4 Be alarming – I think that’s important. And it’s different from being shocking. Alarming threatens the very core of your existence, it doesn’t just shock you – but you don’t know why it makes you nervous at first. You know, St Catherine of Siena drank pus for God. That was important to me because I thought: I want to be her, I don’t want to be half-assed! If I was going to be a Catholic, it would have been before the Reformation.
5 Humour. It’s very important to be well-read, but I never understand why people are so sure their partners have to be smart. What kind of smart do they mean? I’m not interested in talking about literature in bed! I like people who can make me laugh. Humour gets you laid, humour gets you hired, humour gets you through life. You don’t get beat up if you can make the person that’s going to beat you up laugh first.
6 Be a troublemaker. All art is troublemaking, because why go through all the trouble of making it if you don’t cause a little stir?
7 Bohemianism. Bohemia saved my life. And by bohemia I mean all sexualities mixed together, and people who do what they do not to get rich – freedom from suburbia. People who want to fit in but don’t are losers. Bohemians are people who don’t fit in because they don’t want to.
8 Originality. Someone unique like Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West, is an easy role model to have. She could fit into any of these categories – her outfit looked like Comme des Garçons, and anybody who could scare children like that… The problem was, I wanted to be her. And as I turn 65, that has sort of come true.
9 Neuroses. I think it helps to be neurotic. Neurotic people always end up being in the arts. If your kid fits in while in high school they’re going to be a dull adult. I still see a few people I went to high school with, but the other ones, when they come up to me I say: “I’m sorry, I took LSD, I don’t remember you.” It works, because then they aren’t offended personally. It’s really just manners.
10 Be a little bit insane. That’s different from neurotic. You can stay home and be neurotic. You have to go out to be insane. You can be a little bit of both, but both need to be joyous. As long as you can find a moment of joy in even your worst behaviour, it’s something to be thankful for.
John Waters will be discussing his book Role Models on Saturday at the Hay Festival at 8.30p, details here.
Hit the FUCK OFF – Bookmarklet in desired situation while you surf the web! Say it like Ai Weiwei! FUCK OFF!! Deutsche Bank, BMW and Siemens for keeping their mouths shut about Ai Weiwei’s arrest. Yes, just keep sponsoring art shows and culture in China and pretend nothing has happend …. FUCK OFF!!!
Our new partner in art crimes, Nicole Panter, was involved in the formative years of the Pee-wee Herman Show and that got me thinking about Pee-wee’s punk connections. Here’s a clip from Pee-wee’s Playhouse circa 1986 of Pee-wee pogoing with his pal Larry Fishburne (Cowboy Curtis). Music by Mark Mothersbaugh.
I know 1986 ain’t exactly the year punk broke, but, keep in mind, Paul Reubens started working on his Pee-wee character in L.A. in 1978 in the midst of a very vital punk scene and that anarchic spirit suffused his program.
Jesus helps “Robin Cooper” with his buttock pain (there was an eagle involved, apparently).
Brit wit Robert Popper makes some of the best crank calls I’ve ever heard. His innovation to the art-form is calling into live televised digital cable religious programs and going large with his calls. Praise the Lord!