And Werner had kind of figured out his story. Werner somehow knew that [the reason his wife left] was "fornication." He denied it when it was one, he denied it when it was two — but when Werner said "five women," the guy broke. He said, "You read me! How did you read me?" And Werner said, "I read your heart." They actually became kind of like friends. And what was interesting was, two or three months ago, I went to visit my parents, and he was still there waiting. I stepped off the airplane and went up — I didn't think he would remember me, he was drunk — and I said, "Hey, how's it goin'?" And he looked at me and he goes, "WHERE'S THE PRIEST?" (rocks with laughter) I'm sure he's standing there right now.
How about the scene where Michael Jackson is performing at the old folks' home?
What happened was, I had read this article about the oldest woman in France. And they asked her what her key to life was, and she said that every day for 60 years she had done a bump of cocaine and drank a shot glass of sherry. (laughs) And I was like, "My God, this woman is incredible." So I asked the producers to try to track her down, and maybe I could do a scene with her and Michael Jackson doing a bump.
And we went there, found her, found the place, but she refused to be in the film. But I liked the location. Originally it was going to take place at a car show, with everybody dancing next to Lamborghinis and women with silicone titties. But I was like, "This is better." To get them in the mood, I'd put Triple 6 Mafia on the amps. There was something really great about being in Paris in an old folks' home listening to Triple 6 Mafia with Michael Jackson dancing.
What's the deal with you and bathtub scenes? All your movies have bathtub scenes.
It's funny — someone else asked me that the other day! Actually, it was a Q&A with Werner, and the moderator said the same thing: He'd gone through all my films, and there's always bathtub scenes. That's just one of those things that happens. I guess I just like the way people look in bathtubs. I don't take baths myself. I mean, I do take showers (laughs).
Are you a fan of vaudeville?
Vaudeville I always liked. It's like my attention span. To tell the truth, it's no secret I have an aversion to telling plots. I just hate things that are plotted. I feel like as soon as I start to even write something that's close to what's considered a traditional plot with a beginning, middle, and end, I feel like a phony — like it's just a device. I've never felt like life has plots. I always felt like things just existed, and life is more of an abstraction.
What I remember from movies — and real life — is characters. Moments. Feelings. And scenes. In some ways, when I first started making movies, I only wanted to have the good stuff. I only wanted to go with the best moments. I wanted to make a film that consisted entirely of moments. I thought you could compare it to looking at a book of your parents' photos, where you have a picture of you riding a camel right next to the first time your mother bathed you in a sink, next to your dad with a new car, next to your puppy dog. Each photo on its own is what it is, but the book itself is the narrative of a family. Without all the boring middle parts.
Does the critical hostility to your films bother you?
You want people to like your film, always. It would be a lie to say you don't want people to like your film. I understand why people don't like them. In the beginning, I cared a lot more — not about just critics, but overall. I was still really young, and I was maybe more concerned with the way you fit in and the reaction to things. I was trying to rile people. It was fun for me to do that. But at a certain point, I realized that the healthiest thing for me to do is put the work out there, and move on. As you see, I don't have anything that reminds me of myself. I don't own posters; I don't own DVDs; I don't own copies of my books ...
It's pretty funny how often you're referred to as an "enfant terrible." It's like Obama and "articulate."
Yeah, that seems to really follow me around. There's nothing wrong with that. I was just doing what I was doing, making it up as I go along, and I was enjoying it. I still feel like I need to ... have fun with this.
Have online venues opened any possibilities for you?
It doesn't scare me at all, this idea that cinema's changing, or the way people watch film is going to be different, and they're going to watch it on their telephone. In some ways, Gummo was very YouTube, because it was about these kinds of moments. Part of my intent in making that film was that you could blindfold yourself and stick your hand into the film and pull out a scene, and any given scene would give you something on its own, without your having to watch what came before it or after it. I guess it's very much part of that same [YouTube] idea — just like vaudeville. You don't have to like the whole show, but there's something in there ...
Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city