Harmony Korine The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published May 22, 2010Somewhere in Nashville, TN, eccentric filmmaker Harmony Korine claims that he and someone named Lamont are staking out the home of a Puerto Rican man who stole Korine's one-of-a-kind statue of a 14-year-old boy holding a fishing pole made by the founder of the Boy Scout movement, Robert Baden-Powell. "I have this house under surveillance, so I might have to bolt at any moment," he says. "I know it's a strange time to do an interview. That's why I'm having to talk in a mid-grade whisper."
For those who've followed Korine's career, such an incident ― or stunt ― isn't unusual. A notorious provocateur, he's left an indelible mark on cinema with films like KIDS, which he wrote in his late teens, and directorial feats like Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy, and Mister Lonely. Other projects include Fight Harm, a documentary about Korine starting physical altercations with strangers, which he abandoned after his sixth tussle left him seriously injured. Drawn to outlandishly gritty stories, Korine's latest work is Trash Humpers, a disturbing snuff film-like document of monstrous looking "seniors" fornicating with different things, tap-dancing, striking yoga poses, and abusing others, all of which he shot on VHS.
Given his reconnaissance mission, it's tricky to get Korine to focus on Trash Humpers. He answers questions but in between alien clanging noises, unidentified people screaming things like "Stop it," and, at one point, the revelation that he and Lamont "knocked down" one of their target's associates. "It's about shadow people, shape-shifters, who do bad things," Korine says of Trash Humpers. "It's more like an unearthed home movie ― a VHS tape found in a ditch somewhere or buried in the ass of a mule or up in the guts of one of the Jonas Brothers."
What are you up to?
Just making films about these hairless Mexican dogs that, once a year, their teats expand and they drip milk in a circular, abstract pattern. I'm also trying to mould Play-Doh and perfect that thing.
What are your current fixations?
I'm trying to taser this bastard. I'm gonna get him once and for all. Crooks and thieves, beware! If you steal a Baden-Powell statue from Harmony's front yard, I'm after your ass.
Why do you live where you do?
Because I like to live around lots and lots of Mexicans, and I love to live around lots and lots of Laotians, and I love to live across the river from an enclave of Irishmen, and I love to live down the street from a huge home of lesbians.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
Telly Savalas. His entire body.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
Ah, shit. The time I saw Whitney Houston when I was 13. I just thought, "This chick has problems." That was at the Starwood Amphitheatre in the mid-'80s. My parents took me against my will.
What have been your career highs and lows?
My highs were when I was high, my lows when I had no high.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
I don't remember that type of thing. I just don't remember it.
What should everyone shut up about?
Just their life.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I just like that nobody does it better and that nobody can ride the wave in quite the same way.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
A bonfire crucifixion.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Everything that my mother told me.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
I don't have a band but if I did, I'd just kick everyone out. I would just be a solo artist in the vein of...what's that guy? Jerry Lewis's partner, Dean Martin.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think it's the birthplace of Jesus. That and Kyoto.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." I was trying to bribe my parents. I knew they liked that song and I was trying to get something.
What was your most memorable day job?
I dunno, working at the Tokyo Sauna in Nashville. I'll let you imagine what I did there. I handed out towels. The whole thing was memorable. A lot of this stuff, I don't wanna drudge a lot of this shit up.
How do you spoil yourself?
I love African-American ass. Like strippers? I love African strippers. Hell to the yeah, my friend.
If I wasn't making movies I would be...
A pool shark.
What do you fear most?
Muff diving. Nothing scares me but some times it's a bitter pill to swallow.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
I don't even know what that means. Are there many more of these? I don't like that one.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
The time I hitched a ride to Encino with Shirley Temple Black in the late '80s. I can't say why because I don't wanna spit on her memory, even if she was a hardcore fascist.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Someone with a fair amount of scum growing on their face. Someone not unlike, I dunno uh...uh...wha...uh...um...I dunno who. I'd serve them rice of course; what else?
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
I dunno, probably making hammocks.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
The theme song from Jaws.