Who is Larry Wessel? If you don’t know him already his website Wesselmania is a good source to learn more:
“The impact of Larry Wessel’s style can be seen everywhere from the advertising campaigns of Madison Avenue, to the proliferation of ‘Reality Television.’ Larry is known for his original, colorful and highly graphic collages. His artwork has been exhibited at museums and galleries including the Laguna Art Museum, La Luz de Jesus, Mark Moore Gallery, and Outré Gallery. Collectors of his collages include Adam Parfrey, Nick Bougas, Anton Szandor LaVey, Coop, Rev. Steven Johnson Leyba, Martin McIntosh and Johanna Went. Wessel’s collages have also appeared in the pages of magazines such as HUSTLER, Answer Me!, CHIC and MALEFACT, and Martin McIntosh’s books Taboo: The Art Of Tiki and Beatsville, as well as the cover of Adam Parfrey’s Cult Rapture & Gene Gregorits’s Midnight Mavericks.
In addition to collage, Larry Wessel is well known for his extensive documentary film work. He produces, directs, writes, shoots and edits profoundly twisted and provocative video work. Bloody bullfights, cool artists, obsessed collectors, way-out writers, the transgender underground and the dark side of Los Angeles, are just a few of the subjects of this wild man’s throught-provoking documentaries. Academic discussions of Wessel’s films can be found in the books Killing For Culture, by David Kerekes and David Slater, and Psychotropedia by Russ Kick. Interviews with Larry Wessel have appeared in numerous publications, such as Headpress and PANIK, as well as the book Sex & Guts 4, by Gene Gregorits and Lydia Lunch and the book MIDNIGHT MAVERICKS by Gene Gregorits.”
I was more than happy to get a chance to interview the man. Here, ladies and gentlemen, Larry Wessel speaks!
On the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden where my wife Tora and I plan on moving.
Iconoclast has finally come out. It’s a four hour film that was six years in the making. Quite a project. How do you feel about it? Are you happy with the outcome? What has the response been like?
I am very happy with Iconoclast! The response has been 100% positive. Many who have seen it use the word “Masterpiece” in describing it.
You’ve made 16 films previously. How does Iconoclast differ from your previous work?
6 years is the longest I have spent working on any previous film. I also believe that Iconoclast is more epic in scope than my other films. More than just about Boyd Rice, Iconoclast covers 50 years of American Pop Culture history.
How did the whole documentary get started?
I received an email from Boyd Rice declaring that he was a fan of my documentaries and he said that my films were more than just mere documentaries, that they were like “experiencing a phenomenon”! He asked if I would like to do a documentary about him and of course I said, “Yes”!
Was it a smooth process to do the documentary, were there any special challenges in making it?
It went real smooth and was a lot of fun all the way!!
Setbacks, happy surprises, interesting and funny turns?
No real setbacks that I can think of. Lots of happy surprises, interesting and funny turns all the way through! It was a lot of fun for me to look up people from Boyd’s past and interview them. They all had very amusing stories to tell that reveal a lot about Boyd Rice.
You interviewed lots of people for the documentary. Did you get all the people interviewed you wanted to?
Mostly. There were very few people who refused to be in it.
How was Bob Larson?
Bob Larson was fantastic!! He and Boyd engage in deep philosophical discussions throughout Iconoclast and Bob allowed me to film him performing an exorcism as well!!
You’ve known Boyd well before making the documentary. How did you get to know Boyd in the first place?
I met Boyd in 1997 at a concert he was supposed to perform at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles with Death In June. A group of protestors succeeded in getting the nightclub to prevent Boyd from performing that night.
Did making the documentary change your view of Boyd and his work somehow?
I really got to know Boyd very well during the making of Iconoclast and gained a keen understanding of how much of his work is rooted in humor. He is absolutely one of the funniest people I have ever met. I have had the pleasure of seeing Iconoclast in crowded cinemas in Los Angeles and San Francisco and people laugh their asses off and applaud throughout the entire film from beginning to end!! I think that perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of Iconoclast is how very funny it is!!
He is extremely charming, funny and infinitely mysterious. He constantly challenges one’s ideas. A true iconoclast.
How does his public image differ from his private personality?
He is very much like Anton LaVey in this way. His public image is widely perceived as very harsh whereas his private personality reveals a very intelligent, soft spoken gentleman with an intense sense of humor.
What do you most like in Boyd and his work?
His sense of humor.
Both you and Boyd have a long association with the Church of Satan and Anton LaVey. LaVey was a big fan of certain kinds of movies and he also really enjoyed your works. What part does LaVeyan satanism play in your movies? Do you consider your movies to be acts of magic? If so, what kind of results do you aim to gain from your magical films?
Anton was one of my closest and best friends that I have had the good fortune of having in my life. He has always been infinitely inspiring to me and always will be. I don’t want to sound pretentious but I consider creativity to be a very magical act. To create something from nothing by definition makes one a God. I like to think of my films as magical spells that inspire people to think for themselves. One can learn from and grow from experiencing my films. People tell me that they get a lot of inspiration from my work.
Iconoclast is out there on DVD. Can you tell us something about the DVD?
Here is the description from the back of The Iconoclast 3 Disc DVD Set…
ICONOCLAST is a 3 DVD Set:
Disc One: LEMON GROVE 1 Hr. 25 Min.
Disc Two: SAN FRANCISCO 1 Hr. 02 Min.
Disc Three: DENVER 1 Hr. 26 Min.
Boyd Rice may well be the only person alive who’s been on a first name basis with both Charlie Manson and Marilyn Manson. His career has spanned more than three decades, during which time he has remained at the epicenter of underground culture and controversy. Rice first came to prominence in the 70’s as one of the founders of the genre known as Industrial Music, and soon gained a reputation for live shows that were deemed the most abrasive, minamalist and loudest concerts ever staged (his shows regularly clocked in at 130 decibels, whereas a jet plane taking off was a mere 113 decibels). As early as 1980, he was already hailed as The Godfather of Noise Music.
Since then, Rice has extended his creative pursuits to numerous fields, even lecturing at The Massachusettes Institute of Technology, despite being a high-school dropout. “My life”, says Rice, “is a testament to the idea that you can achieve whatever the hell you want if you posess a modicum of creativity, and a certain amount of naivete concerning what is and isn’t possible in this world. I’ve had one man shows of my paintings in New York, but I’m not a painter. I’ve authored several books, but I’m not a writer. I’ve made a living as a recording artist for the last 30 years, but I can’t read a note of music or play an instrument. I’ve somehow managed to make a career out of doing a great number of things I’m in no way qualified to do”.
Larry Wessel’s documentary, ICONOCLAST is a 4 hour long tour de force, 6 years in the making; an in depth expose of Boyd Rice’s life, career, and personal obsessions. No mere documentary, ICONOCLAST is more of a roller coaster ride through the fevered mindscape of one of the most controversial and unique artists of the modern age.
The ICONOCLAST 3 DISC DVD Set is available for purchase for $30 (includes free shipping worldwide!) at WWW.ICONOCLASTMOVIE.COM
Are there plans to show the film at some film festivals? Other plans related to Iconoclast?
Although I have had many offers, there are no current plans to screen Iconoclast at film festivals. There are plans for theatrical screenings coming this Spring, 2011 or Summer 2011 at The Anthology Film Archives in New York.
You have a Swedish wife, Tora.
Yes! Tora and I have been married since 2006 and our love grows for each other every day!! Among her many talents, Tora is starting to be known as one of the most talented photographers working in the world today! She has a website in the works called WWW.WESSELMANIAPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Have you been in scandinavia or Finland?
I have been to Sweden and Denmark. I am looking forward to visiting both Finland and Norway as well.
Anything you’d like to say to your Finnish fans?
Thank you very much to all of the many Finnish fans who have purchased Iconoclast!! I am very grateful to all of you and have enjoyed the Rave Reviews you have given Iconoclast .
Do you have plans for the next film already in mind? What can we expect from Larry Wessel next?
Yes…there are 3. The first is about collectors and the obscure objects of their desires featuring artist extraordinaire, Jason Mecier! The second is a documentary about another artist extraordinaire, Beth Moore-Love. The third one is Pt. 3 of a trilogy about Los Angeles.
What makes you happy?
My marriage to my one and only true love…The love of my life, Tora Wessel.
Thank you for the interview, Larry! Mesikämmen blog wishes you success with Iconoclast!