Podcast Episode 24 – David Choe, Bourdain Memories, and CulkinChrist (Annotated)
Hi, I’m Craig The Intern, and they make me transcribe these every week. Everything’s going great so far!
Painter/Graffiti artist David Choe.
Cold open! This episode has a couple of disclaimers upfront before we get to the Bunny Ranch theme, so you know they’re important. The first, most important one involves Anthony Bourdain, who is a topic of conversation on this episode that was mostly recorded prior to his untimely death, with some suggestions on how listeners feeling depressed and suicidal can reach out (no joke).
The second is that Mack was suffering from a twisted vertebra while the main podcast was being recorded and thus may or may not have been high on ibuprofen.
But once the theme music plays, guest David Choe is introduced, and he describes what he’s seeing in front of him, including an authentic Pagemaster poster that he initially thinks must be fake. Choe met Matt and Mack a couple weeks ago, and actually showered with Mack.
They discuss having the freedom to only do art when you want to do it: David paints when friends ask or when it suits him, and that’s like Mack with acting nowadays. So why be public with a podcast? Mack’s answer is that it seems like fun. But then David asks who Matt is! So you’ll want to listen to this part if you didn’t know before (see highlights section below), and discover his not-so-secret background.
David gets pretty personal by asking if being a child celebrity is a form of child abuse. Mack says it’s just what you know as a kid. David thinks he experienced that level of tough fame for one month when a sexually graphic mural he painted at Facebook (before it was a big thing) got coverage in the New York Times. But he noticed that once you get a level of fame and money, people at the same level relax around you, and what he learned is that when you idolize someone, you’re not really idolizing them as a person, but a thing you want in your own career. He thinks Mack made a mistake coming back into the public eye with a podcast, but praises a painting he did of KoRn playing with some colorful characters like Jerry Seinfeld and the Muppets in the audience. They discuss Mack’s other paintings, which are often large and mostly acrylics.
David tells the story of Culkin Christ, which begins with him meeting John Cusack, then being introduced to Paul Hipp, who played Jesus in Bad Lieutenant but was himself possibly convinced Macaulay Culkin was Jesus (this was a few years ago when Mack was 33) or maybe the Antichrist (more plausible, everyone agrees). So that night, he began using the graffiti tag “Culken Christ,” and a fancier one was done at Cusack’s garage. This leads to some discussion of the weirdness of art prices, and how David became the highest-paid artist in the world because of Facebook going public and the value of those murals going way up. Now he finds doing gallery shows boring. He feels he already won the game, so why keep doing the unnecessary parts. As with the Bunny Ears podcast, once you do things for fun and love rather than money…that’s when things can get weird. In a good way. Not like socially awkward weird.
What’s the purest form of self-expression? David, who says he hates talking about art, decides to talk about it, recognizing the irony. He thinks the best painting he ever did in his life may have been one when he was six, and fully honest, and he may have only gotten worse. Now, he spends $200-$1000 on comics a week, and wants to talk about the obsession. Matt says his collection of stuff is like his brain exploded on the walls, and he and Mack talk about influences being art.
They discuss wrestling fandom, and Batman fandom, and how you can idolize a fictional character. David, growing up an outsider as a Korean kid in a black community, related more to comic-book villains than heroes. Batman, however, made sense, because “being rich” is a power he can plausibly obtain.
David has just seen the recent Andre the Giant movie, and he praises it highly, saying it goes so deep you don’t have to like wrestling to like it. It makes him think about how you can get to the truth through fantasy. Mack says wrestling shows are good date locations, which…maybe they are, if you’re Mack. David wants to see Mack become a wrestler as Culkin Christ. He asks Mack point-blank if he is Jesus or the antichrist and if he’ll wrestle with a Jesus gimmick. Mack replies [SPOILER! Listen to the show and find out!].
Conversation turns to future goals and happiness and losing friends to fame. John Cusack thought Mac might die at 33 like Jesus, so Mack reacts, pointing out that he beat the odds with some choice words for the actor. Matt learns that more successful and famous people have it hard in their own ways, then switches the subject to Anthony Bourdain, and David’s connection to him. David tells a story about meeting Joseph Gordon-Levitt and talking to him about Batman for three hours, then meeting chef David Chang and going on a crazy gambling streak in Las Vegas with him. Later, Chang invited “his friend Tony” to come to a Chateau Marmont dinner and it was Bourdain. And even at the normally safe-for-celebs venue, their dinner got interrupted constantly by Bourdain fans.
We close with an exhortation for people to travel more, for Culkin Christ to get in the ring, and for any artists listening to paint Culkin Christ. Let’s see them, warren!
8:18-10:00 How Matt and Mack sound the same (I’ve written up enough of these that I can say they really don’t, but it takes a while).
13:30-15:19 Who is Matt Cohen? What has he done?
26:14-34:00 David meets John Cusack and Paul Hipp; sushi hand rolls, Delta stewardesses, and why Mack is Jesus.
42:40-43:18 Mack and Matt defend and explain wrestling fandom.
48:57-50:45 Mack reveals whether or not he is really Christ.
-David Chang talks about his friendship with Anthony Bourdain.
-KoRn approves Mack’s KoRn painting:
— Korn (@Korn) October 4, 2012
-Here’s Paul Hipp as Jesus in Bad Lieutenant:
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Bandcamp: Koreans Gone Bad
Vimeo: David Choe
Contact The Guys!
Image: Flickr/it’s tea