HIGHWAY TO HELL

Laetitia Benat & Camille Vivier / Visionaire / Summer 1997

Harmony Korine wrote the screenplay for Larry Clark's film Kids. These questions were sent to him and he replied quickly, generously, and with his very particular brand of humor. He sent along the pictures, too.

Visionaire: Do you think people are interested in you because you're so young?

Harmony Korine: There is a certain cause for celebration at the ringing in of my age, and I can still continue this trend: the trend of young person's output.

Visionaire: With your success, do you think you motivate people or make them envious?

Korine: The question is difficult for me to decipher. The things that I have heard about me remind me of Alexander Baldwin the Third of the founders of Nike. If you would ask those folks a similar question - if you could word the question in such a manner that the meaning remained intact - then I guess they would answer in much the same way. I would be interested in their answers.

Visionaire: What do you think about the big interest in young artists? Is it a current phenomenon? Could it also be a handicap?

Korine: I think that there are too many gays jamming the system with pro-flame rhetoric. I can recall six old artists, chief among them being Velasquez, who is Anthony Quinn's favorite artist, and my second favorite. It is a sin to have recognition at too early an age. And this sin reminds me of the suicide note left by an early gay artist with too much arrogance and pride...

Visionaire: Are you aware of your image? Do you work on it to break the cliche of an ex-skater?

Korine: First and foremost I am a boy who worships at the alter of a monument in the shape of - well, it's an indescribable shape... I would say it looks a little like a baseball bat and it looks a little like a small girl. I feel that I would be successful if there were a child to commit suicide after my image - but in a good way - free of evil - and in a way that would allow that person, or child, to finally achieve a borderline sense of grace. This is not an original belief by any means. It has been stated very clearly in the song "Knoxville Girl," by the Louvin Brothers. I basically copied their attitude.

Visionaire: How was the Kids soundtrack chosen? Was it a personal choice? A group choice by you and others? Was it a kind of home-made music?

Korine: I like bones-thugs-n-harmony.

Visionaire: Why do you want to direct your own movies? Is it for more freedom?

Korine: More control. This is why I only listen to heavy metal music: the listener is in perpetual fear of leprosy.

Visionaire: Does seeing your own image change your way of writing?

Korine: I think so. It makes me want to write less. It makes me not want to write scripts, to just live in a house with the people who live there. But in this event I will need piles of Kodak film so that I can shoot their asses like thier is no tomorrow. I could make that film good. I could call it my second film or my third film.

Visionaire: Your film Gummo takes place in Ohio, does working there put a distance between you and your subject?

Korine: The filming actually took place in Tennessee, where I am from. There was one smart-ass Chinese executive who flew down to oversee the entire production. On the second day of filming someone burned his rental car. This put a distance between me and the business execs and put a slight dent in race relations.

Visionaire: Do you find echoes in literature, say Jim Carroll, or other writers?

Korine: I am more like Daisy Ashford, who at age 9 wrote the Victorian novel The Young Visitors. At 7 she wrote the definitive text on guinea pigs, and at 11 she wrote a book of short stories called Love and Marriage. These stories are about being married on the prairie. It is her range that I admire. Uncle Milton Berle had a 13-inch flaccid member and his collected book of jokes has inspired a generation of crippled writers. Laurence Sterne... Henry Fonda...

Visionaire: You're known for a specific kind of humor, particularly in your fanzine. Will you employ it in your next film(s)? How do you design a chair to be sat in by another person?

Korine: By not thinking of what the other guy wants and by coming to terms with the fact that while we may think we are different from other people, in some ways, at some moments, the fact of the matter is, we are more like each other than we are like a tree or a stone. So then you relax and settle back in the position of trying to satisfy yourself. Except there is a trap, for what part of yourself do you try to satisfy? I remember asking this famous rapper girl what she thought of honkies and she said: "I want to know why white people like to do the craziest things, like jumping out of airplanes and climbing mountains. Not so many black people do stuff like that." Then I asked her if she could be white what would she like to do, and she said: "to be president." What I do is try to satisfy my gut instinct and work through the idiosyncrasies. You know it's tough enough just to make the first step of understanding without trying to introduce your personality and trying to out-guess what the other guy is thinking.

Visionaire: How do you position yourself in relation to American movies and American movie trends?

Korine: Gummo will say something about that. I don't understand much. When MC Hammer went bankrupt I purchased a small bit of his estate with the money I earned from my writing fee and I put some of it into the kind of cinema I currently endorse. It is this mode of thinking that got me where I am today. The keys of the world were given to Lucifer. That old song about Lucifer, the Prince of Power, of the air, the serpent - he's Lucifer. He's a spiritual being. You can't see him, but he can control you. I was discussing this with Pete Towsend at the airport but he was basically speechless - or perhaps he didn't feel like talking. He offered me some disturbing advice that I scoffed at. I told Peter to fuck himself and fuck The Who.

Visionaire: You write, you are making movies, is there something else you like to do?

Korine: I like to drink with my friends at a bar near my house. I like to fuck up socialites and foreigners who hit on my girlfriend. I like to let Arab men pay.

Visionaire: How do you see yourself in the next few years? Who is that person in the future?

Korine: Viva la France!!!