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Hating Vincent Gallo A Right-Wing Ideologue in Bohemian Clothing (THE NEW HIP COOL REPUBS)
Shout Magazine ^ | June 2002 | Bruce Benderson

Posted on 06/04/2002 11:31:43 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband

Hating Vincent Gallo A Right-Wing Ideologue in Bohemian Clothing

By Bruce Benderson Photography by Vincent Gallo

from SHOUT June/July 2002

I really want to hate you, Vincent Gallo. You're an uncontrolled ranter who spits out right-wing ideology. You use words like spic, dyke, Jew and commie in interviews. As a matter of fact, a journalist told me not to talk to you in person. He claimed you'd once punched an interviewer. Rumor has it that Anjelica Huston, your co-star in Buffalo 66, isn't even speaking to you.

Still, I can't stop thinking about that scene in Buffalo 66, where you curl into a fetal position and nestle your head against Christina Ricci's belly. Instinct tells me there's a more vulnerable Vincent hiding in there. Every time I think I hate you, I start looking for him.

Unraveling the complex personality known as Vincent Gallo isn't easy. Many who've applauded his performances in Abel Ferrara's The Funeral, in Alan Taylor's Palookaville or in his own film Buffalo 66 aren't aware that he's also an accomplished painter and photographer (he took the pictures for this story). As a decorator, he turned his own small living space on Elizabeth Street into a masterpiece of minimalist design. He's an amusing journalist with a sharp sense of satire and a musician with his own albums.

But most of Gallo's fans probably also don't know that he's a Ronald Reagan-loving, full-blooded right-wing reactionary. Or maybe he wouldn't describe himself in those words, preferring instead to call himself a "Constitutionalist." Still, the awe with which Gallo describes Newt Gingrich or the glee with which he decries drug treatment programs paints a pretty stark political portrait.

When you take all of Gallo in, the complexity of his persona is nothing less than mind-boggling. For every quality there is an opposite: He's an ex Calvin Klein model with brains, a visceral actor who quit acting lessons on his first day, a sinister-looking tough with the face of Rasputin and the sweet voice of a boy, an alleged womanizer who wants to find that special woman, and a downtown bohemian with right-wing views and a love for Patrick Buchanan. He's the son of a Buffalo working class family but works with intellectual directors like Claire Denis. He's an ex juvenile delinquent who tried to sue major media for insinuating that he was a heroin addict because he says they mistook the scars on his arm for needle tracks.

Before I called to interview him in Los Angeles, where he's preparing for his new film, Brown Bunny, I did some legwork. I read dozens of articles in magazines and on the internet in which he trashed commercial films, skewered Christina Ricci for doing more publicity on The Opposite of Sex than on his film, comically put his parents on trial or lambasted bilingual education and the pro-choice movement. To my surprise, when I wasn't wincing with distaste, I suddenly found myself thinking, "Vincent, you're kind of cool." I may be a queer anarchist and he may make Mussolini seem liberal, but we had a lot in common.

For one thing, we both love Pasolini and the '80s films of Eric Mitchell for which he wrote a musical score. We both mourn the loss of a once-creative Manhattan. Both of us were fans of the punk band James White and the Blacks in 1980. We both spit flames when we contemplate the trend of normalcy in gay culture today, and neither of us can hack lesbian rage. A love-hate conflict about Vincent Gallo was brewing inside me, even before we spoke.

"Are you a Jewish homosexual? Well, are you?" The question came up ten seconds after he answered the phone. I hadn't even asked my first interview question.

Meekly I answered, "Uh, yeah."

"I would've made one of the greatest gays of all time!" he boomed. So I one-upped him.

"I heard you used to hustle in Times Square."

"I did all my go-go dancing in Times Square," he answered matter-of-factly, "but all my hustling on 53rd Street." He was referring to his lean-and-hungry years when he came to New York at the age of sixteen, and was living out of his car, break-dancing and, later, playing in a band with Jean-Michel Basquiat. He was also referring to the time I used to frequent those same streets, picking up hustlers.

"Sorry I missed you," I quipped. "Think what this interview would have been like if I'd tricked with you back then."

He just chuckled.

Vincent Gallo grew up in Buffalo, not far from my hometown of Syracuse. His family is working class Italian, much like many of the kids I went to high school with. While my parents were staunch Democrats, a lot of their families were, to my mind, seduced by right-wing ideology. It promised blue-collar Americans low taxes and law and order while closing down their factories and lining the pockets of the rich. All the right had to offer the working class, I believed, were higher rents and a populist, xenophobic hatred.

Of course, Gallo had gotten out of all that at sixteen and come to New York to pursue an art career. That's why I thought he was too smart to swallow the right-wing rap. His anti-welfare-state declamations, his misogynist cracks had to be part of a ploy, I figured. And I thought I could "crack" him before our conversation was over. "Come on, Vincent," I kibbutzed. "This right-wing crap has got to be a pose. Haven't you noticed all the rents soar sky-high when there's a conservative regime in power?"

"Most Jewish people I've known are Democrats," said Vincent imperturbably. "They're the only people who've ever raised my rent."

"Aren't you part Jewish, Vincent?" I was out for blood.

A strange pause, then a hearty cackle. "What a frightening thought! Actually, a lot of people have accused me of having the Jew gene."

"Don't you know Gallo is often a Jewish-Italian name?" I insisted, still hoping to press some buttons. But all he said was,

"Buffalo had some of the greatest Jews I've ever known." We were getting nowhere fast, so Vincent decided to take another tack.

"You know," he grumbled, "when I'm reading James Madison, he speaks for me. I don't feel disenfranchised." A hint of the schoolmarm had crept into his voice. I could feel the ruler about to smack my knuckles. "When I read Madison or the Constitution, I relate to the broad-mindedness, the bigger picture. There isn't anything in my life that's oppressed me in a real way or was beyond my control."

I didn't tell Gallo that his character in the film he directed, Buffalo 66, about an ex-con who has to kidnap a girl to make his parents think he's married, is the most disenfranchised, out-of-control character in film history. Did he really think the director of something like that would ever be invited to a George W. Bush barbecue?

"When I say I'm conservative, that's being radical, that's moving forward in a real way," said Vincent. "Liberals are small-minded manipulators; they pander to special interest groups just for the sake of power. Don't you find it odd that if you segregate women, blacks, homosexuals and Jews, they vote in such radical numbers in one party? Where's the balance there?" he thundered.

Now he was really starting to piss me off. "Let's talk about New York," I interrupted, switching strategies but trying to sound casual and composed. "Wasn't it your right-wing pal Giuliani who f*ck*d it up totally, raised the rents, drove the artists out?"

"You're claiming that the charm of New York was that it was filthy and disgusting?" he ranted. "I've heard that one before. The charm of New York was that people were bigger than the filth and disgust. More charismatic...Willing to put themselves on the line.

"How many people do you know today who really are interested in doing art outside the mainstream?" he went on. "How many film people do you know today who are willing to be part of an esoteric underground? The problem is not less crime, better housing, better streets. The problem is that our culture as a whole has become infatuated with things outside the soul and charisma of New York. This has nothing, nothing at all, to do with Giuliani."

His voice was passionate, almost quivering. I had to admit there was something sincere, genuine about it. He began painting a nostalgic picture of New York in the early '80s, when crowds of creative, charismatic bohemians, like the Ramones, like James White and the Blacks, were the rule. He was holding up the good old days to shame today's slackers. I'd heard the story before, and to tell the truth, I half believed it. In fact, I'd been there. In those days, all people had was talent...

"When you juxtapose those people with a Harmony Korine, The Strokes, you're gonna just blame Giuliani?" teased Vincent. "Cheaper rents, huh? Then why isn't Williamsburg and the rest of Brooklyn putting out the most interesting art, music and film of the whole world right now?"

Maybe he really is just a Swiftian satirist, I began thinking. Playing on the same old, my-generation-was-better condescension. A provocateur, and I was falling for it.

So I switched strategies again. "Well, I hate those sentimental liberals, too," I blurted out. "Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins and their hypocritical left-wingism is so, so Hollywood. Like assimilationist gay lib."

"If she were a real radical, I would have liked her on that level," said Gallo.

"Yeah, they make me nauseous." Had I really said that?

"If she'd been a real commie," Gallo continued, referring to a comment he'd made that was picked up in the news, "a real life-style freak, who'd only done radical films, given up all her money I wouldn't have called her a commie."

"Yeah," I said. "I see her as an opportunistic light-weight who let Robert Mapplethorpe photograph her children. Big fuckin' deal."

He giggled appreciatively. Without realizing it, I was becoming part of his agenda. And, honestly, it was sort of fun.

Gallo took it as a kind of encouragement. "When I see Pat Buchanan speak on television," he said, putting the icing on the cake, "I feel thrilled. He's one of the brightest, cleverest, funniest people I've ever heard speak...I like so many right-wing politicians. I idolize Reagan and Nixon."

The list of heroes was making me seasick, so I tried to pull my mind away from it. Maybe all he needs is a spin-doctor, I began thinking, somebody to let the public know when he's being facetious. God, I hoped he was. But also, there was something about him—apart from the politics—that was so charming, so sweet and candid and snappy. And always vulnerable. It's just the fake liberals he hates, not the real thing, I kept telling myself. Don't listen, don't listen.

And before I knew it, we were in bed about the subject of bohemia today. With precise math he proved to me that rents are only five times what they were in 1980, but a lot of the young complainers are earning ten times what he did in those years. "I was washing dishes at a restaurant for a 10-hour shift, 30 dollars a night. These days you can easily earn 300 dollars a night in any restaurant or hip club downtown. What other job could you get back then if you had blue hair and a mohawk and were 16 years old? Turning tricks on 53rd and 3rd! Not working in one of 7,000 hip restaurants, production companies or modeling agencies!"

Wait a minute, what was that? Blue hair? Suddenly I was having deja vu.

That skinny kid with the blue mohawk I'd picked up on 53rd Street, when was it, in '80, '81? The rail-thin, cocky kid with the sunken cheeks and sweet blue eyes, the one who was wild about my record collection, who sopped up attention like a sponge and had a problem with authority.

Could it have been? Did he remember?

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: New York
KEYWORDS: actor; newrightwing; vincentgallo
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To: danelectro
Missing the kick was NOT Norwood's fault. The Bills had blown out their opponents in every win that year, so the management and coaching staff did not feel the need to have a distance kicker on the team. Norwood was a solid kicker for them from shorter range.

No one save Giants fans thought Buffalo would have to kick a long field goal to win the Super Bowl that year. Us Giants fans knew that was the only way we could win...

41 posted on 06/13/2002 9:38:57 AM PDT by Oschisms
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To: rogercolleridge
42 posted on 06/13/2002 10:53:06 AM PDT by LisaFab
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To: grlfrnd
This is got to be a joke..

I saw him in Buffalo 66 and found myself strangely attracted to him (kinda sexy in a weird way)-- so I did a search on him to find some more movies and in the process I found some interviews and he came off as a total socialist</>...

I'm going to go find that interview...

43 posted on 06/13/2002 11:00:24 AM PDT by oline
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To: oline
"This is got to be a joke"

sorry I slipped into ebonics for a moment

"This has to be a joke"
44 posted on 06/13/2002 11:03:55 AM PDT by oline
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To: oline
Gallo a socialist? NEVER. He has always been a Repub, always been a right winger...he has remained constant.
45 posted on 06/13/2002 12:20:56 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband
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To: oline
Here's what he says when asked "Who do you think is the creepiest?" This is from 1997!

"Bill and Hillary Clinton and their ugly orphan-like daughter Chelsea"....(there were others on that list, like John F. Kennedy Jr.- he was still living at that point).

46 posted on 06/13/2002 12:26:24 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband
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To: oline
When asked "...are there any dead or alive folks that you like at all?"

He replied: "I'm glad you asked. Well, Richard Nixon is number one. And I really loved Andy Kauffman.I also love Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, Pier Pasolini, Yogi Berra, Dick Armey from Texas, Robert Ryman; Rush Limbaugh; Cy Twombly; Governor Pataki; Tal Farlow; John Wayne; Charlton Heston and current favorite in the whole world, "He don't give a hoot Newt," the super bright and clever Newt Gingrich. Johnny Ramone's a good guy, too, and I still idolize Chris Squier, bass player from Yes. Also, my ex-girlfriend Vicky Clay has had moments of kindness too. But those moments come and go. And then there's the beautiful Cat Doran. Well, she's perfect. When she's not personalizing my long before I met her mental illness."

Oline...I don't think you are thinking of the correct person. Vincent has always been on the side of the Right. He hates the left with a passion. Again the quotes are from 1997.

47 posted on 06/13/2002 12:29:38 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband
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To: weegee
Johnny Ramone is one of us? Great! Where's his website?
48 posted on 06/13/2002 12:30:48 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband
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To: grlfrnd
Maybe I was mixing up interviews -- but I do know this guy is sexy whether he's a leftie or a rightie

But I'm glad he's on the right...
49 posted on 06/13/2002 1:44:42 PM PDT by oline
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To: grlfrnd

Favorite Republicans
Ronald Reagan

Richard Nixon

Charlton Heston

Vincent Gallo

Ted Nugent

Rush Limbaugh

Sean Hannity

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bob Barr

Tom Delay

50 posted on 06/13/2002 2:29:26 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Sara Michelle Gellar

Freddie Prinze Jr

51 posted on 06/13/2002 3:11:55 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband
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To: Calico Cat
yeah vincents best performances were in arizona dream, buffalo 66, and the funeral.
52 posted on 10/10/2002 7:48:39 AM PDT by louisk
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To: I_Love_My_Husband
I'm going to post an article (and will link to this thread). I think that Vincent Gallo is the subject of some "useful idiots"/Hollywood Left backlash.

Vincent Gallo has denied a report by lefty Roger Ebert that he apologized to the critics and audiences at his new movie in Cannes.

I even searched a few weeks ago (before any of this broke) for ANY pro or anti war statements from Vincent Gallo and found none. In interviews he will get into politics ocassionally. He claims to be a conservative; I believe him because Johnny Ramone a "fellow New Yorker" has known him a long time and lists him among his 10 favorite conservatives (Johnny is also a lifelong conservative). I even registered on his website at that time and didn't see any political diatribes.

I think that the left is looking for a whipping boy to kick around (and he hasn't even stirred up the dust to give them an opening).

Hollywood's BLACKLIST of conservatives continues. They're dragging his name in the mud.

53 posted on 06/03/2003 1:31:47 PM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS: CNN let human beings be tortured and killed to keep their Baghdad bureau open)
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To: weegee
My opinion: You gotta respect someone who idolizes Chris Squire of Yes. Especially to create that extended trailer to Buffalo 66 with the music from "Heart of the Sunrise" from the Fragile album (in the movie, its also being played in the scene at the strip club at the end).
54 posted on 06/03/2003 1:43:37 PM PDT by berserker
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To: I_Love_My_Husband
Here's the thread about the Cannes bashing he received:

Gallo: I never apologised for Brown Bunny (Conservative filmmaker facing leftist backlash?)

55 posted on 06/03/2003 1:54:48 PM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS: CNN let human beings be tortured and killed to keep their Baghdad bureau open)
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To: I_Love_My_Husband
Now I see the day 2002 (I was wondering about that June 4 but know that some publications lead the date).

I still think that he may get some backlash because of his politics.

Whether Shannen Doherty was rude in private or not, she was finally ousted from the Hollywood elite after she spoke on behalf of young adults at the GOP presidential convention in 1992.

56 posted on 06/03/2003 2:11:25 PM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS: CNN let human beings be tortured and killed to keep their Baghdad bureau open)
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To: danelectro
don't even think of bashing norwood for missing the kick

Wouldn't do that. Did Norwood ever get another kicking job? I don't remember ever hearing his name again. And that's really unfair, because he wasn't a bad kicker at all. He managed to help get the Bills to the big show that year - too bad the rest of the team didn't perform as consistently as Norwood....

57 posted on 06/03/2003 6:54:05 PM PDT by WarEagle
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To: weegee; KneelBeforeZod; Bella_Bru
Weegee! Yer pinging me to an old forgotten thread here mate!

Yeah I know Gallo's all in the news lately, but, um, the new movie The Brown Bunny sounded interested except........for the extremely graphic bit.

The whole fight with Ebert is great though.
58 posted on 06/03/2003 7:02:20 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband
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To: I_Love_My_Husband
Yeah, I noticed after a few posts that this was an old thread (that I had already been to). I had done a FR search for threads for the name Gallo (sorted by date) so I wouldn't post a duplicate article. I thought at the time that it was current.
59 posted on 06/03/2003 7:10:59 PM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS: CNN let human beings be tortured and killed to keep their Baghdad bureau open)
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To: I_Love_My_Husband
he's the new udo kier.

warhol could really pick 'em....what was the other weirdo's name in his movies? Joe Dellasato or something.

60 posted on 06/04/2003 5:32:22 AM PDT by KneelBeforeZod (Deus Lo Volt!)
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