The unexpurgated interview by Dr. Vaginal Davis with the great Bibbe Hansen along with her young husband Sean Carrillo and concubine Laki from Australia.
Bibbe Hansen is the most important woman in Los Angeles. She comes from bohemian royalty. Her poet-artist-showgirl, half-Swedish, half-Jewish mother, Audrey Hansen, was the famed Thumbelina dancer on the old Perry Como Show in the early 1950's. Her father was the Fluxus, Happenings and Pop Art pioneer Al Hansen. As a teenager in New York City in the Sixties, Bibbe was the youngest of Andy Warhol's superstars and led a juvenile life of crime and debauchery, that included a recording contract with the all-girl group, The Whippets, along with fellow jailbait Jan Kerouac, daughter of Jack. She also did happenings with her father and experiemental theater at Judson Church, La Mama and the Living Theater in New York.
Andy Warhol made a film about her teenage jail experiences: "Prison" which co-starred Bibbe and Edie Sedgewick. She made two screentests for him and also appeared in Andy Warhol's "L'Avventura" which took place in Edie's favorite"L'Avventura Restaurant" on Second Avenue. Besides her underground film oeuvre, she has appeared in a few Hollywood films like Brian DePalma's "Phantom of the Paradise" and Ulli Lommel's "Olivia".
Eventually, she settled down to marriage (pop music arranger/composer David Campbell) and children (artist Channing and pop star Beck) in LA in the early 70's, becoming a Hollywood wife and living in Marlon Brando's famous old house above Chateau Marmont with the 15 different sets of stairs that don't go anywhere. Then after a stint on LA's punk scene as performer, participant and documenteur, Bibbe left her successful husband, for a 15-year-old art activist Chicano boy named Sean Carrillo, whom she is now married to.
Rebel Magazine got together with Bibbe, Sean, her new young Greek/Australian concubine Laki (pronounced Lucky) for dinner at the low-key restaurant Le Petit Greek in Larchmont Village, located in the old money section of LA's Hancock Park.
Rebel: Whats new on the Bibbe agenda? Its never quiet on your western front.
Bibbe Hansen: Isn't our Laki pretty?
BH: Actually, it's L-A-K-I, though pronounced "lucky". It's Greek for "little boy". Kinda like "Chico". He's Greek-Australian.
Rebel: Greek, eh? Active or passive?
BH: And with girls and boys. An equal opportunity slut.
R: How's it hanging at bibbegate?
BH: Mischief, what else?
R: Thats a given. Besides making the young, young, young, young teenage boys very very wet and drippy and getting them fidgity. Their little fresh booty hole cups spilleth over.
Sean Carrillo: As her husband I must say she has been attracting quite a bit of attention lately from younger and younger boys.
R: Female pedophilia is a big trend right now. Lydia Lunch has been writing about her misadventures. And my friend Patty Powers loves teenage skater boys.
SC: Again Bibbe is the trend setter in this regard. Everybody else is just now catching up.
R: You robbing the cradle started with your current husband Sean. You know the legend of how you basically kidnapped him from his Chicano family.
SC: She use to troll east LA.
R: I heard about that with high heels and a handbag and hardly anything else on.
SC: She makes Larry Clark look like a librarian.
R: That's how she got you.
R: Here we are eating at LePetite Greek on Larchmont in luscious Larchmont Village in downtown Hancock Park.
SC: Bibbe only eats at restaurants that are called Petite.
R: It goes with your figure; you are the ultimate junior miss.
BH: And a gidget besides
R: You only fit into the smallest of sizes.
SC: She could join the Little People of America.
BH: I'm at the cut off point.
SC: She's five feet tall
R: Bibbe you've been a scandalous hoot for so long that everything you do now appears normal.
BH: I've been a bit more calm for a few years now; I'm a married lady, you know. Sadie Sadie married lady. Our marriage is around the 15 year mark. Lately I've thought it might be time for me to spice things up a bit.
SC: We've been married for 15 years but we've been together longer. She weened me.
R: Your whole sense of high drama is always consistent within the same proportions.
SC: That's integrity. When you're with Bibbe it's just so civilized. Even when you wake up in the morning in the gutter. There is a way to do it that makes it civilized.
R: The cool factor. From your Warhol days. It's elegant chic, cool. You don't have to try you just are. So many in LA try so hard, its all affectation. The way they carry themselves here is so pathetic. You've been the same since you were a teenager. You look the same, you've dressed the same; you've always had a sophisticated style. You've worked the same classic lines and sharp look.
BH: Style is just a manifestation of personality, isn't it? Also character. Otherwise you're just a fashion whore. It holds true in the art that we do. If you're seeking to copy or trying to "be" some esthetic as opposed to personal expression--revelation. That's really much more to the point. One can present one's art, manifest one's self and live life with the equal integrity.
R: There is a difference between Bibbe glam, chic and a place like Moomba where people are trying way too hard and are wearing their desperality on their sleeve.
SC: We actually know the architect who designed the LA Moomba and he's invited us there but we have to wait till the crowd dies down and the trendy factor falls off.
[Cute young latino bus boy comes by table and Bibbe strains to get a look at his ripe high top bubble butt]
SC: I have to keep an eye on her. We're not PC; don't make me hit her. Bibbe Hansen to me is the difference between style and fashion. She has style. You have to pay attention to that. She was born with it. Fashion follows her around and tries to get a peek.
R: Yeah, she inherited that from her mother and father. I remember that picture of you eleven years old in this fashion spread and way ahead of your time giving this new wave/punk look over twenty years before its time.
BH: Oh, you mean the Ryszard Horowitz pictures. Yes, that was in 1961 or 1962. Did you know Ryszrd is Roman Polanski's cousin. He was a friend of my dad's when Al was teaching at Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn--just before Al got fired for writing "Fuck God" on a wall during one of his Happenings.
R: It was uncanny.
BH: I have a new photo for you to see. Me and Edie Sedgewick on a break during the filming of Prison in 1964 at the Factory. Billy Name shot the photo. Slowly, things are beginning to come out about the early years at the Factory. Initially everyone was interested in the whole post-Solanas shooting, glam years. Now people are finding the early Factory years fascinating territory. That was my era.
SC: The Steven Shore book "The Warhol Years" has pictures with Bibbe. And then with this new Billy Name photo-they go in and find a real gem. It's an incredible photo. There's also a new book on Warhol's Factory coming out they want to interview Bibbe for: The Early Years 1960-1970. You used one picture of Bibbe and Edie dancing at the Factory for your menu covers at Troy Cafe.
SC: This new photo is even better. It shows how her style is classic and that she doesn't depart from that
BH: Seeing the photo was quite a shock. I've never seen it before. Someone sent it to me saying you've probably seen this before. And I hadn't. When I saw the pic it was a time machine ride. When I see it I am 13 again. I didn't know the photo existed. I don't even remember taking it. Then again, I don't remember much from then. We were stoned a lot of the time. Edie looks so lovely. She's at the absolute peak of her beauty.
R: Bibbe is an inspiration to so many. You've been a muse to a whole generation of new artists. All the Chicano artists and musicians who you inspired. All those gorgeous kids at Troy Caf? Whom you mentored and were under your tutelage. It was such a scene. A movement.
SC: We just ran into Zack de la Rocha of "Rage Against the Machine" two nights ago and he was telling Bibbe what a big fan he was of the Asco the collective that I belonged to, and what a great job she did raising Beck. It was great seeing Zach and Bibbe acting all girlfriend telling each other how wonderful they are.
BH: Actually, Zach's dad was a much more important and earlier influence than Asco or Troy Cafe. He inspired us! Beto de la Rocha, along with Almaraz, Lujan and Romero were known as "Los Four" and turned LA on its ear back in 1974 with their revolutionary and radically political art. Their show at LA County Art Museum caused near-riots.
R: People like Zach have been inspired by Bibbe, her influence. A lot the forming of Rage took place at Troy. Rage came out of the embers of Brian Grillo's band Lock-Up. And all of those guys hanging out at Troy before and after gigs. There were always political discussions taking place into the wee hours at Troy.
BH: People pounding on tables and shouting. Crazy ideas. Passionate opinions. During the LA riots was an amazing time. Cafe Troy was the only place open downtown. We were a block from the central police station and City Hall.
SC: Bibbe was busy corrupting the National Guard.
BH: We had Police and Rioters--all drinking bootleg booze together in the same cafe. I loved that National Guardsman we got drunk? He wore full combat gear and was dancing to Rock the Casbah while playing air guitar on his rifle.
R: The cops in uniform at one of the art openings! I'll never forget that image. This cop mingling. Sort of...!
SC: Cops don't really mingle, they passively threaten. But they did hang out with all the radicals, revolutionaries and trotskyites at Troy Cafe.
BH: Why teach the converted? Why preach to the choir? Any time you have an opportunity you gotta get to the straights and corrupt them on some level. We'd seduce them with the food.
R: The food was really good at the cafe.
BH: Sean and I love to cook. Did I tell you I hosted a cooking show for Dutch tv? Fun!
SC: Yes, you can be this incredible artist radical revolutionary but you can still like to cook and eat. That's what Bibbe is she is--all of that. She's well-rounded.
R: Yes, she comes from a tradition of Jewish intellectuals from the past. Especially in the east side of LA; the Silverlake and Echo park area. Thats a tradition. You live on the east side in Frogtown, Atwater Village. There are all these tie-in since the 1930s with radicalism in Los Angeles and the art scene. Warhols famous show in LA in 1962.
BH: This arc from the Post World War II era and the Beats into the whole anti-art, anti abstract expressionist, Fluxus, conceptual art, John Cage, all of that, through even the Neo-dadaists. John Cage is from Los Angeles. People forget that. Most people think of him as a New York artist, but he was born here and his work is informed by Los Angeles. I was born in New York City but I've spent half of my life in Los Angeles. I've become part of LA though I was born and raised on the streets of Manhattan. Of course, NYC will always be with me.
SC: You lived on the East Side in NYC too.
BH: "Lower" East Side, darling. Traditionally, since industrialization, the East Side of cities has been the enclave for the poor teeming masses, which naturally led to their becoming hotbeds of political radicalism. Generally, there is very little need for the wealthy and comfortable to challenge the status quo. It's but a short step from Anarchy to Art.
R: Because of a Bibbe LA is taken more seriously now. People listen to what is coming out of here. Before everything was New York.
BH: That's more due to your influence than anyone else's! But, it's true, LA is definitely coming into its own.
SC: Bibbe's influence has always been all over the map. Another example is in the late 80's early 90's when the kids were doing their poetry magazine. "Youthless". Beck, Channing, Rain and Scoli, my nephew. A woman came from France and did a documentary about it
BH: Yes, Sophie Rachmuhl did this documentary on poets in LA. She came from Paris to document the scene here. This was about 1987, 1988. It's a good example of Europe taking a look at what's going on when it's not even being picked up in this country.
Beck is now doing his thing with music and video art. Channing does his with visual arts and performance. Scoli is living in Paris now. He just peformed at a theatre festival in Dijon. And he got commissioned to do an opera based on the work of Gerard de Nerval. Back then, in the 1980's, these kids knew what was happening and they were just kids 13-17. So the French tv people came here and realized what these kids were doing was unique and made this documentary. The only people who recognized the kids back then in LA were Wanda Coleman and Austin Strauss--another group of great writers surrounding Black Sparrow Press. Wanda has been a godmother to Beck and Channing. Wanda rocks so hard. She is a brilliant artist. If she was from New York she would be the most famous woman poet living. She is so completely LA and perhaps that is why more people don't know her. She is a wonderful writer.
SC: I love Wanda. When she was at our house last year, she fell down our front stairs, but she did it like nobody else.
BH: She took a big tumble.
SC: She said, "I'm going down now!".
BH: She gave a blow by blow commentary as she was falling. She said: "I'm goin' down! I'm falling now-still going! I'm done now. Don't touch me; let me lie here for a minute. I'm ok!" She has a giant intellect and a huge heart. What a phenomenal talent! The documenteur from France also interviewed Wanda and Dr. Mongo.
SC: Are you familiar with Dr. Mongo?
BH: Dr. Mongo Tarabubu. He did readings downtown. He is a street poet and word-master.
SC: His performances are amazing.
BH: We caught up with Dr. Mongo recently at Frank Parker's funeral. Talk about the spirit of LA! Do you remember Frank Parker from Troy? He was homeless. He was known in LA art circles as a prison artist. He made bracelets out of wire and sold them at Troy. This was during the terrible days of Daddy Bush's (Bush the First) rape of America. After two terms with Reagan, we got Bush, Sr. and he almost finished us off economically. The streets of LA were lined with homeless, broke, starving people. Not just addicts and drunks, but whole families were living on the streets. Strange terrible times. And here we go with Take Two; "Son of Bush: Shrub, the Sequel". I think Los Angeles in particular is going to be okay. Our society here is shifting more and more to the left so I am hoping we can preserve the social justice inroads we've made in recent years in spite of all the damage Shrub will do on the federal level. But it going to take a lot of work; a lot of community cooperation. We'll need coalition and support to pull it off.
SC: Like last night-it was so great to see the entire community come out to support the Silverlake Sunset Free Clinic at the Paramour Benefit. You know Bibbe and Beck helped get that started last year as an annual event.
BH: This year Elton John and Sting played for us. Robert Downey Jr. was the MC. What a sweet beautiful man! You know, he reminds me a lot of Edie, in a way. Of course, he is brilliantly talented and accomplished, while Edie burned out early and never got to realize her potential. But in some lovely spirit child way, they resonate together for me. Beck also played the event. It was a fantastic night; it was wonderful to be there and a part of it. Elton played our little backyard neighborhood benefit like he was playing to a crowd of 50,000 and the Queen Mother. Robert and Sting did "Every Breath You Take" as a duet. They took turns doing lines. Singing, not cocaine. You know Robert Downey can sing his ass off?
R: Would you say Beck is informed by being an Angeleno?
BH: Yes. Definitely. Hanging downtown. Playing guitar in Lafayette Park. Just riding the bus in LA has shaped more local artists...
SC: And by your father, his grandfather.
BH: Beck is very much influenced by the same people that influenced his grandfather. People like Kurt Schwitters; one of the first early junk aesthetic collagists. He was a Dada and did sound and performance work as well. The Beats were an influence. Al Hansen was on that scene and doing Beat style spoken word and art before becoming involved with the neo-dada, anti-art Fluxus movement in the early 60's. Beck devoured Kerouac and Ginsberg and that whole genre of work as a teen.
SC: But you were the link.
BH: Sure, I'm his mama! More practically, he gets to Kerouac because Jack's daughter, Jan, and I grew up together in NYC. I became friends with Jan through my dad's friendship with her parents.
SC: It's inter-generational!
BH: John Cage would be another influence. My father studied with Cage at the New School in NYC. Some of Cage rubs off on Becks's musical aesthetic in terms of experimental work. Being willing to embrace the accidental and unplanned within a composition or performance.
R: There aren't too many young kids out there who show an interest in anything beyond their generation. We were obsessed with other periods. A lot of them seem so uninterested; that's so sad. There is no sense of history or wanting to know what became before.
BH: Here in LA, Beck and Channing had to fight for that. It wasn't inherent in the terrain outside their home. They spent hours in the library digging up all kinds of arcane stuff. They got into all the beat poetry there. And Beck got into all the archival recordings and tabs collected by WPA workers from the old blues and folk roots music people in the Thirties. They were hungry for it; they made it a quest.
There weren't a lot of other kids back then into the same sorts of things. They really had to make their own gang. That's when they started their "Youthless" zine. Then when Scoli went to High School of the Arts he hooked up with Jade Gordon and the wonderful young artist Jeff Ono.
SC: That was about the time we started Troy Cafe so they were coming there a lot.
BH: Well, there's always a group of outsider kids who are driven to explore and create. It's sad that they are so unusual; that they are not the norm. I think it was that way for all of us. You know, I recently directed a show for Jade. Gordon. She and Alex Segade wrote it. "Snow Queen of Rohnert Park". A Stevie Nicks meets Alice In Wonderland type musical fantasy. It was great fun. Kai Lennox was in it too. Amazingly talented young people. It was inspiring to work with them. Jade is fabulous in that movie "SugarTown".
SC: We need to start a Foundation so Bibbe can head up a Home for Wayward Artist Kids. The truth is that she's secretly only fourteen years old. A kid herself.
BH: Yeah, I'm fucking retarded!
SC: The world's oldest living juvenile delinquent. That's why she has such a rapport with young people.
BH: You know, we were talking earlier about young people who don't bother to learn about their antecedents, don't bother to learn their history or strive to become culturally literate. I also think it's a shame when older people tune out to new things; don't bother to pay attention to what the cool kids are up to. Stultification ensues. That's where the older generations become dinosaurs that have to be swept away in order for artistic progress to be made. I'm endlessly fascinated to see what new stuff young people are up to.
SC: They will be teaching a class twenty years from now on Bibbe Hansen. It will be part of the curriculum.
BH: They're already teaching Vaginal Davis!
SC: They keep asking when Bibbe will come out to NYU and lecture. Nancy Barton of NYU's Fine Art Department is bringing her out.
R: The Hansen Family Movie and Art Room was a highlight of Platinum Oasis. Everyone was talking about it and trying to get in the room but I love how you didn't let just anyone in.
BH: "No one'll respect you if you're too cheap or common." I'm channeling my mother now.
R: How about life on the art tour?
BH: "Playing with Matches"? The Beck and Al Hansen Show closed last summer after two and a half years. It travelled from Tokyo to New York and Germany--everywhere! We did about two dozen shows, all around the world. One of our last shows was at the Cheekwood Museum in Nashville. It was wonderful there. Nashville is very different from what you think it would be like. I did a workshop there and Channing and I put on a "Happening" with kids from the local high school and the art school. That was my favorite part about going around the world with the show. It was great to get to work with young artists everywhere. I lectured on Al's work; we did a Al Hansen slide show.
BH: Wayne Baerwaldt from Plug-In was our curator.
SC: Cheekwood Institute is on a beautiful estate that was willed to the city and became a state of the art museum. Wayne and Bibbe and I did a panel on Al Hansen and Fluxus and Beck. Bibbe brilliantly had Channing start the happening before the panel discussion was finished. All of a sudden performers are weaving through the audience and the people don't know what to do or what to make of it.
BH: Channing is reading from text and blowing up balloons and throwing toilet tissues and climbing up a ladder...
SC: And I'm still talking: "The answer to that question is blah, blah, blah..."
BH: And Channing is shouting, "You Suck!" And the kids are playing sound toys and using masking tape to tie up the audience. And there was an eighty-year-old woman, reeling with delight and thoroughly giddy as she's being taped up with cardboard, "Oh look at me I'm in a performance." "Yippy-yi-yi!" It was great.
R: What else have you been up to?
BH: More acting.
[Bus boy comes by and Bibbe ogles him again]
R: Look at those big thick long hands. He must have an enormous pinga.
BH: That's very deceptive, big hands. Look at Laki. See his tiny feet and small slender hands--it means nothing, I can assure you.
R: No! It's all about the girth. How wide the toes and the fingers are. Tell me about the acting.
BH: I shot a movie in South America. With Jorge Lopez. From Chile? I probably shouldn't talk about it because they filmed the damn thing without any rights to the story and they are still hassling about it. I don't see what the problem is. It's based on a true story. Doesn't that make it public domain? It's about a Jewish-American woman who lived between NYC, Moscow and Mexico. She was a 30's/40's radical who might actually have been an agent for the US.
SC: It's a crazy story. She co-founded the NY Ballet Society, you know.
BH: Since you put me in your movie "The White To Be Angry", I've been getting a lot of scripts again. First, I got to work playing Jade Gordon's mother in John Aes-Nihil's remake of Suddenly Last Summer. That's where Jade got the idea to use me in Snow Queen. Originally, she wanted me to play her mother in that but I wound up directing it.
SC: Bibbe's a great director.
BH: I model my directing style after Ms. Davis. I've worked with Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, Brian De Palma, but I have never enjoyed working with someone more than Vaginal. You are wonderful with actors--and crew!
R: Didn't you give Brian De Palma a blow job or something like that?
BH: You're thinking of Bobby Kennedy. Brian and I were an item briefly. Way back when.
SC: These days if she wants a part in a movie I wind up having to give the blow job.
BH: Strange for us to be here dining together in affluent Hancock Park.
SC: These people have so much money they don't need to live in the Hills.
R: Yeah, the Hills are tacky.
BH: Only drug dealers and porno directors live in the hills these days. And Heidi Fleiss. We love Heidi, but come on. Heidi Fleiss' father lives in the Los Feliz flats; Heidi was raised there. Dr. Paul Fleiss was Beck's pediatrician. If Heidi had been a madam to boy prostitutes she would still be in business now. I am so tired of this Moral Minority sexual repression crap in America. Those fascist assholes have been holding this entire country hostage for years with their bullying bullshit. This country needs to grow the fuck up.
R: Getting back to my fav subject in the world: Bibbe Hansen.
SC: Tell her about your play!
BH: I wrote a play about my dad and his whack family. "Family Circle". In the 80's Al went back east and took care of his 92 year old, completely senile father for a year. Al was the black sheep of his family. He has three crazy brothers, all still alive.
The last year of the father's life they were each trying to work out all this macho horseshit and different family dynamics/inheritance issues. It's a dark, fun, crazy play. I wrote it for the theatre, but I've got word that it's getting passed around Hollywood. Different people have called and are talking movie. I'm still waiting to get it produced as a play and they are talking options. I'm not holding my breath but there is a "name" attached. Jack Nicholson to play my dad, Al Hansen.
R: That would be perfect. Him or Gene Hackman.
SC: Or Dennis Hopper
BH: Who knows if it will come together? You know how Hollywood is.