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Max Steele

January 28, 2013

Max Steele

In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that I’ve had an internet crush on Max Steele for a while now. His psychedelic porno poetry ‘zine Scorcher caught my attention, and his performance art sealed the deal.  Max’s work is edgy, clever, and captures the play, pleasure, and pain of being young and queer in the city. Max has presented work at the New Museum, Rapture Cafe, Deitch Projects, Envoy Enterprises, and the Queens Museum of Art. He’s also an Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Check out his cover of Laura Nyro’s “Captain” and read on.

1. What is your hometown?

Alameda, California.

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

Hedda Gabler. Mary from “Party Girl”. Or Amber from “Clueless”.

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

Macaulay Culkin. But like, Macaulay Culkin NOW.

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

I’ve always loved Jay DeFeo’s epic painting/sculpture “The Rose”. I wish I had that kind of dedication, patience, bravery.

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

I’m in a book club where we’re reading  Sarah Schulman’s brilliant “The Gentrification of the Mind”. I recently read and absolutely loved Sheila Heti’s “How Should A Person Be?” and Laurie Weeks’ fucking amazing book “Zippermouth”. I’m finally digging into Mary Gaitskill’s “Veronica” and loving it, and also re-reading Toni Morrison’s “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination”.

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

Really been feeling the new song by The Julie Ruin with Vaginal Davis-“Girls Like Us”. Also rediscovering the joys of the Digable Planets albums, as well as still reeling from the quiet genius of Wynne Greenwood’s “A Fire To Keep You Warm”.

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

I actually never cry. I can’t remember the last time I cried. I think it was maybe a few years ago, when I cried from exhaustion. I’m sure it’s happened in my adult life, but it’s so rare and weird I can’t remember. I wish a movie could make me cry! Or anything, really. I’m working on it.

8.  Cat person or dog person?

I’m a Leo. I’m queer. I’m feminist. I am a proud cat person.

9. What is more important, truth or kindness?

I’m a bit skeptical of drawing a distinction between the two. I don’t think one has to come at the expense of another. I think that committing to both is probably best.

10.    How do you define sin?

I’m from California, I’m a free-spirit. I’m not too married to the idea of “sin” as being inherently “bad” or unpardonably evil or something. I don’t know if I really believe in evil. I guess I’d define a sin as a deliberate, conscious breaking of some kind of social code. It can’t be an accident. It’s an on-purpose fuck-up. But it doesn’t have to be evil. Gluttony and murder are hardly comparable. As a side note, I’ve never seen that movie “Se7en” but recently some friends and I watched it for the sole purpose of seeing Gwyneth Paltrow’s decapitated head (we wanted to use the image in a performance) and were much disappointed by the fact that it’s not in the movie.

11.    How do you define virtue?

A concerted effort towards empathy. You have to try, and you have to listen and be nice.

12.   Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately. In a way, what I like about Jay deFeo’s “Rose” is that she sort of designed and built her own monument. I think for my headstone, I had actually been thinking something really simple. Maybe some nice subtle pink granite, with the words “YOU GUYS.” But that’s only if I die soon. I’m sure when I’m older I’ll have something different to say (“Eat Me”). Maybe a headstone made of sandstone so it sort of disintegrates over time.

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Erin Markey!

This Is Fag City

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