~A DISCUSSION WITH LEO FITZPATRICK BY CASEY DORAN
Do you think Kids (1995) could be made today? I know people were suspicious of Larry Clark and there was a lot of other issues people would have.
I think there’s a million reasons why it couldn’t be made today. I wanna say Harmony put it best. “The reason why Kids wouldn’t happen today is because Jennie could just call Telly and tell him he has AIDS.” Oh! That’s actually pretty clever. The whole chase wouldn’t go down. As far as the sex, and all that, I feel something like Euphoria makes Kids look so tame. It’s like have sex, smoke weed, and hang out. (If it came out today), I don’t think it would have the same kind of shock factor either and skateboarding is a different thing now. I don’t even think it could have been made a year later or a year before. It was just that very special summer. Everything just worked.
I agree. I watched Mid90s yesterday and it just made me realize it could only have been made at the time it was made.
I really liked Mid90s. I thought that was a good representation of how I grew up. I didn’t grow up like the character in Kids. I grew up like the kids in Mid90s. I related to that movie more than I relate to Kids. I was sixteen when I made it so my mom had to sign off on it and the reason she did was because she knew it was all true. She knew this is what we do and obviously she had to meet Larry. She wasn’t trying to candy coat what we were up to. She was working all the time so she couldn’t be around to stop me because she was busy working, but she was aware that this was real shit that was happening.I would say if my kid was ever hanging out in the park, he better be skateboarding. If you’re just smoking weed, that’s not enough for me. You can’t just sit there and style out and smoke weed. You gotta be putting in some work.It’s weird to have done Kids and I don’t hold anything against it. It’s been so long, and it almost feels like a different lifetime ago. I guess it’s cool that people still watch it, if they do, and get something out of it. If it can still work after all this time and people still enjoy it, then that’s a pretty good film.
To that point, somebody uploaded it three months ago on Youtube and it already has a couple hundred thousand views.
It’s definitely weird. I look so different now and the thing that gets me is my fucking voice before they recognize my face. Like, “oh, you’re that guy because of the fucked up voice.” It’s still crazy to have been part of that, because I never actually was that guy but I was that guy by default. Everybody else was fairly similar to their characters, so it was weird for an already socially awkward kid to be put in that position with no real guidance on what to do after. It was just back to normal life. It came out and it wasn’t really being celebrated. People were just like, “that was fucked up! That was really fucked up what you did.” I didn’t do shit! It was a movie! I believe that was on purpose to blur the lines between real or fake. The cast never did interviews. We were never the face of the movie. It was always Larry and Harmony doing the press.I think the next time I’ll watch it is with my kid, and that’s going to be fucked, in ten years or whatever. I gotta show him before some of his friends do. I don’t think he really knows I’m an actor. He doesn’t know that part of me. The best thing about doing The Wire was that I was no longer considered the guy from Kids. I’ve done a lot of movies but that one just stood out so much that that’s all I would ever be known for. Acting was never my driving force, so it was never something I ever really put out there. I still do it occasionally but not really.
What’s the biggest piece of inspiration you’ve carried with you from Harold Hunter?
You got arrested during Bully?
It was the wrap party for Bully, I wanna say. A bar opened for us and everyone was doing shots or what not. I was just drinking beer. We literally finished at 5 AM, so everyone started drinking at 5 AM. Now, it’s like 8:30 AM, and some people were saying, “let’s go jump in the ocean!” The girls went in in their underwear and no tops. For some weird reason, because I was drunk, I went in fully clothed. Some people who were walking their dogs saw us and called the cops. The cops called us out of the water. There were two girls who were with us that were grips on the movie. One of them kinda wasn’t as feminine, so the cops were giving her shit about her appearance. “Why do you look like a boy, blah blah blah.” I was like, “fuck you, man, who the fuck are you?” They arrested her first and I was like “fuck you! We’re all going down!” or something, just being wild. I just went to the drunk tank for a while. It wasn’t that big of a deal.That film set was so nuts, that getting arrested wasn’t a big deal. Brad Renfro had gotten arrested the day before. Brad was a bad drug addict. Larry Clark had to go to Kentucky or wherever Brad lived to drive him to Florida to sober him up, cold turkey. Brad, when he got to Florida, was somewhat sober, but he’s still a bad boy. The day before shooting, he finds this coke dealer to go jump on a boat to go do coke out in the ocean. They’re stealing this boat. They’re such geniuses, they forgot to untie the boat from the dock. They just put it in full throttle and the boat goes about five feet and gets stuck and some local hero jumps on board and holds them down until the cops get there. That was how the movie started.I know a lot of the actors were having sex with each other and couples would swap. They were kinda living their characters a little bit. I just kind of got to watch it from afar. What you see on screen is only half the story.
Drugs compared from the 90s until now. Not that party drugs could really be safe, but with Fentanyl and everything now, you have to be more careful with it.
I’m just glad I aged out of doing drugs and partying like that. It’s a risk/reward thing and to me the reward isn’t enough to risk it. I would imagine it sucks to have to test your drugs and look around the room to make sure no one is dying before you take a bump. That’s the opposite of partying. That’s stressing out. When we used to do drugs, the worst thing you would get is a sinus infection and that’s just because the drugs were cut terribly. I don’t judge people for doing drugs. I just feel bad for people who get some bad shit and die. That wasn’t the intention.I live near Tompkins Square Park in New York and just in the last week, somebody wearing fucking flip flops kicked a needle and it poked their skin, then somebody found a needle in the kid’s playground. I don’t even want to pick that shit up to throw it away, with Fentanyl and all this shit. God forbid a kid picks it up.
Let’s talk about jacking off in the nineties, pre-iPhone.
I think there was a nice innocence to the way I came up. There wasn’t all this crazy porno shit. I can’t imagine somebody trying to figure out their sexuality right now. So, this is the most basic thing. If I live in a small town in Ohio and I watch Euphoria, I’m like “why isn’t my life like that?” I want my life to be like that so I’m going to try really hard to make it like that. That’s really difficult stuff. It’s not easy to have a life like Euphoria or like, pornography. It’s fantasy and it’s not meant to be real. I’ll take my nineties porno over today’s porno. I’ll take a paper mag.
I like asking people what they would do in hypothetical situations. What would you do if Tommy Wright III pulled up to your crib and started begging for mercy? How would you react to that?
Begging for mercy? I’d help him out! He’s Tommy Wright III! I saw some shit. I feel like he needed money or some shit. How is this guy not paid? He’s a legend. I don’t know the music industry but if I was Jay-Z or somebody, I would put Tommy on a song. Like, I wanna share that shine with this guy because he’s a true original. So, yeah, if Tommy Wright III showed at my house asking for mercy, I’d be like, “make a record first.”
During the five minute break, I was kinda talking to that box that’s on the wall behind you.
Oh yeah, he’s good people. You ever heard of Chopper Read? Anyways, Dustin Dollin once had the pleasure of meeting him. I was talking to him about it. Dustin bought him a drink and he was talking, then when he’d finish the drink, he’d stop talking. He puts another drink in front of him and he starts talking, then when he finishes that one, he stops talking again. This is what you have to do to talk to the guy. You keep buying him drinks, otherwise he won’t talk to you. Maybe this is motivation for my interviews, moving forward. It’s hard to just talk about yourself.
A thing with your gallery is you value a cool show, substance, treating your artists right versus making a huge profit. You don’t mind breaking even if you have to.
That’s not even an option. That’s not a decision. That’s the way… it works. I would love to make money. I just don’t. I think even the biggest galleries lose a lot of money and they just hide it better. The gallery can feel like a selfish endeavor. Why do I do it? It’s like a form of therapy. I like to be busy. I just don’t think its necessary to the world. I don’t know if I’m changing anybodies lives.
It’s not that difficult to do interesting things. It just costs money and sometimes you have to be willing to lose money to do interesting things.
Maybe the money will catch up later. To drive to be profitable from the beginning is kind of insane. That’s not where my head is at. Again, it goes back to my kid. If in twenty years, someone tells my kid, “hey your dad did that gallery!” or “I went to that gallery.” My kid knows I did this thing and that makes me stoked. That makes me happy.
There’s a different kind of success that’s not about making a shit load of money. Other things can count as success.
Yeah, my kid seeing me bring a painting on a bus to my gallery, and I bring him too. We’re all in this together! This is art handling! It’s showing that you don’t have to be glamorous to be successful. I may have taken a handful of Ubers with my kid but it’s generally subway or bus. “Can we take an Uber?” “No, we take the train to Coney Island.” That’s part of the experience of going to Coney Island. You know how much shit you see on the train to Coney Island?We’ll probably wrap the gallery up in another year or so. The writing is on the wall. I just can’t afford to keep losing money but I don’t think it will be viewed as a failure. It will be viewed as an experiment. Some people will think it was a terrible experiment and some people will think it was a great experiment. I can’t let the idea of making money necessarily dictate whether or not I do things. That’s also kind of why I don’t give a shit about acting. I could move to L.A. and try to be on a TV show or something but my life is a little different. I think people do see that and understand it, and respect it. In the long run, it will make sense. It doesn’t make sense day to day. Not to talk about obituaries, but when you think about somebodies life being broken down into sentences – he did this and he did that that but these things could be ten years apart. A lot of sentences opposed to one sentence: “Oh, Leo Fitzpatrick did Kids then he disappeared.” or “Leo Fitzpatrick did Kids then he did this, then he had an art gallery for no fucking reason, then he DJ’ed for no fucking reason.” That kind of makes more of a fuller story.
What do you look for in the artists you book?
The art world is baseball and there are teams and people have star players and blah blah. I’m still skateboarding. I don’t give a shit about the art world or what’s happening in the art world, per se. I just like to do what I like. Certain things speak to me and certain things don’t. It has nothing to do with popularity or what’s good or what’s trending. I’ve been doing it for a long time so I know what’s good and trending. I know what’s popular or not but I’ve never let that persuade me in one direction or another. It’s what I think is interesting at the moment. It’s kind of selfish. It’s a weird business model just to be like, “oh, you’re a taste maker. Oh, you know what’s interesting.” I swear doing a show at my gallery is bad for your art career. That’s how I feel when I talk to artists. You probably shouldn’t do this. I’m not going to sell art. I never sell any art. My biggest hope is for you to get another show out of this. I’m more of a therapist for art-adjacent people where I can make people feel comfortable and that kind of thing. People who wouldn’t show in the art world will show with me because they know I’m kind of one of them. I don’t know if I work in the art world yet. If this collapses, I’ll just go back to curating shows at bars and pizzerias. That’s what always made me happiest, not working for a gallery. You can either worry about being a businessman or you can start a business.The IRS sent me a letter the other day and I was like, “put that in drawer of things to deal with later.” You can’t get blood from a stone. This is a money losing business from day one. I’ve never made a dollar from this gallery. If anything, I bank off the fact that I lose money. That’s my write off, it’s like, I lost thirty thousand dollars last year. It’s sweat equity or whatever. You put in two years of yourself for nothing and maybe it will be worth something later on. Now i’m totally talking shit. I don’t know what I’m talking about.
No one ever knows what they’re talking about. That might be a good way to end the interview.
I think it’s a perfect way to end it.
Unless you want to talk about sleep paralysis.
Yeah, I’ve had that. I don’t know when this started but whenever I was in L.A. and I had a day or two by myself, I would go down to Joshua Tree and I would sleep in the room where Gram Parsons died. Everyone thinks it’s room 11 but it’s room 13. I would just go down on a solo mission, on my own. One night I went down and I probably drank a six pack or a twelve pack, whatever. I was kicking it in the hotel room and I eventually fell asleep. I’ve had sleep paralysis before. It’s not a new thing to me, but this was the longest I’ve ever had it. A half hour or something. I was awake but I couldn’t move, blah blah blah. Eventually, I had to calm myself down to move again. You know how you have to talk yourself out of it? It could have been three minutes but it felt like thirty. It felt like a lifetime. It was four or five in the morning and I got up. I was like, “well you got what you came here for. You wanted the Gram Parsons experience, there you go. That was Gram pinning you to the bed, motherfucker.” I’ve never been back since. Nothing is going to top that experience. I don’t believe in religion but I have this weird soft spot for ghosts. Ghosts are cool if you’re down with them. Like, “you’re welcome in here. Fuck with me but not too much.” That’s what I feel like was happening. There was an energy in the room.That’s definitely the longest interview I’ve done. I hope we chipped away at something.
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