Nicola Formichetti and Christopher Makos
Nicola Formichetti: Ok, since we're editing our shoot now, I have to ask the most important question: is the ass picture too much?
Christopher Makos: NO! This is Interview.
NF: Ok, that's why I love you and that's why I love the Russians. Because my friend always teased me about flat Japanese butt and we proved him wrong. Normally, I think a lot about my shoots. And honestly, after seeing your name and knowing your work I was terrified. Oh My God! This guy is too famous.
CM: Stop it! I had the same feeling. Because nowadays when you work with magazines it's too many people involved. Great paintings are not done by committee and great art is not done by groups.
NF: You should see some of my call sheets with like 100 people on them...
CM: Maybe that's a great stimulus package for the economy, but I'm not a great economist. I like my photo shoots to be with my subject matter and no one else. I kicked people out in the past.
NF: When I saw your photos, I realized I just had to turn up with my own bag of rags and a pair of scissors. Normally, I have a room full of clothes and more make-up and hair people than you can count. Sure enough, I took off my pants in minutes and felt so comfortable.
CM: These days photographers also create big spectacle to justify huge invoices. Everything has to big, coffee table has to be imported, and everything has to look fancy. But I manufactured my life and work so I stay sane.
NF: A lot of times when I work with big corporate clients, they want the big lights. As many as possible, because they want to feel like they're actually paying for something grand. But I'm so happy that you GET it!
CM: What's not too get? We should do this once a month...in different countries. What was cool in working with you is that we both knew that we were done.
NF: Yea, magazines tend to brainwash you like that we credits, dozens of looks and styles. I love your idea of repetition.
CM: Yes, my Lady Warhol book basically just features 356 pictures of Andy in 5 different wigs. The only difference is with the body language. With Andy is was all about the hands. He was so frail and shy. But with you, it's not about Lady Gaga and you. It's really all about you. You came to the table and then you danced on that damn table.
NF: I used you as my mirror, because we had none in your studio. And it was great.
CM: Yea, mirrors are only fun when you're having sex. Though I produce my books in Spain, because Americans are weird about sex. They don't talk about it, and then we see Viagra commercials every five minutes. It's a strange culture.
NF: One of my inspirations for the shoot were the Wall Street protestors here in New York. One of my assistants Prince marched to Times Square this morning and the video that he sent me was insane. He was wearing the same Kill Me t-shirt.
CM: It's about time his kids speak up!
NF: What's great about this whole thing is that these kids represent 99% and fighting against the 1% and this still feels like an underdog story.
CM: These kids have also kind become of celebrities today. The notion of fame so much have changed so much these days. What do real stars do these days?
NF: I have no idea! When Interview launched was it supposed to have been a celebrity magazine?
CM: The real truth? Andy wanted to go to movie screenings and no one would invite him. So he started a magazine so people would invite him to premiers...
NF: That's genius. It's like how I wanted to become a fashion editor because no one would invite me to fashion shows. I just wanted a damn ticket.
CM: Eventually Andy's entourage grew too, but reality it was too many people. He had like 30-40 people working for them and it was a monthly rag at the time. He didn't need that many people. But he believed that all these people would promote him and the magazine. And then he would walk up and down Madison handing these things out..
NF: I'm sure he had them pre-signed too?
CM: Of course! I used to have stacks of them here until I put them in the garbage. Then someone told me that I was crazy and told me to Google their worth. So I guess they were valuable. But I don't like living in the past. I'm so happy to work with you right now, and living in the present. This is my moment right now with YOU. I'll always be doing my thing.
NF: Same for Gaga I think too. If she suddenly won't be famous tomorrow, she'll still be doing her thing in some dirty gay bar.
CM: I never did in my life for money. Even Andy always teased me about my business skills. But money comes when you're happy in what you're doing. But if you want cash right, go be a boring banker.
NF: Tell me about it...I'm like the worst accountant ever. Someone always has to handle my finances. By the way, how did you come to New York, Chris?
CM: I had a very screwy family: a crazy Italian mother, a soldier boy father who turned out to be gay, and a surrounding Mexican neighborhood in California. I never knew what gay was because I went to Catholic school. Then I met this guy who just bought a brand new Convertible and liked to smoke pot and was going to New York for a road trip. We made twenty stops, and he basically gave me a blowjob at every possible national monument. I got to New York and I thought what I've done was awful. I stayed by myself at Warwick Hotel and basically checked out before I had to pay the bill in three days. To this day, I'm afraid to go past the hotel. They recently had a fire, and I thought to myself...great!
NF: My first New York story was not as dramatic, but still memorable. I came with my dad and my brother when I was 15. We're were walking on Broadway, and three thugs attacked us and too all our money, and all our wallets. I was shocked at the time and my Dad made me promise not to tell our mom. But still, my dream was always to come here.
CM: I know you're addicted to your iPhone. Who's more influential in your
life: Gaga or Steve Jobs?
NF: I'm always holding an iPhone. It's this and a cigarette. My dream is to have a magazine, just for the iPhone.
CM: The digital magazines or elaborate blogs haven't really figured out this format yet.
NF: No, they haven't. Everything needs to be bigger in graphics, kind of like my grandmother's huge cell phone with big types and big slogan.
CM: One thing is for sure. Luxury books are not going anywhere. You can't translate it to iPads. Some of the middle stuff doesn't need to exist. Like who need Vanity Fair? It's like a tabloid full of people's bad times. What good has emerged like this is that now we have Twitter stars like Ashton Kutcher or Justin Beiber, who has turned into a lesbian these days.
NF: Oh, what a beautiful lesbian!
CM: Are they styling him to look androgynous?
NF: I just worked with him. I think he'll turn into next Britney Spears. And he has the most flawless skin I've ever seen.
CM: Andy would be obsessed with Twitter. He was obsessed with repetition and multiples. He took uniquely American things he would just blow them up. The scary part is that how alive he is now. He's still dominating the art world completely.
NF: How much did his paintings sell for at the time?
CM: Portraits would only go for $25,000, while people like Hockney and Rauschenberg would charge ten times more for commissions. It used to bug him. He could never got a review...
NF: That's so wonderful and comforting to hear. Fuck journalists!
CM: It must be weird for you that for the first time you have to be subjected to reviews because of Mugler. There's too much stuff out there because it could kill you alive. I would never personally want to be at very top.
NF: That's why I never wanted to be a fashion designer because you become a sandbag for critique. I'm too scared to read reviews.
CM: You can read it but you don't have to give a damn! There are more reviews these days, because of all the bloggers our there..
NF: Thousands. But because there are so many of them, they're all the same. It's hard to tell Suzy Menkes apart from a blogger from Mexico. I do like that sometimes I'm on the same level as a blogger stylist too sometimes. And I love that bloggers sit front row at fashion shows.
CM: It must drive editors crazy!
NF: They hate it! They feel like they worked too hard for twenty years to sit in third row behind guys like Bryan Boy or Tommy Ton. But at the same time, I have to do Mugler for me and only me. I can't do a show to please journalists. But why they even have to write a bad review?
CM: If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it. But a lot of these people have to make stars of themselves by writing nasty things. But sometimes you can become a star by writing joyous things. Maybe I'm naïve, but I've never been to been to a bad fashion show. They're too much fun to not enjoy them!
NF: Suzy Menkes did right about me "It's doesn't matter what I think of him because he'll just do his own thing and become bigger and bigger". And I was like: ok, cool!
CM: Do you read your horoscope?
NF: Of course. I obsess over Susan Miller and Astrologyzone.com. She private messaged me once on Twitter and I almost fainted with happiness.
CM: What's in your refrigerator?
NF: I have the cleanest kitchen in New York because I don't cook anything. I was spoiled with an Italian father who was the best chef and mom who made the most delicious Japanese food ever. So I just know how to eat stuff. My fridge is full of San Pellegrino and Japanese water.
CM:A lot of kids came by to take pictures with you at the pop-up shop. Do you feel like you're famous?
NF: Those kids were kind of like my digital friends. So, I recognized pretty much all right away. People wanted to sign my magazines. And I was like: "Are you crazy. I don't want to ruin your magazine!" But then I realized they were like 16, so it must have been a terrifying experience to approach me, even though I feel the least important celebrity in the world. But it was nice for kids to appreciate what I do. But then some cried. And I couldn't understand that...
CM: Because you're pop star!
NF: (laughs) I don't think of my projects in terms of success. It's more like jerking off. Doing it, cleaning up, and off to the next thing.