NARRATOR: George Kuchar began making films, along with his twin brother, as a young Bronx teen in the 1950s. In the decades that followed, he first became involved in New York’s downtown scene, and then moved to San Francisco. He began shooting video prolifically in the 1980s, ultimately making more than two hundred tapes—including many video diaries of the artist’s own experiences. Last year he died of cancer at the age of sixty-nine. The following interview was conducted in August of 2009.
CHARLES BERNSTEIN: My guest today, for the first of three shows, is George Kuchar. I’m your host, Charles Bernstein.
Your work creates a joyous and extremely funny view of ways of life that many people, in the United States anyway, consider immoral.
GEORGE KUCHAR: Yeah probably just because part of my life was a little bit off the tracks somewhere. I didn’t mean it to go that way.
BERNSTEIN: So identity politics does not play a part in the way that you imagine your work. Just as the way you’ve answered about politics, it’s—
KUCHAR: Yeah, I don’t think so. No, because the identities are all–a lot of them are me. You know, different aspects of my personality—the people in the movies.
BERNSTEIN: You have multiple identities as a filmmaker?
KUCHAR: In the movies you make, you have your alter egos, and they’ll come on and stuff. A lot of the diaries, of course, I’m in the diaries. I always wanted to be an actor. So no, no alter ego intended. There’s the real person. But then, of course, you have your face, because you have your real face. But, you know, it’s like a burlesque show: if you take all your clothes off right away who’s interested? [Laughter] You have to peel off a little bit at a time and then there has to be magic and mystery—you know what I mean? Maybe you go behind a screen or something. So, it’s the same way with a movie image. I may appear on the picture, but that’s not really the total me. The total me may be quite horrifying, in points, you know what I mean? But there’s always a mystery of the person and it should always be there.