Mike Diana is an underground comics legend. Starting out in the underground mail order zine scene in the 80’s, Mike rose to worldwide prominence in the mid 1990’s thanks, in no part, to being convicted and gaoled for obscenity for his art – the first and so far only comic artist to befall such a fate!
Since then he has moved to New York and continued creating – exploring painting, developing his art and collaborating with people such as Kembra Pfahler, Bruce La Bruce, Richard Kern, Mike Kuchar and many others.
Interestingly, Mike references Dali, an early proponent of outrage and artistic freedom as a major inspiration. With Mike remembering childhood trips to the Dali museum in Florida as pivotal artistic moments:
“I enjoyed the nightmare like paintings, strange jewelry and even a hologram Dali made of singer Alice Cooper. I felt it inspired me to continue with my art, take it to new levels.”
(Picture below of some art by Mike)
With Mike constantly working, and with a documentary about him in the works, now is the perfect time to get to know the man + his world, by reading the Art Talk below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Michael Christopher Diana
June 5, ’69
City, State n Country you’re Repping?
Born in Geneva , NY.
Moved to Fla with family age 8 middle of 4th grade.
Moved to NYC in ’96, now live way uptown in the city.
(Picture below of some art by Mike)
Describe a memory from some stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Diana’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, crime… ANYTHING man.
* age 10 – beginnings:
Ugly stickers, these my Dad would bring home, pack with gum and stickers of gross monsters each named.
I wanted to collect them all, Wacky Packages stickers and Horror Head tattoos also came in bubble gum pack. I would put the Horror Head tattoos on my young body, they were the same kind of temperary ones they sell now.
(Pictures below of Mike as a child)
* age 15 – getting serious:
I loved the old EC Tales from the Crypt and as it was originally called Crypt of Terror, all the EC titles. Then the underground comics of the 1960s and 70s.
Listening to Richard Pryer comedy albums and Blowfly music.
(Picture below of Mike aged 14 at the dentists office.)
* age 20 – adult mode:
Into the same stuff and more into punk music after getting my car, I could drive to shows, Butt Hole Surfers, Circle Jerks, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dead Kennedys, Jesus Lizard, I saw so many punk bands.
Saw a band called Nirvana a year before they were famous and only me and my girl friend stayed for them as the last band, they were right in front of us in a small place about 3 feet away.
I saw GG Allen once in Orlando Fla and it was the most insane show, when GG took a shit and grabbed it to throw every body stampeded out the door except me and a few others, this pissed him off so he was nude, covered in his own blood throwing bar stools out the door at people all in front of a black bar who called the pigs who ended the show and arrested the whole band the bastards, club was closed down and became a Indian restaurant.
(Picture below of Mike shaving in 2013)
“Fuck The Lord”
…being baptized as a roman catholic and forced to attend mass and bible study class til age 15 I have earned that motto.
GG Allen, Blowfly, one or two songs from many bands, some bands only have a few great songs maybe, Oingo Boingo is one I liked, my audio tape player in my car with my crazy stereo system, later I checked out Public Enemy, Slayer, etc. etc.
When I was 18 and first got my car I would listen to the old 50s station driving around, it was like a perfect soundtrack for the visual of old people and well shaped lawns with pink flamingo statues.
Favorite TV show(s)?
As a 12 year old I loved tv and the crappy cheap uhf stations would play old stuff cause it was cheap as dirt, Three Stooges, Ultra Man, old Superman, Twilight Zone, I loved old shows and old movies, horror movies.
I liked the cartoon hours with old mix of Bugs Bunny and other WB toons, many old ones with anti Hitler jokes or racist jokes in tact before they thought to clean it up for us kids, those toons were not made for kids in the day. Now some they did not even put on the dvd set so i’m glad i saw them.
Drive in theater I went with family for 4 movies in a row, funny thinking back on it. I made my dad take me to drive in to see Friday the 13th Part 4, Blood Beach, Don’t go in the Woods
Another night it was Zombie, my dad screamed when the stick went in the eye, House by the Cemetery and Return of the Living Dead.
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
I never called about sports, my mom liked soccer so we had to go to soccer games and i had to be on a soccer team when i was 9.
I was into the tv wrestling, the good half fake kind, Jake the Snake, Andrea the giant and others, I got to go to see some shows as well,live wrestling.
I liked the racetrack, sunshine speedway, seeing cars racing and doing daring figure 8’s.
Too many movies I like but if I had to pick a favorite from first time I saw it would saw the original Texas Chainsaw massacre. I could not wait to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and skipped a day my graduating year of high school to take bus to the mall, I had never taken bus before and saw it, I was 17.
I had to show my i.d. to get in prove i was 17 and then i was only one in theater and they were not going to run the film cause they thought they didn’t sell tickets, the manager came in and saw me and gave out a sigh then went and started the film, it as like they were showing it just for me.
Favorite books and comics?
Again to much out there, old undergrounds I liked S Clay Wilson, Rory Hayes, Greg Irons, I like Basil Wolverton, these guys were so strange they seemed to go overboard in a way.
Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?
I like Dali.
R.K. Sloane, I would get mini zines of his in 1984 , I still had two years to go before graduating.
…I would order minis by Roy Tompkins, XNO, Bob X at XEX Graphics. I had sent a early mini zine to Bob X but never heard from him about it, I think it scared him. His stuff was mostly monsters, not violent, or pornographic.
It was a thrill to get those in mail at such a impressionable age, I didn’t have internet like kids today so getting goodies in mail from other States kept me going in the culture void of Florida. Old retired people.
Best and Worst aspects of the contemporary art-hustle?
I do what i can, speaking at some schools, I did a lecture at Columbia University and after did a studio visit to one of the students. She said the last artist she asked to see her work was a big wig artist and was talking on his phone the whole time he glanced at her art.
I am not on the level of the big money making artists. I suppose it is always a hustle in a way but I don’t think of it that way, if some one wants art for whatever project it is possible to work with me and create amazing work of art, I have some nice drawings I have done that were an idea of some one else but for a fee I make the drawing and I like how they turn out.
Fornicator the band for example asked for a husband to be cutting open his wife and the baby is hanging out and he is pissing in babys lil mouth, so I drew it up. Haha
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
It’s all art 100%
There is good art and bad art and worthless art but it is up to people to decide what they like as art.
Some people think my work is crap I know.
(Picture below of Mike’s current workstation)
What did you draw as a pre-teen child?
I remember as kid, age 7 mom put me in a after school art program called Wendy Brown art school. She must have noticed I liked art class in school.
I remember one drawing I did that was a boy’s head, mybe myself and from off the edges of paper were many like robotic arms each one doing a different thing, one was combing my hair, one brushing my teeth, one prob had candy to feed me, seemed that the teacher liked my art. Mom would hang them on the fridge with magnets.
In kindergarten, I may have mentioned this, our assignment was to draw our family portrait. I not knowing any better drew mom, dad myself and sister all nude complete w genitals. The teacher looked over my shoulder and whispered, were are their clothes? I suddenly felt embarrassed and erased the genitals and added clothes on top but you could still see the indentations from the genitals. Open house came and all kids portrait s hanging up. Dad asked me laughing if I drew us naked and I lied and said, no.
As kid I loved the ugly stickers from topps chewing gum co. And would draw my own with my crayons. I asked dad if he could send them to the company to have them made into stickers. I was kinda obsessed with rubber bugs and bats, snakes, that you could buy for 10¢ or 25¢ in those gumball type vending machines. I would turn my room into a haunted house and have all the rubber critters hanging down so they would brush up against you as walking through.
Ok looks like I’m writing some same stuff here, oh well. Extra details.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?
I was real young, crafts, building clay, paper masha, I did good in crafts in grade 1 so mom put me in a after school art program. I did drawings, paintings.
I remember a early drawing was a boy my age and there were multiple robot like hands around his face, one brushing his teeth for him, one combing his eye brows etc.
Another drawing was in perhaps grade 2, we were to draw our family including ourselves and I drew our whole family nude, I did not know that was bad. I had seen nudes in books about human body. I drew my dads and my dicks, my mom and sister boobs, the teacher asked me, where are their clothes? I drew clothes on after I erased the genitals but my parents still noticed the pencil indentations and knew I drew us all nude.
There was another art project were we were to collect items on beach of Senica lake in Geneva , New York were I was born. We would collect items, kids picked up shells and I picked up bottle caps, other plastic trash that had washed up on shore, even a little dead fish. Back in class we would put our found objects in a bottom of a milk container that was cut off like a bowl, pour plaster on top and when it dries you take it out and hang it on wall. Mine stunk because of the dead fish. In my court hearing I talked about that art, it was part of my defense to inform the jury I was making a statement with my art that i did not like the litter on the beach.
Also I was always drawing monsters in my drawing tablets. Lots of crayns in those days.
What did you draw as a teen?
Of course as a teen starting to feel horny, I started drawing nude woman and men more and more, mostly in a gross or funny was rather than erotic.
I had become obsessed with watching the nightly tv fla news, all the horror stories about Catholic priests molesting children, all kinds of murders, the news was like a tv show for ratings and the news channels would try to top each other in bloody reports. Good inspiration for my art.
In high school I started to draw more adult humor. I had a cat and mouse comic called kit and kaboodle and they would slaughter each other. In one the mouse, kaboodle somehow made a giant penis that attacked the city squirting sticky sperm on people. I would these around the class and made a few friends that were on the wrestling team. They would come up to me and ask for the latest comic.
Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?
I may have mentioned before, I was fan of the underground comics, I felt they went further than anything I had seen before. I felt since I was doing comic’s almost 20 yrs after the underground comics it naturally should be even more extreme. I Set out to top what I had seen but also wanted to have a message in my art, make the reader think about social issues.
I had gotten into factsheet 5, this was a zine contact magazine. And that is when I was able to get the Angelfuck zine in 1989 out to those who wanted it. Then I changed the title to boiled angel and it became a digest size zine rather than full size. Except boiled angel #6 I did full size.
When I was convinced on the three counts obscenity I was ordered not to draw. Up to that point I was just doing black and white drawings mostly due to fact it would be printed on copy machine. Well I saw this as a chance to dive into doing color paintings on canvas. I kept the canvases hidden in the truck of my car. I would bring them up to my apt late at night to work on them just in case the law stormed in looking for signs of artwork.
In saint Petersburg, Fla mom took me to the savor Dali museum. We went there more than once – ended up going several times between age 12 and 24. I enjoyed the nightmare like paintings, strange jewelry and even a hologram Dali made of singer Alice Cooper. I felt it inspired me to continue with my art, take it to new levels. I had seen some of the Dali paintings in books about art but now I was seeing them the actual size, some are giant.
Another place mom took me to was the Ringling art museum in Sarasota, Fla. I liked that, we took photos of us posing by artworks. It was a fun time.
(Pictures below of the Alice Cooper holograms by Dali – a pivotal influence on Mike’s work)
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
I wanted to get some of my work shown, I was in couple group art shows in los Angeles, ca in 96, 97. I tried to get nyc galleries with no success, I did end up being in some group shows, abc no reo in lower east side.
Recently with the publication of a book set called America, live, die I was able to get the book into the moma museum book shop. Also the gallery that printed the called Divus had a show, solo show in London, in Prague, and in Berlin, next may be taking the show to Japan.
It is fun to be able to meet people a the shows, some show up that had been doing fanzines back in the 1990s zine days. One was called head press.
Describe the method of making a Mike Diana work? (dot point all o.k.)
* your cartoons?
Most time I will jot down a idea, a funny thought that goes through my head.
Sometimes I end up with bunch little paper scraps, I will collect them up and then jot them in a notebook. Then I can go threw a bunch of ideas and pick one to work on.
Sometimes I will start a comic and end up putting it to the side and then finish it later, I try not to do this but it happens. I had a couple comics that I started in 2010 and I just last year finished them.
I guess what motivates me at times is if I have a place to get it published.
Lately I have been wanting to do longer comics, graphic novels if you will call them. One called Teeterbabe I have written but need to ink, it’s 64 pages. About a teen girl in the future, turns out her mother is a robot, she new it but the readers didn’t.
Then I wrote another that is a 96 pg comic called slovenly slug, it’s a boy that we follow from birth til he is old and finally goes on a major killing spree.
Then one that I have been working on longest is close to 200 pages, death lives, is title I’m calling it for now.
It’s a lot of work to make comics, I have to buckle down and finish them all.
(Pictures below of some cartoons by Mike)
* your paintings?
With paintings it’s more simple, I think of image in my head, make pencil line drawing that I transfer to the canvas by projector and then just start putting own.
In year’s 2000, 2001 I did a bunch of small canvas board paintings. I could work on ten at a time, putting the black paint down on each one, then put the flesh color down then red, etc.
I liked working on big paintings but prob is I don’t have space in small nyc apt.
Also it is easy for me to sell small paintings for less money than try to get a decent price for a big painting.
(Pictures below of some paintings by Mike)
Please go into detail about your friendship with Ms. Kembra Pfahler?
Kembra is one of the most amazing females I have met possibly, I was living in Fla and came to nyc in 95 to be on al Goldstein show, midnight blue. He interviewed me about my legal troubles, he asked ,what’s the name of the prosecutor? I responded, Stuart Baggish, “bag of shit, that’s what I call him, come after me you mother fucker,come and bust me!”
That same trip I met with a reporter who worked for ny times weekend edition, he took me to a oyster place down in the subway under grand central I think it was.
So turns out me and kembra were both featured in the same article. I had tracked down here record in Fla at a special alternative music record shop. I liked her music. I ended up contacting her.
I am very shy, had been my whole life, but with the trial and being on news, and talk shows, etc. it kind of forced me out of my shell. So I decided I was going to just try to contact here, she was aware that we were both featured in the times. We started talking on the phone. I asked her if I could visit her in nyc, she said yes, could stay at her place. In 95 I would meet her and we started a sexual relationship, I asked her if I could move in with her, it was probably not the right thing to do, I should’ve been responsible in getting my own apt. She had very cheap rent in lower east side, rent control. We got along well but I feel deep down as artist’s we needed our own space, she had a railroad style apt. So would have to pass through her room to go to bathroom, she would have to pass through my room to go to the kitchen.
I was there in her apt for two years, we dated another couple years, I had the loft in north Bergen, nj right across the river. From the roof of my building I could see Manhattan, the flashing lights of giant t.v. screens in Times square.
I was also living there in nj when the dreaded twin towers were attacked, I watched and filmed w my vhs old video camera from the roof, the giant smoke cloud went right over the rest of Manhattan. I was glad at the time I wasn’t in the city. I feel watching it trauma tized me, tho I didn’t realize it at the time.
(Pictures below of Mike and Kembra + a poster for one of Kembra’s shows with art by Mike)
Please describe your experiences growing up in the USA?
I was born in small town of Geneva., ny, upstate. I liked our house, a over 100 years old house in the historical district. Washington street.
I would walk a short distance to elementary school. When I returned home mom would have fresh baked cookies for me. I would wait for DAD to get home from job teaching as a science teacher, he would bring me a pack of stickers, cards or comic book. Since he was a science teacher he brought me dead fish in jars of formaldehyde. He even gave me a little octopus in a jar, it had one of it’s eight tentacles missing. I also had a giant collection of animal skulls he gave me including a giant alligator skull and bunch of gar fish skulls, those or wild looking. I would take these items to school for show & tell.
My mom from Fla so we would take fla trips there so grandma could see us kids. We went to sea world, Disney world, lot’s of other tourist places. Miniature golf parks with giant dinosaurs and apes and spiders, just about all those places had been torn down by early 80s, the video game craze was on. So we also would visit my cousins house by the beach, we would spend all day on Belair beach playing in sand, collecting shells, playing in the water. One particular year visit there were thousands of black petrified sharks teeth, I was just scooping them up. I had a bucket full of them, there must’ve been a ancient layer in the sea that was being uncovered.
In New York my DAD decided we should up and move to Fla. We had a big yard sale, huge amount of people showed up. I was at my own table selling my collection of animal skulls and pickled wonders, no one was buying them, dad said he didn’t want me to bring them to Fla, I did keep the big gator skull but that was about it.
Moving to Fla in 1978 we stayed with my cousin’s until my dad bought the house in nearby Largo. Largo was considered a suburb to saint Petersburg, Fla. That was considered a big city back then in that area. Largo was major religious town and way far behind in the times, the area’s around were growing so fast that it was blowing the minds of the old people that lived there, Grew up there.
I missed n.y. and the changing of the seasons. Fla is hot & humid most all year round.
I hated elementary school, each teacher had there own paddle to paddle students. Some were doubled with extra layers of wood and re enforced with silver duct tape , some teachers had thier names wood burned into them, nice varnish… I saw many kids paddled, kicked, swatted, and mentally abused. I know the school must have been like that since its inception.
My parents had gotten a divorce when I was 12, me, sister, brother decided to stay with dad. Mom had gotten remarried.
Dad took us three kids on a summer vacation out west. It was amazing trip. Camping at campgrounds across the country. Dad loved to see the sites. He took us on same route that him and our mom went on as trip they did after getting married. He complained that mom wasn’t interested in seeing the sites, she loved reading books, and he said she wanted to just stay in the car reading books. We saw lot’s of stuff, Alamo, st louis arch, devils tower, white sands new Mexico, the four corners, badlands, Yellowstone national park, grand canyon, old western ghost towns, mount Rushmore, and then a bunch of strange places such as the corn palace, the whole building covered in dried cobs of corn.
Part of Our motivation was when we saw the movie , national lampoons vacation.
We visited out cousins and uncle who lived in San Francisco so we got to visit them.
Please go into explicit detail concerning your personal, artistic and commercial relationship with Mr. Shane Bugbee?
After I was charged with the three counts of obscenity Shane contacted me, he said it was such a travesty of justice that he wanted to dare to reprint the boiled angel books 7 & 8. I said ok, he didn’t print very many, mabe 200 of 7. & 200 of #8. Originally I printed 300 each of them.
He said if I madea whole 32 pg comic he would have it printed at place he knew in Chicago. I made superfly #1 in 1993, same yr I charged.
Superfly #1 is the highest print run of any my books to date at 3,500 copies.
So Shane had been contacted by my lawyer to be one of the expert witness at my trial. The publishing name Shane came up with that is on superfly cover is, mike hunt comix. My lawyer didn’t really connect w me on this, they thought shane’s name was mike hunt.
He flew in from Chicago, my lawyer got him plane ticket.
So on court docket they had him as expert witness in my defense as mike hunt, so when they met him they were like, hello mike hunt, and he said, my name is Shane. Then he described what the joke was behind the publishing name, mike hunt. It’s a joke from the movie porkys, that film was like a classic for our generation. That’s the film we wanted to see but parents wouldn’t let you. My mom wanted me to see it because she felt it was part of growing up, my dad said he didn’t want me seeing it. I think he went to see it himself to decide if it was appropriate for me, what an excuse, he came to conclusion that it wasn’t appropriate. As he giggled thinking about funny parts.
So a joke in the film is the girl who works at the soda shop gets phone call on crowded day, all kids hanging out and the caller asks , is someone there named mike hunt? She yells out loud, mike hunt, has anyone seen mike hunt? Where is mike hunt, so the joke is she says it it comes out sounding like my cunt, had anyone seen my cunt. The whole school has seen it, a guy yells, she realizes it’s just pee wee making a prank phone call on her. So my lawyers laughed about this lil joke and how they missed it, so due to name mix up could not include Shane.
Can you imagine the court calling my cunt to the stand?! We gota good few seconds of laughter out of it .
Later, after I convicted and n probation, Shane thought it would be fun idea to mail the prosecutor, Baggish copy of the superfly #1 comic book. I didn’t like the idea after heard, when I went to court again, lawyer wanted to get my probation put on hold until after the outcome of the appeal. Well baggish had copy of superfly to show the judge.
Lucky for me the judge put my probation on hold until outcome of the appeal.
In mid 94 Shane brought me to a small art gallery he had in Chicago. Called Goat gallery. It was nice show, bunch Chicago cops showed up, there was article about the controversial art in the paper, lucky for me they didn’t care.
(Picture below of Shane Bugbee + Mike)
What ever became of your supposed toy release with ‘United Dead Artists’ – I saw a digital sculpt online back in February 2014 and then nothing…?
It’s going to happen, he is held up with lots work that came up.
Toy looks good, it would be nice to get them out there.
The comics as I remember are translated into French language, I don’t think most in USA are going to want to get it for that reason, the comics, some of them have been reprinted in the America book.
The French book will be color. It should be a lovely book.
Looking forward to it.
(Picture below of the sculpt for Mike’s as of yet unreleased toy)
What are your thoughts on the art of Mr. Johnny Ryan? – a man who openly admits to being a fan of yours.
I like his comic’s. They are funny.
I got my ideas for my comics stories from the old pre code horror comics of 1950s and the underground comics, cartoonist I feel I was directly inspired by as far as style were basil wolverton, jeff gaither and Roy tompkins, basil was from 50s but jeff and roy were doing their own zines and it inspired me at time 85, 86, I was still in high school. I graduated in class of 87.
I feel that jeff & roy were also inspired by basil wolverton. But it is about doing your own take on it, I was directly inspired by s clay Wilson and Greg irons.
If you look at my early boiled angel works some look like s clay Wilson ink jobs, to me anyway.
I would hope to inspire as many artists as possable to draw what you want even if it is considered extreme. Even if you feel only a small handful of others will actually get it, even if you know those around you don’t approve even want to stop you from drawing what you want, like is what happened to me.
If I was able to give a fellow artist even a little glimmer of inspiration it helps make what I went through worth it.
I hated being in jail for four days awaiting a possible 3 year jail sentence, worst things I ever went through, just the overwhelming anger of knowing I was there unjustly.
So please, draw as sick as you can!!!
Once and awhile a fellow comic artist will tell me that they made a sick fanzine in hope of getting busted and put on the news and in newspapers, they want to become famous. But it did not work, they couldn’t get charged, I tell them, move to Pinellas county Fla, move to the town I lived in from age 8 til 27 , nobody’s taken it that far yet.
(Picture below of a Johnny Ryan cartoon mentioning Mike and his work.)
Please take us back to the sights, sounds, Xerox machines, pimples, drugs, smells etc of the late 80’s and 1990’s zine culture – a scene you played an integral part in?
Wow, ok will try to sum it up in a nut sack .
I started printing my art as xerox zine before I knew what a zine was. My mom was working as Secretary at front desk of Largo police department. I was 13 & had a horror comic host, Harvey was his name. He was holding his own eye ball that was hanging out of it’s socket. Another he was eating a baby’s head like a plum. Unfortunately non of these are around today. So I made few copies, I wasn’t thinking about distributing them, I just wanted some copies to have.
So I had a pile of comics I had started in my graduating year of high school. One called , Marty the mutant. He was looking for a cure for all the woman that because of mutations caused by atomic bombs have grown dicks.
I had a friend Robert who met in tenth grade, we became pals, we had in common fact we were both born in upstate New York, and ended up in Fla and both hated it and wanted to get back to N.Y. He had a job at a largo print shop, they printed books and flyers using aluminum sheets, the image’s would be burned into in with like a big negative of the pages… So it was an actual printing press, not xerox. We even cut the edges with paper trimmer. He made a deal with the shop owner that could do the work printing it and pay for ink and paper we use. We were doing a print run of 1,000 copies, although due to page misprints there are probably about 950 copies that were made, I still have a few of these left, in my archives. The year was 1988, we called the book hvuyim, a made up word with no meaning, just to be mysterious.
I still didn’t know we were making a zine, I put a ad in classified section of fangoria magazine. I believe it said, home made horror comics, hvuyim. It yielded only three responses. One was from a guy doing a zine called festering brainsore, it was about underground horror films, and he was interested in having me do the cover, I was happy somebody was interested in my art. I ended up sending him a few different covers as well as the headstomper comic this was 1988. He had a letters from readers section in next issue and one reader spoke of the headstomper comic I did and said it left a bad taste in their mouth, and that I was going to make a name for myself.
I started doing my own art zine A4 format, in 1989, I called it Angelfuck, named after a song by the band the misfits. The festering brainsore editor told me I should send my issues to fact sheet five. I did with angelfuck issue 3. I got a hand full of letters in mail of folks wanting copies, each sending me $2.00.
So I left off with Angelfuck zine, after three issues I started to get a small following, I also was getting some submissions from other artists that wanted to be published in my zine. I decided to change format to a digest size zine, this way I could fit more pages, more art and submissions in. I decided to call it boiled angel.
I had heard about a 60s newsletter called boiled owl, something about boiling a owl and it releases power. I thought it would be a cool idea to boil a angel and drink the broth. Like when people take psychedelic drugs.
I also corresponding with some guys in prison and jail. This made my mom upset, that I used her home mailing address. I ended up getting a post office box. Each day I had a stack of mail, zines sent as trades and gifts.
So when I published boiled angel #6 a copy I sent to California ended up confiscated by police. The police pulled over a man who got in trouble for weed, in the car was boiled angel #6 and cop had heard about the hunt going on in Fla for the Gainesville serial killer. Five students were murdered one night in the dorms. So he mailed it to the Fla department of law enforcement.
So in 1991 I was approached by a male and female undercover detective from f.d.l.e. Fla department of law enforcement. They pulled copy of boiled angel #6 out of brief case. on cover I used a drawing I did of guy who looked a little like me, long hair, standing over dead girls body. He cut the baby out of her. He said, because of this you are a suspect in the Gainesville student murders. They showed it to my mom, they said I had to submit to a blood test for DNA testing to clear my name. I did only to please my mother who insisted I cooperate.
So around that same time I had gotten a letter from a zine girl my age in Boulder Colorado. We started trading zines and she decided to come visit me in fla. I picked her up at the airport, we took a drive down to the Fla keys. We also drove to west palm, Daytona , fort Lauderdale beeches. Also went to Miami for the police museum and parrot jungle. We ended up dateing, I would take a plane to visit her in Colo for summer once, another couple trips I went there and we went on great roadtrip. We went across the Colo desert, we found a tower in middle of know where. Inside tons of antiques and the old guy who owned the place… He would pull items out and ask you what think they were used for. One I remember was a strange knife, I knew it looked familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it, it was to put around your neck from one side it looks like you have a knife stabbed in your neck. A early version of old gag .
We drove to small town of Lucas, Kansas, a place we heard about in a book , roadside America, this is in 1992 now so no internet or navigational system. We used what was called a roadmap. A house in middle of normal small town had giant statues around the yard. Angels and more. In his life he was a stone mason worker. He built the statutes over time, inspired by the bible. He also built his own stone mausoleum in his back yard, a stone coffin, he had a trick photographer take a photo of him laying in the coffin, that had a glass lid, and then he was standing next to his own body in the coffin. He had postcards made of the photo to sell in his gift shop. Back in 1930s folks would travel from all around to see his house. When me and Julee Peezlee, that’s what she called self, her zine name. Her actual name was same but not spelled that way. So we saw house in 1992, I can’t remember how long ago he, the owner had died but the house was still a tourist destination even tho nobody else was around, we had the whole place to ourselves. The tour of house is free but if you want to go into the mausoleum you have to pay a quarter. Well I guess it’s worth a quarter, I thought, I probably would’ve paid ten bucks. There we were after paying out our quarters, standing in the mausoleum looking down at the glass lid coffin, he had a big grin on his face as he looked up at us with a shriveled face and lot’s of bristles of beard. The old guy giving the tour informed us that the hair and fingernails keep growing after death, “but I’m not gonna trim them”, he exclaimed, the joke of the tour that you get thrown in with that quarter you pay.
She was to come out to live with me in Fla. She decided she couldn’t do it. The long distance relationship was though for us and it had taken it’s toil, I didn’t realize it until it happened.
Then next year in 1993 is when I received a certified letter from the state attorneys office, I facing three counts of obscenity for boiled angel #7 & #8. Turns out the undercover officer that took blood for #6 had written to me under a fake name, a fellow zine guy who had heard about boiled angel in ft Lauderdale. He said he just moved to Largo.
I should’ve known something was up when I asked to meet in person and he had some excuse.
After that my life got crazy for awhile.
(Pictures below of some of the front cover’s to zines by Mike)
I don’t feel there were any lows, I don’t know why it suddenly started typing this way (Editor – at this moment in his answers, Mike started using bold and underline on the font).
Divus gallery got in touch with me, wanted to cover my story in umelec magazine, a art magazine from Czech republic. They used a painting off the website as the cover of one issue. I was in a group show he did at one of the galleries. Then he asked if I would do a art book and show in London, I said yes, at first it was to be one book but I kept sending him works, black and white and color. For two years he worked on the layout and it became a two book set. The thicker of the two books is all black and white art and comics. When I did them, the art originally I knew it was for black and white xerox zines. The other book in box set is color works.
So he set up a big show in London, lots people turned out for it. The divus London gallery is in a strip of galleries next to a public library. One of the galleries had one of only 3 white dick sculpture, one of the 3 was used in the movie a clockwork Orange.
Divus has another gallery in Prague so we had even more space to work with there. The gallery is in a massive building that once was the city electric company, it was the place you would have to show up to pay your power bill. I think art related businesses are better there. Then he, Ivan, the gallery owner rented out a gallery spot in Berlin, it was a great time, right during galleries opening days and the may day celebrations there.
Odds n Ends
What role did toys play in your childhood?
I know toys were important to me, I liked hot wheel cars, rubber bugs from the twenty five cent gumball type vending machines.
I liked my star trek dolls, my six million dollar man doll. I had a chemistry set, I had a big castle with knights of armour figures, and they would fight the Vikings. I had toy soilders, cap guns, even tho mom didn’t like me having toy guns.
I had silly putty, shrinky dinks, they were these thin plastic sheets that you could draw on then cut out and bake in oven and they become hard plastic. I had tinker toys, Lincoln logs, erector sets, leggos, play dough, Tonka trucks, big wheel, skateboard.
I had a hand puppet called Hugo, man of a thousand faces. He had different disguises you could put on him.
(Pictures below of some of Mike’s current toy collection)
Who was your 1st crush and why?
Probably the boy cartoon character in the cartoon battle of the planet’s. Also known as G force. I must have only been 7, I liked the show because it had space ships that would look like and turn into giant animals and insects. I forgot his name but could tell he was younger like me and I don’t know what the feelings were all about, I just felt like I liked him.
After that I liked the actress Jennifer jason Leigh, from fast times at rigdmont high. I started to look for movies on video she was in.
(Pictures below of G-Force from ‘Battle of the Planets’ and Jennifer Jason Leigh in ‘Fast Times at Ridgmont High’ – some of Mike’s first crushes)
What do cats mean to you?
I like cats, for a long time dad would forbid us to have pets. Mom got a white cat at humane society, a white cat named Davey, dad got home and raised cane and mom took back next day.
Later after the threat of divorce, dad ran out and got mom a cat, it looked like the Morris cat. We named him max. He was around a long while with my mom after the divorce happened.
I ended up getting a gray kitten after moving out on my own. I named her angel food mc spade after a Robert crumb comic book character. I would call her angel, angel heart, angel breath, and so on.
Her joke nick name was leatherface from Texas chainsaw massacre.
So a little more about pussys…
I had the grey cat named Angel, she was a indoor cat but then I decided to let her be a outside, indoor cat. Well one day she disappeared, don’t know if she got lost, hit by car, it’s a awful feeling when that happens. I ended up getting another cat after moving to nyc. Kembra got a kitten from her friend Siobhan, who lives in squat in lower east side and rescues cats. Kembra named the kitten Jacklyn Bond. Jackie, jack attack, action Jackson were just a few of her nick names. I got her as kitten in 96 and she passed away a day before my birthday 2015. She was at least 18 yrs old.
Last September I got another kitten from same person in the kitty cat ranch in his squat. Named her blew, she is a blue Russian, almost silver shimmer. Her nick name is krazy, named after the old newspaper comic krazy kat.
I feel cats, pets are important, I didn’t realize it when I didn’t have a pet. But I like animals.
Does sex change everything?
I would say what it changes is attitude, like when you see a angry guy and you think to yourself, boy you need to get laid.
I Don’t think it changed anything for me, in school there were lots of girls and guys I would’ve loved to have sex with but I don’t feel I was capable of handling the emotional side, I wanted to be in love and at young age it is hard to tell what love is, what it’s really about, not that I really know now but I know more than I did then.
Sex is a healthy thing but can be over done, excess like everything else. People end up with unhealthy sexual practices, child abuse, rape and all that. I explore the dark places in my comics but only in my comics.
(Picture below of Mike and Susie Morbid in 1994 )
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
My last dream was one that I have now and then…
I am in a city, I realize my grandpa’s farm in Kentucky is right there, it’s like in my backyard. I explore hidden passage ways in the house, that don’t exist in real life. Then I see something strange in the sky, like a combination of flying saucer, atomic bomb mushroom cloud. People are looking up at it, some don’t notice or don’t care. It is a reoccurring dream.
Last week I had a dream that I saw a rat smashed flat on street and as I looked a kid with a snow shovel scooped it up and threw it in my face, I woke with scream. Hehe.
I don’t often have nightmares like I used to.
One nightmare I had as a teen, mom was looking at me through my bedroom window from outside, I was mad at her for some reason, I hit the window lightly but it shatters sending razor sharp glass shards into mom’s face.
What did it feel like being an objectified zine scene sex symbol back in the 90s?
Well it didn’t feel like I was being objectified, I believe that when people were seeing my art, hearing about my legal problems they get a certain image in their heads what I must be like, I simply must be a monster in one way or another if that’s how my art looks.
When a article about me and my case came out in playboy magazine the article was illustrated by a artist who drew me drawing at a table as police are busting in. The artist drew me as a fat, kind of pimples on my face, scruffy short black hair. This seems to be along lines of what people assume I would look like. Also they expect me to be wild, like out of control the way they see my art as being.
(Picture below of Mike as depicted sight unseen by ‘Playboy’ in 1994)
I remember the first time I met Susan who was with the C.B.L.D.F. and when she first saw me her eyes lit up, like she was relieved that I was a shy, soft spoken type. Later she would tell me that I was not what she was expecting. I also heard this from newspaper reporters and others who had never met me before.
The first nude photo spread I would do was a magazine called nuthing sacred, the editor had asked me to meet his photographer friend who was in Miami, he wanted pics of me with girlfriend Suzy. So we met the photographer half way between Miami and Largo were we lived. Met at a old motel that was a perfect backdrop. When I talked to nuthing sacred editor & creator on phone talking about the photo shoot he would say, have a good photo shoot & get naked. A few times he said get naked, I never promised I would. But being the underground magazine that it was, seemed to make sense to have the pics be nudes. It was fun and exciting, when the magazine came out I heard the c.b.l.d.f. some folks there felt the pics were trashy. As well as my lawyer didn’t approve.
Although in the end I am 99% sure it didn’t hurt my case.
When I was in NYC me and kembra did a photo shoot together, she was friend of Richard Kern, he photographed us, the pics were never published. I ended up doing three more photo sessions. Also a photo shoot by Bruce La Bruce.
So I think part of the fascination of my case was that I didn’t look like what people assumed I may look like.
I was into running since a young age, my mom got me into it at age 7 when we use to jog a trail, a two mile trail. When we moved to Fla mom and I continued to run just about each morning, I would get up way early before school and we would run our three mile loop, then I would shower and dress and go to school. I was always doing sit ups, push ups, chin ups. When I was 18 I started getting more into weight lifting and still running. So I was someone who was in decent shape. I figured I may as well be seen that way, get photos taken to document it. I had a chance to meet and star in some Mike Kuchar short films. In one I am pretty much nude, mike ordered a little g string bikini for me to wear from a San Francisco company. It had holes in it, “it’s a little moth ridden”. He said as he handed it to me, not sure if I would go along with it, but I did.
(Centerfold of Mike in ‘Fanorama’ mag from 1996 below + a 2nd photo of Mike, also from 1996)
Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?
I did acid candy in perhaps `90 other family members were there, cousin’s, no grown ups, I won’t name names. It was on the beach at sunset into the night. We had fun. Another few times having it, was ok.
Around 94 picking fresh mushrooms with a pal who new about it, proper ones… Was good. I was watching the movie “the trip ” and the t.v. set disappeared during the psychedelic scenes, it was a huge entity in the middle of the room. I looked on in amazement but hardly able to move. During the films psychedelic love scene a gigantic fleshy mass was floating n front of me, this was so much more that 3D, there was actually a living, fucking thing right in front of me, a black oil dripping from all the crevices. It was exactly the visuals I had wanted to see tripping but never made it to that extreme point. What I was seeing was moving pretty fast, intense, it was too much, I tried to put the video on slow motion but couldn’t figure out the remote, how to even look at the remote control or under stand it. So I covered my eyes and what I saw was crazy, swirling lights and colors, chattering ugly sticker character’s. I eventually realized the effect of mushrooms was wearing off.
I was back in reality.
Then the hangover, headache, crappie feeling from not sleeping enough, neglecting to eat enough.
So that brings me to think now as I did then, these strong drugs should be used sparingly, you shouldn’t loose track of your life, dreams, exercising , eating properly, taking care of your life. If someone is so board they need it constantly maybe they need a hobby.
…Model kits, sniffing that old airplane glue, I never abused that glue but as you spend hours gluing little plastic model pieces together with that glue, you smell that distinctive chemical vapor, it has a good smell, but I’m sure I was little buzzed there as a 8 year old kid. My friend in New York when I was 7, 8, his family was a long line of fire fighters. His older brother had a room downstairs, seemed like a big closet transformed into a room with shelves on all the walls holding nothing but red fire truck models.hundreds of them. In middle of room was his brother sitting at a desk building the models. The room reeked of the airplane glue and red model paint, no ventilation in that room.
Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?
That’s a easy one, want to be known for what I feel I am known for, standing up to the charges in Florida, not giving into fear and taking a plea deal.
I may have mentioned before that I was profiled due to my age by largo cops, pulled over constantly on my bike or on foot, later pulled over in my car. They want to search the car.
All that treatment made me rebel, made my art extreme as it was, it also strengthened me for the charges that were ahead of me, facing 3 years in jail and knowledge of the legal system to understand if you plea not guilty and make them prove in court that you are guilty, well, they will give you maximum punishment at the sentencing.
(Picture below of some album art by Mike)
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
Mostly a waste of time, at least the hard drugs.
People are just customers most of the time, buying drugs, possibly getting addicted so you have to keep buying, the way cigarette company’s, gambling establishment’s get people. If a little weed helps someone relax, that seems ok to me.
But you don’t want to be one of those that end up in a empty room, just you and the drugs.
Please describe what you think the American Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?
It’s trying to be positive but these days all the wonders are discovered.
We access to information that explains everything.
There used to be a time were there were uncharted islands, unknown lands. Now everything is all about money. It may of been like that in the past as well, but now just within my lifetime the rainforest have been sold as farm land so someone can get rich, I am not getting any of that rainforest money. I would not want it. But I am guilty like others in my generation for not doing something about it.
If I was a different person I like to think I would be a environmental terrorist, for lack of better term. I would not consider myself as a terrorist but surely authorities would as i blow up the construction equipment, or at least put sugar in the gas tanks.
People have their way, they won’t do something extreme like that but they will abuse children, other people.
It’s hard to believe that it has all gone down hill just within my lifetime so far. Not looking forward to seeing how the humans will continue to destroy the planet for money and personal comfort, selfishness. The worst feeling is that you can’t do anything about it.
The ozone layer being destroyed shocked me when a lone social studies teacher in my 6 grade at middle school spoke about the ozone destruction on his own. I never heard it even remotely talked about again in school, not even high school.
We are the first society to screw up the planet that way. I don’t see how it could end well.
The government is spending our money to find another planet to live on, It’s not me that they are taking with them. Probably nobody I know will be taken. Just those special ones, they will find a new planet and destroy it like they did this one.
Which 1980s / 1990’s era cartoon, would you most like to see in a tribute sex toy, and why?
I guess Ziggy, remember that little son of a bitch. Always horny in real life. I just think it would look interesting.
Made for males or females with a big cock and tight hole.
(Picture below of Mike’s Ziggy sex toy)
Who would win in a fight and why: a redneck on his way home from the pub Vs. A gang of teen geeks headed to the zine convention?
Well just for sake of a realistic story I would have the redneck win, he is fueled by the alcohol and mad at the world. I would imagine gets into fights real regular like, he has scars all over from past knife fights, mostly fights with niggers he would tell you.
So the kids, well meaning, full of life, dressed as different comic book and manga characters just don’t have the real life experience or hatred to win, I’m afraid.
(Picture below of the battle in all its violent beauty!)
Any collaborations on the horizon?
I have been working on longer comic strips lately. A story called Teeterbabe. About a teen girl in the future. I am working on Corky, he is character I made up when I was 12. I would make funny corky comics.
Corky is a cork with pins as arms and legs. He is alive and goes on adventures.
Another character I made up when 12 was Povile the spy. Like a cross between Inspector Gadget and the Mad magazine Spy vs. Spy comics.
Another thing working on is reprinting the boiled angel books as a set. All eight issues in a box, the cover of box will have “Boiled Angel Lives” silk screened on it.
Any major projects you want to hype man?
A project that has started that I am excited about is a documentary film about my case and the boiled angel books. Frank Henenlotter. He did such films as Frankenhooker. He had done a documentary about Hershal Gorden Lewis, the blood feast director. Also a documentary about sexploitation movies and the history of them.
My old friend Mike Hunchback who had a band called Hunchback had asked me to draw a poster for Frank’s new film, at that time, Bad Biology. Mike felt the film should be seen at the film archives anthology. He asked me to do a poster for the event. We met Frank and Mike had asked me if I would consider doing a documentary about my case. We ended up getting Frank on board . It is shaping up to be a nice, interesting project.
They went and filmed the prosecutor, my lawyer, my family, many comic book artists. Still have a lot of work to do on it. We will soon be asking for help by way of kickstart or one of those money raising things, so be on the lookout for that.
I am even making clips of animation for the doc.
Other than that I am always trying to keep busy, new drawings, paintings, I have been thinking more about making sculptures lately, I have made some with ceramics, paper ma-shay, plaster castings.
We never know what future may hold.
(Pictures below of some Frank Henenlotter t’s with art by Mike)
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