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Iggy Pop

To promote the release of The Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story (Abrams 2009) by
Robert Matheu, Iggy Pop is doing a book signing at Urban Outfitters in Miami on Saturday,
December 5th. Gnarlitude's Jen Hanley got on the phone with Iggy to find out what's up.

The Interview

So tell me about the book.
It's somebody else's book but it's about my group so I told him he could go ahead and do it. It came out, it was big enough and I liked it. It's a very beautiful book, a lot of it's black and white and of a lot of cute young boys, if I do say so myself [laughs]. Getting high, playing music and doing outrageous things. You see us [The Stooges] progress through our career and become—instead of local bums—we become international bums. The photos start from 1968 and they go up through 1975 but then they stop abruptly, and when we woke up we were in a new century. [laughs] So the photos resume again in 2003, and then we're not as cute but I'm still pretty cute.

Of course.
One of us has to be cute, you know? So that's my job and then basically we go out and since we're older and just like all the dinosaur rock bands our main function is to make lots of money [laughs]. You see us going around the world making lots of money.

I'd rather see you guys than a lot of other re-forming bands.
Well there you go! Yeah! We kick ass basically, that's what it comes down to.

So back to the book...
It's primarily a photo book and there is writing, which kind of annoys me because it's just a bunch of critics talking bullshit. But it's alright, it's fairly accurate and they get the dates right. The pictures are what it's about. The photographer Robert Matheu was brought up in Detroit and kind of was in the same scenes we were around when we were teens starting out. He got my attention because he had these super, super old private pictures of us around the house, being cross-eyed and smoking dope and things like that. I didn't know, I was like "Wow! I remember that day! I didn't know there were pictures of that!" So it started like that, and then it became very professional and made for a beautiful book. I like it because it starts, well... the group's become what it's become, but when we started we were just a bunch of nobodies.

And who knew all those photos would turn out to be major history!
Well they're not just his photos in the book but the guy's kind of a pack rat. He's a photographer but he also bought all the old rights to CREEM magazine from the '60s and '70s, and he republishes them online and he's one of these collector people. They have these secret networks where they're like "I'll trade you 42 Led Zeppelin tickets from 1972 for the left cuff of Iggy Pop's leather jacket." Huge collectors of memorabilia. It's the first photography book on this group. There's another that's full color on what this group became later, which was Iggy & The Stooges, and covered Raw Power and everything, and that's such a different book. This is the original, good old Stooges.

So you're doing a signing for it at Urban Outfitters in Miami during Art Basel right?
Saturday! I've never been to an Urban Outfitters before. I have a pair of what I guess you'd call clam diggers that my assistant went and picked up for me...

Are you gonna wear them to the signing?
I should! [laughs] I'm hoping it's just a signing because these things have gotten to be bigger and bigger events. I thought I was gonna do one here in Miami at Books & Books, but they had it in a theater and had like 700 people for the book fair. For that one, I was just fed up with it so I brought my dog who sat there with me. He's a Maltese. He's a butch Maltese, he's all dog! Twelve pounds!

So are you enjoying Miami? I know it's a big change from where you've previously lived...
There's something good about it for me. It got to a point where I'd been living in really big harsh cities for 30 or 40 years and I kind of had enough. I'm from Detroit which is no picnic, then when I was 25 I moved to London, then LA with no money, which really sucks, and then Berlin and finally New York for 20 years. I would have moved to the jungle of Panama if I could have. I can still kind of operate here but it's like a step out of all the harshness. I like to go to the beach, I like the warm weather and the food's pretty interesting.

What do you think of Art Basel?
Well... What the fuck, it's OK! [laughs] What's good about it is it's making people look more at the local artists down here and people are opening galleries down here and that's a good thing. But every year it gets more and more celebrity oriented and different, but it's alright. They hired the Stooges. We were the house band the year before last, we go to play on the beach and that was nice.

Are there any artists you're into right now?
Jeremy Deller. Edouard Duval Carrie. Chris Ofili, he's the guy that got in trouble with Giuliani because he did a 3-D painting of the Virgin Mary and he made her boobs out of elephant shit and it was really a big scandal, but his stuff is really beautiful. What I really like is Haitian art in particular, Haitian painters. It's more primitive and I buy a couple paintings every year and I've got about 30 of those. I really like the part of town here called Little Haiti, where I keep a little studio, a shack. All over Little Haiti, there's signage, it's art but they're done as signs with the assumption that the people that see them can't read. It's really cool, you'll see a mini-market and there will be a big painting of a fish, a pig, a chicken, can of Pepsi and a pack of Newports. I really like things like that. Most of those are done by one guy. I like things like that, that are just around.

Are there any designers you particularly like wearing? I know you and Stephen Sprouse were good friends...
I really liked him, he was a troubled youth so I could identify with him, you know. There's a guy I like who's not a designer but who's just a great guy who works seven days a week at Trash & Vaudeville on St. Marks...

Yes! Jimmy Webb. I don't know what you'd call him, but I really like Jimmy.

You could definitely call him a stylist...
He is kind of a stylist now, isn't he? Whenever I work on different shoots, the stylists tend to bring stuff that's from him and it's kind of cheap and funny and I like it. I like his sensibility. There's a guy on the West Coast that I've been talking to a lot called Shepard Fairey. His stuff's pretty cool. I got to know him because he was putting my name on a jacket for his clothing line OBEY, calling it the Iggy Pop jacket and I was like, dude! Gimme a check!

Did he send you one??
No, he didn't send me one! It's cool. I don't really expect it and I might end up doing something with him anyway and then he can send me a check!

So as far as music goes, is there anyone you're stoked on these days?
I like No Age. There's a band here in Miami called the Jacuzzi Boys. It's a stupid name but they've got a good spirit. Shout out to the Jacuzzi Boys! ( ) What did I listen to this morning... I listened to a mixtape from England of like everything that was on the British Charts from like 1965. Last night I listened to Opera. It's out there, I really like it.

Everything else out there right now just sounds like RoboCop. It all has that big bass drum. The guys are in such a hurry to get rich, it's like, I don't know what they're gonna do when they get older and burnt out and have to worry about going on welfare. They'll be used to being young and rich. It's better for me, I was poor until I was old and then I got rich.

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