Andy Hawkes: Almost Art

SEASON 2: EPISODE 2
Artist and baker Andrew Hawkes talks about bouncing around pixelated mansions.

ABOUT THE GUEST
Andy Hawkes is an interdisciplinary artist based in Harlem. He creates performances, videos and baked goods that interrogate intimacy, aspirational domesticity and desire. Hawkes has presented his work at Museum of the Moving Image,Present Company, and Secret Project Robot. For more information Andrew-hawkes.com or IG @Andyawesomepants.

ABOUT THE HOST
Neil Goldberg is an artist in NYC who makes work that The New York Times has described as “tender, moving and sad but also deeply funny.” His work is in the permanent collection of MoMA, he’s a Guggenheim Fellow, and teaches at the Yale School of Art. More information at neilgoldberg.com.

ABOUT THE TITLE
SHE’S A TALKER was the name of Neil’s first video project. “One night in the early 90s I was combing my roommate’s cat and found myself saying the words ‘She’s a talker.’ I wondered how many other other gay men in NYC might be doing the exact same thing at that very moment. With that, I set out on a project in which I videotaped over 80 gay men in their living room all over NYC, combing their cats and saying ‘She’s a talker.’” A similar spirit of NYC-centric curiosity and absurdity animates the podcast.

CREDITS
This series is made possible with generous support from Stillpoint Fund
Producer: Devon Guinn 
Creative Consultants: Aaron Dalton, Molly Donahue 
Mixer: Andrew Litton 
Visuals and Sounds: Joshua Graver 
Theme Song: Jeff Hiller 
Website: Itai Almor
Media: Justine Lee
Interns: Alara Degirmenci, Jonathan Jalbert, Jesse Kimotho
Thanks: Jennifer Callahan, Nick Rymer, Sue Simon, Maddy Sinnoc

TRANSCRIPTION

NEIL GOLDBERG:  I was going to say you were a former student of mine, but let’s get real here.

ANDY HAWKES:  Almost student. I came so close.

NEIL:  What happened? Why did you drop my class?

ANDY:  Because they told me I had to.

NEIL:  Who told you that?

ANDY:  The people.

NEIL:  The people. You’re putting it on someone else.

ANDY:  No, I was…

NEIL:  What went wrong?

ANDY:  What went wrong was I was a first year sculptural student and I wanted to take a class with you in graphic design and the class was full and I think I was told I could take it if no one else in graphic design wanted to take the class so I got bumped out, but I did do the first assignment, but then I never got to show anyone. I think it wasn’t meant to be.

NEIL:  Here we are today though.

ANDY:  Here we are today. I think it’s change and it’s something different and special.

NEIL:  Hello, I’m Neil and this is She’s A Talker. Today I’ll be talking to artist and baker, Andy. If this is your first time listening, here’s the premise of the podcast. I’m a visual artist and for the past million or so years I’ve been jotting down thoughts, observations, and reflections often about things that might otherwise get overlooked or go unnoticed. I write them down on index cards and I’ve got thousands of them. I originally wrote the cards just for me or maybe to use in future art projects, but in She’s A Talker I’m using them as prompts for conversations with some of my favorite artists, writers, performers, and beyond.

NEIL:  These days the cards often start as recordings I make into my phone here and there over the course of the day. Each episode I start with some recent ones. Here they are. Animals are so straight edge. When you shake hands with somebody just after you’ve washed your hands and they’re still wet and you have to say, “I just washed my hands.” Photography is like taxidermy. I’m so excited to have as my guest Andy. Andy is an interdisciplinary artist who lists his mediums as performances, videos and baked goods. He’s presented his art at the Museum of the Moving Image and a bunch of other art venues. He also works as a coordinator of public programs at the Whitney Museum.

NEIL:  We talked in January at a recording studio at the New School in New York City. 


NEIL:  I’m sitting here with Andy Hawks. I’m so happy to have you here today. 

ANDY:  I’m happy to be here. 

NEIL:  Um, Andy, what’s your elevator pitch for what you do? 

ANDY:  I would say, and it’s changed a lot since I’ve moved to New York, which is five years ago, I would say I am. I’m a performance artist and a video artist that’s interested in.

Food consumption and labor and whiteness and those sorts of things. Yeah. I just recently accepted to myself that my kitchen is my studio or an extension of my studio, and so I think my time since graduate school has been learning to unlearn that art happens when you make a concerted effort in the studio and you know, to realize that.

I can make art when I’m not sitting at a desk saying, okay, this is the time in which I will make art, you know? So I say I’m interested in food and interested in cakes and baking and things like that because I am still coming to terms :with like, that is, I think, a big part of the materials I want to work with. Yeah. 

NEIL:  I am blown away by the gorgeousness of these cakes that have appeared on your social media feed. 

ANDY:  Thank you. 

NEIL:  It seems to me like in what the last year possibly? 

ANDY:  In the last year? Yeah, 

NEIL:  And it’s like zero to 60 I don’t know what the term is, but they’re, they’re so exquisite looking and came to me as a really big surprise.

But perhaps not for you or, or, or was this something that you’ve been working towards? 

ANDY:  It was a big surprise for me. I started baking a year ago when I started posting. 

NEIL:  Fucking A! 

ANDY:  So what happened was, you know, uh, my partner really wanted to take a cake decorating class. And so for Christmas I signed them up for one and we did it together and he did not like it, 

But we had all this stuff and I wanted to use it.

We had all this butter and all these bags and things, and I was like, well, I want to figure out how to use this. And I kind of got interested in it as a sculptural material and wanted to… explore it. And I started making cakes and seeing cakes on the internet and bringing them into work. And a big part of this was I started working in an office where it was, you know, predominantly white women who, you know, would bring in baked goods and stuff.

And it was such a language of power play of like, “Oh, I baked these this weekend”, or “I bake these with the kids.” And I realized it was sort of like a… an interesting flexing that all these women were doing with each other. And I was like, well, I want to be a part of this. I want to like somehow get into this sort of like, “Oh, I made these cookies and they’re really good”. You know? And, and present them really prettily.

So then I started trying to learn how to make them as beautiful as possible, which is something I’d never been interested in, which was beauty. 

Explain that for people who. Rightly are blown away by the idea of an artist who heretofore, was not interested in beauty. 

I think beauty in a way, to me means resolved in a certain way and a certain aesthetic and a certain kind of finish.

And as an artist, I was never interested in… 

No, I was interested in things aesthetically making sense to me, but I was never interested in them aesthetically being at a resolved point where…

It’s sort of like drag makeup in a way, right? Like, you know, to have the idea that there’s like a, a flawless application of, of eyeshadow or something, or like a flawlessness to it.

And I was never interested in making something that was flawless. I had never really thought about that. And you know, I, I learned a lot of this to this school to YouTube, and there’s so much conversation with these people who are making cakes about, like, how to make sure that your buttercream is perfectly smooth and how to make sure you have the perfect icing and making sure that you have the perfect, like the word perfect kept coming up so much because it was like, “Oh, this is about being perfect,” you know?

So I had never used the word perfect, or use the word harmonious, and in a way, you know. But that’s something that I am interested in with like how something tastes or how something looks now. Yeah. 

NEIL:  This perfection thing is really coming up for you, huh? 

ANDY:  I guess so. 

Yeah. Does it in any way feel like it may be a response to Yale where perfection is questioned?

It is. Question there. I came from mid Michigan, small school, you know, by a corn field. I remember in one of the critiques, one of my first critiques in Yale, one of the faculty members said, Oh, it’s such an object as a critique. And I was like, and my head spin spun around and I was like, “Oh my, what? I thought we were supposed to be doing that here.”

Yeah. I thought we were supposed to be making objects, what am I doing? And so I, I know that like one of the things that I felt was that, that, you know, and I loved the program and I learned so much, I have to say that. But you know, one of the things that when I left, it was like I had completely abandoned making anything tangible or physical or like, an object. And so like maybe in a way, you know, I am striking back. I mean, a cake is an object. As long as you don’t eat it, you know, as long as you don’t cut it. So, you know, maybe, maybe it is a reaction against that and maybe there’s some little trespassing, you know, it’s a little naughty exploring perfection.

Are your parents still in the world? 

Yes. They both are. Yeah. 

Oh, a little question mark. 

Yes. Both of my parents are alive. Yes. Yeah. 

NEIL:  Um, how do each of them describe what it is you do to their friends? 

ANDY:  Oh. So I work at the Whitney museum and I, uh, work with a small team to produce, um, programs for adult audiences.

So I think that they don’t think of me baking as, as an artistic practice. My mom probably would say that I am, you know, an arts administrator in New York. 

NEIL:  Mhmmmm. 

ANDY:  That’s, I think as much as she would describe it. And I don’t know if I’ve articulated to her that I think of what I’m doing. A sculpture, 

NEIL:  Arts administration – as sculpture? Or baking as… 

ANDY:  Baking as sculpture, not art.

If arts administration is sculpture, my gosh, I have built the pyramids. Um, 

NEIL:  How about your dad? 

ANDY:  Ah, well my dad is, um. He’s a.. He had a closed head injury a few years ago, so he.. That’s why, you know, when you were like, “Oh, your parents..” 

My dad’s alive, but he’s not, um, he has a lot of memory loss and a lot of difficulty. So he’s in an, um, in a nursing home.

So he remembers me if I’m there in person, but I don’t think on the day to day he thinks about it. If I call him, he’ll be kind of confused. 

Right. Yeah. 

So that’s why I said it with a question mark cause it’s like, Oh well hmm….

NEIL:  I hear you. I’m sorry to have been so, um.. uh, cavalier about that question.

ANDY:  But when he has a with us, I mean, you know, before his accident, I think he, I know he would describe me as an artist and he was very, he fancied himself an artist.

And he took me as a kid, actually, is one of the reasons why I became an artist. As a little kid. He would take us the DIA, Detroit Institute of the Arts, you know, like once a month. And we were members. And I remember just having really formative experiences there. And when I turned like 13, he gave me his SLR, like film camera from, you know, he had since the 80s.

And, and that sort of opened, I think the door to me being an artist. And he was a truck driver. But you know, he painted and he took photographs and he played the flute and he was a person that, you know, I think in a lot of ways I’m a lot like him. That if he took an interest in something, he fully committed and did a 0 – 60 so seeing him obsessively buy gadgets and obsessively commit to learning something was sort of really impactful for me.

NEIL:  What’s something that you find yourself thinking about today? 

ANDY:  Oh, today specifically? Or today is like a concept, huh? 

NEIL:  What is today as a concept. Oh, like, like kids today? 

ANDY:  Yeah. That sort of thing. 

NEIL:  Take your pick. I love it. 

ANDY:  I’m thinking a lot about, this is going to sound crazy. Watching ‘Let’s Play’ videos. 

NEIL:  What are they called, lip play?

ANDY:  Let’s play.

NEIL:  Let’s play?

ANDY:  It’s when people play video games and record them. 

NEIL:  Oh, right. Yeah, thats a thing huh?

ANDY:  Yeah. And I’ve been watching the Tomb Raider ones from like 1996 you know, with the… the worst resolution graphics on earth. And its just a very surreal experience to watch someone who’s perfected playing Tomb Raider. It’s just a really interesting, um, meditative kind of thing to watch.

NEIL:  Weird. 

ANDY:  Yeah. It is weird. 

NEIL:  Do you play video games? 

ANDY:  I don’t. 

NEIL:  Me neither. You don’t like playing them but you like watching other people play? 

ANDY:  Yeah. 

NEIL:  Huh.

ANDY:  I was a very scared child. I grew up with the PlayStation and I was always too stressed out to ever play past the first level of anything. And so now that I’ve discovered that you can just watch someone else play and be able to see again, I guess it’s like I said, perfect.

Again, like perfectly played Tomb Raider. 

NEIL:  What was it as a kid that scared you back over to the next level? 

ANDY:  I was afraid of the conflict. There’s always a first boss that you have to fight, right? 

NEIL:  Oh, is that what happens in a video game? 

ANDY:  Oh  yeah! With any video game you get to a part and you have to fight some sort of like guy who throws bricks at you or something or you know, some sort of like mushroom monster or something.

And I, um, never wanted to do that. I was like, well, that’s okay with me. I’ll just play the first level again where you just, you know. Don’t deal with that. So, you know, I, my favorite part of tomb Raider was there was a part where you could just play in Laura’s house. The, the main character is like a millionaire and you could just like jump around her mansion and I, that was enough for me.

And so it’s nice to see.. to watch something that isn’t just bouncing around someone’s pixelated mansion I guess. 

NEIL:  Right, isn’t that what we’re all doing? Bouncing around our respective pixelated mansions. 

ANDY:  Well, or pixelated apartments or pixelated hovels in my case. 

NEIL:  Let’s go to some cards I curated for you. 

ANDY:  Okay. 

 (Card Flip sound) 

NEIL:  First card is the profound thing about cooking show competitions is that the sense of taste is invisible.

You can’t know what they’re tasting except in how it registers on their face or in their words. 

ANDY:  That’s really true. In a way, that’s what I’m interested in, like trying to make, I’ve been trying to make more elaborate kind of baked goods, uh, different kinds of sponges and things like that, so I can actually know what they taste like. And actually experience that. And I think that in a lot of ways when you watch these shows we’re there by proxy. We’re there by what someone is what someone’s facial expression is. What someone says about it. The camera. The music. The response of the other contestants. And we’re never actually there. Sort of a mirror to a lot of… we’re increasingly removed from most experiences, you know?

NEIL:  For sure. But I think about like baking shows in particular, or cooking shows are different from, let’s say, a singing competition where you can experience it. 

Yeah. And how that shapes cooking shows, you know? So there’s like, for me, I’m really interested in like the, the fetishization of the bite, you know, the, the ways of telegraphing this experience that you don’t have access to in the same way that you would have it if it were someone singing and you could hear them sing. 

ANDY:  Or America’s next top model, and you can see them posing. 

NEIL:  Exactly. Exactly. 

ANDY:  Right. 

NEIL:  You had said earlier, um, a cake is an object unless you eat it.

How does, how does that figure into it? Like is a cake that you’ve cut into. Is that a? Is it still a cake? Is it an object? Is it…

ANDY:  I think it’s still an object if you cut into it? But I’ve noticed the fun thing about baking cakes is that you can’t eat them alone, right? I mean, you could, but you would be sort of a monster if you baked the cake and ate it by yourself.

NEIL:  Right. 

ANDY:  And so I started baking cakes for everyone’s birthdays and so many people said, “Oh, it’s… I don’t want to cut it. It’s so pretty. I don’t want to cut it. I don’t want t  ruin it.” And you know, it’s, it’s interesting because like, if there’s like one little tiny piece of cake left, it’s no longer, it’s no longer something that I made.

It’s participatory at that point, right? Like every little cut, every little licking of the frosting, like people are changing it and it’s actively changing shape and changing form. And, um, I love when you, when, when, when it’s sort of that wedge missing and it’s full of crumbs and it’s full of. You know, things falling over and, um, people scraping up the pieces with a knife and it become something that’s kind of on one side.

Literally on one side, it’s really pretty. On the other side, in the front, it looks broken. It looks damaged. It’s, uh, been affected by other people, you know, and that’s, that’s interesting to me to look at that. And I find myself always documenting the completed cake before it’s cut into and not taking pictures of the half consumed cake. But I think that, you know, it’s interesting when they are in the process of losing their objectness and the process of becoming, I guess just food, you know? And the in-between between a work of art and just food is interesting for me. And that’s something that I haven’t figured out how to, how to cement that moment.

Cause I. I dunno. I feel like I’m, I, I’ve not seen other people work with cakes as a material. So I’m trying to figure out how do I make this art? How do I prove to everyone that I’m actually making her? And I’m not just baking, you know? But. I, I believe that I am making art when I’m doing this. 

NEIL:  Oh my God. If you ever have doubt, you can definitely text me. 

ANDY:  Okay. 

NEIL:  But I do think the question you’re dealing with is so fucking deep, which is, yeah, we can say what you’re doing is hard, but where is the art? 

ANDY:  Right. All right. You know, I’m also interested in things that I, I feel like are, this is almost art. 

NEIL:  Almost art is so much better than art. 

ANDY:  I think so too. 

All the possibilities! One of my friends, I Simon Wu. I’ll ll send him things that I think are, “Oh my God, this is almost art.” You know, and there’s like a, there’s, there’s this, um, like two hour. And I’m not lying. It’s like a two hour YouTube compilation of, of women in anime saying, “Oh, ho, ho, ho ho ho ho ho” like this, like specific anime laugh. It’s like two hours long. And I’m like, this is almost art. I think that if you just put this on a screen, I think it’d be art. But then I, then I asked myself, well, is it art now?

If it’s art on YouTube, but I don’t know. Or, um, those things…

If I can get spicy?

NEIL:  Oh, please do, on she’s a talker. 

ANDY:  Those, um, those poppers training videos, have you seen those? 

I haven’t seen them? 

They’re, they’re, they’re  po… po… porn… porno… pornographic. 

They’re, they’re pornographic adult films. And for those of you who don’t know, poppers are a…

I actually don’t even know how to explain what they are, but they are a, they are a tool. They’re a tool to get you where you need to go. 

And there are these videos that like, it’s like these super cuts of intense pornographic hardcore gay scenes, and there’s like at the bottom it tells you like, start doing your poppers now and then stop doing your poppers.

NEIL:  Oh, really? 

ANDY:  Yeah. And it’s supposed to train you to like. I dunno. It’s some sort of like tantric poppers sort of thing. Oh yeah. I don’t, I, I’ve watched them. I’m not going to say if I’ve like participated in the exercise, but I think that that’s like a thing that I’m like, this seems like it’s almost art.

NEIL:  Almost art.

 (Card Flip sound) 

Next card. I was watching ‘The Great British Baking Show’ and they were making a self saucing sponge. Okay. I don’t know if that means anything to you.

ANDY:  I think I’d know what that means.

NEIL:  But the card I wrote in relationship to that is you don’t know how it’s going to turn out until the end. You can’t taste it as it goes. 

ANDY:  Yeah. 

NEIL:  It’s inscrutable past a certain point.

You can’t, well, you can’t take taste, for instance, batter and know what it’s going to taste like, or can you?

ANDY:  You can taste batter, but it isn’t baked. 

NEIL:  Right.

ANDY:  You can certainly tell if it’s, if there’s something wrong with it. But it won’t taste good. Yeah. One of the interesting things that I’ve been doing is because I’ve been making multiple component cakes, you know, so it’s  like…

NEIL:  MCCs?

ANDY:  Oh yeah. Maybe that. Um, you know, so it’s like, Oh because you know, I’m trying to do that whole ‘British Bake-Off’. Like, Oh, it’s a brown butter vanilla sponge with a white chocolate ganache inside with a raspberry reduction, and it’s covered in Italian merengue buttercream, you know? 

NEIL:  And take your  poppers now  (Laughs) 

ANDY:  And start poppers now.  (Laughs) 

Um, no, but so you can taste each individual component, but you don’t actually know what a slice will taste like. You don’t know this small section of this greater whole. How much of everything do you get? How much in every forkful do you get? Does it actually make sense together? You can never really know until you cut into it unless you’ve made something a hundred times and you’ve kind of memorized it.

 (Card Flip sound) 

NEIL:  Okay. Next card, Andy. 

ANDY:  Okay. 

NEIL:  I think my favorite kitchen tool might be the spatula. Very Virgo tool. I’m talking about the kind of spatulas, not like that you use to flip a burger, but that you use to kind of like…

ANDY:  A rubber spatula?

NEIL:  A rubber spatula! 

ANDY:  Or that sort of like scrapey-scrapey.

NEIL:  Yeah, perfection of scraping.

ANDY:  I love spatulas. I also hate bad spatulas. 

NEIL:  Oh yeah, like where they’re too stiff. 

ANDY:  They’re too stiff or they’re too, I mean,  the two stiff, a bit too limp or they’re afraid to commit. You know?

I watched a spatula review video recently.

NEIL:  Really? 

ANDY:  Yeah. And I bought the top rated spatula and I love it. 

NEIL:  Really? Tell me about it.

ANDY:  I forget what it’s called, but it’s silicone. The whole thing is silicone, so there’s no wood on it. And so. It, you can go, it can go on the dishwasher. It’s safe up to 450 degrees so you can’t melt it. And unless you put an oven that’s 500 degrees and it’s, it’s stiff but not too stiff and it’s wide but not too wide and it fits in the hand perfectly.

I dunno. Spatials are an interesting thing cause they’re sort of like, when you have idea of like you cupping your hand in a, I mean the goal of any good kitchen tool is that it feels like it’s just your hand just doing something different. 

NEIL:  Yes. That’s so true. 

ANDY:  That’s my relationship to spatulas I suppose.

NEIL:  Is it? Do you have a favorite kitchen tool? 

ANDY:  My favorite, favorite, favorite thing is the, is this French tip. A piping tip. It’s, it’s open star tip and it’s got a lot of little, it’s really small. Like if it’s just, it just makes these really pretty dollops that have these like really architectural pretty lines incised in them.

And I just, I just like it cause it makes everything look instantly fancier. 

 (Card Flip sound) 

NEIL:  Next card, the experience of eating berries that are fleetingly in season. Something about grasping or attachment or something is what I wrote about the experience of like now is cherry season and it’s fleeting and so you get the cherries and they’re delicious and sweet and it creates in me a type of like disconnect actually. 

ANDY:  That’s like, I feel like. Is a problem is that we never really know when something is in season because something is more often than not always available and it’s just a few, a few weeks or months, or it, no, it doesn’t taste like trash.

One of the things that I used to work at the Brooklyn museum, and there was this, um, still life painting by an American artist and I, I don’t remember his name, but I remember looking at it and not understanding why it was remarkable and it was because it took him a year to paint it because it depicts all these fruits, you know, strawberries, blackberries, watermelons, pumpkins, every kind of conceivable fruit, fresh at the same time. And you know. To a person living before mass supermarkets and things like that, you would never see a blueberry at the same time that you see a cabbage.

You know, it’s interesting because like, Oh, I read the wall label and we, I talked about it with a coworker and it’s like, Oh, it actually took him a year because he had to like. Wait until something was ripened, paint it and make a composition based on things that he has that he knew would be in season later that he would put someplace else, you know?

NEIL:  Well, so he did the thing that supermarkets do today. 

ANDY:  Yes. And it was magic at the time. 

NEIL:  Wild!

 (Card Flip Sound)) 

 Next card, Andy. 

ANDY:  Yes. 

NEIL:  Leftovers as a kind of embodied memory.

ANDY:  That makes me think about meal prep. You know, when you’re making the same thing and eating the same thing over and over and over again, and that there is no leftovers, that you’ve made it all at once and you’re eating the sort of copies of the same meal, right?

You cook a bunch of chicken breasts and broccoli, you know, there was never the original meal. There was never a leftover. But I do think it is interesting thinking about leftovers as like as some sort of analog to memories of a previous experience. The soup always tastes different the next day. It always tastes better.

The flavors get to know each other more. It’s telling you a different story. You know, the act of measuring something disrupts what you’re measuring, the act of remembering something changes what you remembering. Right? Uh, Thanksgiving leftovers aren’t Thanksgiving. They’re something different, but it is in a way, a memory or some sort of, um,remnant or some sort of a shadow of what there was before, 

NEIL:  But, but to your point, it often tastes better. 

ANDY:  I think it does. 

NEIL:  I agree completely. And I think there’s two parts to that. One is the way certain foods. Yeah. Get to know each other, but also it’s like you’re not at fucking Thanksgiving.

ANDY:  No!

  (laughter) 

Socialization and all of the, the experience is not there again.

NEIL:  And that’s, that makes it taste better. In other words, in fact, knowing Thanksgiving is over. That you got through it that it’s done 

ANDY:  You got out 

NEIL:  Makes that taste better. You got out. Exactly. Exactly. I think that’s a key to why Thanksgiving leftovers taste better.

I love Thanksgiving with my family. Do I love it more than Thanksgiving being over? I dunno. What would you choose? Well, you’re getting both. 

ANDY:  Yeah. You can get both. 

NEIL:  You have Thanksgiving and then you have the pleasure of Thanksgiving being over.

 (Card Flip Sound) 

The next card. Confusion as a working method. 

ANDY:  Yeah, yeah. Doubt I think is pretty, it’s pretty generative, right? Someone told me once, I think it was, um, Miss Kaufman who was my photography professor in undergrad, and she told me, if you’re ever comfortable with the work that you’re making, you probably should be doing something different.

I think if you’re so confident in something, then like you need to shake it up a bit. And I think that being confused is a useful space to, to be trying to orient yourself somewhere .It’s a useful thing. And I remember you… you’re the one, you photographed people coming out of the subway. 

NEIL:  I did. Yeah. , 

ANDY:  I remember that! It meant a lot to me. I think about it a lot sometimes. Oh, I love it. Um, I think I’ve articulated enough in this interview that I’m a little bit unsure of what I’m doing. Um, so I think that, um. Orienting yourself is a useful place to be in. I think confusion is important. 

NEIL:  I love it. That’s so deep. Your take, it starts from really different take from mine. This card came from, um, almost as a methodology. Like when I’m getting feedback about a piece of art, I like to get a lot of feedback about a piece of art feedback and kind of get myself kind of confused about it through these different voices that are weighing in on it and added that confusion I wouldn’t say a certainty of emerges, but like a direction forward does.

There’s a place where both of our thoughts meet. 

 (Card Flip sounds) 

Okay. What keeps you going?

ANDY:  The desire to learn? I think wanting to, um, yeah. Wanting to learn . Both in like my, you know, trying to learn how to do drag makeup, trying to learn how to tap dance, how to try and to learn how to bake a cake and my relationship learning, you know, more about my partner and learning how he feels and how he thinks and things like that.

And, um, you know, my job, my day job, you know. Um, learning about art and learning about a collection of art and learning about different artists. And yeah, I’d say learning. And I think that, you know, that’s what keeps me going in the. In the, um, in that field also. Um, I’m very passionate about having insurance.

I’m passionate about eating, um, and paying my rent somewhat on time. So that is also what keeps me going in that job.

NEIL:  It’s good that you have passions. 

 (Card Flip Sounds) 

Andy on that note. Huge thank you for being on ‘She’s a Talker.’ I’m so grateful. 

ANDY:  Thank you for having me. It’s been so much fun, I hope I talked enough.

NEIL:  Oh my God. Gems. It was like an embarrassment of riches. 

ANDY:  Thank you. 

NEIL:  Uh, we’ll do a version where there’s like the popper instruction part that goes with it too.

ANDY:  Popper training! 

NEIL:  Popper training.  (Chuckles) 

ANDY:  It’s like, you train for a marathon. You don’t need, you know…

NEIL:  You don’t get instructed. 

ANDY:  Yes. 

NEIL:  All right.




Thank you so much for listening to She’s A Talker. Before we get to the credits, we have something new this season. A lot of people have been writing in with their own responses to the cards and we’d love to feature yours in the show, so please send them our way at shesatalker@gmail.com or via Instagram at shesatalker. Jonathan Taylor wrote in with a question about drag, which I thought would be perfect to ask Andy given his own use of drag in his art. Here it is. In an earlier episode with the choreographer, Miguel Gutierrez. He was at the Whitney biennial a few years ago. I love him. One of the cards I had there was, I don’t like any of the art forms that are built around the uncanny, like animation, puppetry and impersonations, and a listener wrote in and asked, “What about drag? Does drag play on the uncanny?” What’s your answer to that?

ANDY:  I think there’s a difference between drag and female illusion. I think a good drag queen or a drag queen that I appreciate, not a good drag queen, isn’t one that’s trying to look like a woman whereas I think female impersonation is the whole entertainment aspect is that this person looks so much like a woman, but they’re not. I’m thinking of the uncanny valley where something hits that wall where it’s too realistic but not realistic enough at the same time. And I think that drag at its heart is critiquing what gender is and exaggerating and there’s a level of camp to I think drag, the makeup is so distinct and so exaggerated. It’s stage makeup. It’s almost Kabuki.

NEIL:  But that really aligns with what might’ve been my take. My take would have been less articulate. Thank you Andy for answering that listener question.

ANDY:  Thank you. Thank you for asking.

NEIL:  This series is made possible with generous support from Stillpoint Fund. Devin Guinn produced this episode. Andrew Lytton mixed it. Molly Donahue and Aaron Dalton, our consulting producers, Justine Lee handles social media. Our interns are Alara Degirmenci, Jonathan Jalbert and Jesse Kimotho. Our card flip beats come from Josh Graver and my husband Jeff Hiller sings the theme song you’re about to hear. Thanks to all of them and to my guest, Andy and to you for listening.