When was the last time you saw someone on the street and you were like, who the fuck is that?
In Baltimore, if I go out in the day I’ll see one. But they’re not doing it for fashion and they think they look normal. That’s what is the most intriguing here, when you see people and think, Oh my god, what were they thinking? And those people, I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s fashion but they think they look good and that’s what’s so amazing about it. They’re not doing it to be rebellious or to be edgy, they don’t even know what that means. They just find a good look and they stick with it. And that is true here. Greased hair just stopped and now the Farrah Fawcett ‘do is finally leaving. I’m telling you, there are time warps and pockets.
People always seem to smoke in Baltimore, everyone’s smoking.
Yes, they smoke, and spit! They’ll hock a loogie right when you’re talking to them, and they don’t think that’s rude.
If you were in high school now, do you think you would have ended up becoming such an outcast? Would you have watched people like you on Oprah. Would you have felt more accepted?
That’s a good question. They would have sent me to school where the arty kids go, and they probably would have let me do what I did. I don’t know what would have happened because every school I went to after grade school discouraged my interest and would have never allowed me to make those movies. I think things are better today, certainly, parents bring me their fucked up kids. It seems touching to me when they come with their son who is almost in drag and he’s 14. Or a girl that’s really punked out with bolts in her face. You can look however you want these days. Goth is a great look for an ugly girl. And I don’t mean that badly, I think no one looks badly when you have a radical fashion look. It’s about looking a little bit ugly.
You’ve got your own look, too.
I’ve always thought that fashion is important. I think there can be great wit in fashion. Hillbilly pimp was really my look, and you know I’m not going to dress like that anymore.
Do you think the kids in these photos are like your friends in your movies?
My friends didn’t look that in real life like, none of them did, they were playing a part. It’s exhausting. Divine never looked like the creature Divine that you know of except when he was paid. It’s hard to look like that all the time. You think about these kids in the summer with the denim and the boots. These kids were playing the part in real life and that’s what’s so amazing about them.
(© The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger, from Rebel Youth, Rizzoli New York, 2011)