A man looking into the top corner.

An Interview with Crispin Glover


Suddenly there I was, on the phone with Crispin Glover. In true SLUG fashion, I had prepared nothing in advance for the interview (as you will see). I hadn’t even asked SLUG if they wanted an interview with the guy—I just ran across his home phone number and figured I’d give him a call. After all, he’s coming here on the 12th. I’m assuming you know who he is: He’s the guy who tried to kick David Letterman in the face. He’s the guy who Playboy says has a gynecological exam table in his house somewhere. He’s rumored to have a jar of wax eyeballs above the fireplace. Almost every character he has played has something terribly terribly wrong with him, and the rest just have something moderately wrong. 

My favorite Glover films: 

The Orkly Kid: He plays Larry Huff, a young Idahoan who tries to gain acceptance for his transvestism by attracting a reporter from PM magazine to attend a talent show he organizes. He sings an Olivia Newton-John song and the whole town shuns him. 

River’s Edge: A performance that’s equal parts speed and LSD, Glover plays the totally insane Layne, a guy who just wants to take care of his friends. This is my personal favorite of his performances. He’s got tons of bad lines, and he delivers them all with absolute crack pipe commitment: “Look dude I saw it right there in front of me! I poked at it with a stick!” 

Friday the 13th: Obviously one of his earlier films, he plays Jim, the Dead Fuck. He has perfect Farrah Fawcett hair and for some reason almost as much makeup as he did in The Orkly Kid. His only film in which he gets a corkscrew in the hand and a machete in the face. Also, the only one I’ve seen in which he’s atop a naked woman. Pay close attention to the fact that in the skinny dipping scene, he’s the only one who bares no flesh. 

You can’t forget him as the cockroach-in-the-underwear guy in WiId at Heart, or his perfectly sexless Warhol in The Doors. Look for him as Sean Penn‘s thieving buddy in At Close Range (Like Father Like Sun Like Hell), and apparently he was in My Tutor, which I last saw as a fifteen-year-old on late night Showtime—and I wasn’t watching it for Crispin Glover. And then there’s Rubin & Ed. Hailed by many as the worst film ever made, he plays a guy who treks into the desert to bury his cat. While Maximum Overdrive still holds court on my worst film throne, I have to admit that Rubin & Ed wasn’t too good. Nevertheless, it’s got a hell of a following here in Salt City. 

So, he’s coming here to do The Big Slide Show. On May 12 he’ll be at the Tower Theatre, doing god knows what. It’s going to involve reading slides from his books, selling his books and I imagine a lot of hero worship from patchouli-clad Twin Peaks fans. It’s your chance to meet the man, folks. See if you can top the gentleman who introduced himself to John Waters with “I love you more than my big hairy asshole!” when Waters was at the Tower. Show him what you keep in your underwear. Ask him in person about kicking Letterman. I certainly took no risks when I called him. I leave that to you. I’ve got to get along with the guy when he gets here.

 SLUG: I’d like to talk a little about the artistic side of things you’re doing, non-movies. 

Glover: That’s fine. 

SLUG: You’re involved in poetry, sculpture, painting. 

Glover: Yeah, I never call the books poetry, though, I don’t like the sound of that. I call them short stories. I take old books from the 1800’s and rework them and turn them into their own books. I’ve got about eight of them in the show, and there are slides that have been taken of the books and then I narrate the books through the show. They’re heavily illustrated books. 

SLUG: Illustrated by yourself? 

Glover: Right. There’s a lot of photographs that have been reworked and there’s also art that has been reworked. There’s a lot of reworked images or images that have been used in such a way that they have a different meaning than they originally held. 

SLUG: What is “reworking” them? 

Glover: I saw somebody that had taken an old book from the 1800’s and put art in it and I thought that was an interesting idea, I thought it looked neat and then I set out to do the same thing. I got an old binding and instead of just putting art in it, wrote stuff as well, and I liked the look of the words within the art. The words started to naturally turn into a kind of story, so I let the stories flow. I finished the books and I got addicted to it and I kept doing more of them. 

SLUG: Any particular subject material? 

Glover: First, I had just kind of general images but one of the books that I’ve published is called Rat Catching. And I started collecting books that I knew I could utilize images from: taxidermy books, animal husbandry books, uh…one called Fur. So, certain things I’ll have found images first and then put those into the books. 

SLUG: Now, the one piece of work that I remember seeing involved a Tootsie Roll and a hand? 

Glover: Oh, that’s something completely different. That’s a single image for a film that is a feature length film that I am involved in getting stuff together for. 

SLUG: Have you gotten into music? 

Glover: Well, I had a record come out a number of years ago called The Big Problem Does Not Equal the Solution, The Solution Equals Let It Be, and I should have another record coming out this year, maybe next year, called The Big Love Album

SLUG: Spoken word? 

Glover: No, The Big Love Album is mostly songs. The first one was produced by Barnes & Barnes. 

SLUG: Fish Heads

Glover: Yeah, exactly. And this one was just produced by myself and one of those two fellows. 

SLUG: Just Barnes. 

Glover: That is correct. On the first one, I didn’t write any of the music. On this second one, I have done some of the music [and] the sound of it is quite different from the first one. I’m also directing a short movie which I’ve written and it’s all people with Down’s Syndrome. 

SLUG: The subject matter? 

Glover: Well, it’s not really the subject matter—the cast will all be people with Down’s Syndrome. 

SLUG: How do you survive in Hollywood? 

Glover: It’s a careful balance sometimes. I need to work to make money and it’s difficult sometimes. I live well, though. I don’t have a bad lifestyle. I have so many various projects it’s like I wish I had more of myself to do them with. I want to publish another book this year called What It Is, and How It’s Done and I’ve not had the time to. 

SLUG: I assume you’re sick to death of talking about Rubin & Ed

Glover: I’m not. 

SLUG: It’s a pretty big hit out here. 

Glover: Yeah, it’s interesting—I was in the Northwest recently and I found that it’s not just in Salt Lake. Rubin & Ed apparently rents higher than any of the other films I’ve been in, and it’s one of the top rentals of all that they have in the stores up there. 

SLUG: Is it one of your favorites? 

Glover: Well, I’m glad that we did that film. There are things about it which are good for me. There’s this Rubin Farr character that is kind of a recurrent thing that I have been in a lot of my projects, so it’s nice to have that movie out there. 

I don’t know what that means, either. You can ask him. 

Read more from Issue 77 here.