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Getting to know: Christopher Bollen.

September 23, 2011 \am\30 11:00 am

Christopher Bollen on the cover of Me Magazine.

[In which WWAATD asks vapid questions culled from various teen magazines to non-vapid, non-teenager types.]

Full Name: Christopher Bollen

Age: 35

Height: 6’3

Currently Live: Manhattan

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Instruments: Guitar bought in Nashville in 1995. After a semester of lessons, it awaits future training.

Car: Don’t own one. I take the subway.

Secret Talent: Backgammon.

What is the best thing about your job? My day job at Interview Magazine lets me have conversations with people from so many different fields that I’m compelled to learn more about, people who I never would have been able to meet otherwise.

What was your most embarrassing audition moment? I’ve never auditioned for anything, probably to prevent a situation of extreme embarrassment. In fact, an audition for me would be a demonstration of my abilities to embarrass myself.

If you could live in any past era which would it be and why? 1970s New York, Paris, Los Angeles. I love the street beauty and fast fading optimism of that decade. I love the politics, the color, the social pioneering, the music, the dread, the art and literature, and the toughness of that time.

Who is your role model and why? I don’t have one. But I do have writers like Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, and Joan Didion who managed to write brilliant fiction but also used their penetrating eyes on social essays. I think it’s a shame that fiction writing is treated as more hallowed than nonfiction critique.

What do you do for fun? Lately I’ve been watching a lot of presidential documentaries.

Do you have a good luck charm? I wear a St. Christopher pendent on a gold chain around my neck. He’s the patron saint of travelers, and he’s my namesake. In moments of fear, he is kissed.

Wackiest fan encounter: I’m still awaiting this encounter. Please someone interrupt a meal or shove a novel at me for me to sign while I’m having my yearly physical.

Before I die, I want to: Own a house in the country, have a child, and write what it feels like to have your heart ripped out at 200 miles an hour.

When I fly I have to have: Take a valium, demand a window seat, do a crossword, and have a very good book in my lap. I also need to remember to take my wallet out of my back pocket to prevent my leg from falling asleep.

If I had to spend $10 at my favorite fast food joint, I’d order: I refuse to eat fast food ever since I left high school. This may be because in high school my best friend worked at Subway Sandwiches and I ate free six-inch clubs every day after school for four years.

My coolest article of clothing: Black leather jacket bought ten years ago at a vintage store off Union Square. When I travel I still carry it on board with me instead of packing it in my checked luggage in case my bags are lost. It doesn’t even fit perfectly, the arms are too short. But I feel most myself wearing it of anything.

My first financial splurge was: For several years in New York, I moved apartments every few months. I threw out furniture instead of carrying it from one walk up to another. When I finally settled into one place, I bought an astronomically expensive (at least by my standards) 1930s green leather Chesterfield sofa. Today it sits in my bedroom.

When friends come over, we: Drink wine and then go out.

Do you like to cook? If so, what? My kitchen skills are limited. I can make a delicious Ohio beef stew from a recipe passed down from my father.

TV show I never miss: I have a television set but it isn’t plugged in and, when it is, I don’t even get free local channels. Just a blue screen. But I often watch 1980s Agatha Christie BBC mysteries on my computer. I also recently went on a bender of watching all the Helen Mirren Prime Suspects.

If you could interview any celeb whom would it be and why? I’ve already interviewed many of my dream subjects—Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Roman Polanski, Robert Altman, Ed Ruscha. But there are still several left on my list: Bob Dylan first and foremost. Then there are people like Ted Kaczynski that I’d like to take a crack at.

Anything about yourself you wish you could change? I wish I could write without smoking. I wish I wouldn’t always want to lie down as my first response to any crisis. I wish I could have a dog.

I’ll eat sushi, but not: Scallops! They taste exactly like what I imagine death to taste like.

What are your best and worst subjects in school? I was a really good student, which, for me, means that I was incredibly hard on myself to succeed rather than possessing some innate intellectual talent. I was particularly good at English and Physics. My worst subject was French. Sadly I have no aptitude for foreign languages.

If you could be granted 3 wishes, they’d be… 1. Never have to worry about money and do only what I love (by which I don’t mean, only do things I love that come easy; the things I love are rather hard to accomplish). 2. Cure cancer. 3. More time.

If I could gay-marry anyone in the world, he/she would be…Hmmm… I can gay marry now! But in a dream world I would gay marry Slavoj Zizek.

Where on earth are you most dying to go? Right now I really want to go to Chile and Peru. Machu Picchu and Patagonia.

What’s the last thing that made you cry? I cried last week while watching this documentary called “We Were Here” about the advent of the AIDs crisis in San Francisco.

Do you ever wish you could just be a normal kid? ALL. THE. TIME. And now, NEVER.

What would people be surprised to know about you? I hate socializing. I hate going out for no reason. I hate 4 in the morning.

If you had to name one song as your theme song, what would it be? What about the theme song from Mr. Belvedere? It’s actually quite good. That or Fortunate Son by CCR.

Have you had a starstruck Hollywood experience? Who was it with? I usually don’t get starstruck. I did see Woody Allen about two years ago at the Whitney Museum walking through the Georgia O’Keefe show and I felt some urge to study him studying the paintings. He was with Soon Yi.


Favorite Actor/Actress: Shelley Duvall

Favorite Movie: The Shining or Nashville or Emile de Antonio’s 1976 documentary on the Weather Underground.

Favorite Body Part: Eyes. But I do love lips.

Favorite Singer: Leonard Cohen

Favorite Song: “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

Favorite Candy: Candy Darling

Favorite Philosopher: Hannah Arendt

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Chocolate chip

Favorite Sport: Tennis

Favorite Sports Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Favorite Athlete: Serena Williams

Favorite Book: The Executioner’s Song

Cell Phone or iPod: Cell phone

Summer or Winter: Winter

Ice Skating or Gymnastics: Gymnastics

LA or New York: New York

Skiing or Snowboarding: Skiing

Chocolate or Flowers: Flowers

Dogs or Cats: Dogs!


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