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EATING, FUCKING & OCCULTISM: Stewart Home Interviewed by James Marginalised

Meeting Stewart Home is a shock. I mean the bloke comes across as if he's alright in his books, but in the flesh, yuk. The guy is a tosser. All he wants to do is drink malt whisky with real ale chasers. He eats in yuppie restaurants and talks endlessly about Jennifer Lopez. Yes, that's right JENNIFER LOPEZ, the Hollywood actress come pop singer. Mainly what he has to say about Lopez concerns her bum, more specifically how big it is. I've cut out some of the more offensive stuff, but what follows is absolutely typical of the crap Home spouts.

JAMES: What's your personal history?

STEWART: I had a factory job for a few months when I was sixteen, an experience that led me to vow I'd never work again. My early interests were pulp novels, Bruce Lee movies, pop groups such as T. Rex and girls. I got into punk rock in 1976 when I was fourteen. Although I was going to see bands like the Damned, the Clash and the Stranglers in the late-seventies, I hated seeing groups in big concert halls, so I was also checking out less popular bands. I really used to like Sham 69, Slaughter and the Dogs, Menace, Cortinas, Lurkers, X-Ray Spex and loads of others . I would also go and see bands like the Specials when they were still playing in pubs, and a lot of the mod revival bands too. I loved the Jolt and the Purple Hearts. Around this time, I also used to do a fanzine called Down In The Street.

When I was younger I always enjoyed winding people up by letting them think I was thick, then slaughtering them in arguments. This was really easy when I was geared up in DMs and a button-down, since there are a lot of bigots who think that all skins are thick. I played in a succession of terrible ska, punk and indie bands, I did loads of gigs but never got a record out until last year. Once I realised that I was never going to be anything more than a competent guitarist, I switched my attention to the art world and during the early eighties organised a succession of neo-dadaist outrages. In 1984, I joined an obscure anti-art movement called Neoism, and became increasingly absorbed by the history of the post-war avant-garde. This eventually led me to write my first book The Assault On Culture.

Throughout the eighties, I bullshitted my way around the London art scene, making the most of the fad for 'installations,' where my lack of any discernible talent proved to be a great asset in establishing the beginnings of a gallery career. During this period I also organised events such as the Festival Of Plagiarism, and wrote the novels Pure Mania (Polygon, Edinburgh 1989) and Defiant Pose (Peter Owen, London 1991). In 1990, I began a three year 'Art Strike,' which freed up my time, thus enabling me to read a lot and watch hundreds of kung fu videos. Throughout this hiatus, I maintained my media profile with the aid of various friends who impersonated me whenever a journalist wanted an interview.

Returning to the fray in 1993, I discovered that I'd become an underground legend during my self-imposed absence. I immediately set to work on a series of pranks, the most celebrated of which was enticing derelicts to the Booker Prize, a top literary event, by handing out fake invitations promising free booze for all. I also found that I was making enough money from my writing to sign off the dole. I was officially registered as unemployed for nearly ten years and got money from the government for all that time! For the last twelve years, I've lived in the East End of London, which is great coz there are loads of bagel bakeries and Indian restaurants.

JAMES: How many books have you done to date.

STEWART: I've just got my sixteenth and seventeenth books coming out in English, Confusion Incorporated which is a collection of journalism and a novel called Cunt. The novel has already come out in Finland. I'm just putting the final touches to another novel which is called 69 Things To Do With A Dead Princess. Quite a few of my books have been translated into different languages, Finnish, German, French, Italian, Polish, Greek.

JAMES: What do you write about?

STEWART: With the fiction, I used to think of what I did as 'sex, violence and anarcho-sadism', but I'm through with that now. I've moving on to what I call 'eating, fucking and occultism'. I like eating out, and now I'm getting a bit more successful, rich people will take me to restaurants that I couldn't afford to go in if I was paying for it myself. I've got this league table of how much different people have spent on me when they've taken me out for a business lunch. It's got up to about £60, which isn't too hard if you have a decent bottle of wine, but my big ambition is to hit the £100 mark. Anyway, I'm using all the information I gather during these business lunches in my fiction. In Come Before Christ & Murder Love, I have characters being very sophisticated in their choice of restaurants and food, but afterwards getting into really perverse sex magick rituals. It's strange for me too, I enjoy going to these flash places, just to see what they're like, but it brings me back to reality coming home to a smashed up council estate. I love Indian, Italian, Japanese and Thai cuisine. I'd like to become a gourmet with a restaurant column in a newspaper, but at the moment my non-fiction is still mainly about avant-garde art, not something of interest to most punks! In the more recent novels, Cunt and 69 Things To Do With A Dead Princess, I've been getting into drinking. I take the research for my novels very seriously, so I go to different places like Estonia and Finland and try the beer. In England, Weatherspoons pubs are a good thing - no music, cheap beer and a choice of real ales. I'm also well into malt whisky and particularly like those from Islay. So much so, in fact, that I've visited all the distilleries on that little Scottish island.

JAMES: What about politics, how important are they for you?

STEWART: I've never been a member of any political party, in fact I've never even voted. However, as a proletarian post-modernist I don't like the way the society we live in stunts the expectations of the working class, or to see poverty, or how little most people are paid for their work. In England, everything seems to be collapsing into the centre, so fascists aren't a political problem, although they are still a real nuisance to the immigrant communities they harass. One of the big problems is institutionalised racism, with people being systematically discriminated against in terms of housing, education and jobs.

I still think it is worth reading Marx, his writings aren't a Bible but they give you a good frame-work for understanding society. Although he was mistaken about many things, I think Amadeo Bordiga, the first head of the Italian Communist Party, was very honest compared to the likes of Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky, who were all complete scumbags. Likewise, I'd view Bordiga's immediate successor in the CP, Antoni Gramsci, as being right-wing in comparison to Bordiga. I certainly view sympathetically the ongoing attempts to combine the best parts of Bordigism with the more libertarian German and Dutch marxism of Rosa Luxemburg, Anton Pannekoek and Herman Gorter.

JAMES: What do you think of the Punk, Oi! and Skinhead movements?

STEWART: I never think about that. The last band I used to go and see a lot were the Blaggers ITA. I saw them nearly every week for about two years. I stopped going to see them when they signed to EMI. Although I'm always pleased to see my mates doing well, I think in terms of going to gigs, being involved in the scene around a band is really important. When the Blaggers started playing bigger places, that evaporated, as it always does when a band doesn't have such close contact with their fans. However, I think Bad Karma, the album the Blaggers did on EMI, was the best thing they recorded. So even if it isn't the same going to see them anymore, there's a great record to make up for it.

JAMES: What are your favourite music and bands?

STEWART: I love tuneful 1977 style punk rock, but I also like speedcore techno, ska, funk and loads of other stuff. Most of the punk I listen to is old. Recently, I've been listening to the Ramones, Zeros, Radio Birdman and Rezillos a lot. Otherwise, I'm still listening to the two old albums by girl duo Shampoo, because they are so funny. I'm also really into Panasonic, a Finnish techno band who've changed their name to Pan Sonic. I'm also a huge fan of this Finnish girl duo called Nylon Beat. They're a bit of a Spice Girls rip-off. I also really dig the Hollywood actress Jennifer Lopez whose just launching a music career doing a latin pop crossover thing.

JAMES: Can you tell us about the Neoist Alliance.

STEWART: The Neoist Alliance is basically me and whoever else gets involved in my pranks. We've done stuff like turned up to levitate the venue when there's been a concert by the pretentious modern classical composer Stockhausen. In the Neoist Alliance newsletter, I'm developing theories about the avant-bard, which is a mixture of the avant-garde and Celtic druidry. You could say the Neoist Alliance is my way of having a laugh and having a say, and I like the fact that lots of people don't get the joke, to me that makes it funnier.

JAMES: What are your ambitions?

STEWART: To wind-up loads more people, be translated into Japanese Spanish and loads of other languages, write a work on aesthetics that makes Immanuel Kant's Critique Of Pure Judgement pale into insignificance by comparison, re-invent world culture in its entirety, bring out loads more books, have sex in outer space and win acclaim for my modesty!

This interview dates from crica 1999 and appeared in the Marginalised fanzine.

Stewart Home interviewed by Nik Houghton


Stewart Home nude & in Finland

Stewart Home 'obsessive'?