Spokesgirl for the “whatever” generation hits the big screen.
To kick off 2006, I thought I’d part with the usual inspirational New Year interview and look for someone unlikely to ever make, much less keep, a resolution. Luckily, the East Bay is home to Emily the Strange, one of the cartoon world’s rising stars and bad attitude poster girl. Created in the early ’90s as a sullen T-shirt character for a Santa Cruz skateboard company, Emily’s got a line of apparel, three best-selling books published by Chronicle Books, and a major motion picture in the works. Worldwide sales of items adorned with Emily’s bored little visage are expected to reach $6 million this year. Not bad for a Goth waif with a posse of cats. With help from her “father,” Rob Reger of Oakland-based Cosmic Debris, I quizzed Emily for a glimpse of life as a 13-year-old, one-dimensional celebrity.
Paul Kilduff: If you were left alone in a white room with no windows, what would you do first?
Emily the Strange: Try to get out of the restraints they put me in.
PK: Who are your greatest influences?
ES: The Damned: aesthetics; Dr. Seuss: imagination; Ozzy: religion.
PK: What do you think of hippies?
ES: They are always making a big stink about something. That could be good, could be bad, and both good and bad could be good.
PK: Hmm. Let me chew on that one. Is the world divided into dog and cat people?
ES: Only if you want to see it like that. I prefer to divide the world into living things and dead things.
PK: That pretty much covers it. What do you think of that guy in Green Day with the running mascara?
ES: I think he better catch it before it runs away!
PK: Are you now, or have you ever been, a vegan?
ES: I like killing things about as much as I like being labeled.
PK: I’ll try not to do that. Do girls rule or do they rock?
ES: Girls that rock, rule!
PK: Do you ever wear lavender?
ES: Only in my nightmares.
PK: Seems like pink would work well on you. Do you ever wear it?
ES: Not as much as you do.
PK: This is getting a little too revealing. If you reincarnated, what or who would you come back as?
ES: Myself all over again.
PK: If your house caught on fire, what would you grab first?
ES: My posse of kitties, but since they would probably be helping me get out, my magic 8-ball would be next in line. And I’d ask it what to grab next.
PK: You got your start on a skateboard in Santa Cruz. What’s the connection between Goth girls and skater dudes?
ES: They both go to high school.
PK: Do you ever say, “It’s a Goth thing. You just wouldn’t understand.”
ES: I can’t believe you just asked me that. Those may be the most embarrassing words ever spoken, ever.
PK: How about recycling? Are you fervent about it?
ES: I use what I need and don’t use what I don’t need. When I’m done with something I put it back, and when I’m not done I don’t put it back.
PK: What about composting?
ES: It’s a perfect place to raise worms and flies and mud.
PK: And, if you’re not careful you’ll also attract vermin. Could Madonna reinvent herself to the point that the mainstream media doesn’t care what she’s doing?
ES: The media would be lost without her.
PK: Are you ever going to come out with an exercise video like Jane Fonda?
ES: You mean exercises for the middle finger?
PK: How about this equation: Miserable adolescence equals enormous-ly successful adult career. True?
ES: I’ll let you know when I’m dead.
PK: Don’t do me any favors. Are people, just by their nature, innately good?
ES: Huh? Check again.
PK: What about cutting in line?
ES: There is a time and place for most everything.
PK: How’s your ping-pong?
ES: Needs improvement. My yin yang is getting better.
PK: Is there any cause you care about deeply, like feeding feral cats?
ES: I feel deeply about knife wounds.
PK: How do you deal with your fans? Disdain?
ES: I don’t let them bother me.
PK: Do you worry about becoming so popular that you attract loathsome male groupies with missing teeth?
ES: No. They’re the best. They make great lab assistants.
PK: How does it feel to be on a sticker?
ES: It guarantees I’ll stick around.
PK: Adhesion does immortalize one doesn’t it? If Britney Spears were to all of a sudden become a huge fan would that be a source of concern?
ES: No way. She is so unpredictable! I watch her all the time to see what she’ll do next! She is a modern-day punk-rock chameleon, like David Bowie, Johnny Rotten, and Siouxsie all rolled into one. She is truly a major talent that will be around for generations. One of my favorites for sure!
PK: I’m detecting just a touch of sarcasm, but I digress. How about the comparisons to Edward Gorey–are you getting a little tired of that?
ES: Tired? Well yes, he has some great bedtime stories.
PK: You’ve got a movie coming out–is that keeping you up at night worrying?
ES: A movie? I knew there was something I was supposed to be working on.
Suggestions? E-mail Paul Kilduff at firstname.lastname@example.org.