> MONTE CAZAZZA Interview (Excerpt) by RE/Search – Industrial Culture Handbook (1983)
Excerpt from New Wave #13:
Monte is a necrophiliac in action. Rather than stifling his nightmares, he throws them in the face of the world. At the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, his first sculpture consisted of a cascade of cement that blocked the entrance of the school. He was dismissed the next day.
Passing from hospital into prison, he surfaced with pornographic collages in San Francisco. In 1971, invited to a weekend of conferences on art in the woods, he brought along an armed bodyguard and garnished the food with arsenic. At breakfast he dropped bricks painted with the word “Dada” on the feet of people convened to eat. And at the dinner table he burned the partially decomposed, worm-infested body of a cat. His bodyguard blocked the exit and several guests fell sick from teh stench.
In 1974, Genesis and Cosey were fascinated by a photo showing Monte covered with blood on the cover of Vile Magazine. Together, they fabricated the famous Gary Gilmore Memorial card, posing blindfolded on electriv chairs. It was reproduced on T-shirts. Six thousand copies were sold in Britain; it was the cover story of the Hong Kong Daily News.
In 1977 Monte entered the studios of Industrial Records to record “Plastic Surgery”, “Busted Kneecaps”, “Fistfuckers of America”, “Hate”, and “To Mom on Mother’s Day”, his first 45 (out of print). A film was made with TG where Monte and a 14-year-old boy were electrocuted. He playes also in the film Deccadance of Kerry Colonna with razor blades.
Monte seldom goes out, except on Halloween when he goes out with a cheap plastic mask, a green army bag filled with livers and hearts (like Hermann Nitsch) and the head of a body mannequinn (used by medical students to learn mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Interview (Excerpt) by RE/Search – Industrial Culture Handbook (1983)
R/S: Tell us your earliest acts of mayhem?
Monte Cazazza: There were lots of acts of mayhem. When I first had to go to school, I didn’t like it. So I sat there for about a week and just screamed. Unbeknownst to me, if I had sat there about another week I probably never would have had to go to school, because they would have ended up giving me a tutor, or something. But I didn’t know that, and my voice gave out before they relented.
This was in Catholic school in Philadelphia. I had this nun who really hated me—she used to hit me all the time. See, I was like the example—God’s retribution.
R/S: I thought it was illegal—
MC: Not in those schools—in those schools you kneel to the boss, as Cabaret Voltaire would say. So what happened was—one time she was smacking me and finally I said I’ve had enough of this! and ripped her habit off. Of course, her hair was cropped about half an inch-all the kids thought she was totally bald—and she flipped out. Then they sent me to see the priest because they thought I was possessed… The look on her face was priceless. And she never hit me again either after that.
R/S: When did you leave home?
MC: The first time I started running away was when I was about 9 years old. I would hide in museums. I would hide in libraries. I even slept in a very expensive hotel once. But then I would get caught-about 3 days would be tops before someone, somehow, figured out that I wasn’t supposed to be where I was, and get ahold of me, and start demanding who I was and where I lived, and why wasn’t I in school etc. etc.
R/S: Tell us about your high school experiences?
MC: My parents had moved to the suburbs, which I detested immediately. I hated everyone that lived there. So in high school, literally, for one year I didn’t talk to anyone. Just went to school, sat in the very last seat in the first row, and didn’t talk to anyone because I didn’t like anyone there. No one knew anything about me, I was just this person, and mostly they left me alone. I didn’t have any friends in high school, and I didn’t want any.
The police, though, came to arrest me once. I had this business going where I would shoplift cartons of cigarettes—my whole locker was filled with cigarettes. And I was selling them to everyone very cheap. Teachers, everyone. I used to go into these 2 big supermarkets with my gym bag and I would just fill it up with cartons of cigarettes and go home. And one time I got caught shoplifting. The store people called the police and they showed up. Somehow they figured out that I must have been doing this for a long time, because of their inventory or something. I don’t know how they added 2 and 2 together, but…first they talked to me, and then they let me go home. Later on they got a warrant to search my locker. So I’m sitting in history class and these police come in and tell me I have to go with them. I wouldn’t tell them the combination of my locker so they smashed it open and found the whole thing just totally filled with cigarettes. And I thought I was in a lot of trouble then, but actually nothing else happened beyond that point. They just confiscated them all and told me I better not get caught shoplifting again…and I better not sell any more cigarettes….
I think that because all the teachers were buying cigarettes, they were all kind of implicated. They asked me what I was doing, and I said I was just trying to make money and better myself, in the American way. The best thing was that I didn’t smoke!