Q&A: Shalo P.
Shalo P. is a fascinating character and an incredible artist. His drawings and cartoons are pulsing with life: frenzied, ebullient and occasionally frightening. They’re like psychic portraits, capturing a cacophony of thoughts simultaneously.
Shalo is part of a fantastic new show opening at Synchronicity Space in July, curated by Drippy Bones publisher Keenan Marshall Keller. It’s called Freak Scene and opens on July 6th. Check it out and read below for a breathtakingly epic interview with Shalo that touches on everything from the sex industry to fluorescent zebras.
Comment to win a set of two Shalo P. zines!
Do you ever think about time and your place in the history of the world?
It’s sucker business to quantify the importance of one’s deeds amid the irrational finality of dying or to measure one’s kaleidoscope of interactions on the assumption that the rest of humanity noticed some of them or not (as they naturally were enthralled by their own battles with time and death). History’s a term for what happens before and after the millisecond we exist. Time’s that everlasting absence spanning all the darkness of eternity in both directions.
I’ve always preferred the present. An environmental cataclysm looms on one side and a critical mass of expressive energy on the other – flanked by all sort of corporate scheme to sway the in-betweens into fake hippie dippy “self actualization” or Dracula.
Culture’s naked and wet in front of the mirror, clean from the digital bath that blends everything together – fucking hippies, beatniks, poets, fascists, devils, racists all sharing this same age – exposed to the same atom bomb of information and suffering the fall out radiation that’ll mutate them into something real interesting. Internet’s proven it wants to fuck and get fucked from its copious porn (erotic novels got published 150 years before the first scientific journals). But since the games is not only been sped up but broadened, the human psyche’s propensity for “whatever the fuck” will be bare when the next age looks over it’s shoulder (which is likely to happen concurrently – spiraling humankind into a self-conscience nervous breakdown that’ll have people attacking each other in the streets as the sea level rises and giant robot sharks leaping from buildings).
Old paintings revealed the ages that bore them and distinguished the few occasions when living wasn’t all that half bad – those were called renaissances. The poignancy is that everyone metaphorically participates if not by logging in and sharing some insightful facet of existence then by inaction. To me that sounds so cool.
There’s a scene in one of the final chapters of The Watchmen comic book where a character studies humanity’s hidden face through an array of television monitors – chiseling out meaning from it symbols, visual language and synesthetic swirl – revealing the tensions that would eventually break it.
Everything is possible. Everything’s always been possible.
With all this in the balance we’re only just crawling out of that horrible hole we call humanity.
(I hope history says I was a fine lover and a fabulous dancer.)
What would you be like if you were born in twenty years earlier?
I can’t go back twenty years into that pit of snakes. They’d tear me apart like last time – rake me down the street and break my heart again. I’d hate it. No way. It’s like I can’t get enough of the rampant sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, intolerance and exploitation in this age. Most people that have heard of me don’t know (but may suspect) that my skin is darker than others. This has also led me to a whole bunch of unnecessary racism, which would leap three-fold easily in that “in your face” sort of way. The false charms of the overdeveloped world come in vivid HD and polyphonic 5.1 dolby stereo, but at least it’s a transparent sham. I don’t romanticize the past. It never sounds quaint or heroic to me. It just looks like a shit storm of stone-age bullshit.
If I die today let them know I was pro-gay, sex-positive, pro-sex worker, pro-writing letters, pro-friendship, pro-dancing, pro-aware of stuff, pro-virtue over profit & pro-doing good. If I was sent back then I’d be asking God stupid questions about Scooby Doo rather than wikipedia. And where would I be able to find mind-bending video art streaming free as rainwater down a gutter?
Tell me about a friendship or relationship that ended in a way that changed you as a person.
I’ve learned everything from friendships. Friendships cured me of an awful childhood. One friend taught me that you can always be a child as long as you hate as purely as you can love.
Would you rather ride in a blimp or a submarine?
At the end of “You Only Live Twice”, James Bond turns to his sweetheart and whispers, “they’ll never find us” just as a submarine surfaces and raises their little boat onto its deck. If a blimp crossed the sky at that exact moment with the words “eat shit, baby” written on it, I could do with both while remaining with neither.
Given a private audience with all of the world’s leaders for a five minute speech (followed by a Q&A session), what would you want them to know?
(I thought of this question for hours, Graham. I care about what I’d have to say if the “world leaders” were present. But who are these “world leaders”? What is there to say to the most corrupt of us? Any format of speaking to them would undoubtedly have a formulaic follow-up on their part to excuse inaction. How could I speak to them if they haven’t listened to any cries for compassion in all of history? They’re a joke and civilization’s been this long drawn out punchline giving us “the constant class war pretending to be anything else (racism, ethnic cleansing, you name it…)”. If I could keep it simple and the “world’s leaders” could hear it ring so true they’d act immediately I’d repeat the Utah Phillips quote “The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses” But a human is merely an animal starving for power…)
“You’ve failed us.
Poverty – a seven letter word starting with a letter P. Like piss. Like Powercastle. Not as “scary” as talk of terror training camps, or militaristic desert indoctrination, or stones smashing freedom’s windshield while it drops liberty and justice off at prom or a shark leaping over a Cadillac. But Poverty kills more than any war or other plague of mankind’s doing. Every day. Every minute. Every second. Death. Slow Starving Death. Sudden Violent Death.
It just sounds boring because it is banal – so banal no one really wants to deal with it. How are we going to stop poverty – give out nickels out to everyone we see?
The first step is in finally getting “somewhere”.
What do we have going now?
Sexism. Racism. Exploitation. Internet Spam. Death.
What are diamonds worth? What are a pair of child-labor sneakers worth? What’s an ounce of youth worth when it’s put through the wringer in order to only accelerate our present condition? What’s education when it stopped teaching us anything?
Has any government every truly represented it’s people?
Propagating the casual slavery of consumerism will not save a world from its murder. The gross national product of any country has no reciprocal environmentally. Leisure and work exist at different measures along varying degrees of class lines to equally abusive degrees. Both are killing us – if boredom doesn’t. What’s the next step? If it isn’t fucking you over and spraying “eat shit” on your walls then what is it? What is exploitation but always snatching away what you’ve been promised for so long?
Any political system is rife with asskissers and handwringers. Progress is mired when it’s just a popularity contest between assholes. Human cruelty, at a continuous peak is the only thing making strides. You want an evil dictator crushed? You want terrorism to end? It’s not safe for two men to kiss in public on 99% of the streets of “freer than thou” USA. A woman out of her place in most countries will lose some teeth for stepping out of line. Slavery and staunch castes systems – all still there.
We can see the substance behind beams of light in the nether reaches of space but can’t face what makes a human soul turn black.
We must deal with biological imperative – the sexual urge. Understand the exponential repercussions of its repression in societies – rape, spousal abuse, gay bashing, misogyny, child abuse, creepy catholic priests…
Let’s deal with the sex industry as if it has actually existed since the dawn of humankind and not as if it was a smudge of chocolate to be scrubbed away with violent force, alienation or intimidation. Your kind sons and daughters may or may not choose to participate in the sex industry – as patrons or professionals. It’s the destiny of all children to make due with where their genital will go. Unionize the sex trade. Don’t criminalize a trade you can never suffocate. It is bred by a natural impulse, it is tended to by human beings. Use your energy to combat those that profane this primal urge with child sex tours (the sport of your CEO friends), slavery (the trade of your CEO friends), and exploitation (remind you of any friends?).
Make reform in education your new priority. How about dancing classes? There are loads of talented smart insightful people at your disposal.
The consequences are real. World’s not dying – world’s being murdered. The systems of communication and group action are rearranging with the digital age – please be open to them. If they had introduced the printing press at the same time the earth was crumbling in half it would probably be the same situation.
Let’s stop treating all our women like shit.
Let’s acknowledge everyday that the wealth has been distributed so disproportionately that it’s affected our sense of humanity.
We’re a bunch of self-serving assholes and we probably all deserve to die. But we can’t die.
Who would tell all our stories? Who would sing our songs? Maybe the wind and the trees will echo them down.
Humankind cries from it’s first second of life with little variation until its demise. But there is always some form of beauty in that struggle.
We may have the technological advances imaginable (with more on the way), but we need to take account of what really fucking matters – you fucking scum!”
If you couldn’t be involved in the arts or culture in any way, what kind of career would you pursue?
I don’t know. I’d be a soccer player, maybe.
Most pleasures cannot escape the simplistic way I view art, like the interesting ways some people braid hair or the raw expression on a lover’s face that makes your stomach all weird.
A world without these things would resemble that big white room in THX 1138.
Describe the human being you would most like to meet.
I’m not as fond of human beings as of what they are capable of.
I always love a good story and I’m always ready to hear one.
You can select any non-domesticated, exotic animal to be your lifelong companion and share a telepathic bond. Which one will it be?
I’m so hard to get along with that it’d have to be one that wouldn’t gore or maul me. I’d like a fluorescent zebra.
What can I do to help the world be more like Shalo’s utopia?
I can’t fathom my own utopia. But when I see people make out I always nod and think “right on”.