HARMONY KORINE: THE LAW OF THE GUT
Trash Humpers is Harmony Korine’s latest film, shot and edited entirely on VHS and featuring a “loser-gang cult-freak collective” that smashes TVs, eats pancakes with dishwashing liquid instead of syrup, hangs out with overweight singing hookers, and yes, humps trash. Korine speaks on the phone from Nashville but got up mid-interview to try to tase a convict on a bike for throwing lemons and limes at his house. This interview by Lainna Fader
Hello, Harmony. How are you?
Good, good—just … this guy—I guess he’s a convict? He’s on work release, and we found out he’s a very well-known arsonist and he just moved into the neighborhood. He’s been out for a couple of weeks now and all he does is ride up and down the street on a bicycle throwing lemons and limes into people’s yards. I was out on the front porch with my daughter and she was crying and the guy fucking threw a lemon and it hit her head. So I went into the house to get my taser gun just in case he comes back down the street and I can taser his ass.
Have you tasered anyone before?
Yeah. I’ve never tasered anyone on a bicycle before. I’ve tasered my dog because he was chewing on my daughter’s toe. That’s it though.
Tell me about Trash Humpers.
I don’t really know how I would describe it. I’d say it’s not really a movie. It’s more of a found artifact or something that’s been discarded— tossed in the trash. It’s something like a VHS tape you can imagine being buried in the dirt somewhere, or shoved up the asshole of a dead mule, or maybe stuffed in the guts of one of the Jonas Brothers. Does that make sense?
Yeah. Did you ever consider distributing it by just leaving it somewhere for people to find instead of giving it a proper release?
Definitely. I was going to leave it on people’s porches randomly. I was going to send it in the mail to different places—police stations, a school for the blind, a couple high schools, a place mechanics would congregate, a lesbian disco by my house, a funeral parlor, an amputee temple, a place where people watch a lot of sitcoms and horror films in reverse. The kind of place that you can imagine Puerto Rican peach pickers—you know, orchard pickers— would hang out.
Why didn’t you do that?
In the end it’s just too much energy. My wife had a baby and we were so busy with diapers and people committing some petty crimes. I felt like I didn’t have enough energy to promote it, to distribute it like that. Hey, hang on. I think I see that son of a bitch! Hold on. Fuck! [Runs out] Fuck! [His daughter starts crying]
Did you get him?
One second. [Talking to his daughter] Are you okay? Aww, don’t be scared! It’s okay!
I had tied this tree branch from this big tree. It was jimmy-rigged so that when this guy rolls by I would pull a string and the branch would fall on his head and destroy him, but I obviously missed.
[Talking to his daughter, who’s started crying again] Don’t cry! It’s okay. We’ll get him next time! It’s okay! I know, you hate that guy. Here, you want some chocolate? Let me give you some chocolate.
Okay. Keep asking.
Was there a specific reaction you were trying to get from the audience with Trash Humpers?
No, I never really do that kind of thing. I hope people will enjoy it and I hope that it’s the kind of thing that they’ll make mandatory viewing in public school. For me to think about that kind of thing, it’s the kind of thought that can drive a man crazy. It’s the kind of thing that can make a man want to jump off a bridge or cut an ear off.
Where’d the masks come from? They’re terrifying.
It’s an elaborate prosthesis. It took the inventor fourteen years to make them.
Did you have to convince your wife to play one of the Trash Humpers or was that the original plan?
It was the original plan but it still took a little bit of convincing. Not that much convincing though. She was pretty into it.
Trash Humpers won best film at the Copenhagen Documentary Film Festival despite it not actually being a documentary. How’d that happen?
Well, I think it’s the first movie to embody every genre perfectly to a T. It’s the future of documentary, as well as the future of comedy, horror, drama, melodrama and the embodiment of silent films, color films, black-and-white films, A-movies, heterosexual films, action movies, karate films and musicals.
There’s a lot of dancing in the film, particularly in the scenes with the most destruction.
I just like dancing and I like the way it looks when people move. When we used to vandalize houses, we would always dance the entire way there and the entire way back, so it’s an accurate representation of the way we used to do things.
How much of the film is based on your actual experiences—things you personally witnessed?
About 63 percent. I wanted to make a comedy. I wanted it to be the future of comedy. I mean that it’s really, really funny and it was intended to cause extreme belly laughs. Also, I feel like it’s in the lineage of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, Shirley Temple, Don Ho—the guy that plays the ukelele—and a couple of famous senators who lit themselves on fire in the ’50s.
You’ve said your next project is a comedy too.
I can’t really say what it’s about because then I could jinx it. It’s going to be the type of thing that puts me into the next world. I’m trying to get Harrison Ford right now, so if he commits it’s a done deal. If not, we’ll try to get Morgan Freeman to put breast implants in and play the lead.
Why Harrison Ford and Morgan Freeman?
Well, it’s about a tranny that looks like Morgan Freeman who gives himself amazing breast implants. He’s a plastic surgeon from Delaware. Harrison Ford because he’s my all-time favorite.
You’ve said that you don’t think about the meaning in your films—you don’t question things, you just follow the truth. What is the truth?
If I told you, I could never meet you. I just don’t question things too much. I was born with an understanding of the light and the righteous path and that’s all I ever pay attention to. I only adhere to one law—the law of the gut, the law of the erection, the law of the pure ejaculate, and it goes up and it goes down, like everything in life.
Who is your favorite rapper?
I only like hip-hop music that speaks to the lowest common denominator. I hate anything that even comes close to social consciousness. I don’t ever want to hear any rapper trying to enlighten me. All I like to do is hear music that is an ode to titty shaking, to ass shaking—robbing, drug-dealing music. I like the most simple kind of music. To me, Soulja Boy is the new Shakespeare. Flocka Flame is like the next level Stephen Hawking. Gucci Mane, he possess rhyme skills that are so elementary that they intoxicate the mind. I love Crunchy Black and Gangsta Boo. That is true American lyrical language. I only listen to music that gets the party going, that inspires you to rob, to watch people shake their asses. I love music that you hear in shake joints in Mississippi.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever filmed?
That guy running for politics—Ron Paul. Once I filmed Ron Paul at a convenience store trying to pick up a questionable—uh, let’s just say I don’t know if it was a man or a woman.
What are you planning to do with that footage?
I don’t know. Just holding on to it.
Do you have any plans to return to old projects that you never ended up completing, like Fight Harm and Jokes?
It’s possible, but I’m the type of guy that likes to move on to different things. I used to know a guy who liked to go back and forth between new projects and old projects and that guy died a violent death. I don’t know if I want to do what he did. One thing I promise is that I’m going to get this guy very soon—the guy on the bicycle throwing the lemons and the limes.
HARMONY KORINE’S FILM TRASH HUMPERS IS CURRENTLY SCREENING AROUND THE COUNTRY AND WILL BE RELEASED ON DVD SEPT. 21 BY DRAG CITY. VISIT TRASHHUMPERS.COM.