Zak Smith Did Porn

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07/09/2009 4:00 AM |

Zak Smith has shown work at the Whitney Biennial, published a book illustrating What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow, told The L about how he lost his virginity, and appeared in porn films under the name Zak Sabbath. His new memoir is We Did Porn, from which he reads on July 15th at McNally Jackson, and July 16th at Solas Bar.

For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
“You got a painting in the MOMA and then you got to be in porno movies — if it turns out you can write, too, then everyone’s going to really hate you.”

What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?

M. John Harrison’s Viriconium blew me away. It’s gorgeously and intricately written — but who are we kidding? Nobody’ll read it so it won’t change anyone’s life. So…well, I just saw the South Park episode where Cartman pretends to be a robot — that was pretty good.

Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
If Joanna Angel or Sasha Grey or some other porn star I had sex with wrote a tell-all I’d probably read it just to see if I was mentioned in there. Then I’d notice that I wasn’t and feel like an idiot.


Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
It’s not so much that being hungry makes you brilliant — it’s more that if you can’t work if you are hungry (or tired or thirsty or angry or sad or in a little apartment), then you’re definitely useless.

What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
The book begins to resemble an alien zoo. Each sentence is an alien animal behind clear glass. Nothing is familiar, but everything is beautiful and exotic and is active enough in its cage to suggest that the more time you spend with it, the more you’ll come to understand.

Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
I wrote a novel when I was in high school that sucked. Nobody ever published it, which is good, but I think copies exist and I want them destroyed.