This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
666 Questions with Coop
COOP doesn't play. If you tell him you're going to have a couple dozen questions emailed to him, and you shoot them to him, when you come back from your little party, there they are, answered, beautifully, honestly, no problems, no worries.
The man is a pro. He takes his art just as seriously. Well, as seriously as you can take big-tittie devil girls and hot rods and demons and now Atari joysticks.
He's your next door neighbor who just happens to be ridiculously successful and talented and living the dream of every teenage boy who fancies himself an artist, classic car enthusiast, and fan of the nude female form. If you pay attention you'll see that everyone is smiling in his work, and the canvas is clean, and the lines are sure, and the colors are bright. These are the happiest chubby naked S&M girls you'd ever hope to meet.
He collects Japanese toys, takes pictures of low-riders, and blogs as he creates one iconic modern-day classic after another. Having graduated from rock poster art to ginormous canvases, your favorite neighbor is the friendly Satanist next door who quietly goes about his business of kicking ass in six hundred and sixty six ways.
As he readied himself for "Brand Recognition", opening Saturday 9/9 at sixspace, his first show since 2004, COOP was the cover boy of last week's LA Alternative, sat down with our pals Boing Boing for a video chat, and now answers our little questions here about Nirvana, hamburgers, and his lack of having a presence on MySpace.
1. How long have you lived in LA?
I've been out here since '88. I moved to California because I had a friend who offered to put me up for three months. Unfortunately, he didn't really clear this with his wife, so I was on my own pretty quickly.
2. What neighborhood do you live in?
Beautiful Silverlake! Been here nine years, and wouldn't live anywhere else.
3. In the fine LA Alternative cover story it said that Kozik was basically your publisher when you started out. Do you feel indebted to him for your early success?
Frank was the guy who suggested I start doing rock posters, and his company published my stuff for a while. He was a big artistic and business influence, so I definitely feel indebted.
4. For such an alt/punk/underground guy, what's up with your love for Bush-lovin' James Lileks?
Lileks is a hysterically funny writer, and has an obsessive appreciation for the cultural ephemera of American low culture that is truly impressive. As far as politics are concerned, I don't carry around an ideological checklist for people that I know or whose work I enjoy. I'm not interested in that.
Politically, I consider myself to be a pretty hardcore "small L" libertarian. Am I only supposed to read Ayn Rand and listen to Rush? No friggin' thanks...
5. What was your first favorite band?
Ramones. I remember seeing TV commercials for Rock & Roll High School, and wondering what the hell was going on there. I bought my first Ramones record soon after that, Rocket To Russia. I still have that mangled vinyl LP today.
6. You seem to favor the bigger, curvier, healthier women in your art, what do you have against the size 0 gals out there?
I've got nothing against skinny girls, but they get plenty of attention already.
7. You also seem to have a lot of love for Satanic imagery and work that some would easily describe as sacrilegious. In fact in an interview you said that Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey deemed you and your wife Satanists and ordained you both priests. In the interview you said that Satanists believe that man's true nature is an animal. Don't they believe that our true nature is also an evil one?
I am a member of the Church, and have lots of friends in the organization. "Evil" is a construct designed by organized religion to brainwash man into denial of his true nature, to trade fun hedonism for pious hypocrisy. The only real evil is denial of your true nature.
I see Dr. LaVey's Satanic philosophy as way to rid yourself of all the negative bullshit and guilt of religion, while keeping the interesting stuff, like using ritual and ceremony as mind-focusing psychodrama. I attended the 6/6/06 Black Mass here in L.A. this year, and it was an incredible experience. I felt charged up with inspiration afterwards, all without having to give credit to some skinny whiner on a cross.
8. Has Scientology replaced Satanism as the newer underground anti-Christian anti-establishment religion, and if so, will you accept them ordaining you as minister or priest or whatever they have over there, if Beck or John Travolta shows up at your doorstep?
Boy, I hope not. I will say that my involvement with the Church Of Satan does make me feel a degree of sympathy for the prejudices against Scientologists. If it works for them, and it's not hurting you, I say stop bugging 'em about it!
9. When was the first time you ever got laid because of your art?
I don't know if I ever have gotten laid because of my art. I did get laid once because I did a radio show in Oklahoma when I was a teen.
10. What's the best burger joint in LA?
Hard to pick one. In-N-Out is the ultimate drive-thru burger, Tommy's is the perfect late night, post-drinking burger, and Pie'N'Burger in Pasadena is great, too.
11. People seem to like your art so much that they sometimes have it tattooed on their body. Has anyone gone overboard with COOP tattoos?
I did a drawing of Neil Diamond for the New Yorker, which they decided not to use at the last minute. (I got paid anyway.) I put the original art up for sale on my website, and a guy printed out the jpeg, and got it tattooed on his arm! Did he go too far? No way!
12. What do you think of the Shepard Fairey / Banksy street art that we see all over LA?
I like it. Shepard is a friend, and he is one hard-working guy.
13. Why ALL CAPS in COOP?
I dunno. I guess it just looks more legible when printed.
14. When is your bedtime?
around 12:00 or 1:00 AM, although i seem to be turning into an insomniac lately...
15. Has your prolific work ethic ever gotten in the way of any other aspects of your life?
Not really. I got into a 9-to-5, Monday-Friday groove pretty early on, and that seems to be plenty of time to get things done ,and still have something resembling a normal life. All the work for this current show was finished weeks before the opening date.
16. What was the most money that you've ever sold a work of art for?
Whatever it was, I should have gotten more!
17. You're originally from Oklahoma, home of the Flaming Lips. Does Oklahoma really produce that many wildly creative people or are you guys the only ones?
It seems like I'm always running into people out here who are from Oklahoma, so there must a few more.
One of my first gigs, when I was 16 or 17, was doing gig flyers for The Lips. I think they just had their first self-released EP out at that time. Not long after that, my then-girlfriend and Wayne Coyne's girlfriend/now-wife were roommates! That polka-dot toilet on the cover of Hit to Death in The Future Head was in their apartment, as a matter of fact. The Lips have always been one of my favorite bands, BTW.
18 . One of the pieces in your upcoming show at sixspace includes an image of the Atari 2600 joystick, which you documented creating on your blog. Did you have an Atari as a kid?
Of course! My favorite was Missile Command, and the Indiana Jones game where you ran across the crocodiles. Modern video games are way too complicated.
19. Have you ever been offered work by a corporation and turned them down because you didn't like them?
I don't think so, but I haven't been asked by anybody too onerous yet. I think that my work scares them away.
I wouldn't do anything for Pepsi, but that's just because it tastes like Godzilla's diarrhea.
20. What's the sexiest part of a woman?
I love 'em all, although lately the small of the back is high on my list of favorites.
20a. What's the sexiest part of a hot rod?
Definitely the engine.
21. Your new show is called Brand Recognition, what's your damn problem with corporate brands?
No problem, more like a weird ambivalence towards them. I resent their ubiquitous nature, but I also have an appreciation for the classics, both from a design standpoint, and for the way their familiar forms seem to lessen anxiety in the mind of the consumer. Some logos, like the Coca-Cola logo, or the 76 ball, are truly beautiful to me.
22. Every artist has models. We imagine that you have little hotwheels of the hotrods that you draw, but please tell us that there is a parade of voluptuous women marching into your studio to disrobe for your art.
Not really. I'm kinda hesitant to use live models, due to the personality and ego problems that always seem to pop up.
23. It's 3am, you're hungry, there's nothing in your fridge, where do you go to get your snack?
I usually just go back to bed.
24. When will you do a flat-chested, Asian school girl series to show those anime nerds whats up?
25. The rockabilly crowd seems to really adore you. Why do you think that is?
Hot rods and sexy girls. Next!
26. You did the poster for the last Nirvana concert that they performed here, their Forum show with the Butthole Surfers. Did you get to see that gig?
No, and in fact, the Nirvana guys, or at least their management, were dicks. They were the ONLY band to ever dictate terms to me about what I could and could not depict on their poster. This was particularly galling since the show was a benefit for an anti-censorship fund! "Do as I say, not as I do" applied to far more than Kurt's gun-cleaning skills, I guess.
27. What band would you like to work with that you haven't been able to yet?
I dunno. I'm not really digging much new music these days, at least rock'n'roll-wise. Maybe Outkast, they seem like fun guys.
28. It seems as if you've already done it all and you're not even 40. What are some milestones that you have for yourself that you haven't quite reached yet?
I'd still like to have an art show in NYC, in a real serious, hi-faluting gallery. I still want to build a period-perfect 70's funny car and go drag racing.
29. You haven't done any rock posters in a while. What new bands would take you out of the rock poster self-retirement scene? Tsar?
I retired from it because of the scummy practices of promoters and managers, who would steal posters meant for band members, in order to sell them to collectors. Unless all those guys have left the business, I don't think I'll be doing it again.
30. American automakers are having a hell of a time selling cars. Why haven't any of them approached you and say, Snoop Dogg to co-create the ultimate option The Coop Snoop which would be a lowrider that you both design?
I'd love to do that, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting.
31. Why don't you have a MySpace page?!?!
[ed note: this just in... COOP's stuff is on MySpace]
Brand Recognition + sixspace + 5803 Washington Blvd + Culver City + 9/9 -10/7
all images in this post (c) COOP, all rights reserved
Cruise off the highway and hit locally-known spots for some tasty bites.
Fentanyl and other drugs fuel record deaths among people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County. From 2019 to 2021, deaths jumped 70% to more than 2,200 in a single year.
This fungi isn’t a “fun guy.” Here’s what to do if you spot or suspect mold in your home.
Donald Trump was a fading TV presence when the WGA strike put a dent in network schedules.
Edward Bronstein died in March 2020 while officers were forcibly taking a blood sample after his detention.
A hike can be a beautiful backdrop as you build your connection with someone.