U&C Magazine sat down with Matt Mcmanus the artist extraordinaire for a fascinating interview. We are sure you will agree.
1. Please describe what you do, and why you are passionate about your work.
What I do is called Human Graffiti. I call it this because it takes place in the street, and I use locations as canvases and people as paintbrushes. An example of this is I did a bit called “Stop Sign Slobberfest” where I hired actresses to meet me in the middle of a 4-way intersection, make out with me, and block traffic. Another bit I did was called “Sneaky Tuna”, where I would sneak up on people, open a can of tuna and eat it in their face. The list goes on and on… You can type in Matt McManus + McMayhem on google and there are about 30 well-produced video representations. But trust, I’m doing this all day every day even when there are no cameras. I’m the only person I know that never really stops.
Aside from that, I would like to say that I’m a father. That’s, first and foremost what I do. My son, Flip, who’s almost four is my most valued accomplishment and artwork. Children are magic because they’re painting themselves, you’re helping, and then they go on to paint the world, without you. It’s fucking crazy. Their brain is painting itself. I guess we all stop painting ourselves in our adult life. That is why what I do is so vividly and apparently and socially important to me, and the world. We must not stop painting. I have this quote that I wrote:
“Write on walls that don’t exist, and break down walls that do.” You can interpret that however you goddamn, please.
2. What word do you feel describes you best as a professional and why?
Cartoon. In a cartoon, anything can and will happen. An anvil can fall from the sky and land on a person. A man can grow wings and fly. A man can be half fish and half man. I’m not saying all these things are possible, but in theory, if you believe it to be true, then it is your reality. You can alter your reality if you decide you are a cartoon, and you’re living in your own episode. If people are lucky enough, they can be invited into mine.
3. Were you always sure you wanted to be in the industry that you are in?
Yes. I was on stage at a very early age. I was always performing, even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing exactly. I was always creating voices and subsequent nuanced characters, by myself. I was putting on shows for my stuffed animals etc. I had a strong relationship with God as a child. I still do but it’s not under the construct of Catholicism. My mother always said that as a child I could talk to God and that I wanted to be a priest. I mean if you think about it, priests are living inside their own little cartoon as well, it’s based in a faith that there are certainties around you that you can’t see or smell or taste. Well, you can sorta taste God, they give you his body and blood at the end of Mass. Now, you tell me my cartoon theory isn’t real.
4. What motivates you to continue your work?
The knowledge that there are young adults out there that are scared and confused about existing. I’m doing this because I know you’re in your town, driving your dad’s maroon Dodge Caravan (I don’t even know that they make those anymore) but I know you’re inside one figuratively. You’re high, on weed and hormones. Maybe your girlfriend or boyfriend is with you. Maybe you’re by yourself, wondering how it’s all gonna end up and where the thoughts in your head will land, or turn into vapor. I’m here to tell you the vapor turns into dreams. I’m here to tell you the vapor is valid. I’m waiting to smell it. You’re not alone. Your weirdness is not a plague – it is a truth. Follow it.
5. Do you have any advice for those looking for a similar career path?
Be specific. In all your actions, be specific. Think, each time you sit down to concoct an idea if that idea is connected to your purpose. Figure out what your purpose is. I looked to my idols. I looked to Tom Green. I looked to Andy. I looked to my father. I knew that in their absurdist/nonsensical/anti-establishment/punk-rock-ethos that I had a purpose too. I just had to stay true to it. I had to be certain. I had to be specific. In my specificity, I ended up working with Tom Green. I ended up working with Jeff Tremaine (the creator of Jackass) I ended up working with TruTV, MTV, and TBS. I can do other entertainment based trades well, but I’ve had the most success in my specific goal of creating my brand of social experiments/art: HUMAN GRAFFITI.
6 To who, or what, do you feel you owe your success?
The street and street culture. Clothing, music, street art, beats, street food. I never spent much time inside as a kid. That place was scary. The street, however, that was home, that was my sanctuary.
7. Who are your top three idols and why?
I mentioned some of the earlier, but Andy Kaufman, Tom Green, Jim Carey, and my dad. My dad really introduced this idea of “The Cartoon” to me. He didn’t give it a name, but he really instilled in me a sense that you can create your own truths and reality. He made me believe that once a year all the women in the world went to the same city, for something called “Girls Weekend”, because my mom would go away with her sisters once a year, and he would shield my brother and me away from seeing any girls for the weekend. When I was 13 I asked my friend Dave what he did with his Dad during Girls Weekend, and he was like, “What are you talking about?” That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
8. What was the hardest part of getting where you are today?
Doubt, I guess. It can be crippling. It can slow you down for a long time, but you have these visions, we all do where we are walking in slow motion taking the world by storm. At that moment you actually are, you just can’t forget that it was real. Also, I have massive dyslexia I see and say almost everything backward. This has been proofread three times and still, it’s going to be fucked up. But, I’ve been able to see the world through my own secret and specific vantage point and that’s what makes me and my art the most unique.
9. What’s up and coming for you in the next year?
Well, I just released the first episode of my new series ‘Here We Go” the follow up to my acclaimed 24-episode series, “McMayhem” which Mydamnchannel.com co-produced with me. I’m going to be releasing the rest of that season progressively. I hope to be at the Just For Laughs Fest in Canada this year. I’m finishing up a novel, as well as a collection of children’s stories. That’s all I have so far. I also hope to meet a lot of new people and invite them into my cartoon for a bagel and some salt and vinegar potato chips.
10. And finally, tell us something our readers might not know or might be surprised by:
-I was born completely cross-eyed
-I’ve had two near death experiences
-I used to weigh 300 pounds
-I was very close to auditioning for SNL last year
-I fall in love with everyone
-I talk to my best friend Jim, more than I talk to my mom
-I have a twin sister
-I’m a famous drag queen and won an episode of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” look it up, my name is Fuchsia Luzon.