This article was initially published in Cultured Magazine, authored by Kat Herriman.
On a gloomy August morning, Amy Sedaris and Marcel Dzama sit across from me. Both of them are headed towards vacation if I could only step out of the way. I am smiling anyway. Two of my New York heroes are not only good friends but co-conspirators. Our conversation quickly transitions from how-did-you-meet into morbid rabbit anecdotes.
Amy Sedaris: How did we meet?
Marcel Dzama: It was through Heather Lawless I believe.
AS: Right! I commissioned that piece when I saw your work in her house, or did we trade?
MD: We traded. I remember because I tried to include a rabbit because you have one. I used to have a rabbit.
AS: But it died in a fire…
MD: Yes, a house fire.
AS: Everyone has a horrible story about a rabbit. I don’t want to hear them, but people can’t wait to tell me. Anyway, after we traded, you used to invite me over to your house for dinner.
MD: Willem, my son who is five, has a huge crush on you, Amy. When he lists his friends, you are one of them.
AS: And, I’m calling you like ‘Hey, can Willem sign a piece of paper so I can use his art on my TV show?’
MD: He drew Amy a bat girl.
AS: It reminded me of Egon Schiele. We had a lot of artists give us work for the show and Willem was one of them, as is Marcel.
MD: The bear costume.
AS: Yes, we have a nature episode.
MD: I had originally made the costume for a Bob Dylan video, which is kind of funny.
AS: You can’t see out of it.
MD: There are eye holes, but…
AS: But, they might as well be in the back. Vanessa Walters, who I met through Marcel, was the choreographer and she danced in it and Paul [Dinello] danced in it. And no one could see. They’d spin around like crazy and take off the head and be out of breath. It was fun. Hot.
MD: I like my actors to suffer.
AS: Yeah suffer! And then I played Marcel in a little film…
MD: That I am working on still. I actually need you for a couple more scenes.
AS: No problem, no problem.
MD: It’s going to be called “The Flower of Evil,” and Amy plays me directing a ballet and a few other projects. There was a trailer for it in my joint exhibition with Raymond Pettibon. Raymond actually plays the gallerist David Zwirner in the film.
AS: So for the film, Marcel and I went wig shopping one day, which was a blast. We went to Wig Plus on 14th Street. This is my place. They know me there. I get free wig caps there sometimes. Anyway, I had a little mustache, and I got to play Marcel. I played him a lot more aggressive than he is. I guess I put pants on and immediately start yelling at people, because that is what guys do.
MD: But we wanted an over the top character.
AS: Usually I just reinvent the same characters I’ve been playing my whole life and then they kind of snowball into other characters. I guess—unless I am on somebody else’s show, like “Kimmy Schmidt” where I play Mimi Kanasis. In that case, the character was in the writing and then it developed from there. I knew I wanted a country club hairstyle and once I saw my little tiny face in that big hairstyle, I was like ‘Oh, okay, I know who she is now.’ Marcel had me in a cape and a mustache, it was like come on! It was too much fun to play around with.
MD: I had you dressed up in a silver leather jacket too, with sunglasses on and a headset. It was very direct. It’s how I am usually dressed on set. I love barking orders and bossing around my non-existent assistants.
AS: Barking orders is great.
MD: I guess in the same way you recycle characters, I’m often recycling costumes in my films.
AS: I know right? I save everything. It’s hard to let go of costume pieces.
MD: I can’t throw away a mask for some reason.
AS: I am the same way with wigs. I can’t throw them out. I still have my first one from third grade. Maggots or something laid eggs in it, and it didn’t even stop me. It’s all matted and I still love it, even if it has egg sacks in it.
MD: I have a basement filled with more stuff. I can’t wait to move to a bigger studio so I can fit more up here.
AS: But then it gets to be too much, and you can’t find anything.
MD: That’s true. You don’t just buy wigs and props, you also have art.
To continue reading the conversation—wherein Marcel Dzama and Amy Sedaris talk art collecting, the loneliness of art-making, and collaboration—click HERE to visit Cultured Magazine.