Charlton Heston and Johnny Cash used to come to our house to buy guns from my dad. He was a gunsmith for the NRA and my mom was a portrait artist. Welived in this big house in Los Angeles with a jacuzzi in the garden, but my parents actually met in Holland and fell madly in love.
People always like to ask that predictable question, “Where are you from?” I have to tell them the story, but I don’t really associate with any one country. In America, I was a French kid, in France I was an American guy, here in Holland, well I’m not Dutch either. I think part of the problem of trying to identify with one country is an issue of culture versus nurture. We don’t live in a world of countries anymore, we live in a global community.
So my dad, he was a bit overly ambitious. When I was eight, he suddenly switched directions and decided he’d do import/export stuff in France. He had this big idea that we’d live in a Chateaux, but shortly after the business went bust over a botched denim jeans shipment to Russia. We went from being quite wealthy to zero in a matter of days. It was a bit of a shock and my parents had a very messy divorce. It was six years of chaos.
Me, I’ve always been involved in the arts. When I was a kid, I created things with my hands, went inside my head, built things. As a teenager, I was a total weirdo. I was trying to come out of the closet, I had long silver hair and I got kicked out of school when I was eighteen. My sister’s boyfriend offered me a job in Haarlem and that’s how I ended up in the Netherlands. From there, I randomly sold a painting for a boatload of money and moved to New York. I was there for a year because I wanted to come out of the closet in a place where I didn’t know anyone, but I didn’t actually do it until I moved to Amsterdam.
Here, it was so much easier to come out because I worked in a call center and everyone was gay. People didn’t care for more than a second, and that’s exactly what I wanted. I wasn’t really happy working in call centers though, so my sister secretly applied to art schools for me behind my back and I got into the Rietveld right away.
Nowadays, I work in a candy store and I make sculptures from insects, skeletons, flowers and clay. I’d like to think that my biggest accomplishment is the one I haven’t done yet. Maybe that will be my upcoming exhibition here in Amsterdam in July.
Mostly, I’m just proud that I’ve finally found a way to be happy. I’m the kind of guy who gets blown from place to place. I don’t make decisions, things just happen to me. I’d love to think I’ve crafted my own destiny, but I really haven’t, chaos has. (laughs)