Interview: Robbie Augspurger of Wolf Choir Explains 'VIDEO PIZZA'
Earlier this week, the blog Eat Me Daily turned me on to VIDEO PIZZA, a hypnotizing one-hour video of a spinning pepperoni pizza. I initially didn't believe it was real, but it did have a webpage and a link to buy the DVD, so I bit. Yesterday the mailman dropped off my fresh, hot copy.
That answered that: It's real. But I had so many more questions. I contacted Robbie Augspurger of the conceptual art trio Wolf Choir, which produced VIDEO PIZZA. Robbie was kind enough to answer....
What inspired VIDEO PIZZA?
Some friends and I were watching Video Fireplace and eating pizza, and generally having a wonderful time. And then, as we basked in the television's warm glow, we all looked at each other and simultaneously had this epiphany: VIDEO PIZZA. This was in January 2007, and we finished it in March 2007. Those were the days when making pizza movies was fast and easy. Now it takes much longer.
When I lived in Portland, a lot of my friends were in bands. In fact, almost all the guys in The Planet The (late '90s) worked in pizzerias there and even listed "pizza" in the Special Thanks section of one of their CDs. Do you or any other Wolf Choir members work in the pizza biz?
No, not yet. But who knows what pizza dreams will be fulfilled in 2010?
How many people worked on the VIDEO PIZZA project?
It was three of us: Eric, Dex, and I (aka Laserwolf, Lee Hazlewolf, and Wolfo), who make up the art collective that is Wolf Choir. We make things like songs and videos we think are conceptually cool or funny. Sometimes it's visual art—whatever we're into at the moment. We have tons of projects in various states of planning or completion. Eric is an artist, and I am a photographer, and I don't know what Dex does. He works in some kind of laboratory looking at spiders through microscopes. In addition to these fine lines of work, we also play various instruments like ukulele and autoharp. Also spoons.
Am I correct in guessing you somehow rigged a turntable to spin the pizza?
Yes, our friend Aaron brought an old turntable over, and we covered it with a shiny gold cloth to conceal it. The lighting in the video makes it look more like a plastic garbage bag, which is kind of funny.
What kind of pizza is that in the video? Frozen? Delivery from a local place?
It's a Red Baron frozen pizza. I'm eating one right now. It's super good! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!
Did you eat that pizza after you filmed it?
We tried. It was a little rubbery after sitting on a turntable for an hour and a half, and didn't taste too great. So, we stuffed it down the garbage disposal with a taxidermy deer leg (skinny enough to poke into the opening, pointy and rigid enough to force the pizza down) and made a Papa Murphy's Hawaiian pizza to eat instead. It's actually featured in the trailer for Video Hawaiian Pizza at the end of the VIDEO PIZZA credits, along with the trailer for Video Mini Corndogs. Video Hawaiian Pizza is filmed but not edited, and I doubt we will ever do Video Mini Corndogs. We have a new one called Video Psychedelic Hockey Mask about half finished, which we are very excited about. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF0gH_e6IYE)
There are a lot of vegetarians in Portland. Were you concerned that your use of pepperoni would alienate a large part of your potential audience? Any plans for a meatless version of VIDEO PIZZA?
We actually thought of that, and found it kind of funny. We weren't really concerned with Portland really, and Dex was a vegetarian at the time we made it. Actually, shortly after we made this, his kung fu teacher told him he needs to eat something with protein so he can build muscle mass. So, he went straight to eating buffalo meat. I think VIDEO PIZZA is perfect for vegetarians, because this way they can live out their meat-eating fantasies safely in front of a television—dreaming of lounging in a hot tub full of pepperoni juice while they sop up the sausage grease from the surface of their pizza and wring it out into their mouths. Delicious. We don't have any plans for a meatless VIDEO PIZZA yet, but maybe in the future it will come to pass. "VIDEO PIZZA 8: The Return of Carrot World.
What's the response been like so far? Have you gotten many orders?
The responses range from things like "This is great!" to "That pizza doesn't even look good!" to "Meat spin!" VIDEO PIZZA was featured at an art gallery as conceptual video art in Glasgow in 2007, which was cool, and we know this crazy Portland punk band White Fang that projects it on the wall behind them at shows. I'd say the vast majority of the responses we've received are positive, and I've noticed the artist community here in Portland and online (art blogs like Fecal Face, etc) are into it. We haven't sold too many, less than 50, and that's including a couple wholesale things I set up. One problem with a funny product like this is that people think it's purely a joke, and therefore not really available to buy. But it is totally real, and I hand-make them in my pizza studio.
Did you expect to get many orders?
Not really, but this is the kind of thing that's just weird enough to become a fad and be a thing for a while. We hear stories all the time about people who put it on their TV at parties and shows and it's always a big hit. So, I guess it's slowly building, and we're seeing more and more orders come through. It's awesome.