ARTS & CULTURE
04/08/2013 01:18 pm ET Updated Apr 08, 2013

Billy Childish Interview On Stuckism, Humor And Moustaches (IMAGES)

Billy Childish is the iconic mustachioed English singer/songwriter and artist who has been plugging away at his work for decades. The iconoclast is not one for joining groups, though he did start the art movement known as "Stuckism" in the late '90s. In 2006, the lovable curmudgeon and head of The Headcoats got into a public feud with Jack White, boasting to NME that he had "a bigger collection of hats, a better moustache" and "a more blistering guitar sound." Needless to say, his cheeky comments didn't endear him to the Detroit rock n' roller. "Let’s just say my sense of humor has successfully thwarted many careers," he once told Metro UK.

Scroll down for images and an interview with Mr. Childish.

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BEFORE YOU GO
Billy Childish
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Billy Childish

The Huffington Post: What's your view of New York these days?

BC: I’ve always liked New York as I like towns with an edge and New York has a European feel, so when I came to play music here in the '80s it was a surprise to me. I can scarcely think of a town that wasn’t better 30 years ago… But my view on New York these days? I was unable to come to the show as I was unwell, but two years back it seemed all right to me.

HP: What was the best thing that came out of "Stuckism," in your mind?

BC: I enjoyed writing the manifestoes. After that, I wanted out.

HP: What are the benefits of limitation? (i.e., Why can limits be freeing?)

BC: I coined this term 'freedom thru limitation' back in the '90s because I was sick of art being treated like pop, because of this boring 'anything can be art' theory. Of course anything can be anything, but this supposed freedom of thought is usually flabby and non-muscular.

Limitations are the structure of art, thinking and life. They are the scaffolds that enable us to move and climb. There’s a great saying I picked up from reading Chogyam Trungpa [Rinpoche]: “Those who think the world is solid and real are stupid, but not as stupid as those that think it isn’t.”

HP: Would you ever give up the "magnificent moustache"? What lies beneath it?

BC: A moustache to a man is the same as a fringe is to a woman. When you’ve got it, you want to grow it out, when you’ve grown it out, you want to cut it. My advise would be to go for a wig, or a fake moustache in your pocket.

HP: Why is humor so important in life?

BC: Because we are not actually in charge of life, yet behave as if we are the masters of our own destiny. The realization of this fact is quite a hard one. The ridiculousness of our pomposity and presumption can only result in anger or humor. Anger doesn’t work so humor [is] the only option.

'Billy Childish" is on view at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York until April 20, 2013.

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