Paul Krassner is the underground, how could we not invite him to answer? Paul is so very cool, he has taken time to answer our questions, to correspond with us and is just an epic example of a human being. You’d really need to google Paul to figure out all of who and what he is… For me, the reason I asked him is his Realist magazine, a mag I’d hear about over and over again growing up in Chicago and putting out a Zine of my own, later working with Bob Rudnick, a White Panther and helping out with the Underground Comix Hall of Fame. Paul’s involvement with the Chicago Seven, and Lenny Bruce didn’t hurt either… yea, he has a hell of a rich history. It was an honor to even get an email back from him let alone these wonderful answers.
What is underground art?
Underground is a misnomer. When the so-calleld underground papers were flourishing in the 1960s, they were’t really underground, because it was clear who published them each week, where you could get more copies, and they were peddled openly. An actual underground paper was secretly published in San Quentin Prison by inmates and guards. After I had been publishing The Realist for many years, When People magazine called me “Father of the underground press,” I immediately demanded a paternity test.
Are there rules or a set of ethics to the underground?
Nothing was that formal. Honesty, compassion, cooperation, justice and peace permeated our value system, and the weekly underground papers were published in order to fill the void between what young rebels experienced on the street and how the mainstream media reported it. Sex, drugs and rock’n'roll were our public icons, though a spiritual revolution was at the core of the counterculture.
What is selling out?
Surrendering to self-censorship in any form of art because you were getting paid for it.
Can underground go above ground and still be underground?
As long as you don’t compromise your point of view. For example, R. Crumb’s work appearing in the New Yorker.
Have you ever sold out?
Nope. Establishment publications bought in, though. That process was simply an aspect of the evolution of communication. As an editor, I didn’t have to answer to any publisher, producer or advertiser, only to my readers, and they knew I wasn’t afraid of offending them, and in fact they welcomed provocation.
Is it possible to steal an idea?
Sure. Comedians steal jokes. Samsung steals Apple inventions. Obama steals Bush methods.
Your biggest artistic regret?
Not being more productive.
Your biggest artistic inspiration?
Reality and its hypocrisy, contradictions, cruelty and absurdity.
What is dangerous art?
Whatever is considered a threat by viewers whose perception is tainted by the prism of their own agendas. George Carlin said about me: “The FBI was right; this man is dangerous — and funny, and necessary.” You can check out my website – paulkrassner.com – and judge for yourself.
Bonus question… Nature or nurture?
It’s a mixture of both. Mutations can serve humanity as a kind of progress.