Profiling a Hostage Killer, Part I

Hussy’s work is sharp, brutal and would be ‘controversial’ if we had any use left for the word. He’s mostly known for posting on Twitter, but there’s a lot more to the enigmatic Hussy than 280-character fever nightmares: as well as streaming video games (freestyles included), he’s got an extensive history in the visual arts. His tweets are what he’s most known for — and understandably, as they are consistently funny, surreal, sometimes Joycean riffs on the inherent absurdities and contradictions of the modern world and internet culture, among other things — but his background is in painting.

Hussy is an artist to be reckoned with, and that can be seen in his upcoming short film, which is a short, surreal jolt of bleak satire that fuses ironic detachment with an impassioned and honest sense of humanity. Although it’s still a while off release, I decided to pester him on Twitter to see if I could, perhaps, paint the portrait of a hussy.

We spoke for almost three hours on a multitude of topics; Hussy’s style of speech, as you’ll know if you’ve ever heard him speak on stream, is a free-flowing form of “ADHD-addled rant.” Due to the amount of ‘content’ gleaned from our conversation, and to allow his affect to shine, I’ve made very few edits in the text, instead allowing Hussy to portray Hussy as Hussy should be portrayed: which is, to say, Hussy. The interview will be split into several segments; this is part one. Part two will be released soon, and the rest will follow once the short film leaves the festival circuit.

Who is Hussy?

One: I’m a man. Alright? Everybody out there wondering, I’m a man, with a dick and balls. Regular man. Two: not only am I a man, I’m just some guy. Alright? I’m just some guy. I feel like most people who write stupid shit on the internet are just some guy, even influential people — and I’m not saying I’m one of those, that would be egotistical of me, if someone out there wants to say it that’s cool, but I’m just some fucking idiot — I’m just some fucking retard; whoops, I’m just some r-slur on the internet slinging words. I don’t know. I don’t know what else there is to me, I don’t really have a more existential answer.

What about your pseudonyms?

‘HOSTAGEKILLER’ is from a dril tweet. Which I thought was funny. But it’s also more directly tied to — the first PC game I ever played was Counter Strike: Source, there’s two major maps in CS: Source, there’s de_dust2, classic, classic sandy Afghanistani-Pakistani region, bunch of boxes inexplicably, impeccable map design, on par with Blood Gulch from Halo 1 or 2, just perfect. Then there’s cs_office, which is a hostage map, de_dust is a bomb defusal map, standard competitive map, but the hostage maps are stupid, they’re nonsense, you have to lead these AI out of a building, but as a kid I would load up a bot lobby — I was probably about 8 or something — when Steam games still came in a box — but I would boot up cs_office, go to the hostages, and I thought it was fucking hilarious to shoot them in the head. Because everyone gets upset, there’s radio in the game if you’re a terrorist or counter-terrorist, both sides you’re not supposed to kill hostages, like in real life. Like when the cops went after that Fed-Ex truck or whatever, UPS truck, and there was a hostage in it and they just fuckin’ gunned down the entire truck, killed the people who stole it, killed the hostage, it’s the biggest failure to communicate possible. The proper military term for it would be FUBAR. So my name just means FUBAR; if you’re a hostage killer, not only are you a shit-disturber, and a fucking moron, you’re a chaotic entity. ‘Hussy’ is a shortened version of HOSTAGEKILLER. Most people would be like, ‘Hoss’, but there’s always a female slant to how I am for some reason, not as much in real life, but on the internet — so ‘hussy’ is what you call a harlot, maybe a street walker, or maybe just a woman who’s particularly lascivious, gives up the goods, but it’s not necessarily like a whore, a hussy is not a whore, a hussy knows what they got, if a pimp called you a hussy it’s a bit of a compliment, if a pimp calls you a whore, I mean — that’s just your job, that’s your title. So Hussy is a shortening of HOSTAGEKILLER; what else could it be shortened to? It can’t just be ‘Killer’, I’m not a pitbull.

What is an average day like for Hussy?

Alright, this is the ideal day: I wake up around 10 – 11am, I draw for six to eight hours, I read for three hours, get some exercise in there hopefully, maybe shoot out some banger posts online, I watch a movie, I go to bed. Usually the half-ideal day is simply I wake up, I draw for six to eight hours, I read for three hours, I go to bed around 2am – 3am, a reasonable time, not a god-forsaken time, I wake up, I do it again. But I’ve been incorporating more movies, which I make it sound like a chore, but I have severe ADHD so these things have to be part of a schedule, otherwise I won’t do them, as I’ve learned from the rest of my life. The least ideal day: I wake up at 2pm – 3pm, I draw for three to six hours, I read for three hours, I go to bed. Mostly it’s just that I wake up later. I’ve been consistent for at least two years, three years with this kind of routine.

What kind of films are you into?

I like talkies; I like ones where they talk a lot, but the dialogue has to be good. Not a fan of slow pacing. No — you know what, a movie can be paced slowly, but paced well — like Stalker is paced really slowly, but it’s paced really well, whereas other movies are just fucking gruelling and that’s what kills me. I found a new favourite movie just two days ago, it’s called La Promesse by Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. It’s, I guess, French neo-realism? is what it’d be called I suppose, and it’s also social realism. I’ve only watched two of their films but I’m planning on watching the rest of their films throughout the week. La Promesse is basically about this kid named Igor who’s fifteen, and his dad who’s a slumlord, who trafficks illegal immigrants in, and he makes them work on his apartments and shit, and you know he gives them “safe passage” into the country, lets them stay somewhere without papers, and the entire movie is filmed in this over-the-shoulder style — Rosetta is filmed like that too, that’s another of their films; not a lot of cuts, it cuts when it needs to. It’s immersive, it’s raw (hence the neo-realism) — I think I like very raw films. My top four Letterboxd faves are raw — except my number one, so I’ll read them out and get to one because it’s funny — Buffalo ’66 by Vincent Gallo, which is a kind-of rough and tumble love story between two morons, set in Buffalo. Next is Julien Donkey-Boy by Harmony Korine, which is basically a schizophrenic breakdown shot on video in a very degraded manner, everything looks degraded, the lights are so — something about filming on digital, something about Julien Donkey-Boy, it’s like filmed in an impressionistic manner, like Monet would be the most obvious comparison. It’s great. Then last there’s The Reflecting Skin, by Philip Ridley, which is kind of like a Malick film, I hate to compare filmmakers like that because it degrades them, but it’s a bit like Malick. Shots of open fields, golden hour, the way they speak has a Southern poeticism to it, but — number one, and all these movies are raw, but number one is raw in a different way — number one is Lost in Translation, which sounds out-of-character, I feel like people probably hear that and — and it’s also James Healey’s favourite movie, and that guy is a fucking idiot. Don’t tell him I said that, but that guy is a goofball, he’s a blockhead. Anyways, Lost in Translation, I don’t know why it’s my favourite film but there’s something — there’s a rawness to it — I’m starting to rant, but I guess that’s good, since it’s an interview — there’s a rawness to it, in so far as it is such an alienated piece of cinema. Every facet of it: where it’s set, the acting itself — Bill Murray is a perfect pick, Scarlet Johannsen is not, they could have cast someone else, but she does a good job — it’s a shoegazey film, it’s the shoegazer’s film, lots of people would pick a film by Wong Kar-wai, I like Wong Kar-wai, I don’t think he’s amazing, I think it’s a bit hokey — Lost in Translation scratched that shoegaze itch for me, supremely. It’s just this completely alienated, disconnected love story set in Tokyo, people who meet and then they’re gone, it has that early 2000s aspect to it — it came out in 2003 — but yeah there has to be that element of rawness in films, for me. Grainy, punchy, about “real problems”, and a poeticism inside of it, but I don’t like pretentious art necessarily.

Is your art influenced by any particular films?

When I started the account, my primary engagement with art was paintings, visual art — and music, a lot of music. I listened to a lot of fucking music back in the day, from 16 – 21 I listened to a lot of music; but I don’t know shit about music or musicians, other than listening to it. I’ve got like… let’s see… 1043 albums. Not that bad. Not a high score or anything. I don’t know what it is with music. Okay, I guess I’ll become sincere. I’ll shed the bit. I had sleeping issues — idiopathic hypersomnia, and basically, the etymology of that term is “we don’t know why the fuck you’re sleeping so much, we don’t know why the fuck you present as a narcoleptic, what the fuck is wrong with you.” So I had that, I had severe undiagnosed bipolar II. I had severe undiagnosed ADHD. So you can imagine it was hard to engage with art that demands attention, in a certain way — narrative attention. But music is like a Dionysian attention. It flows. There is a narrative to most music, it’s hard to make a non-narrative piece of art in general, unless you’re like, Rothko. But narratives don’t have to be ultra-literal. Music, music, music — so when it comes to films affecting what I do, I’d say definitely, yes. There’s definitely films that have influenced how I operate. I rewatched Freddie Got Fingered yesterday with my girlfriend, she absolutely loved it. But that film is basically — if HOSTAGEKILLER was a dumber guy, I’m going to talk about myself in third person, he would go “Oh, Freddie Got Fingered is a Dadaist masterpiece,” — no. Shut up. It’s fucking stupid. I guess it evokes Dada but it’s not that, it’s just a stupid fucking movie, and it’s executed perfectly by Tom Green. He emanates stupidity perfectly, as a somewhat-clever man. He’s also from Ontario, as I am, so there’s something about Canadians… there’s something wrong with them. There’s something fucked up with Canadians. Especially if you’re from Ontario, you’re a fucking idot. Fucking Kenny and Spenny are from Ontario. I used to live right next to where they used to live. Let’s see, another film that inspired me. Recently it’s been Cassavetes. Something about his dialogue. I used to do advanced drama in high school — because I’m a homosexual — so I do like films with a play-like manner. Cassavetes is really clever, the narratives are interesting. Lines bleed into the next, and there’s not much going on plot-wise, really; kind of it’s just bumbling people falling into each other’s grasps. I don’t think you need much for a plot, patchwork narratives can work. I watched Minnie and Moskowitz recently, that’s a film about love, and it perfectly encapsulates the meaning, how love is basically a series of miscommunications and bumbling idiocy. A Woman Under the Influence is my favourite of his. His films aren’t shot in a painterly manner, but the way people speak feels painterly to me. To come back to the impressionism, there’s a kind of free-flowing dialogue which I appreciate. I could go on all day, but the four films I mentioned inspired me, for sure. I don’t know how films interact with my writing, necessarily. They definitely do, but music maybe has, or had a stronger hold.

How does music figure into your creative process?

The funny part is that I do think writing and music are fundamentally opposed to each other. Some might disagree with me. I used to play music all the time; recently, because I’ve become enamoured with film and literature and now that my ADHD has been tamed to some extent, less so — I used to listen to music while I drew, and I’d walk around Toronto for like six hours at a time listening to albums, especially in university. Walking around staring at my shoes, looking around. I’m often going for a feeling when I write, more so than I’m going for a specific message, so it’s a set of tonalities, and it sounds kind of absurd saying this in the context of stupid posts on the internet, but I did publish something recently (Backwater J-Sesh). Hopefully I’ll have something published in a zine some point soon, shout out to them. But music tends towards going for tonalities more, it’s more pure expression — and the thing with me is that I don’t care that much about lyrics, they’re more a vessel for the voice to become another instrument. I find most lyrics are sophomoric, and I don’t feel most musicians can even write worth half a shit regardless. It should be sophomoric, it works as a vessel. I’m going all over the place.

What is your general perspective on your writing, and how it works into the larger context of your art — how do they connect?

In relation to my writing and my visual art, I don’t even know how I connect them, you can kind of see it in the animations, I think there is a divide in myself between the writing and the art. With music giving me a basis for how I interact with art, there is a free-flow process that reflects more in the visual art than the writing, or perhaps it’s easier to understand for me and other people. Music is so ephemeral, it’s like liquid — listening to anyone talk about music is so funny, it’s pure incompetency, and that’s good, we should have that realm that can’t quite be fully described. Anyways — honestly, I don’t even think they are fully connected, I think I’m only just starting to connect them partially now. For a while, I just happened to incidentally be a funny guy, and I say funny things, my ADHD or brain chemistry or whatever compels me to be a clown and make a fool of myself, and I have a natural tendency towards being good with language and the construction of language, and I also wanted to draw funny pictures when I was a kid, teenager, adult — and I flew more into it in a manic frenzy as a late-stage teenager, and the two sides feel split to me even now.

Part two will be out soon.

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