I've shared some very precious moments with Juergen Teller over tha years. It all began with an assignment to have him shoot me an mah dancers for a magazine called Man About Town back in 2016 an I remember it was tha first time tha magazine ever had ta put one of them porno cover sleeves on a publication cuz they were afraid it would do harm to tha people of tha world if they saw tha cover image of me gazin into a meat store from tha dark streets of London. I knew at that moment that I would know this man for a long long time. Fast forward six years later and here we are, along with his rascal wife an biz partner Dovile Teller, tha Tellers as they call themselves, capturing more precious moments together...all of each other instead of just me this time. Tha three of us cruised around NYC chewin tha fat in a long black car, stoppin in some wonderful places an celebratin our luv for each other an tha city. I wanted ta talk, ta see him an her on this side of tha lens, and ta throw some coal on our future fires.
On the Suggestion of Song
Juergen Teller: I recently came across Frank Zappa again.
Christeene: Frank Zappa?
JT: Yes, yes. Are you aware of it? Of him?
C: I’m aware of Frank Zappa through my friend who’s an older guy, who likes to do Garage band crap and base play and skateboarding and shit, but I never have gone down a Frank Zappa hole.
JT: Right. Because when I was a teenager, I got these two records, and I listened to it, and I couldn’t understand it because I couldn’t speak any English, couldn’t understand any lyrics, and there’s a song called “Bobby Brown Goes Down.”
C: Uh huh?
JT: And I was singing to it, and it’s just like uh, so out there, we should maybe…I’m going to find it. And the record covers he did are so fucking out there, and just because what I was, I have these records at home, but I didn’t look at them for like all this time.
*JT plays “Bobby Brown Goes Down” by Frank Zappa
Hey there, people, I’m Bobby Brown
They say I’m the cutest boy in town
C: Oh Fuck
My car is fast, my teeth are shiny
I tell all the girls they can kiss my heine
Here I am at a famous school
I’m dressin’ sharp and I’m acting cool
I’ve got a cheerleader here
Wants to help with my paper
Let her do all the work
And maybe later I’ll rape her
Oh God, I am the American dream
I do not think I’m too extreme
And I’m a handsome son of a bitch
I’m gonna get a good job and be real rich
(Get a good, get a good, get a good, get a good job)
JT: It gets better even.
C: This is fucked.
JT: Yeah. Listen to it.
Came creepin’ all across the nation
I tell you, people, I was not ready
When I fucked this dyke by the name of Freddie
She made a little speech then
Oh, she tried to ----
Dovile Drizyte: It’s pretty out there, no?
JT: So the funny thing was, I was singing to it.
C: Oh fuck, you were singing it!?
JT: And I didn’t know anything of the lyrics because I couldn’t speak English! So, I was just like, you know, miming it and listening to it, and I bought these record covers and they’re like this.
JT: And they are really brilliant. And the funny thing is, 35 years later, because of this uh, Spotify thing, I was starting on the running machine, running, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, that’s Frank Zappa.’ So I put it on, and then suddenly I was listening to it and understanding it, and I’m thinking oh my God, I was listening to this and singing to the words when I was 15!
C: And didn’t know what the fuck you were singing.
JT: And I didn’t know what the fuck I was saying!
C: And anyone who knew English was listening to what you were fucking saying
C: And being like “who the fuck is this 15-year-old kid?!”
C: With a lot of wisdom
JT: Yes! Hilarious, no?
C: I did not know he went to those places.
JT: Yes, it’s very good.
DD: So this goes under ‘Stormy Seas!’ part of the interview.*
*Plays Bobby Brown again.
On Mementos, Fans, and Fish
C: A women at South by Southwest once gave a fish. Like, held up her hand, and I was on the stage, and I thought she wanted to touch or just shake, and I went to touch her hand, and she, I was holding my microphone in my left hand, that’s my mic hand - I don’t know, I think everyone has something like that; you might hold your camera in a certain way that’s very particular to you.
JT: Of course, of course.
C: And I took my mic out of my hand, reached out, and she put a fucking dead fish in my hand!
C: And she was so excited. And I go, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?!’ and she got real sad, and I was like, “No, no, no.” I was like, ‘It’s okay,’ but I go “I’m very concerned because it’s like 100 degrees outside in Austin, and you have been walking around with a dead fucking fish in your purse, all day long?”
C: I was like, ‘What the fuck have you been doing to your friends?’ And then my microphone smelled like fish the whole show.
C: And then another kid named Moon Baby in Pittsburgh said, ‘Oh, I’ve made you some clothes,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ And they literally bought a pack of Hanes t-shirts and underwear, and just drew on them.
C: But then they took, they bought a pack of pork chops, raw pork chops, from the grocery store, and they just wrapped the pork chops in the clothing that they gave me, and that was the gift. So I took it home, untied it, opened it up, and I’m like, ‘Okay,’ and then it was fucking raw pork chops. And Silky was with me, and she was like, ‘I think we should really lock the hotel door tonight, and just really make sure no one comes in.’
JT: Haha, right.
C: It’s very strange, the things that people will give.
JT: Yes, it’s very strange what people portray or how do you call it, like, project on you.
C: Yeah, project on you, and then assume from.
JT: Yes, from our work what we would you know.
C: What images that you’re portraying, which aren’t necessarily your day-to-day beliefs or…it’s a capturing of whatever the fuck is in your head at the minute.
JT: Yes, yes.
C: Like you lying naked on a donkey does not mean you like to fuck donkeys.
JT: Yes, yes.
C: You almost got screwed on that!
JT: *Laughing Yes.
C: I read that, I have your book. I keep your book above my toilet, because my favorite things are above the toilet. Because that’s where you can relax and read.
JT: Yes, of course, yes.
C: But if you relax too long, you’ll get a hemorrhoid. But um, I read the whole story of you getting on that fucking mule and that man tried to fuck you, and I was like, ‘God, you poor thing!’
C: That is not the way to get introduced to the joy of butt sex.
C: It’s fucking scary.
JT: It is scary, yeah.
C: I was concerned for you.
JT: And then do you remember, then Andreas and Vivienne, they were so excited about you two, you three, and then we asked you three to come to Hydra, to Greece, and then that didn’t happen because of Michéle and Rick!
C: No, well. No, because of Michéle and Rick? Like not wanting me to?
JT: Because you did a video for them, right?
C: Yes, oh yeah… And then y’all got Pamela Anderson to replace me.
C: Which I thought, I’m glad it all happened! I’m so fucking glad I said no, just to know that I was replaced by Pamela fucking Anderson, wearing a bale of hay, or some shit.
JT: Yes, yes.
C: It was really good, so I think that alone made up for everything.
JT: And you could not believe it right, there’s this island in Greece, there’s like these Greek people, and there’s some donkeys, and the Greek men, completely lost the plot when Pamela Anderson walked in.
JT: On that island. They became, you know, all these hairy men, they became…and they were like, they could not believe it that Pamela Anderson is on that island. They became like little boys, like [suction noise]
C: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JT: You know, completely.
C: Well I mean that’s like um, shit they’ve been looking at that woman forever.
JT: Yes, on the TV. On that little island!
C: And imagining…it’s like if Barbie walked on that fucking island. Or it’s like Australians, who are trapped on their island, when anything goes over there, they go ape shit!
C: But they’re very normal over there. Do you ever notice that? Like, Australians, when they’re here, like say they’re in New York, they’re like this magical unicorn ‘let’s do everything’ creatures, and they’ll get you into lots of trouble.
C: But when you go there, they’re just boring, like everybody else.
On Traveling the Unbeaten Path
C: You get into trouble, because you have a curious nature and exploring things you don’t know. I feel that way knowing you.
JT: Yes, you can get into trouble in Naples. In Napoli.
C: Yes. No shit. Which, we were very contained in Naples.
C: Which was nice. But I went, um, before y’alls wedding, I had been there before for one night with Thomas and Silky, and we, you could feel the danger and the madness there.
JT: Yeah, breeding.
C: I liked the, it feels, well they told us, my friends in Rome, kept saying we had to go to Naples, we had to go to Naples, and I was like, ‘Why? We’re on tour, like what the fuck?’ And they were like “Imagine if the air was full of cocaine.” They’re like “That’s Naples. Like the people are so different, the energy is fucking weird.” And it’s true.
JT: And they talk, they have a different language.
C: A different dialect, right? Or is it different?
JT: It’s even a different…they use different words and different things. It’s not just a dialect.
C: It’d be like Cajun French. Instead of ‘Tres Bon,’ they say ‘Bon Bon.’
JT: Okay. Right, right, right.
C: Like weird little things. It’s like straight French, I don’t know. So it’s probably like that. But yeah, Naples is like, fucking…my favourite thing, it reminded me of like, if I could go back in time to like New Orleans when Tennessee Williams was there.
C: And those stories he wrote about the old theatres where he’d go up on the balcony and suck dick and stuff, it’s like the Vieux Carré, like really old, dirty Tennessee Williams New Orleans, that’s kind of like why I love Naples, because it kind of makes me feel like I’m going back in time, to a place that inspired a writer like that, to create the stories he did. It’s got that dirty, dirty underbelly. Or not even an underbelly, it’s all over the place.
JT: It’s all over the place, yeah.
C: It’s in your face. The graffiti is amazing. It’s good.
On the Thunder of Live Music
JT: And then also when I was a teenager, one of my first rock concerts was Thin Lizzy—“The Boys Are Back in Town.”
C: Oh my God.
JT: And I was with tons of people, and I was one of the younger people there, and there were these people and then on the shoulders was a woman, and then she lifted up her t-shirt, and showing the tits, you know, and you’re like 13 or 14 or 15, and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this is just crazy here.’
C: Which I see in your photographs today. Like hello, like branded your fucking brain!
DD: That left, you know, it’s like a mark on him!
C: Fuck it, I can name, I’ve run out of fingers for how many times I’ve seen titties in your fucking pictures.
DD: Now that explains a lot, it all comes from the childhood, no?
C: My first concert, this explains nothing, was Starship—‘We built this city on Rock and Roll,’ that fucking shit, like that was the first concert I remember seeing. And then I remember seeing Cats, the Musical.
*JT + DD Laugh
C: So if you want to mix those two ingredients together, this is what happens! And throw in a little Catholic shit.
JT: Oh fuck.
C: So it’s like, hello.
JT: Are you, are you Catholic?
C: I, I was, yes I had the faith in me. Forced into me.
JT: All three of us.
C: Yeah, well look at us know, we’re fucking heathens, and we do terrible things. So, thanks Jesus. Please.
On Nuptials, and Lasers
DD: Juergen’s song of choice for karaoke, when there’s karaoke, he’ll always sing Falco.
C: I can see that shit.
C: And you sang, what was the song at your wedding? “Simply the best!”
DD: That’s my choice of karaoke song for Juergen. Tina Turner.
C: Yep. When I do karaoke, I always go straight to “Superstar” by Karen Carpenter. That’s a good one, I like it. It’s slow, it’s sad but you can get angry in it.
JT: Right, yes.
C: At the end, you can really let loose. And um, Pointer Sisters. I like The Pointer Sisters for karaoke.
JT: Right, yes.
C: Very good.
JT: What was your first record you bought, Dovile?
DD: Me? Uh, Louis Armstrong.
JT: Oh wow.
C: That was your first record you bought?
JT: Really? That’s quite something.
C: That’s impressive.
JT: You know, she studied classical piano.
C: You play piano?
DD: Eleven years in uh, classical.
C: Oh girl, we shoulda hooked that up at the wedding.
*JT, DD and C laugh
C: People would have been like [rooster sound], what the fuck! We had two keyboards on stage, we had keys everywhere you little shit, you could have fucking been the bell of the ball again!
DD: I think I got that.
C: I think you got all the bells you needed for that ball.
DD: Oh my God, they are still talking about that wedding.
C: Did you, did you keep the dress that I put my face on your butt?
DD: Of course!
C: Oh good.
JT: It’s uh, it’s vacuum packed.
C: Oh, fuck yeah. I love that.
DD: With the jacket, yeah.
C: Girl, don’t ever un-vacuum that.
C: Who knows what will come out! Talking about keeping things you shouldn’t. Oh lord, you should have a very special hell-raiser box that you should put that thing in.
DD: But you know now, everyone, you know they got the book, the Auguri book.
C: Oh, I love!
DD: And people just sort of like relive it, and then now people can buy it, and look at it, and be like ‘Oh my God, Christeene!’
C: I love that book.
JT: it’s a nice format, no? We didn’t want to do it like pompous, it’s nice and small and kind of…
C: It’s very intimate.
C: It doesn’t fit where a book should sit. You can’t place it.
JT: Yeah, yeah. And you know the sequence of the performance, we put, we put, actually, we printed it in five colours. We put it, normally you print something with four colours, right?
C: Oh, I don’t know that.
DD: We kind of enhanced that part.
JT: It’s always in four colours, whatever you see. And we put a fifth colour on top of it, which is florescent. That’s why it looks so nuts.
C: Oh, that’s why. So nuts.
JT: Yes, because some of it, just fuck, sparks out.
C: But it’s actually the way that room felt.
DD: Yes, yes, yes!
C: Remember, the lasers and shit, the lights in that room. If I had been on ‘shrooms that night, I would have never left that room.
JT: Right, yeah.
C: I mean we didn’t ever leave that room at all that night, but I would have lost my mind with those lasers.
JT: Yes, it was incredible.
C: And I love in the book where you see that room before we inhabited it.
C: That was really, that was like the feel of that whole trip. Just like, inhabiting these spaces. And then they were gone.
JT: Yes, yes.
C: Then you tore it all down. And the fleeting kind of magic of that whole trip, the table in the courtyard, you know, everything was just like it happened and then it disappeared.
JT: Yes, it was like [whooshing sound].
DD: And you know the fact that nobody had any pictures for a year.
JT: Which was brilliant.
C: Y’all were brilliant. That was y’all?
DD: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And people said you know, we lived in a fairy tale and then we don’t have a proof! It’s like a dream that you had a dream and then you don’t, you know, you don’t have any proof, and then you get the book, and then you’re like ‘Oh my God that happened to me, I am in the book, and Christeene is in the book! Woah!’
JT: And people really ask us, oh, first thing “Oh you got married, congratulations! Oh, show me a picture of the wedding dress.” That’s the first thing they want to see, right? And we’re like, “No, we don’t have any pictures, we’re working on a book.” People don’t understand it. You know what I mean?
JT: They want to see like oh, our wedding outfit, you know?
C: Yeah, like traditional wedding shit.
DD: It was very um, something that left a super impression. And it was, I mean, it was a nice party and everything was like super, but the fact I think that they did not take pictures and everyone was so focused on what’s in front of them, on each other, on the music, on the air, on the performance, I don’t know, everything. They were like, this made it a totally different experience.
I’m just lookin’ for a dear, dear friend of mine
JT: So yeah, we’ve been talking about it on Union Square. The first time I’ve ever been to New York was in ’88.
C: ’88, and you were twenty-something?
JT: 26 or something.
C: Dangerous age. Dangerous year.
JT: And the whole thing.
C: Did you go down to Lower East Side at all? Do you remember, Alphabet City, any of that shit?
JT: Yes, yes. I actually stayed there. No, the very first time was in Gramercy Park Hotel, which I loved.
C: Oh, okay.
JT: In the olden days. Gramercy Park Hotel. And then meatpacking district was insane.
C: Oh yeah, you said you got to go to that.
JT: Yes, I mean, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life before. It was insane.
C: I was sadly, the first, when I first started coming here, all of the beautiful meatpacking bars, all of the leather bars, all of those scenes were just slowly closing. Um, and I didn’t get to go into them and explore that shit, and they’re now gone.
DD: They’re very good.
C: The chess players. What are we on, we’re on Bowery. I love Bowery. We used to go to a bar here called The Slide. And it used to be a secret bar during prohibition, and they would slide the booze down the thing.
C: But they used to have a party at The Slide, where, it was when flu shots first came out, when people were really, first getting flu shots. And it was like, everybody was like, ‘Get your flu shots!’ and this filthy party person I know, Daniel, had a party at The Slide, and all of the Go-Go boys were all dancing on the bar, they’d be standing on the bar dancing, and they’d say, ‘go to the bar and get your flu shot.’ And the dancers would squat down, and they would take their foreskin and they would pull it up, the bartender would pour the vodka shot into the foreskin, and you would suck it out of their dick.
DD: No way.
JT: Oh my God.
C: And they were calling those flu shots. I never did it.
DD: No! In here? On Bowery they were doing it?
C: On Bowery at this bar called The Slide. It’s gone now.
DD: Shit, man that’s hardcore.
C: It was crazy. And vodka’s disinfectant!
JT: Right, haha
DD: Oh, so you have no fear doing that.
C: So maybe, I don’t know, but that was the big thing at that party.
DD: We should do that at our Christmas Party Juergen, we invite people,
C: Get some friends, and like really
DD: And like, ‘Oh this special part of the night will be flu shots!’
C: Oh no, you can get your boosters now, your Covid boosters.
DD: *laughing Oh my God.
C: And just have that shit. Have some very beautifully hung, you know, uncircumcised men. Go to town. That’d be a photo shoot!
JT: Oh yeah.
C: That would be a hell of a photo shoot.
DD: I mean, can you imagine? I wonder how many takers would be there. Or Givers. Givers or takers!
C: Yeah, you could also go to the, if you showed the DJ your dick, he would take a polaroid picture of it, and you’d get a free shot.
C: And I showed it every...haha. I was wondering who had all of those polariods, that would be an amazing book!
C: Because they would only shoot your crotch.
C: No face, no nothing. And anyone who wanted to get their free shot – and not the flu shot, just a shot–could do that.
DD: Oh my God. Jeffrey Dahmer has all your pictures.
JT: Did you ever meet Iggy Pop?
C: No, I want to. Many people say that the Christeene shows remind them of Iggy Pop. With the band.
C: And that man, anyone like, who has that stamina and that very strange chemical make-up that they can look like he does, it’s very amazing.
JT: It is.
C: Have you met him?
C: What’d you do with him?
JT: In Miami, photographed him.
C: You did?
C: Doesn’t he have a parrot, or something?
C: He’s a bird person.
JT: Yes, yes.
DD: Oh my God, check this out.
JT: Like a crazy parrot. Oh my God.
DD: So, we had a very crazy situation to begin with, because of my fault, like literally for the first time we were late to the shoot.
C: Uh huh
JT: And we flew to Miami and photographed him, right? I was super excited, super nervous.
DD: And I somehow, it was like, misread email, whatever, and we were like 90 minutes late. I was like oh my God, I’m gonna fucking, I hope the earth opens and I will go and like it closes over my head. Anyway, so when I’m in that situation, I’m like listen, totally my fault, the manager was there I’m like “very nice to meet you, totally my fault”, but then I can’t really be, as maybe, open and you know, like I’m more in the background. So, Juergen photographing him and I’m like holding Iggy’s, he was wearing some sort of a gown, like an evening robe sort of a thing.
DD: So, I’m holding the back of it to help Juergen, and Iggy’s here and Juergen is here, and Juergen goes “So Iggy, how are your parrots?”
JT: No, no, no, let me, let me. He was like, first of all, we came into the house, which is his man cave down in Florida, and uh...
C: Does he live in Florida?
JT: Yes, in Miami.
C: Holy shit.
JT: Yes, and he lies on the sofa, and then the first thing he says to us, he says ‘I’ve never waited for anyone for 90 minutes.’
DD: Oh my God.
C: But did he say it mean, or just like?
JT: No, not mean. He just said it matter of fact. And he just says ‘It’s okay. You’re here now. Let’s do it.’
DD: Oh my God, it was so elegant of him.
JT: And I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’
DD: I wanted to die, I really wanted to die. I mean, I’m never late, I don’t know, like totally, like things went wrong and you don’t know why they went wrong. Do you know what I mean?
DD: So it was very elegant of him to you know, to take it like that, and his manager was very super cool also.
JT: And then he showed us all the house, all his memorabilia, all the kind of guitars, all the sort of like funny artworks, and stuff like that.
DD: Great man cave.
JT: Like a crazy man cave. Like this whole house was a crazy man cave.
DD: A bungalow.
JT: And then there was a picture, of him on stage. Everywhere there were pictures of him, right. And then there was another picture in a frame of his parents.
DD: Mum and Dad.
JT: Mum and Dad, right. So, he was explaining, you know, about mum and dad, and blah blah blah, and then we go out to this crazy garden, and there’s like these ducks walking by, and there’s a little river, and then I said to him, because his hearing is not very well, right?
C: Uh huh.
DD: So Juergen is here, Iggy’s here, I’m behind Iggy sort of helping with the outfit, and Juergen goes, ‘How are your parrots?’ and Iggy hears, ‘How are your parents?’
DD: And I’m standing behind and I know that I would say something otherwise, but because I fucked it up, I can’t really say anything. And then Juergen is like ‘How are your parrots?’ and Iggy’s like, ‘What?! They’re dead!’
JT: And he was like to me, ‘They would be, they would be 128 now!’ He looked at me like I’m fucking crazy!
DD: And then Juergen doesn’t say anything either because he’s like also sort of flabbergasted, and I’m standing there like, ‘Oh my God, this is like so...’
JT: So, I didn’t have the nerve to say, ‘No, not parents, parrots! Birds!’
DD: Like, birds!
C: You fucking didn’t correct him? He must have thought y’all were crazy fucking people!
*JT + DD laugh
Written by Audra McClain
Photographed by Juergen Teller
Creative Partner: Dovile Drizyt