Penthouse Retrospective

by Christine Colby Originally Published: May, 2011

Andrew W.K. | 10 Years Ago This Month

Musician and professional partier Andrew W.K. recently took a new role, as sort of a rock ringmaster of the Dos Equis-sponsored “Most Interesting Show in the World.” He led a 17-city tour of music, magic, burlesque, and other variety acts presented to the public with no cover charge and free Dos Equis.

Penthouse Magazine - May, 2011The Most Interesting Show in the World

“There really is this party feeling,” Andrew W.K. tells us. “It doesn’t feel as much like a traditional concert; it feels like a celebration. We have local performers on every show, as well as an incredible performer named Bubble Man …. I really, really love magicians and magic. I have for years. A lot of my friends almost seem to specifically hate magic; I had never even conceived that someone could hate magic! That’s like someone telling me that they hate candy or roller coasters or amusement parks! But I actually have a lot of friends who do hate candy and do hate amusement parks. Why am I friends with these downer people?”

“Anyway, this has been unbelievably exciting just for that, to watch a magician perform. Elliot Zimet is a Las Vegas-level magician. He performed for a year with Ringling Bros. circus, living on the circus train …. He has birds in his act that we bring on the road. Live parrots! It’s incredible.”

“The whole show really becomes like a song. That’s the beautiful part of it. Even when there are moments of spontaneity and improv, it’s still like a song, an hour-long song, with all these different parts and performers. Some sing, some do magic, some dance, but they’re all part of a song. And when it’s tight like we have it, it really goes by like a song …. And working with these people who have that kind of timing, that vision to practice what they do to the point where they’re masters, it really elevates you and what you do to another level. It’s like playing with a good athlete; you just play better.”

And play Andrew did, rocking out on an elaborate full-size piano onstage, glistening with sequins, surrounded by falling confetti, while sexy dancers kicked and twirled around him. It wasn’t his usual headbanging show, but the audience seemed willing to expand their minds and take in the brain-melting skill demonstrations and colorful eye candy-and especially the free Dos Equis.

Andrew W.K. — Party Monster

Talking with Andrew W.K. about the Most Interesting Show in the World made us realize he has way more going on than that. He’s a head-banging rocker, a classical pianist, a motivational speaker, and he loves blowing stuff up. What’s not to like? We also love him because he loves us. He says, “I’ve been a huge, huge, huge fan of the magazine for many years, so this is really nice o finally get a chance to talk about something.” So we let him talk about everything and anything he wanted.

What’s the deal with the bloody nose? You partied so hard that you’re bleeding?

I didn’t really think about any kind of meaning behind it; I just thought it was an exciting image that people would be able to identify with…. I thought it was a way to show blood that wasn’t violent. You always want to have something timeless and classic, like a great band name, like the Police or the Cars. Those are all taken, gone, so what do you have left? A few images, concepts, ideas. A bloody nose is one of them.

Showing vulnerability to your audience maybe?

Sure, that as well, that’s a huge part of it…. I believe very strongly that you have to be the fool. But when you’re a performer there’s a combination of ego-boosting and ego-crushing, and I think you need to really have that balance for the audience to appreciate you. If you have too much ego boost, then they’re gonna be like, Who does this guy think he is? But if there’s too much embarrassment, it’s just too painful. You want to have that combination of the glory and the struggle that we all go through in life. It’s a fun line to walk.

Some performers are known for reinventing themselves. Are you on the verge of doing this? There have been rumors and controversy that you’re not even the same Andrew W.K. [as the original]. But it seems that you’ve chosen to simultaneously keep the original persona and reinvent yourself.

If you’re a performer and you try something new, it’s still the same person at the core that gives the nice consistency to any sort of radical change you might go through. I’m just someone on a personal adventure through the world, an adventure of partying and celebration. I figured that show business, entertainment, was the most exciting thing I could do.

Which version of A.W.K. is it easiest to be?

It’s all very easy to be. That’s the key. It’s physically demanding, but easy spiritually and emotionally. I’m very fortunate.

A lot of rock stars are obviously trying very hard to be sexy. I don’t get that sense from you, but all your female fans want to fuck you anyway. What’s your sex-appeal secret?

Well, that’s great! Oh, I don’t know. I remember a long time ago, before I ever started doing Andrew W.K., I had a friend at work in a record store [in New York City] called Kim’s Video, when it used to be on St. Marks Place. Amazing place, incredible job, one of the great times of my life there.

One may safely presume that an individual calling himself the "God of Partying" will tend to have an entertaining personality. Meet Andrew W.K. as we did, like a slap on the back from a long-lost friend.