Part 13: The Very Special Rebecca Schoenkopf Interview

Photo by Jack Gould[Vaseline-smeared lens shows slow-motion clips from past specials: pretty Gwen Stefani wipes away a tear as Rebecca Schoenkopf holds a baby before her, just out of reach; District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Rebecca share a laugh while passing a spliff; disgraced (and imprisoned) Santa Ana Councilman Ted Moreno sobs while Rebecca does an interpretive dance chronicling his bribe taking and influence peddling.]

[Music swells, and the camera zooms in on Rebecca Schoenkopf in a studio brimming with overblown roses, her hands gracefully steepled under her tilted chin.]

REBECCA: Thank you all for joining us tonight on this very special episode of The Very Special Rebecca Schoenkopf Interview. Tonight, we have as our very special guests three of Orange County's most prominent and respected citizens: Billy Zoom, Sandow Birk and Shirley Grindel.

Our first guest is painter and critical favorite Sandow Birk. Sandow, welcome. [Sandow Birk is tied to his chair, having already tried to jump out the window at the awards ceremony. Two burly men stand behind him.]

SANDOW BIRK: Hello.

REBECCA: I guess the first thing our viewers want to know is, with all the press you've been getting, from the cover story in the LA New Times to the story in the London Guardian, do you think you're all cool now?

BIRK: No. What kind of question is that?

REBECCA: Question two: Do you think it's appropriate to ask someone if she or he has AIDS and/or herpes on the first date?

BIRK: I don't think on the first date, unless there's oral action or a visible cold sore.

REBECCA: How come your hair is yellow like that?

BIRK: Someone asked me to baby-sit their dog, and an hour later, I was a blond.

REBECCA [to her friend LYDIA, who has just materialized on the love seat next to her]: What did that have to do with his hair?

LYDIA: Nothing. It didn't have anything to do with it.

REBECCA [leaning forward in her chair]: When's the last time you cried?

BIRK: I can't recall. Why are you sitting so close like that?

REBECCA: I want to see if you cry. Are you lying?

BIRK: No, I just can't recall. The Galaxy lost yesterday, and I was sad, but I didn't cry.

REBECCA: This is going nowhere. He's not cooperating.

LYDIA: Have you produced a piece that you thought was an excellent idea, but it didn't turn out as you'd expected?

BIRK: I did a show that was a flop—a show about Brazil. I thought it was a good show.

REBECCA: That was the first work of yours I saw. I thought it was good, too.

BIRK: Can I plug a show? Is that okay? "Prisonation" opens at Koplin Gallery in LA on Oct. 28 (as many of the series as I get done), and "Made in California" opens at the LA County Museum of Art on Nov. 8—I have one painting representing art of the '90s.)

[REBECCA reads a magazine.]

LYDIA: Tell us about "Prisonation."

BIRK: Well, they're based on California landscape paintings of the 1850s. It's about the image of California, the romance of the West, and the reality of what the West has become. We're the most incarcerated society on the planet.

REBECCA: They're good, solid works, but they won't generate the kind of reaction you got from "War of the Californias" because they're subtle.

BIRK: I know they're subtle. I'm aware they're subtle.

REBECCA: Fine.

[REBECCA makes a call on her cell phone. Blows a bubble while waiting.]

LYDIA: Have you met with any prisoners?

BIRK: It's less about individual prisoners than about prisons in general. We live in these dense urban areas, and then there are towns with populations of 200. It's big and beautiful and expansive and everything it used to be.

REBECCA: A friend of mine pointed out at one of my cocktail parties that we wouldn't have such a rosy unemployment rate if we let everybody who's in on drug possession charges out. We have this false sense of economic well-being.

BIRK: I don't really have a stance on things like that.

REBECCA: But there are 2 million people in prison, 80 percent of them on drug charges.

BIRK: I haven't come to any conclusions I'd like to set down in the press.

REBECCA: I see.

[She goes out to smoke a cigarette.]

LYDIA: Have you ever been in prison?

BIRK: For one day. I got pulled over, and they did a warrant check, and I had a warrant out for a $10 ticket I'd gotten for skateboarding against a yellow light. When I got home, I found my receipt that I'd paid it.

LYDIA: Did you have prison sex?

BIRK: Oh, immediately! Within the first 10 minutes!

REBECCA: Did someone say prison sex?

[Cut to REBECCA at another location.]

REBECCA Schoenkopf: Welcome back to this very special episode of the Very Special REBECCA Schoenkopf Interviews. With me now is the guitarist for the seminal punk band X. Following worldwide acclaim, Billy Zoom found Jesus and started an amp-repair shop in the city of Orange. Billy, thank you for coming.

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