Sign language

Leslee Mason

Imagine 30 minutes alone in a hotel room with a musician you idolized and longed for all your hormonally driven teenage years. That’s exactly what I got when my former idol, the reclusive glyph-guy otherwise known as The Artist, breezed into town last December for a slew of interviews to promote his CD set, Emancipation. A bad interview and personal rejection seemed likely. This is a man, after all, who changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and had retreated from our world. Armed with nothing more than my adolescent affections and a ton of non-offensive questions that would hopefully prompt revealing answers, I started the clock and our 30 minutes began. For 1800 seconds, O(+> shared his space, joked, sparred, spoke in lyrical sound bites. I walked away feeling like I had just lived through a lifetime. Had I never so much as heard his name ­ that is, when he had one ­ I still would have recognized that intangible uniqueness that separates the special ones from the rest of us common folk. I know why O(+> chose a symbol for his name ­ sometimes mere words just aren’t enough.

MW : What are you more likely to pick up : a news magazine; classic literature; or an e-mail message?

O(+> : That depends. Some days any of the three; most days, not any of the three. I got on the computer before I got on the plane and bought Time. I picked up a book Oprah gave me ­ The Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav. It’s not classic literature, but it should be. It’s a simple book about the differences between the personality and the soul. I had felt that before Oprah gave it to me, which is probably why she gave it to me. We have the same dialogue.

MW : Was there ever a tabloid lie that you wished were true?

O(+> : No. I don’t respond to tabloids, ever. There’s a thing called Karmic Death ­ a universal set of lawa that judge you accordingly. I don’t have to.

MW : What embarrasses you?

O(+> : Oh man, not much now. I’ve been in a business that makes its bread and butter embarrassing people. You give MTV your video and they edit and cut it up and give it to Beavis and Butt-head.

MW : If they made a movie of your life, who would you like to see play you?

O(+> : Funny ­ Muhammad Ali played himself because he always said he was the Greatest. He didn’t do too well! Myself? I don’t know who would play me ­ who would get me.

MW : What mementos do you carry with you while you’re travelling?

O(+> : I have very few mementos. I’m not really trusting of many people, so I keep them inside as memories.

MW : If people could use one word to describe you, what would it be?

O(+> : Mayte.

MW : If you could spend three hours getting to know three famous people, who would they be.

O(+> : My wife, me and my child.

MW : Where do you go for comfort?

O(+> : Inside.

MW : Would you rather be loved or respected?

O(+>  :Loved. When you’re loved, you are respected.

MW : What makes a woman sexy?

O(+> : Truth ­ when all things are affected. Spirituality. It encompasses all. That’s what fuels me ­ especially now.

MW : What do you wear to bed?

O(+> : Usually, my wife.

MW : What’s your favorite body part?

O(+> : The mind.

MW : What’s erotic to you now?

O(+> : I haven’t changed in that respect. Happy tears, truth.

MW : When was the last time you told a lie.

O(+> : The last time I said I wanted to make a video. Information ­ like the Internet ­ is so quick now, it’s not necessary to spend a million on a film for the purposes it serves.

MW : If you were like a cat with nine lives, what life would you be in now?

O(+> : The ninth. I feel like I understand things now. I feel at peace. If there’s more to learn, it’s going to be a surprise.

MW : How would you want to spend your last life?

O(+> : Trying to see who I can find to get me more lives!