The Steeple Times asks American gymnast, performing artist, contortionist and former addict Joe Putignano: “What’s on your mantelpiece?”
The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?
“The darkest of men carry the brightest of lights”. It is from my book.
“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2014?
Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?
Being a competitive gymnast.
What might you swap all your wealth for?
Donald Trump was once a case of: “If you owe the bank a thousand, they close you down; but if you owe the bank a billion, you own the bank”. What’s your view on the banking crisis?
In America, it’s a tragedy that the people who caused this crisis have walked away with no consequences and more money while the rest of the country was punished.
What phrase or word do you most loathe?
“YOLO”: “You only live once”.
In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?
I’m constantly trying to help others who want to stay clean and find recovery, so anything that helps people get off drugs (if they want to get off them).
The judge in Law Abiding Citizen states: “I can pretty much do whatever I want” before being blown up whilst answering her mobile phone. What’s your view on the appropriate use of such devices?
I think as a race, we are in trouble because of our devices. If we continue at the pace we are at, humans will become more like the devices they are using, void of emotion and authenticity. However, I’m just as addicted to my iPhone as I was to heroin.
If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?
P. J. Harvey, Joel-Peter Witkin, Guillermo del Toro, H. P. Lovecraft, Tori Amos and Mary Magdalene.
If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?
Homemade ricotta, spinach and mortadella ravioli with arugula and prosciutto at Etcetera Etcetera on 44th Street in New York City.
What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?
No acceptable time for me. I’m an alcoholic so if I have one drink, I could end up killing a small family before noon without any recollection.
A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?
Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?
Halloween parties because I particularly love horror.
Who is the most positive person you know?
What’s your most guilty pleasure?
Chocolate and ice cream.
If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?
A skull because I’ve been dead twice.
If you were a car, what marque would you be?
A Mustang. I know it’s a gas guzzling American car but technically I was once a gas guzzling American, so it fits.
Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.
I have an extra rib bone.
What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?
Since I am a collector of odd, macabre things there is an empty antique bottle of absinthe, an antique bottle of arsenic, a taxidermy buffalo skull, an antique glass syringe from China, a copy of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and my car keys.
Joe Putignano is an American gymnast, performing artist and contortionist who has toured with the Cirque du Soleil in Totem and X. His memoir, Acrobaddict, details his battle with heroin and homelessness. He is now based in New York.
Follow Joe Putignano on Twitter at @JoePutignano.
Photographs by Matthew Barnes and Scott Marrs.
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