A Rare Chance Interview with Christopher Kippenberger, Creative Director Véhicule
Rolls-Royce had asked me to interview Christopher Kippenberger ten months ago. Of course I said yes. As a matter of fact, I think I shit my pants, I was so excited. Imagine, little old me, the great Christopher Kippenberger, getting to interview him. Oh my God, the great Christopher Kippenberger. However, tracking down the elusive, mysterious, hand-some, workaholic automotive film superstar was not that easy. Neither one of us would make time for the other. We’re both so damn busy. Chicks and stuff, you know. And revenge.
For the lost and out of touch who don’t know Christopher Kippenberger: Jalopnik, the world's biggest automotive site, once described him as the "Most interesting man in car porn." Highsnobiety says that he’s "Responsible for revolutionising auto videography" and Die Welt editor-in-chief called him "the king of car porn." He’s helped make music videos for Ridley Scott Associates. He worked behind the scenes in the adult industry. He’s built his own drones. He then left for Berlin to become executive producer at Vice Germany. He learned everything he knew about online video distribution at Vice and in the adult industry. Christopher Kippenberger wanted to meet at his favourite lunch spot to do the interview. Funny. It’s my favourite lunch spot, too. We got there at exactly the same time. I watched him walking in and it was like they say, you know, he kind of glowed. Like a ray of light was around him. A kind of Jesus. He was wearing a light pink leather suit and had airbrushed flames all over, and engraved into the leather were flowers, hearts and bunnies. He made it himself, God he does it all. He also made the patent leather hat which was frayed into the shape of Warren Beatty’s hair in the movie Shampoo. And a pair of transparent Adidas that Mr. Adidas made for him in 1981. He was wearing solid gold socks underneath.
Me: Hey Chris, what the hell don’t you do?
Him: I don’t trust or love anyone, that’s what I don’t do.
Me: Why not?
Him: Because people are all creepy. Creepy creepy creeps, creeping all over the place. Creeping here, creeping there, creep-ing everywhere. Crippity crappity crappy creeps.
Me: Who do you think is the creepiest?
Him: You know, I’m glad you asked. At the moment, it has to be the people at Rolls-Royce over in Chichester, England.
Me: Yeah? Tell me more.
Him: Well, two years ago, they sent me a letter out of the blue saying that they had been watching my stuff for a while and really wanted to work together.
Me: Did they say which work they had seen?
Him: Yeah, I had done some work for Bentley a while back, and they said “Even though we hate Bentley, we loved the piece and would be delighted if you did something similar for Rolls-Royce.”
Me: What happened next?
Him: What happened next? I got on a call and laid out my terms for the project.
Me: What was the concept?
Him: The concept that I suggested was similar to that for the Bentley piece. I would need time and I would need resources – two things that are uncommon in the automotive advertising world.
Me: Please, explain.
Him: Well, things are usually pretty homogenous. For above-the-line work – TV, etc. – there is the agency apparatus, which is basically just a group of idiots who’re probably left wing communists who voted to ban all cars and who voluntarily ride a bike to work. They’re responsible for creating the visual experience for the client and the product. Then there’s below-the-line content. That stuff is usually run internally by the company’s PR department – some belt-wearing junior employee with square-toed shoes and pleated pants, or some minority, or some lesbian-looking woman who got the job thanks to affirmative action and has absolutely no vision whatsoever. They then reach out to bloggers and “opinion leaders” and “influencers” to invite them to a cattle call – a luxury trip, probably just a day or two. These blogger and influencer morons are flown to God knows where, are given access to a car for that amount of time, and pump out the same content based on the same collective experience in the same place.
Me: So did Rolls-Royce agree to your terms.
Me: So how did this all work?
Him: We agreed that I’d spend the next couple of years documenting my life with their vehicles, and at the end of it there would be a reveal in London with famous people. We would culturewash the product and we would all come across as superstars.
Me: Two years are over now. What’s happened in those two years?
Him: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX And I've sent them some unsolicited invoices.
Him: Yeah, I decided to become even less willing to compromise in my work or my choices.