This interview with Jim Carroll was conducted by Legs & Gillian in 1995 on the terrace of Legs old apartment at 87 St. Marks Place in New York for Please Kill Me. In the background, you can faintly hear a saxophone player blowing away, a rather appropriate backdrop for Carroll’s voice.
Jim was in fine form for the interview, even going so far as to try out some new material from something he was writing. As Legs remembered, “Jim was telling us a story about jerking off in the bathroom when he heard about the JFK assassination and his mother catching him. This story segued into a story about the Cuban Missile Crisis when Jim’s older brother taunted him about facing down the Apocalypse.”
Indeed, as Jim told Gillian & Legs, “My brother said, ‘Don’t worry, if those sirens start ringing by 10:00 this morning down in the school gymnasium, we’ll have enough concentrated wafers and water to last three months!’
“And I thought, ‘Don’t worry? Great! We’ll be living on fucking crackers for three months in the gymnasium!’ The old Ground Zero was 42nd Street, and then they’d draw lines, if you’re in this zone you’re going to be incinerated immediately, and in this zone, this you’re going to die within two days…’ I mean, like, I was in the first fucking zone, so I was going to be incinerated immediately! It was certainly good incentive for youthful nihilism, and just like with the blackout, years later, I thought the Russians were coming!”
“My brother, who was a year older than me, had a totally different makeup than me, because he was teasing me before we went to sleep that night, you know, “I heard that all the Soviet ambassadors and all the Cuban ambassadors are getting planes out of town! Boy, the bombs are coming! And I said, “Why are you kidding about that?”
“I’m totally shitting in my pants, but then I said, ‘At least I don’t fucking wake up crying after “Creature Features” and have nightmares,’ cause my brother would always have nightmares, and I’d never have nightmares after the horror movies on Friday night, so it pissed me off that he was pulling my chain now!”
Besides the sibling rivalry over ground zero, Jim was also very forthcoming about his relationship with Patti Smith, and wanted to dispel some inaccuracies in the Patricia Morrisroe book, Mapplethorpe: A Biography, that had just been published.
As Jim told Gillian & Legs, “In the Mapplethorpe book it says Patti left me, after she picked my mind about poetry, and got some recognition of her own, but it didn’t happen that way. We just kind of drifted apart, you know, she was like, ‘I was faithful to you and you kept fucking the fashion model!’”
That was just part of the fun stuff from the interview, and in the following clip from “Please Kill Me: Voices From the Archives,” Jim remembers meeting Patti Smith for the first time….
Jim Carroll website: CatholicBoy.com