Kids Director Larry Clark: 'If I Had Lived Anywhere Else I Would Have Been Shot or Executed 40 Years Ago'


Larry Clark/Facebook

American filmmaker Larry Clark talked to Dazed as part of its "States of Independence" series, which the British magazine describes as a month-long "celebration of American radicalism, youth, and pop culture." As the director of films like Kids, Ken Park, and Marfa Girl, Clark has been a celluloid celebrant of these things for a couple of decades now. (We can thank Clark for Chloë Sevigny, though he also brought us Harmony Korine.) Before that, he documented his own youthful indiscretions in photo books such as Tulsa, which begins with this preface: 

i was born in tulsa oklahoma in 1943. when i was sixteen i started shooting amphetamine. i shot with my friends everyday for three years and then left town but i've gone back through the years. once the needle goes in it never comes out. L.C.

At 71, Clark is about to release his first foreign language film, The Smell of Us, about skate kids in Paris. He recently sold a series of snapshots he took of street kids and skate punks in 1990s New York City for £100 per image. (Which is apparently a bargain.) "I photographed the skate kids so much in the early 90s and it's almost embarrassing to tell them how much work goes for," he told Dazed. "It was important for me to do this show so that the kids can have a souvenir." More from the interview: 

Does the American Dream still exist? 

Larry Clark: Absolutely. I always say that if I had lived anywhere else I would have been shot or executed forty years ago. But in America I've been able to have that freedom to do what I want and say what I want, to observe and document the world as I see it. I feel very blessed to be an American and have that freedom.

(…) Who gave you your first break? Do you still talk?

Larry Clark: Now, that is a question. I really have to think about that one…actually, I think I've always made my own breaks. If I look back at my life, I'm pretty satisfied that nobody ever gave me anything. Everything I've done, I've done myself. That makes me feel really good. I guess there is a self-satisfaction thing there.

Read the whole thing here. Check out more from Dazed's American youth-culture love-fest here

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  1. Kids was a creepy fucking movie.

    1. I tend to think of it as a horror movie.

    2. Pretty much.

      It’s just the first in a series of Clark’s creepy erotic fantasies about young men.

      I was in 8th grade when Kids came out and even then noticed the hypocrisy in people championing it as some sort of accurate portrayal of our (teens) lives while simultaneously clutching their pearls at the possibility of us being able to sneak into a theater to see it.

      1. I was 8 when it came out, so I wasn’t really scared of AIDS.

    3. Kids was a creepy fucking movie….with a great sound track.

  2. My straight-edge, leftist friend ( a real leftist, not simply to the left of Sarah Palin) claimed that Kids was an effective warning to concerned folx of the dangers that sweet, innocent children face in a debased world.

    I saw it a bit differently….

  3. Hey Larry, why don’t you talk to Eric Garner about the “freedom” of which you speak?

  4. That movie gave me AIDS, but it was still better than Gummo.

    1. And the rooster says…Cock-a-doodle-dooooo!!!!!

    2. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that wasn’t better than Gummo.

      1. The real question is is: Was Spring Breakers better?

  5. Kids – the movie that taught me how easy it is to get AIDS from Chloe Sevigny.

    Also, the vast majority of American kids already have AIDS and are spreading it through hetero sex. True story.

  6. Read the whole thing here.


  7. I remember when Kids came out. I was in middle school and it was one of those movies that only the cool, skater kids had even heard about. I think I finally saw it a few years ago when it popped up on the DTV guide and it triggered the memory of needing to see what all the fuss was about.

  8. You didn’t build that! Those skaters skateboarded on public roads and railings and such! #presidentderp

  9. I think I’ve always made my own breaks.

    You poor deluded fool. You’d be living in a cardboard box somewhere if the government hadn’t invented the Talkies.

  10. tl;dr

    Never heard of any of this shit, and this dude sounds like (from the few sentences I read) what we used to refer to as a “trendy art fuck.” NTTAWWT. Free country and all that…but he’s operating in a different dimension from most folks. Again, NTTAWWT….just ain’t my bag, dig.

    1. Not so much a trendy art fuck. More like a creepy pedophile with a camera.


      1. Good point. Why isn’t Kids considered kiddie porn? Particularly in a “free country” in which we seriously threaten to prosecute 12 yr old girls as child pornographers for taking pictures of themselves in their skivvies.

        1. Some kid I graduated high school with just got arrested for receiving those exact pictures you just mentioned!

        2. Because trendy art fucks are allowed to fuck kids. Aristocratic privilege.

          1. As long as the kids are “not… unresponsive” to it.

      2. I know you probably aren’t too serious, but this is kind of a pet peeve of mine. Regardless of what the law says, attraction to sexually mature teens is not pedophilia. It may be creepy and inappropriate to act on it in many cases, but it is perfectly normal sexuality.

        1. Yeah. At my local bar, we like to ogle women as they walk by the plate glass windows. Sometimes, a girl from the high school will walk by. The initial response is the typical “Damn! Nice ass. Fine looking.” etc. Then we realize she is in high school and everybody agrees to drop the matter.

      3. One of his recent “shorts” is the star of his feature “Marfa Girl” fucking a porn star. It starts by interviewing the kid* and then is pretty much just explicit pornography for 10 minutes.

        * I think he’s 18 or 19, but he definitely looks younger

    2. listen to the Kids sound track.

      Its pretty good.

      Other then that it is basically Fast Times at Ridgmont High…but with AIDS

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