Andrew W.K. resists labels, even though he has many--musician, club-owner, motivational speaker, writer, columnist, late-night television guest, and even husband. They're all placeholders of a sort, cultural shorthand to describe the core of Andrew W.K.: joy, possibility, positivism, and fun (also characterized as "a walking/talking ode to the Power of Positive Mental Attitude"). Andrew is a New York-based, multi-faceted performer and personality who has a long history of playing with and rearranging the borders of entertainment culture. The results of Andrew's work have ranged from his stint running the award-winning nightclub, Santos Party House (a place for positive partying and uplifting musical experiences), to working on the Cartoon Network's live-action show Destroy, Build, Destroy, to giving motivational and inspirational talks at Yale University, New York University, and Carnegie Mellon University. His most recent endeavor: Village Voice advice-dispenser, a role that let's him mete out his message of uplift and optimism on the mainstream regular.
Image courtesy Ashley Eberbach
If you could describe yourself in one hashtag, what would it be?
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
My wife, Cherie Lily. We met through our heavy metal singing teacher. I was looking for a girl to join my band. I had wanted a girl in my rock band for a long time, but I had trouble finding someone who could head bang really hard and handle the touring and singing and who had a party attitude. One day, I went into my teacher and there was this beautiful woman waiting for the next lesson. I was transfixed. I asked who she was and our teacher said, ‘That’s Cherie!’ She sort of set us up and now we’re married. She balances me out.
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
I do have goals and ambitions, but I keep those pretty private. I find they work better that way. But my main goal?... not to die.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the other people out there who have found value, goodness, and inspiration from what I’ve offered to the world through my work in partying.
What do you find most beautiful about a girl?
The face. The face is the expression of their soul, their personality; it’s not just how it looks, but how it moves, how it feels. Someone might not have a classically beautiful face, but still have the greatest face – a face you want to look at – a face full of life or full of expression. Faces are mind blowing and almost too intense to look out sometimes. There’s never a bad face. There are no really ugly faces – no wrong faces. If you have a face of any kind it’s the greatest gift.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t know and that’s part of the excitement. I turned myself over to forces beyond my control and have chosen to follow that path instead of my own conscious desires. Part of that involves a lot of surprise; I don’t even know what’s going to happen next. I’m constantly entertained by the opportunities and adventures that come my way. It’s not a bad idea for people to let themselves be carried along by life as much as they try to direct life.
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
I don’t have one. There’s too much to enjoy in this world to even begin to make a list.
Who has been the biggest male influence in your life and why?
My Dad, because he created me. He’s also very interesting.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
Moving to New York City. I moved here alone when I was 18, I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t really have a plan or know what I was doing or how to stay here, but I knew I wanted to be here. It’s the most intense place I could think of moving. All my dreams have continued to come true in my life, and that’s happened more than ever since I came to New York City.
What is one stereotype about men that isn’t really true?
I stopped thinking about men and women as men and women and more just as people. A lot of guys act like they don’t care about how they look, or what other people think of them. But deep down, they really do. A lot of the way guys deal with their fears is by pretending they don’t have any.
*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor