Is your book, Dandy in the Underworld, essentially banned in America?
I am banned not the book. Quite an achievement these days. In the old days writers were much more esteemed in Russia. They played a much larger part in society than they did in the West. The advantage of not being free is that people listen to you. An American writer, free to turn out books that no-one reads, might have actually envied a Soviet writer who was censored and imprisoned, for there is dignity and stature in being designated an enemy of the state. But to become an enemy of the United States of America?
It is a war that they simply cannot win. In the battle of wits they entered the skirmish almost totally unarmed.
How does that fit with the American image of being the land of “freedom of speech,” press and everything else? I hate children more than Herod. I am a dandy. The only place I would push a pram is into the Thames.
Freedom is a drunken whore.
I hate free speech. I like to pay for everything.
Freedom of speech is irrelevant. Freedom of thought is what matters.
If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you
really make them think, they’ll hate you.
It’s brave to let people hate you.
I hate children more than Herod. I am a dandy. The only place I would push a pram is into the Thames.
Were you honestly shocked or did you half-expect to be detained at the American Airport and deported back to England?
I was very shocked. In going to America I so longed to be worthy of assassination. I had to settle for deportation. There is nothing worse than not being allowed into a country you wouldn’t be seen dead in. I guess I was a threat to national insecurity. Or maybe I just had the wrong hattitude?
Style is when they’re running you out of town and you make it look as if you’re leading a parade. What I did was a very Dandy thing. I hate travel. My idea of travel is to lie on a divan and have the scenery carried past me. I stayed where I was. I brought America to me. I was on the front page of the New York Times not once but three times. An editorial in The Washington Post. CNN leading on it. All this and I was sitting in my one room in Soho.
What a triumph! Like all great dandys, I succeeded by paradox – taking the US by storm by being refused entry. I woke up one afternoon and found myself infamous. I had joined the ranks of Wilde, Byron and Rochester. To be great is to be misunderstood.
I’d like to take this opportunity of being in print to thank the US government. You couldn’t ask for better publicists. The public takes no interest in a work of art until it is told that the work in question is immoral.
Thank you. You cannot censor the gleam in my eye.
Are you happy with the response to the book, so far?
Writing for me is completely pointless. I only write to get my knob sucked – and the kind of girls I am attracted to are illiterate.
What were some memorable reviews—good or bad—from the English press, of your book?
“Sebastian Horsley, a man who has absolutely nothing to declare but his own lack of talent. He is a prat … a wanker. This book should be avoided by anyone of a nervous disposition or by anyone who has a fondness for the female sex. The question that may enter the enquiring mind is this : what exactly is the point of Sebastian Horsley? Do him a favour and bin it.” – The Standard
“An emotionally infantile spoiled brat, a vapid poser, he has less talent than a used condom.” – QX magazine
“His autobiographical theme of narcissistic bravado has already been successfully played by Beaton, Dali and other modernists ; his wit, and some of his style, is also borrowed – from Oscar Wilde and Quentin Crisp … Horsley adopts an artistic sensibility and has himself crucified in the Philippines. That’s been done, too, and better.” – The Times
“An insufferable cretin.” – The Leeds Guide
“An attention-seeking tosser…This book is forced and embarrassing. He is a show-off who can’t do anything. He has a wild artistic temperament, but no talent.” – The Telegraph
“Horsley is the grubby/moderately brighter equivalent of the model/actor. His heroes (Brummell, Byron and his namesake Sebastian Flyte) wouldn’t have liked Horsley. The chip on his shoulder squeals from every page. Spare yourselves this trivial autobiography and wait for him to appear on Celebrity Big Brother.” – The Literary Review
“Sebastian Horsley is a pervert who stands for everything that is wrong with British society today.” – Jeremy Vine
“Why don’t you just put it in the fucking bin!” – John Lydon
I rather enjoy the bad reviews, they make me laugh. When people hate me or don’t understand me it kinda cheers me up. It really does. It’s strange.
When did it first dawn on you that your book would become finally known as Dandy in the Underworld?
When I got a cheque. Money is the world’s greatest muse.
How long did it take you to finish the book? Do you have any particular writing habits?
It took about 47 years. Before you sit down to write you must have stood up to live.
The tools I need for my trade are ink, paper, alcohol, crack, heroin, tobacco, whores, and lots of money. Apart from that, nothing really.
How much of the autobiographical details in your book is pure, exaggerated or understated?
The whole book is pure. The best weapon is purity.
I never exaggerate. I just remember big.
Nothing is understated. Less is not more in prose and more is more in clothes.
Style is more important than truth.
Did you consume as many drugs as you said you did in your memoir? And which are the best and worst arguments for or against drugs?
Yes I did. Everything you see, I owe to crack cocaine. I took drugs to ape the angels, only to give wing to the devil.
What’s the best argument for drugs?
Drugs at dawn make the days shorter.
And the worst argument against it?
Drugs are a cure for unhappiness and who wants that?
How many prostitutes have you actually slept with, thus far?
1,966 but who’s counting?
I have been told I treat objects like women. Not that I want you to get any wrong ideas. Bar two thousand odd prostitutes, I am actually quite chaste.