We all have our price. What’s yours?
Bill Drummond knows. And he ought to: on August 23, 1994, he burned a million pounds of the hard-earned money that you paid for the albums he produced as one half of the KLF, aka The Jamms, aka The Timelords, aka The Justified Ancients of Muu Muu. It took about an hour, and, by all accounts (okay, only one: that of journalist Jim Reid, the sole witness), it was kind of boring.
Gimpo, a frequent collaborator of the KLF, filmed the entire incident. Only one print of the film exists, and, from time to time, Gimpo will screen it in a gallery somewhere. After the first showing of the film, Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, the other Justified Ancient, asked the audience the following question: “Is It Rock ‘n’ Roll?”
Consensus was that it was not rock and roll.
One of Drummond’s more recent projects, You Whores, is more amusing and less expensive. Launched in 2004, You Whores is Craigslist with a brain, or the infamous eBay auction “I Will Kick Your Ass” with less malice and more density.
You Whores is an exercise in style. It strips the classified advertisement down to its very core, flensing away utility until all that’s left are the obscure objects of desire:
Ill of the Dead
For just £25 per week, I will speak ill of the dead. Let me know which dead person you want badmouthed, and I’ll invent some scurrilous yet believable stories about their sexual deviancy/wife-beating prowess/shoplifting exploits/secret serial-killing sprees (delete as applicable), and relate said stories to at least five people per week until your money runs out. A special cut-price offer is available on Richard Madeley, even though he’s not dead yet. Apply for details.
United Kingdom – 23/08/04
I will, for no funds, hold open the door for you after I have passed thru it, I will dispose of my litter sensibly and not spit or piss in the street, I will smile nicely at you, I will however, call you a cunt if I think you deserve it.
tim the polite of peckham
United Kingdom – 14/07/04
Imagine if there was a chick out there who lusted after *YOU* every single time she masturbated
Now, here’s your chance.
For a price, I will think of you and only you every time I commit acts of self-love during a time period.
I will picture you in my mind, and pretend that all pleasurable touches come from your hands. I will pretend the rubber manhood thrusting in and out of me belongs to you. I will breathe your name heavily. I will lust after you. I will dream of you. I will long for you. And I will always fully believe that you have a huge cock.
Every orgasm will be with the thought of you in my mind. I will scream your name as I come repeatedly.
Prices in US Funds:
$10 a day
$45 a week
$300 a month
During each time period, I vow to commit acts of self-love to orgasm, at the very least, once per day, no matter what.
For $5 extra per day, per request, I will cater my self-love to your whims. Bondage? Sure. I’ll tie myself up tightly and enjoy it. Anal penetration? Sure, I’ll give that a go. Whatever your fetish, I’ll do my best to do whatever you want me to do, and I will love it.**
For $400 extra, the next time I actually get laid, I will scream your name at the height of passion. I will pretend it is you, and I will think of you the entire time.***
Pictures and self descriptions are optional, but will greatly assist in the full capture of my lust for you.
** I reserve the right to know my limits. Prices may rise depending on how far past my comfort level your requests go.
*** Price rises to $750 if I am serious about the guy I will be screaming your name to, unless you happen to share the same name.
Canada – 20/06/04
Say Nice Things About You At Your Funeral
Worried that the day to mark your passing is going to be an Eleanor Rigby type affair?
Fear not, for 20% of your estate (or £1000, whichever the greater) plus travel and overnight accomodation expenses, I will pretend to have known you, deliver a stirring eulogy, and then get drunk at your wake.
Applicants must supply either an annually updated biography (1 page max) or a link to their blog.
United Kingdom – 19/06/04
… and so on.
The general process behind You Whores is not particularly new. Doulas Huebler’s 1973 conceptual art project Secrets is a direct ancestor. Huebler asked gallery attendees to write a secret anonymously on a slip of paper and to drop it into a collection box, then documented the results in book form. Secrets shares the same unhinged declarative mode ab> better or worse than You Whores, just more poignant in places:
I loathe my husband.
I’m scared of men
I’m happy to be leaving my job of 33 years
I fucked my dead mother on a table in Siberia.
I’m pregnant and I don’t know what to do with the baby
I think I am obsessed by sex
No one knows but I am one of the 40 virtuous people for whom God does not destroy the world.
A girl friend of mine has a case of the clap but I haven’t told her.
I’ve always wanted to be somebody
I am a failure
It’s possible to argue that with You Whores, the use of the Web as a combined collection and publication device makes all the world into an art gallery, but that would be missing the point: a few lines of code obviates the need for either the presence of the gallery system or of a self-identified artist. Not that You Whores renders the world of galleries and blue-chip artists obsolete; big art is a closed, self-sustaining system that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the whimsies of a former music producer and a handful of antisocial but clever adolescents. Nor does You Whores quite finish the project of democratizing art that conceptualism promised but never delivered. The Web doesn’t turn everyone into an artist; it turns everyone into a nerd.
In the end, it’s a lot like taking a million pounds to the Isle of Jura in the middle of the night and setting fire to them fifty quid at a time: briefly entertaining, but not rock and roll.
Originally published as “Alienated 2: You Whores.” Matrix 72 (fall 2005): 8-9