Buzzine sat down at The Vanguard in Hollywood, California with Paul Provenza, from The Green Room with Paul Provenza, and Dan Dion – noted portrait photographer, internationally acclaimed artist, and Paul's co-author on a new book entitled ¡Satiristas! Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs, and Vulgarians. iSatiristas! features insightful interviews with an amazing range of comedians, including Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Lewis Black, Jay Leno, Robin Williams and, in what became his final interview, the legendary George Carlin. In a touch of genius, the book is edited in such a way that the interviews truly flow from one to another, and the subjects even react and respond to each other's jabs and parries. In another touch of genius, we got Paul to interview Dan for us…
Paul Provenza: This is a project that Dan and I did that springs from his remarkable work with comedians. Dan and I worked together for quite a while, and we interacted with 60 or 70 of the most brilliant minds in subversive iconoclastic comedy, and I just felt like Dan doesn’t really get a chance to come out front much because he’s always behind the lens… So Dan, what was your favorite part about working with me?
Dan Dion: When we wrapped and we turned it in. Turning it in was the best part.
PP: It was a good feeling. And how do you feel my contribution to the book enhanced yours?
DD: Having the people that you were already close to opened everyone up. You’re not a journalist – you’re a friend, and you’re bringing this out with people, starting conversations with them, and there was never any of those hacky “where do you get your jokes” questions or any of that other business. It always went straight to it.
PP: How do you feel your photographs detracted from the stuff I was doing?
DD: It showed them as who they are, as opposed to you allowing them to elevate themselves to a status that they don’t deserve.
PP: So all in all, this was the greatest thing that ever happened to you – working with me?
DD: Absolutely. I’m sure I’d be sucking cock over on Hollywood Boulevard right now if I didn’t have this project well in hand, and the money is rolling in. It is, isn’t it? Right?
PP: In that it’s coins. They’re rolling them now at the bank. But I enjoyed working with you…
DD: …I enjoyed working with you.
PP: …I feel like we did terrific work together. I feel like the greatest compliment that we could have gotten is that the artists presented in the book are thrilled with how they were presented – they feel like it was a truthful, honest portrait…
DD: It’s the same thing with my pictures – I’m not shooting for editors…
PP: We’re not talking about your pictures…
DD: We are talking about my pictures here. This is your show, but this is my interview. For me, I don’t care about the editors. In a way, I don’t care about my clients.
PP: F*ck ‘em.
DD: For me, when the subjects themselves come back to me and say, “That’s my favorite picture.” Last night, Lewis Black said that to me: “That’s my favorite picture of myself.” So that’s the greatest compliment I can get.
PP: It is a great compliment, and it’s true and it’s beautiful, and that’s what inspired the whole thing. All the interviews and all the conversations with the performers are all driven from the openness and the intimacy of your work, and I personally have masturbated to the photographs…
DD: Ooh, the color spreads, I hope. Because they will wipe clean much better…
PP: I think the book deserves a wider audience. [Laughs]
DD: The light varnish on the color spreads have a better wipe-ability.
PP: Buy the book, please, because Dan’s kids… [Laughs]
DD: …Public school, people.
‘¡Satiristas! Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs and Vulgarians’ is out now from HarperCollins Publishing.
Season 2 of ‘The Green Room with Paul Provenza’ is airing now on Showtime.