The NSA and me

Jonathan Grossmaleran, from the September 2013 issue

By Jonathan Grossmalerman

Courtesy Jonathan Grossmalerman

This Snowden/NSA debacle has really got out of hand. The thought of that mindboggling heap of data he has yet even to leak makes me shudder, and it’s got me to thinking that maybe I should get ahead of this ‘info curve’ and do my own ‘data dump’! That way, when the public reads awful things about me on the Internet, they can say to themselves, ‘Big whoop! I already knew all that stuff and at least I got it straight from the horse’s mouth!’

So, here we go... stuff that I’ve done and had always planned to keep to myself but because of the government everyone now knows... well, I mean, they don’t know now but probably will... I mean they certainly will now that I’m telling them. Anyway... this isn’t going to be easy for me. I’m not proud of some of it...

Most people are unaware that the artworld was pretty high up on the NSA’s list of snooping priorities

Like the time in 2005 I went to the Hugo Boss awards in a suit I stole off a truck. Well, I didn’t actually steal it. My assistant Neal stole it. But I told him to. So I guess I bear some of the responsibility. Even though it wasn’t actually even the suit I wanted. I wanted the cream summer wool one. Neal is always fucking up like that.

I bet you’re thinking, ‘So you had your assistant steal a suit! Big deal!’ It gets worse. Like when Ashcroft was still attorney general. That guy would call me every week to try and talk me into spying on the artworld for him. He had a keener understanding of contemporary art’s threat than he was ever really credited for. 

In any case, I was all for it, but we could never agree on my title or the licence to kill, epaulettes and sabre/belt accessory stipulated in my contract. One justice department mission I did accept was spying on Dash Snow. Mostly because his drugs were excellent. In fact, I was with him the night he died, though it wasn’t me who killed him. 

The CIA did that. They were terrified of Dash Snow because he was so smart, talented and articulate and had an axe to grind with the government. Mostly regarding unreasonable cigarette taxes. A gripe we both shared! I liked that kid. It was wrong to kill him like that. He could have been the voice of a generation.

I was also key in bringing the FBI’s attention to G***’s murder pit. A rough-hewn hole of unspeakable horror smack dab in the middle of Chelsea. After a great deal of initial interest the FBI took a pass on pressing any charges or even shutting the murder pit down. G*** must have known I was the snitch, because he was curt at a party, and later that week a stranger approached me on the street and smashed my right leg with a Crescent wrench, breaking it in three places. The murder pit is still in operation today. I was there just last week! I had a really great time.

Beyond all the little embarrassing data points – like how I bought all of my own paintings at my ‘breakout’ show or was caught completely off-guard by the ending of The Crying Game, and that I don’t love my children, any of them, or how I had my penis unsuccessfully ‘fattened’ by some conman in Mexico, and the time I was arrested for stealing Alex Katz’s colour-mixing recipes, and how ugly the end of my affair with Courtney Love actually was (the tabloids don’t know the half of it!) or how I got lost on Sixth Avenue (Sixth Avenue, for Christ’s sake! How does anyone get lost on Sixth Avenue?!), there’s really only one other scoop worth mentioning.

I taught George W. Bush to paint.

It was me. I did it!

It was done as a favour and it wasn’t easy.

This article was first published in the September 2013 issue.