The quotable quotes of Index magazine

A look back at the indie bible that defined late 90s/early 00s NYC

Kathleen Hanna
Kathleen Hanna Photography by Leeta Harding, Courtesy of Rizzoli

Back when X-girl was in every alterna-girl's closet and that Quad City DJs song was still tearing up the radiowaves, a New York artist named Peter Halley and curator Bob Nickas scooped up the best bits of fringe subculture and fixed it into the pages of their new magazine. Index was a cult bible from 1996 to 2005 that – alongside cherry-picking some heady personalities – included some hilariously brash voxpops that could only exist in a magazine like Index. To match the raw wit of the amazing names they slapped on the cover (think Bijou Phillips, Casey Affleck, Kathleen Hanna and John Waters – and, check out this throwback video interview with budding young singer Lizzy Grant), the visual aesthetic had to be pared back – hardly more than a flash pop and the Index logo. The inside pages championed photographers of that style – Juergen Teller, Mark Borthwick and Leeta Harding – and had a buffet of off-kilter celebs at a time when they weren't on the latest-release promo trail. The intimate conversations weren't centred around any latest project baloney, but just about the 'celebrity' as a person. Index was downtown New York, and its legacy resonates in these hysterical quotes that graced its pages for almost a decade – snippets from the full interviews that come together in a new book from Rizzoli titled Index A to Z.

RICHARD WANG - MY WEEK IN LONDON

“It’s really the girls in London who are gross. Unstylish, horsey girls abound. To make it even more obvious, the girls pair themselves with all the superhot English guys! It is a total peacock/peahen situation over there.”

ALEXANDER McQUEEN WITH BJORK

Björk: “When I was thinking about you, for some reason I remembered an interview I'd read with this one architect. His theory is that the people who collect ideas feel really threatened by those who create from nothing. That’s what he means by the 'tyranny of the oblivious'. Which group do you think you are in?”

Alexander McQueen: “I would be the dreamer. I get my ideas out of my dreams. Does that make me a tyrant?”

Bjork
Björk Photography by Juergen Teller, Courtesy of Rizzoli

BRIAN ENO WITH PETER HALLEY

“I’ve often thought that there are two varieties of artists. There’s the fussy type, which I tend to be, who always censor themselves, and then there are people like Miles Davis and Prince who just say, 'Look, if it came from me, it’s probably good.'”

JENA MALONE

"Now that I'm 18 I can buy cigarettes and lottery tickets. But I've been emancipated for a while so it's sort of strange. My friends took me to a strip club for my birthday. That's another thing you can do legally when you're 18 – see naked women and men."

Jena Malone
Jena Malone Photography by Richard Kern, Courtesy of Rizzoli

HARMONY KORINE

“I am one hundred per cent commercial, patriot, auteurist, new waver, and I’ll die with my secrets of independence and righteousness.”

JENNIFER COOLIDGE WITH AMY SEDARIS

“There’s a girl in my gym, and she had all this weird shit done to her face. I can’t take my eyes off her – she doesn’t look like any human being I’ve ever seen. My trainer was saying that her face had been green for about four months. I’m not talking light green. She had a bright green face. It must have been a cheekbone implant that backfired.”

WERNER HERZOG

“Porno films are movie movies, like Fred Astaire films are movie movies. I scared my wife recently by saying that I should be the first director to make a real porno movie.”

Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog Photography by Doug Aitken, Courtesy of Rizzoli

WES ANDERSON AND OWEN WILSON WITH MARINA ISOLA

Owen Wilson: “I had performed a little before, although I have never taken acting classes. I am hesitating to say this, but I don’t think there’s much to acting. Wait, that sounds horrible. No, it’s difficult to be a good actor.”

HELMUT NEWTON WITH LEETA HARDING

“Well, there’s the Purple thing, and Dazed & Confused. They all ask me to contribute, but I just feel that those pages should be filled by young people, not by old geezers like me.”

JOHN WATERS WITH PETER HALLEY AND BOB NICKAS

"I hate (sports) because I hate the idea that men assume other men have an interest in it. When you get into a cab in a strange city, and the driver talks about a football game, I think, How dare you say that to me? Would I get into a car and say, 'Wasn't Fassbinder's last movie great?' No, I would never do that. So why do you think I'm interested in that?"

John Waters, 1996
John Waters, 1996 Photography by Wolfgang Tillmans, Courtesy of Rizzoli

APHEX TWIN (RICHARD D. JAMES) WITH MEREDITH DANLUCK

“How do you know I haven't? (done a chart-busting pop song) I've done loads of secret things. There are quite a few that no one has come close to guessing.  But then, a lot of people think everything electronic is mine. I get credited for so many things, it's incredible. I'm practically everyone, I reckon – everyone and nobody.”

DAME DARCY READS THE PALM OF CAROL CHANNING

“Well, she (Marlene Dietrich) could never get John Wayne into bed with her. Maria told me that it drove her crazy, not getting him into bed. That’s the only person she couldn’t get. She got everybody she ever worked with! And sex wasn’t even such a driving force. It was just ego… I just think she’s great. And she’s probably the opposite of me. I’m a Girl Scout, you know. And she just tries EVERYBODY out!”

HEDI SLIMANE

"In order to design, I have to be inside the workroom. I need technical people around. I need to build the clothes."

Hedi Slimane
Hedi Slimane photographed in LA Photography by Doug Aitken, Courtesy of Rizzoli

BIJOU PHILLIPS WITH BRUCE LABRUCE

“I mean, if he’s dumb enough to stick his finger in the fucking cigar cutter in the first place, then he deserves a little nick. I gave him a little nick, and that was it… Everyone was like, 'She cut the fuckin’ finger off, man, the finger was on the floor, she picked it up, it was horrible. I don’t know, dude, she’s fuckin’ nuts.'”

Index A to Z is out now, published by Rizzoli 

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