Joe Matt: The Interview

Do you know of cartoonist Joe Matt? You should if you're a fan of Mr. Skin.

Like Mr. Skin, Matt fast-forwards to the good parts. He has thousands of hours of edited porn tapes, a visual encyclopedia of what turns him on, and he shares this obsession.

No, you can't borrow Joe's tapes. Sorry. Those are for more private encounters. But Mr. Matt has chronicled his pornographic addiction and masturbation habit with readers of his Peepshow comic book, published by Drawn & Quarterly. And those stories have been collected in beautifully designed books such as Peepshow: The Cartoon Diary of Joe Matt, The Poor Bastard, and Fair Weather.

Most recently Matt has published Spent (Drawn & Quarterly), which details his love of porn and a masturbation schedule that would leave lesser men hospitalized. Read this book and unshackle yourself from the chains of self-love oppression. Matt takes jerking off out of the closet and embraces it with, well, one hand. You'll need two to applaud this noble venture.

Mr. Skin sat down with Matt to talk about his new book, his old habits, and the ladies that leave him spent, both the porn and mainstream variety. After meeting Matt you'll want to be his friend, so visit his MySpace page to keep up with this talented cartoonist.

Spent is a return to the present-day Joe Matt after a detour into your childhood with the previous collection, Fair Weather. It's the old Joe Matt masturbator that we know and love. Was the nostalgic story just an anomaly, or will you mine the past for more stories?

I will mine stories from my past in the far future, like my teenage years. But I don't think of Spent as a current storyline because it's still set in Toronto and I've been in L.A. for four and a half years now. I think of it as more a follow-up to The Poor Bastard.

The Poor Bastard shows a relationship deteriorating, then the flailing aftershocks, and finally, me embracing my porn addiction, which is really the theme of Spent. Spent is focused on porn and compulsive masturbating, the whole loneliness of my life.

Is it liberating or masochistic to take your secret shame and make it a public pride?

It's certainly not masochistic. It's cathartic for a few minutes, while you're doing it, in the process, but not really. It doesn't last. It's more just fulfilling somehow for me to try to rise to the level of craft that I aspire to that can only be achieved through effort.

You must exaggerate to some degree the amount of time you masturbate or spend editing the perfect reel of sex scenes. In fact you admit fabricating a threesome in The Poor Bastard.

That's the only fabrication. Everything else is completely honest. Truly. Nothing is fabricated.

How does your cartoon honesty affect your relationships in the real world? A friend of mine, a superhuman masturbator, said that there were girls who avoided shaking his hand because they knew where it had likely been only minutes before.

It should, but it doesn't. Maybe it does, but I don't see it.

Does it give you a stigma?

It might, but whatever it gives me I don't really care about. I live a life of solitude. My life isn't filled with a lot of socializing and my friends are my friends. I'm not in a relationship now. I'm not promiscuous at all. I don't go out chasing women.

Do you have any groupies that want to have sex with you just to see how you'll draw them in a comic?

Whenever I deal with fans some other part of me turns off. I just go into this mode where I'm trying to be gregarious and friendly. I'm very uncomfortable with the whole interaction between men and women. I really feel that if there's anyone out there for me it's going to be really hard to find her. I have my eyes open, but I don't have any hope.

The last girl I pursued was an autobiographical cartoonist. I thought she'd be perfect. She does exactly what I do. I thought it'd work out because we both have a shared occupation. It was disastrous. I made assumptions she'd be just like me and she wasn't. I'll probably write about that in my next book.

What sort of porn and porn stars get you off?

It's always changing. My specific tastes in girls tend to be dark haired and petite. And usually somewhat exotic to me, like Asian, Latina, or mixed.

Of course I'm always chasing after something new, trying to find new material, new stars. I would rent everything with a certain star for a while and then get burnt out. After twenty scenes I'd have enough of this person.

Just in the last week, one of the porn stars I've gone out of my way to rent and dub is Alexis Love. She's great. I just discovered her a few months ago. I'm always looking for her name on boxes. Brooke Milano is another favorite.

Like any addiction, do you chase after a stronger, stranger hit?

No. I still love looking at my old tapes. Today, like every other morning, I woke up and watched some of my tapes that I made.

The classics?

I might watch something from last week that I dubbed from DVD to tape and edited, or I may watch something I dubbed ten or fifteen years ago. Like in the comic, I probably average about ten orgasms a day. I just had two or three this morning. I'll have more later tonight. I live a life of leisure where I don't have any commitments so I have a lot of free time—

On your hands? You've said you're addicted to porn; do you have any desire to stop watching it and masturbating?

I use the word addiction just because everybody understands it. I think it implies a loss of control, which I will not admit to. I feel like it's always a choice to embrace this habit, this love, this behavior. I left my room today to come meet you. I could have said, "We're not doing this interview," and chose to stay home and continue to masturbate. Whatever motivation I would need to not do it doesn't exist.

I have to say you're incredibly productive for somebody who jerks off as much as you admit to.

I'm not productive.

You've published four books.

Yeah, in the last twenty years, and I'm grateful I have four books out. If I worked harder I could have had ten books out.

Outside of adult entertainment, do you recall the first time you saw a nude scene in a mainstream movie?

Not so much nude, but in Spent I show myself as a teenager taking the TV into the bathroom to watch Bedazzled with Raquel Welch. I would have been like thirteen or fourteen, every week checking the TV Guide for her movies—Bedazzled, Fathom . . .

One Million Years B.C.?

I should have liked that. But just like Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Picture: 1), what I really like is the unveiling of the body to the bikini. The clothes have to come off. The image of the body in the bikini was what I was after.

When I was younger, it was Ginger from Gilligan's Island. It was Ginger's aggressive behavior, and then that kind of kissing. That holding a kiss with Gilligan, that aroused me as a kid. You didn't see kisses held like that, and you didn't see such an aggressive woman attack such a meek, little guy.

I watched Gilligan's Island every day waiting for that moment when Ginger would put the screws to Gilligan. When she would turn on that sex appeal, and I actually show that in my first book, I would be wiggling around on the floor. Humping the floor. Not even aware of what I was doing. This was when I was around six or seven years old. My mom would smack me like a dog.

Your comic-book series is called Peepshow. Did you go to actual peepshows?

I did, but not that often.

Did they have the glassless peeps where you grew up in Philadelphia?

No, I just went into a booth and watched video clips. Nothing live. I've always had an aversion to live stuff, like strippers or live peepshows. I don't want to be around anything live because it's too real. I want the distance of the technology of video.

Strippers don't interest me. They depress me. It's all just too bizarre. It's too real. The real thing doesn't compare to the fantasy. The real thing sweats and poops and smells.

Some people like that.

I don't like that. I like being the voyeur who's just watching.

You mention Tina Louise (Picture: 1), who plays Ginger on Gilligan's Island, but are there other actresses that you're interested in?

Jessica Alba (Picture: 1). The minute Sin City came out and she was dancing on that bar, I was in the theater on opening day. Then I was counting the days until it would come out on DVD so I could control it. But that still wasn't enough.

Recently she said that she'll never go nude onscreen.

I don't care. She doesn't need to take her clothes off. It's more about the lighting and her body in that scene. The lighting on a female body can really push all my buttons.

Natalie Portman (Picture: 1) has always been my favorite visually. She's so frigging cute and beautiful, but she's not that sexual to me. I used to own all of her movies, but I wasn't masturbating to them. She was the one celebrity I was constantly obsessed with, although I'd say it was more of an aesthetic appreciation than anything.

Speaking of movies, there was talk that HBO was interested in developing some of your work for the screen.

They were interested in turning The Poor Bastard into a series. There was no real vision of what the show could be. I wrote a pilot with David X. Cohen from Futurama and Donick Carey, a Simpsons writer.

I want somebody with a very clear vision, somebody to do everything, and whatever money rolls in I'll be happy to take. I still need to do my books and just think of myself as a cartoonist. I don't want to deal with any of this TV or film stuff. I don't even have a freakin' car. What am I going to do, take the bus to write some show somewhere?

Do you plan to regale your readers with your adventures in Tinseltown?

Yes. My next book will be about the last five years of my life, leaving Toronto, coming to Hollywood, and focusing on a relationship that I had out here. I was engaged to this girl. That's really what's driving me, that ongoing pain stokes my furnace.

In a sense, Mr. Skin has done all the hard work you illustrate in Spent, editing movies down to the good parts. I know you don't own a computer, but have you any interest in the site?

I'm not interested in computers in general. Just like in Spent, I like masturbating on my bed, in a certain position, where the TV is low. I like to lie on my stomach. I don't want to be jerking off in a chair in front of the computer screen.

When was the last time you masturbated?

What time did we meet? An hour and twenty minutes ago?

Did you wash your hands?

I took a shower. You called me. I was masturbating when you called me.

Do you find me erotic?

Hah! I'm so heterosexual it's not even funny. I hung up the phone, masturbated twice—very quickly to a video—and then took a shower, ran out and met you. It's the calming effect of the orgasm that I'm usually after. I didn't want to be nervous during this interview. Like in There's Something About Mary, that loaded-gun talk, I always want to be like that when I'm out in the world. So I do it a lot.

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