Ten Bizarre Celebrity Painters
1. Yakov Smirnoff
You remember Yakov Smirnoff. He made it moderately big in the Eighties telling crappy one-liners about life in the Soviet Union. Then the Soviet Union collapsed, thankfully ending nearly a century of repression, countless acts of injustice, and Smirnoff’s career. Unlike Marxist-Leninism, Smirnoff didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit,’ so he currently performs in his own theater in Branson, Missouri, the only place in the world other than North Korea that doesn’t realize the Cold War has been over for twenty years.
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Humorous portraits of daily life in Russia before everyone realized lining up for hours to buy underwear was a stupid way to run a country. Either that or houses.
What He Actually Paints: Himself as Jesus.
This is Yakov’s painting “Joy To the World.” On his website he says he wanted to show Jesus’ sense of humor and we think he’s captured it. Nobody could use that much hairspray un-ironically. The creepiest part of this painting is the eerie similarity between our Lord and Savior and one Yakov Smirnoff. Could it be that Christ has returned and is performing 8 shows a week in Branson? “What a Country!”
2. Viggo Mortensen
Whether he’s fighting Russian gangsters, blowing away punks, saving Middle Earth, or just staring at you with those smoldering eyes, Viggo Mortenson has been cinema’s go-to sensitive tough guy for years. He’s badass enough to kick ass all day long, but caring enough to bring back scented candles and Pamprin on his way home.
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Something intense, maybe a little violent, and definitely featuring hobbits.
What He Actually Paints: Self portraits that don’t look anything like him.
This is Mortenson’s self.portrait.april.99-02. You can’t tell from the goatee up there, but those are his lips underneath all that blood red and puke yellow. Who are we kidding, we’d recognize them anywhere. Viggo’s paintings have a certain panache, but they all tend to look like something the weird kid with dyed black hair in art class would do. maybe it’s just us, but we’d rather think of Mortenson as a heartless killmachine hellbent on vengeance than a mopey teen with a chip on his shoulder and My Chemical Romance on his iPod. And would it kill him to throw in an orc once in a while?
3. Takeshi Kitano
Takeshi Kitano is a Japanese actor, director, comedian, and TV personality. By day, he appears on several television shows and generally acts like a clown for the cameras. But by night, he puts down his giant inflatable hammers and makes some the most intense, violent cop flicks around. His first movie cut the crap and was actually just called Violent Cop. In his masterpiece Fireworks (above), he plays a bitter cop who takes bribes from Yakuza, robs a bank, stabs a dude in the eye with a chopstick, and to prove he’s a good husband, shoots himself and his wife at the end of the flick.
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Lots of people getting the crap beaten out of them, violent and poetic scenes of gun play, sushi.
What He Actually Paints: Animals with flowers for faces.
Yes, Mr. Tough Guy paints pretty little flowers and cute little animals. The above painting is from the same film Fireworks. The film is full of his paintings which are all animals with flowers for faces. They might be some kind of hidden message that underneath the cool, violent exterior, Kitano is actually a sensitive soul yearning for someone to see the real him. That maybe true, but we just want to see him waste bad guys. And, for the record Takeshi, those pink flowers would have been a way better substitue for a particular part of the female anatomy. Just in case you do a sequel.
4. Jerry Garcia
Former leader of psychedelic jam band The Grateful Dead and current rotten, maggoty corpse, Jerry Garcia was one of the godfathers of the hippy movement in America. From its patchouli soaked birth at Haight/Ashbury to its filthy, straggly peak at Woodstock and beyond, Garcia was there for every magical, smelly moment.
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Fantasy lands of naked chicks dancing in a circle, swirly, colorful blobs, and heroin and cheeseburgers growing on trees
What He Actually Paints: Hobos.
Well, ‘paint’ may be a little generous. This is a sketch imaginatively entitled “Street Guys” which depicts two guys. On a street. Although the the one on the right looks a lot like a grown up Alfred E. Newman carrying a purse. The painting may not have any cool psychedelic imagery or hot naked hippy chicks, but it is relevant in one way. Jerry Garcia’s target audience of former hippies probably looks a lot like this.
5. Pierce Brosnan
There are few men in the world as suave as Pierce Brosnan. Handsome, debonair, and always impeccably dressed, he’s the epitome of cool. Add to that one of the finest tans since George Hamilton, and you have an all around class act. Sure, he may have starred in some of the worst James Bond movies out there, but you get the feeling with Pierce that he doesn’t really give a shit.
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Portraits of himself killing evil scientists, driving hot cars, and sexually satisfying several beautiful women at once.
What He Actually Paints: Communist Dictators.
Yes, defender of Queen and Country likes to paint pictures of over the hill Socialist dictators. All that time he spent thwarting the plans of mad scientists and saving the world was just a ruse. Turns out he’d rather be holding a seminar on Dialectical Materialism. But knowing Pierce Brosnan, he’d have it on a beach with Rum and Cokes and plenty of hot, collectivist loving babes. But why choose the Cuban leader when there are so many Marxists to choose from? Ever the ladies man, it should come as no surprise that Brosnon choose to immortalize fellow pussyhound Fidel. Castro may be the longest serving Communist leader in the world, but he’s been combing hot girls out of his beard for just as long.
6. Muhammad Ali
Unquestionably the greatest boxer and arguably the finest athlete of all time, Muhammad Ali was known outside the ring as a fierce proponent of civil rights and a devote Muslim. He was also known for being a really funny smartass. Ali was just as quick with a quip as he was with his fists. We tried to think of a joke to cut him down, but seriously, this guy is freaking awesome and he could probably still kick our asses at 67 today.
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Vivid, evocative, uncompromising visions of the brutal, violent world of professional boxing. But, you know, funny.
What He Actually Paints: Little kids.
Yes, the Professor of Punishment and the man who invented rope-a-dope paints pictures of little children. He is a Muslim, so these little kids are all wearing head scarves and heading towards a Mosque. The colors, simple lines, and childlike innocence of the painting bely the fact that it was painted by the same hands that pummeled Joe Fraziers eyes shut in the Thrilla in Manila. Who would have thought that underneath Ali’s superhuman toughness and katana sharp wit was such a sensitive guy?
7. Frank Sinatra
They don’t come much cooler than Francis Albert Sinatra. Legendary singer, actor, and all around swinger, Frank Sinatra taught generations that you could still look tough while wearing a tuxedo and singing about girls. Beginning his career at 19, Frank was a chart-topping singer and award winning actor. He was the leader of the Rat Pack, dated just about every starlet in Hollywood, and even had mob ties. The guy was basically the king of entertainment for 50 years. There was a reason they called him “The Chairman.”
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Broads, Dames, bottles of whiskey, smokes, and himself beating the snot of Sammy Davis Jr.
What He Actually Paints: Absolute garbage.
Frank Sinatra could sing, act, drink, and screw like nobody’s business. But he sure as hell couldn’t paint. After starting out painting sad clowns (for real), Sinatra’s paintings developed into hideous messes of garish colors, and weak lines. His paintings sell well (some for as much as $25,000) but it’s more for the novelty. People buy them for the little ‘sinatra’ in the corner. Even the guys who sell his paintings struggle to come up with ways to praise them. One seller raves that a Sinatra painting, “shows recognizable shapes from nature.” What do you expect. The guy did nearly everything else amazingly well; he had to suck at something.
8. Eve Plumb (Jan Brady)
Probably the least deserving of the term ‘celebrity’ on this list, it’s been a long time since Eve ‘Jan Brady’ Plumb was on anybody other than her Mom’s A-list. Best known for her harrowing potrayal as whiny middle sister Jan in The Brady Bunch, Plumb was by far the least happy of the bunch on and off screen. Plumb hated the show and was the only castmember to refuse to participate in the train wreck variety musical follow-up show, The Brady Bunch Hour. So, unlike the rest of the cast, she at least retained a sliver of her dignity.
What You’d Expect Her To Paint: Portraits of the other Brady Bunch cast members in various states of torture and suffering. Especially that little bitch Marcia.
What She Actually Paints: Puppies!
Yes, Eve Plumb managed to channel all the rage of being typecast from a crappy show by throwing herself into painting. She still works occasionally as an actress, but devotes most of her time to painting cute little puppy dogs, kittens, and various other household items. the subject matter may be a little bland, but Plumb actually has some talent and makes a good living from her art. Finally, something she can do better than that tramp Marcia!
9. Dennis Hopper
What is it with all these badass painters? King of the Second Chance, Hopper started acting with James Dean in the 50′s, made the quintessential 60′s flick, Easy Rider, took the next ten years off to get as high and drunk as humanly possible, almost killed himself fooling around with 17 sticks of dynamite, and then made a huge comeback in the 80′s. Hopper can do anything. One minute he’s the brash outsider taking on the system, the next he’s the heart of it. He can play crazy, sweet, good guy, bad guy, anything. How the hell he ever made it 73 looking as good as he does we’ll never know.
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Whacked out scenes of copious drug use, surreal violence, and the depths of human pleasure and depravity.
What He Actually Paints: Surprisingly good paintings.
Yes, as well as being a great actor and having cheated death dozens of times, the guy can paint, too. Even though he’s a famous actor, Hopper primarily sees himself as an artist. He’s a well-respected painter and photographer, and also an art collector. Is there anything this guy can’t do? Dennis Hopper may be the greatest living American. If only he hadn’t have been in Waterworld.
10. Paul McCartney
We all know Paul McCartney. Legendary singer songwriter. The Cute One. Vegetarian. Like all of the Beatles, every aspect of Paul McCartney’s life has been picked over and examined more times than an 11 year old’s Playboy. He’s done it all, won every award, travled the world, and is richer than God. The only mystery left unsolved is why the hell he choose to marry Linda McCartney over presumably every other woman in the entire world.
What You’d Expect Him To Paint: Psychedelic images of fools on hills, paperback writers and bands on the run. Either that or Heather Mills McCartney being savagely attacked by wolves.
What He Actually Paints: A guy with three boners.
This is Sir Paul’s depiction of a Celtic warrior. Now, we’re not historical experts by any stretch of the imagination, but no matter how awesome the Celts might have been, at no point did even one of them sport three pink trouser bananas. But don’t worry too much about the deeper meanings or themes of Paul McCartney’s paintings. He doesn’t. Asked why he paints, McCartney said, “I basically like to apply paint onto canvas. I just like the act of it- I make it up as I go along. I really don’t analyze them that much.” You know what? If painting dudes with three shlongs is what happened when we just followed our muse, we probably wouldn’t analyse it too much either.