“I’m the guy at the party with no shirt on.” —Fahamu Pecou
There are certain things about Fahamu Pecou that we know. He is The Shit. He has a badass haircut. And he has managed to become one of Atlanta’s most recognizable artistic figures in only a few years. Pecou found at an early age that the best way to break through his shy exterior was to blast through to the opposite end of the spectrum and create a larger-than-life persona. We sat down for a few drinks with Pecou at Edgewood Corner Tavern to talk to him about painting, pop culture, how he maintains his public image, and, of course, the ladies.
Fahamu Pecou’s one-night exhibition and panel discussion, All Falls Down, will open at Get This! Gallery Saturday, May 1, from 8-10PM.
BURNAWAY: The obvious question to start with is what makes you “The Shit?”
Fahamu Pecou: It’s a good question. First of all, I do want to say that this is officially about to be the sexiest interview I’ve ever done. If you guys could see these women that are sitting around me right now, you’d probably clam up.
Now, what makes me The Shit? You know I think for the most part it’s being comfortable in my own skin. For awhile I was trying to do all the things I thought I was supposed to do or do the things I thought people would like, and, when that didn’t really happen for me and didn’t really feel comfortable, I pretty much started doing things the way I wanted to do it. And that’s when I became The Shit.
One of the pitfalls with going around and saying you’re The Shit is that people will check you on it no matter what you’re doing. So, you always have to be The Shit at everything you do. Even when I bake cookies I’m The Shit.
What kind of cookies do you bake?
Chocolate chip pecan.
We do like men that bake. Do you like to cook anything else, or do you just like baking?
You know, when I get in the kitchen I can hold my own. But it’s not a very common thing to see me in there. If there’s a good romantic comedy on, and I want to eat some cookies and cuddle up with a pillow ….
You have one of the most awesome hairstyles we know. Can we get a history?
What can I say …? So, I’ve been perpetually stuck in the 90s for a long time. A while back I had what was called a Caesar cut: kind of low and all even. I wanted to do something different. I considered doing a Mohawk for awhile, but everyone and their grandmother was doing the Mohawk at the time so I decided to do something different.
So, I said, “You know what, I’m going to get a Gumby.” And all my friends were like, “No, don’t do it!” But then I got it and they were like, “Oh, that’s dope.” It’s been three years now.
So, a lot of your work has used pop culture references. What is your pop culture guilty pleasure?
Forensic Files. I usually get home at about midnight and just get into bed and literally watch it until I fall asleep. I can probably tell you about every episode of Forensic Files.
What is the pop culture fad that you dislike the most?
I would have to say shit like A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila and For the Love of Ray J where they go put a whole bunch of horny people in a house together. I can’t [stand shows like that], even though I do have a fantasy to do a spoof of one of the shows. It would be a mashup of all of them. Basically the premise would be a bunch of women competing to be in the next Fahamu Pecou painting.
How do you pick the women for your paintings?
I have a running list of beautiful women. You [three] all are already on the list.
Actually it’s not a very long list. Mostly all the women are friends of mine and people I hang out with. Most of the time they are around me giving me feedback.
Did you think about applying to Bravo’s artist reality TV show?
Yeah. I actually made it all the way to the finals. I made it to the very, very final. The flew me out to LA to meet all the producers and shit. This was last year. I went to Miami. Went to the audition. Got there. They were like, “You’re perfect. We love you. We’ll give you a call back.”
And I got called again. They brought me to LA. I thought I was a shoe in. But, then I got a call [saying] that if they did a second season I’m definitely in, so I think that I was overqualified. They wanted less experienced people, and I had already done too much.
What is your spirit animal?
I am gonna go with the tiger. I like tigers. Tigers are pretty fucking cool. They’re a lot bigger than you would imagine. I’ve always liked tigers, even though I’m more of a dog person. I’ve never been much of a cat person. I’m getting a Boxer. His name is gonna be Jack Johnson.
What about your routine to get ready for a lady?
There’s not really a routine. You’re either ready or your not. The thing about it is I feel like women respond more to confidence. It’s not about the show or production. If you feel comfortable everyone else will feel comfortable with you. Women see that. I see that.
So tell us a little bit about your talk show.
Alright, so “The 15 Project” is basically an idea that I pitched to the Contemporary [The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center]. I used to do this show called “Wet Paint” where basically I would invite artists to come and do a presentation about their work. Kind of a behind-the-scenes. And we did three or four shows, and the art was really tight and the artists were really charming and everyone really enjoyed it.
And then one artists was kind of like … [Pecou makes a noise of dissatisfaction, which the interviewers unsuccessfully transcribe as "brefelajimak"] … doing a Comcast commercial, and it wasn’t working. And so after a while I was thinking about it again and thought the show needs someone to be the driver, so whether the guest is entertaining or boring, this person can keep up the energy.
So, that’s “The 15 Project.” It’s a really crazy show. In a nutshell: I get drunk on stage and interview people from around Atlanta about the shit they do.
So, where’d the title come from?
It’s playing off Warhol’s quote about how everybody has their 15 minutes of fame. So in “The 15 Project,” your 15 minutes start when you sit on my couch.
If you had something to tell the ladies of Atlanta what would it be?
I would tell them that if I were a stripper my name would be Cocoa Thunder because I bring the rain. It could be a rain of cash.
I just imagine that when I’d be called out on the stage they would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, Cocoa Thunder!” And it would be one of those CDs you listen to when you are supposed to be relaxing. Rain, lightning. It would be just that. No music or anything.
Atlanta Art Crush is an interview series brought to you by Susannah Darrow, Laura Hennighausen, and photographer Sandy Hooper. Look for profiles of our latest heartthrobs on the last Friday of each month.