by Mike Stasny
“How we get nervous when dollar stores go out of business.” – DJ DAD BOD
LXXX YOU is a rotating group of artists and friends founded by Mike “Extremely Michael” Stasny and George “DJ Dad Bod” Long. Prompted by party motifs and parodying human life, LXXX YOU’s performance and installation work lampoons social experiences by inviting viewers into a surreal world. Primarily working as hyperreal costumed DJs, LXXX YOU’s practice is dependent on the company they keep. At the core, the collective celebrates friendship and explores (albeit often frightening) ways to discover the possibilities of joy with others. Extremely Michael (EM) and Dj Dad Bod (DJDB) had a conversation while working in their studio over beers. Here you have it.
EM: So, George, we are in a project… together. Who are we?
DJDB: We are the people that like to celebrate the people we like.
EM: You see, that’s all we need to do, that’s it. This interview is over. Done. It used to be just some sweet buds havin’ a good ol’ time and it’s still just some sweet buds havin’ a good ol’ time. Let’s tell the birth story.
DJDB: Basically, we wanted to celebrate having fun with friends in a very saccharin and over-the-top way. We invited friends to Kibbee Gallery and the show was completely about us liking them. It was screaming in pink sugar “WE REALLY LIKE YOU!”. And, we came up with all the methods possible for them to do what we wanted – which was to dance and have fun.
EM: Friendship! Am I right!?
DJDB: It’s also a little creepy.
EM: Kind of like clowns – they bring joy to a room but they also make you terrified a little bit.
DJDB: We’ve also been referred to as the kinder, sweeter GWAR – which is basically a creepy band, pre-Power Rangers and maybe even pre-Ninja Turtles that spoofed Japanese sci-fi Godzilla-like flicks…their costumes and bad guys were basically like teddy bears with boners in a sci-fi flick.
EM: I thought this interview was going to prove challenging to find stuff to write down.
DJDB: Was it “teddy bear boners” that got you?
EM: Here’s the thing. This interview is about dependency.
DJDB: Like how we get nervous when dollar stores go out of business?
EM: That’s literally what the tag line for the article is going to be.
DJDB: Teddy bear boners, dollar store dependency.
EM: How is our practice dependent on the friendships and relationships we have considering our whole brand is about loving and celebrating people? It’s slightly more “heady” than where we have been talking, but you can throw in some cuss words if that helps.
DJDB: Ezra Pound is a poet. And what I gathered from Ezra Pound is the poem isn’t completed until someone reads it, interprets it, and becomes a part of it. With us, when we show our love, we want to be loved in return. It’s so about the return. So, we’re sick. We need constant reassurance that people love us. That’s why we do it. This is actually free therapy.
EM: We want people to have a great time – to show love and be loved.
DJDB: What we really get into is creating a space for people. Everyone’s favorite is a costume party. I’m a better dancer with a mask on. Everybody gets that. We’ve always played with party tropes and the technique is find a tangent, fuck with the tangent, follow the tangent again, then do it again, and you and I – in our space – continually reassure each other that it’s the best idea ever. So our tangents get amplified ‘cause we are so excited about them. I do think that our ideas are “good” but I think we are so excited about it, that other people get excited about it.
EM: Like a comedian laughing at his own joke, the enthusiasm he has for his own comedy is the funny part, not the actual joke. And that’s the thing – I think we are really good at fun.
DJDB: It’s our job.
EM: Wherever we go, we are going to meet somebody, or talk to somebody, and we are going to pull fun out of them or put fun into them. Give fun, get fun.
DJDB: We also have the appreciation for someone that is willing to work their ass off for a one-liner.
EM: We take fun very seriously. And, what better space to explore that fun than with people you love or while in the pursuit of finding new people to love. Right!? LXXX YOU is shamelessly nepotistic with our work! Fun and celebration are our mediums! We don’t believe in making friends for opportunities, we believe in making opportunities for friends!
DJDB: It’s been seven years of LXXX YOU, and it was a very natural merger, it was something you’d been doing and something that I’d been doing – experiential parties and immersive things. We’ve curated happenings for people to behave however they wanted to while using the party trope as the art form – playing with persona, infecting a space – creating a space for installation but also using the audience as part of the installation – trying to suck them in to play with us – trying to make the most overly produced good time for even a few people’s lives.
EM: I love you, dude.
EM: I love people, you love people. We love each other. I don’t want to be too presumptuous, but I feel like it’s a fairly stable fact.
DJDB: People recognize it.
EM: HAHA! I feel like people can understand when we are behind a DJ booth that we are in love. And, we try to lead by example. This is what a good time looks like. This is what friendship looks like. The stock and trade of our business is the joy that we bring to other people, the friends that we make, and the friends we get to work with. That’s what it all boils down to…
DJDB: …those bad jokes that eventually become a costume and the cast of people we work with.
EM: It captures a moment in time. There is a spiritual element to exploring joy and finding ways to do that, but that doesn’t mean it’s “simple”. It’s like Lisztomania, the concept of working really, really hard with intense skill to make something everyone can enjoy. Like pop music made by the band The Police – all incredibly skilled jazz musicians working incredibly hard on what appears to be simple pop songs. That’s what I hope we are – something everyone can like, but if you dig deeper, there is something of true depth in what we do, and maybe the ones that dig deep will know we are just self-hating artists…
DJDB: …working our ass off for a one liner.
(DJ Dad Bod then grabs a Sharpie and writes “LXXX” on Extremely Michael’s chest with an arrow, pointing to EM’s crotch).
Mike Stasny is an artist and musician from the Midwest currently working out of Atlanta. He frequently tries to be weird.