New York Times
Andrew Mackenzie - Special to
"Let's get one thing straight,"
the diminutive star says rather testily over a plate of untouched
Malapeques, his second Virgin Mary (he's been trying to cut back
on alcohol), and the sugar cube he is never without. "This
is my interview. You're just along for the ride."
He's right. Avery Ant has always granted
very few interviews but even fewer since his now-infamous
disappearance," In fact, it was
an unavoidable condition of this interview that no question be asked
pertaining to the incident that mobilized police on both sides of
the US/Canadian border and launched the famous "Where's Avery?"
campaign. As we now know, he resurfaced months later when an innocent
man was in jail for his murder and Avery found himself in
a whole world of trouble. What had started out as a simple publicity
stunt had gone horribly wrong. Charges were laid, witnesses called,
and in the end a jury of his peers found him guilty.
But there was an up side, too. In a time when entire towns had been
built around the prisons that had sprung up to hold the legions
of celebrities who had run afoul of the law, Avery stood out as
different somehow an ant among men. His quest for belonging
and love through trickery and deceit touched something deep within
the jaded heart of the North American public. And by the time he
spilled his guts on a heart-wrenching Barbara Walters special, many
were willing to look beyond his indiscretions and see him for the
scared little pupa he was a pupa whose only emotional choice
was to run away from his past.
Avery had left a kitchen pest, but had returned a giant.
A.M.: Avery, why you? Of the millions of ants that have roved the
earth, you and you alone have become a star. What sets you apart?
AVERY: A tough but fair question. No comment
Ha! Just kidding.
I think it's a combination of things. My edgy, ansty, and burning
desire to question authority, society, and all the other important
topics that end in "ty." Then again, it might be my t-shirts.
You don't see a lot of ants wearing them. They give me a certain
insect magnetism, doncha think?
A.M.: Have you paved the way for other ants? Are you interested
in mentoring other insects who'd like to follow in your tracks?
AVERY: No on both counts. Long before me there was Atom Ant. He's
the ant who first put us members of the hymenopterous family on
the map. And even though he was a sanctimonious drunk and an annoying
no-talent, he didn't let that stop him. And sure, it only made him
more annoying, but don't forget he had that superpower strength.
And back in the 60's that opened doors in Hollywood. As for mentoring
other insects, well, what are ya, crazy? I got enough competition
as is. I mean, I suppose I'd be willing to mentor a golf caddy.
You know, on how to replace my divots, when to shut up, what time
to pick me up, and how to pour a perfect gin fizz. But since I can't
afford a caddy anymore, it's really a moot point, isn't it? I did
do some work with some inner city ants last year
stole my wallet.
A.M.: What's been your favorite project so far?
AVERY: Well, if you've seen any of my movies, you'll probably guess
that it wasn't any of them. Let me tell ya, playing the role of
a mutated ant that wants to destroy the world, and thus ensure that
horny teenagers everywhere never have sex, quickly turned me into
a cliché. And then there were my comedies
I only wish
they could have been half as funny as my dramatic work
right now I'm enjoying the rants. I get to write my own material
and what I don't write I take credit for.
A.M.: You have a reputation for being difficult on set. Scorcese
says he'll never work with you again. Sarah Jessica Parker is on
record as saying, "Avery Ant is dead to me." Do you think
you've been judged unfairly?
AVERY: For the last time, I told Scorcese before he hired me that
I didn't do drag. And Sarah didn't say, "Avery Ant is dead
to me." She said, "A.A. is dead to me," just after
she fell off the wagon. You New York Times writers really
might want to check your sources. 'Have I been judged unfairly?'
Without a doubt. But what are ya gonna do?
A.M.: You're unpredictable, Avery and you seem to follow
a career path all of your own making. Where do you see yourself
in 10 years?
AVERY: Yeah, I'm unpredictable. Sometimes I get asked a question
that I don't have an answer to, and I do something spontaneous like
(At this point, he began to dance and take off his
t-shit, waving it much like a stripper might. Eventually he settled
down and sipped nervously from my drink.) Hopefully I'll still
be doing what I love. The main thing I gotta do is be careful with
love. The last thing I want is some female dining on my thorax after
some heavy mating and I know that sounds like a stereotype...but
they really do it.
A.M.: Boxers or briefs?
AVERY: You forgot the third choice.
A.M.: There were some dark days, Avery and I know you don't
like to talk about that but was there anything that got you
through those times? Any words of encouragement you'd like to pass
onto our readers who might be facing their own journeys of the soul?
AVERY: You're right. I don't like to talk about that. So let's just
If it's only funny until someone loses an eye, then
it's still half-funny. And half-funny is better than no funny.
Avery is distracted now. I've essentially been fitted in on a sugar
break he's taking from an all-day meeting with NBC on a new as-yet
unnamed project. The last morsel of sugar has rolled into his mouth
and it's clear he wants to go. I'm angling for a longer interview,
and, with a hint of desperation he clearly smells, I reach into
my pocket and pull out another sugar cube. Avery doesn't take the
"Thanks anyway, sport. But when you're Avery Ant, you can get
sugar whenever you want."
When you're Avery Ant, you can get pretty well anything whenever
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