The strange, sad, and true story of Andy Kehoe
Andy Kehoe was the son of a sea merchant that was killed by pirates when he was just three years old. His father barely had time to throw his son overboard before the cargo ship that usually carried pickles and kittens to Spain, carried the burning corpses of his father and all his closest friends to the bottom of the ocean.
Young Andy endured three days in the ocean before washing ashore on the Galapagos Islands. There he was raised by iguanas and learned much about the world. Like how to lie in the sun to raise his body temperature and how to swim underwater for 15 minutes to get to the yummy green algae on the bottom of the sea bed. Andy even swam like an iguana… head forward, arms at the side, and legs hanging still. How he did this without a tail is still a mystery.
One day, Andy found a gloriously warm spot and lay out comfortably on his belly under the sun. To Andy’s surprise, this spot ending up being on a cruise ship and his naked, sleeping body on the main deck caused an almost violent stir of shrieking women, crying children and the anger of men not so secure with their own sexuality. Cruise security quickly came to carry the upsetting, naked boy below to the ship’s holding cell. Andy knew he had been swimming in the cold ocean all day and his body temperature was not quite high enough to fight back… so he allowed himself to be quietly carried away without the usual frenzied struggle.
Here, he was stuck in a cell with a shirtless, red-faced man that got drunk and slapped a woman in the pool. As a strong male iguana would, Andy battled this man for alpha male status and dominance of his territory by hissing, flashing his green-stained teeth and slapping the man wildly with his arms and legs. Andy was soon shackled and hidden away from other people. Slowly, he began to learn some English. The first words he learned were, “Shut the fuck up you fucking freak!” and “You better back the fuck up!” That meant he should stop his high-pitched shrieking and stop running madly at the door when people showed up at it. The crew soon tired of Andy and secretly dumped his body overboard in the night off the coast of California.
Over the years, Andy experienced a lot in America and endured many, many beatings. Eventually, Andy Kehoe somehow found himself in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania making art for a living and the days of lying in the sun amongst his iguana friends are a faint and fading memory thanks to many years of forced therapy and brain trauma.
Andy's dark past
A long time ago, Andy Kehoe resided in a dark forest outside a small village in Romania, where he fed on the blood of children, goats and the occasional lamb-stuffed potato, accompanied with a robust glass of wine. Besides raw flesh, Andy loves a good potato and a full-bodied wine. After many centuries of this, science came into the world, and people realized that a blood-thirsty beast was committing these atrocities against them, and not God and/or the Devil. This new found intelligence boded poorly for Andy, and it prompted a swift uprising and the eventual burning of Andy's forest. All was lost in the flames including his precious collection of skulls, dried flowers, kitten whiskers, and his most beloved beetle farm. As he watched his forest burn, and listened to the hushed, anguished shrieks of a hundred beetle deaths, the villagers danced and celebrated in the depths of his pain, and the flames danced hot in his eyes. They danced yellow, red, white, torrid, and furious with the promise of complete and irrevocable doom to them and all their children and all their friends and lovers to come. A huge fireball lit the night as his dried flowers and kitten whiskers ignited, and the fires blazed like exploding stars in those beastly eyes, the eyes that knew no mercy, remorse or compromise. One day, he would return and those eyes would look down upon his vengeance.
At the time of Andy's upheaval from the forest, WWI was raging all around him as Romania and Russia battled the armies of the Central Powers. For recently nomadic Andy, it was a veritable smorgasbord of corpses, uprooted civilians, and lost soldiers. This was his first taste of international cuisine, and the variety of misery and blood was intoxicating. While stalking a wounded American soldier in Austria, he also got his first taste of a fire liquid called bourbon, from a land called the United States.
This Kentucky elixir had a magical effect on Andy, and he somehow became more human and less of a man-eating beast. After drinking this bourbon, he began to use his mouth for speaking instead of ripping, tearing, and maiming. He began using his hands for writing and drawing instead of clawing and choking. After this time of communicating with humans, instead of murdering and eating them, he learned much about them and all their strange and fascinating behaviors. He immediately excelled at bar fights, drawing, cussing, lying, and the complete stripping of another man's dignity.
At the end of WWI, he eventually made his way to America, hidden on a US transport ship disguised as the corpse of a dead war hero. After the long journey across the ocean, he escaped from the ship in the night and slowly integrated himself into American society. He now finds himself content living in Pittsburgh amongst other humans, and he spends his days quietly making paintings of the fading dreams and memories of beastly ancestors long forgotten... But his revenge on the surviving villagers and their descendants is long from forgotten, and the fire of his retribution grows hotter with each passing day.
Dreams outside of Art
As a boy, Andy Kehoe dreamt of being a motorcycle stuntman in a John Woo-like action film. In May 1998, a friend in the biz recommended him, and he finally got his shot. He was to be motorcycle thug #3 in a low budget action movie starring some Asian guy. Andy spent four months training and growing a moustache. His skills… Impeccable. His look… Perfection.
Then came his big moment. A stunt in which Andy hits a ramp at moderate speed, jumps over exploding barrels while shooting a sub machine gun wildly in the air, then ultimately crashes harmlessly into a pile of cardboard boxes and trash. Instead of being nervous, Andy turned stupid brave with an extreme case of Fuck-It-All. This caused him to make some very poor and inexplicable decisions.
When the director yelled for action, Andy took off and within seconds had reached a ridiculous speed of over 90 mph. To the director’s bewilderment; Andy was wearing no helmet and was firing two handguns with real ammo instead of the sub machine gun loaded with blanks which sent bullets careening everywhere. Several lights popped and exploded from the stray gunfire, and the cinematographer slumped over as a bullet hit him in the thigh. Even with no hands steering the bike, Andy managed to pop the bike into a wheelie before hitting the ramp at incredible speed. The bike took off and the barrels exploded on cue into an awesome fireball. The explosion was so hot; it burned off half of Andy’s moustache and sent him veering off course in an uncontrolled corkscrew.. He missed the landing zone by well over 300 feet and crashed into a stable of horses, searing one completely in half. Somehow, Andy escaped with only minor injuries. After the debacle, he was labeled: "'Reckless."... "A loose cannon."... "Horse Chopper".. "A disgrace." He and his shameful half-stache never worked in showbiz again.
Politics and the Cow Patty of Rage
In 2003, I graduated from Parsons. After 2 years of non-stop school and work, I finally had some free time to actually enjoy living in New York. During this summer of extreme excess and inebriation, the Democratic and Republican Presidential primaries were starting to their full, virulent stride and I got pretty deep into it all. I absorbed everything I could on the candidates and their views; and I reveled in the utterly sordid and crooked spectacle of it all. These election campaigns work on such a base level and they seem to do their best to whip the populous into a frothing, frenzied mob. It began to take a major toll on my mind.
After a late night of cheap bourbon and cheaper beer, I stumbled home and eventually passed out somewhere in the region of my bedroom. At some point in the night, I awoke to relieve myself, but instead of walking back to my bedroom from the bathroom, I opened my front door and wandered outside in nothing but my underwear. I was in some sort of half-sleep state where I could see what I was doing; but I had no control over my brain or the broken, unhinged logic my brain was trying to function off of. With little else to run on, my brain started pulling fuel from the hot, smoldering, fumes of political manure that had been collecting there for months. It had compressed itself into a dense, volatile cow patty of rage and bewilderment. It wouldn’t take much to set it all aflame.
At first, I felt mostly confusion as I walked around my apartment complex, half-nude, and attempting to open every door handle I saw in a desperate attempt to find home. (Luckily, none of those doors opened and no one seemed to notice me trying to enter random apartments. I’m guessing the sight of a half-asleep, half-naked, half-Asian guy walking into your house, or wriggling your door handle in the middle of the night probably wouldn’t provoke the kindest of responses.) When all of my attempts to reach home were seemingly thwarted, my confusion turned into a bright angry spark… the cow patty of rage was ignited. I started muttering things like “these lying, no-good, scumbag politicians are keeping me out of my own home. those disingenuous bastards. dammit. swift boat. false indignation bullshit,” and so on. I seethed with the effrontery of this completely self-concocted crime against my God-given liberties as an American. I’m not sure how long I was roaming the halls of the apartment building, but at some point I found a door that would open; and it lead me directly out into the cold streets of Brooklyn. After another unknown time period of angry mutterings outside on the streets, I finally had the sense to go back to my apartment building and attempt to get back in. Of course, I had locked myself out, and I began incessantly ringing my apartment doorbell. Eventually my roommate did get up, buzzed me in, and opened the apartment door for me. I barged right past him, climbed into bed, and passed out.
The next day, my roommate approached me to ask what the hell I had been doing outside in my underwear at 5 am. When he had opened the door, I had apparently stormed past him, muttering something along the lines of, “Republicans, my basic human rights, fucking liars, keeping me out of my own house, grumble, grumble, blah, Bush.” Until he said this, I had completely forgotten about the entire episode… then it all came flooding back. From that moment on, I decided not to get too wrapped up in politics; my brain can’t handle all of the flammable manure.
Except from an interview with WOW x WOW, July 2015. Full interview here.
Random Threats Leveled at Andy on the Street by Stangers
"I'll throw you through this fucking window!" Philadelphia, PA - Happened after a man asked me for a cigarette and I refused, leading to him coming out of nowhere, grabbing me by the shirt and throwing me against a wall right across the street from my college's orientation. The parents dropping off their children appreciated that one.
"Next time I'll drop the H-Bomb on you!" Philadelphia, PA - There was never a first time and I'm glad I never found out what the H-Bomb was.
"This is real!" A 2-parter in San Francisco, CA - My friend Heidi and I were nursing huge hangovers, and this is yelled at us by a man as he takes off his shirt to show that he is not only a man, but a ripped and possibly steroided man. He throws all his belongings on the sidewalk, charges us, and yells-
"You're part of the reason I'm castrated!" as he punches a parking meter in front of me. I didn't know he was castrated, and certainly took no part in it. Must be confusing me with someone else. I ended up treated him like a wild animal. I stood my ground, got as large as I could, waved my arms in the air and said calmly but assertively, "No! Go on now! Git! Go on!" He slowly backed away and we hid in a coffee shop.
"Don't you look at me!! Don't you fucking look at me!" Portland, OR. Screamed by a man looking straight at me as I walked past him. Then he proceeded to walk right into the middle of Belmont St and yelled that at every car passing by. I didn't take it personally.