Hotz hits new heights with Triumph of the Will
Kenny Hotz said he even considered becoming addicted to crystal meth to prove he could quit the drug. “I wanted to,” he said with enthusiasm and no hesitation during a recent phone interview. “There’s a whole bunch of shows that I want to do.”
Over the course of the six episodes that make up the first season of Triumph Of The Will, Hotz attempts to build a mosque for Islam, using only Jewish money; bolstered by a trip to Paris, “start liking French people;” get his 75-year-old mother, who has been widowed for over 20 years, laid; and, in the first episode, go from “Rags to Bitches.”
While some of the material found on TOTW is similar to the shtick that kept Hotz’s last series, Kenny vs. Spenny, afloat for six seasons, he said he made a conscious effort to produce a show overtly different from KVS.
In the last episode of TOTW, for instance, Hotz attempts to become a cannibal by consuming human hair, blood, bone, and organ – a placenta – a stunt he said was crazier than anything he and former partner and nemesis Spencer Rice tried on KVS.
“I wanted to do something that nobody else has done, ever. I [wanted] one episode that would definitely turn on the Kenny Vs Spenny audience and would be crazier than I’ve ever done on Kenny Vs Spenny,” he said, adding: “I just thought, ‘fuck, nobody’s ever ate a corpse on national television.’”
In a similarly contentious act, he paid, for an episode of KVS called “Who Can Piss More People Off?” to have a banner that read “JESUS SUCKS!” flown across Toronto harbour. He won the competition.
That day, the National Post caught wind and pounced on the lead. In a relatively lengthy Q/A centred on “the incident,” Hotz stood his ground when under attack for his antics. “For true Christians,” he quipped, “it would only increase their faith.”
In a piece published later that day, columnist Charles Lewis wrote of Hotz, “It’s not a case of being politically correct. That’s an easy way to dismiss anyone who doesn’t get the antics of a moron.”
With a career built of art that ranges from strange (“Who Can Win a [literal] Cock Fight”) to eerie (“Who Can Handle More Torture”) to crazy (“Can Kenny Become a Cannibal”), Hotz has had his sanity questioned by both outsiders and onlookers.
“I don’t think I’m crazy. I think [Paul] Bernardo’s crazy… psychopaths and serial killers are crazy,” he answered, asked how he felt when people called him insane. “I like doing the shit I do in front of the camera. Some things are crazy – or considered crazy – I just call it focus and attitude.”
However, the screenwriter, director, actor, producer and photographer (“Half my photography was documenting union disasters and atrocities and the other half was like super-cheesy postcard photos.”) admitted to having paid a price for some of his antics.
“I jeopardize my own success by doing things that will make me successful. It’s a catch 22,” he said. “Of all the shit out there, what’s going to make me different? What’s going to bring people’s eyes to my shit? That’s all I care about.”
With TOTW, Hotz may well have found a winning formula. Rather than approach the series with a hidden agenda, specific mandate or obligation to advertisers, he said, he is merely another “member of the audience” on TOTW.
“Michael Moore has an agenda – I have no agenda. I’m not trying to turn on blue-collar workers (reference to the TOTW episode “Can Kenney Stop Eating Pigs?”), I’m just trying to get shit done.
“I’ve gone back to a time when journalists used to get their hands dirty and make news,” he said. “I’m going out there and trying to unravel the biggest stories in the world.”
While the statement may be somewhat hyperbolic, Hotz’s claim has clout. In the first six episodes of the series, he explores racism, animal cruelty, murder and poverty, among a number of other socially significant themes.
Story by Rémi L. Roy