Casey Jane Ellison is a witchy-looking, deadpan comedian and an exuberant, hilarious multimedia artist. The Los Angeles-based black lipstick aficionado makes online videos for herself and for museums and brands alike, hosts a monthly stand up night, writes for places like GQ, Dazed, and—full disclosure—VICE, and makes art installations and animations featuring realistic 3D-printed statues of herself. The New Museum named her a 2015 Triennial artist for her video series "Touching the Art," and Paper Magazine featured her in this year's Beautiful People issue. In a combination of both of these facts, Ellison said her most complimented qualities were her videos and her butt.
Broadly: Hi Casey. What's your most complimented feature/possession/personality trait/whatever? Can you tell me a bit about it?
Casey Jane Ellison: This is really hard. People tend to compliment my videos and my sweet ass. My videos are really fun and difficult to make. I make different kinds—satirical shows, talk shows, art vids. They're intended to be comical and feature only myself. The BB Dakota vids are new for me because they're a 6-part narrative that I wrote and feature a wonderful cast that I was lucky enough to get to act with. I'm not trying to be a bitch, but the only constant variable in each of the different types of videos I make is me so I think people are responding to me and my writing. The ass is just about building and toning muscle.
What kind of compliments are you getting about these things? From whom?
Fans on the street. They're just like, "I love what you do!" In reference to the vids and the ass. It's genuinely exciting and confusing. I forget that my videos and performances are out there and that there are people that have seen them. Most of the time it feels like it's all going on in my head and when a stranger says something it's proof I didn't just dream the whole thing. All compliments are appreciated for that reason. Tweet your compliments @caseyjellison!
How do you feel when people compliment this particular thing? what's your response?
I'm generally paralyzed with satisfaction. But when it's over I crash. Becoming aware of your effects on the world around you, processing them, obsessing over them, and then hopefully improving them is part of being a conscious caring person. Self-obsession can sometimes be healthy. And being my own worst critic is a power no one can take away from me.
How are you with receiving compliments in general? How about giving them?
When someone gives me a compliment I'm always scanning for the truth behind the praise. Like, 'does this person actually hate me.' I'm working on this in therapy. But I always appreciate compliments. And they're always not enough. And I am an amazing compliment giver. I am extremely thoughtful. Lol.
I totally know what you mean about reading compliments as a sign of the opposite. A particular culprit I find is "I love your outfit." What are some other compliments that are like DING DING this person hates me?
"I love you." I'm kidding. I'm pretty sure they're actually just actually saying, "I love your outfit." If they don't mean what they're saying, it's not your business. I told a friend the other day, "You never isolate." And I don't think you can make people know you really mean it, but I know I mean it when I'm acknowledging something in someone that I wish was true or truer about myself.