Mike Nichols was a legendary director who worked feverishly in
Madman or genius? Obscenity or art? Dali was the master of scandal, hype and spectacle and in his autobiographies he admits to violence, cannibalism and necrophilia among a mountain of other weirdness. His monstrous ego is clearly shown by the titles of his autobiographies: Maniac Eyeball: Unspeakable Confessions, Diary of a Genius and Secret Life. Here is a typical quote:
My continual and ferocious need to feel myself ‘different’ made me weep with rage if some coincidence should bring me … into the same category as others. Before all and whatever cost; Myself alone! Myself alone! Myself alone!” (The Secret Life, p. 116).
#1 In childhood he was a violent attention seeker – he terrorized his family, pushed a playmate off a bridge and watched happily as he bled, he ate a dead bat covered in ants and entertained himself by imagining baby kangaroos drowning in milk or playing with his imaginary friends Galuchka and Dullita.
#2 His gigantic ego never let up: ‘At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.’ “Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí, and I ask myself, wonderstruck, what prodigious thing will he do today, this Salvador Dali?” He loved himself so much, he masturbated in front of a mirror.
#3 He has phobias of blushing (erythrophobia), grasshoppers (acridophobia) and of being a father. The root of this may have been getting kicked out of home for his painting: ‘I Spit for Pleasure On My Mother’s Portrait.’ In response he says that he handed his father a condom with his semen inside, telling him: “take that! I owe you nothing.”
#4 His ego extended to his confidence in his work, he was forced out of art school after declaring that none of the professors were competent enough to judge his masterpieces!
#5 His odd behaviour extended to love and sex – in order to woo his wife he rubbed himself with goat’s dung and fish glue. He says that when alone with her he became so overwhelmed with love that he only just managed to stop throwing her off the bell-tower of Toledo Cathedral!
#6 His art became increasingly shocking – sociologists and psychologists had a field day with works such as ‘The Great Masturbator’, ‘Sodomy of a Skull with a Grand Piano’, sexual objects and symbols slipper, crutches, lobsters, candlesticks, telephones, but perhaps worst was his admitted necrophilia. He has necrophilic fantasies and dead faces, skulls and corpses appear in his work, such as: ‘Mannequin Rotting In A Taxicab.’ In this a dead girl in a taxi has her face and breast covered with huge snails. The caption says that they are edible Burgundy snails.
#7 In another taboo-busting confession, he reports that he was fascinated by Hitler, in particular the rolls of fat on his back, later saying: “Hitler turned me on in the highest”.
#8 In the Surrealist film Le Chien Andalou he was responsible for dead donkeys putrefying on top of grand pianos, happily reporting: “I emptied their eye-sockets and made them larger by hacking them out with scissors. In the same way I furiously cut their mouths open to make the rows of their teeth show to better advantage.“
#9 Not everyone could handle his narcissism and he was later cut off from the Surrealist movement for his courting of money and publicity, being dubbed “Avida Dollars” by Andre Breton.