The Recent History Of Rufus Wainwright

The singer / songwriter with "dubious" online habits dissects his cultural life

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1 | Theatre
My parents knew both of us [Rufus and sister Martha] would be artists from when we were very, very young. So they thought, “Let’s throw the book at them.” My mother took us to see Richard III, when I was 10. Martha and I were somewhat traumatised by it, but I think we were also somewhat well-served in terms of what we had to do later on in our artistic lives.

2 | Books
I’m a bit of a classics junkie, be it Thomas Hardy or Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. When my mother was ill [the singer Kate McGarrigle died in 2010], I got really into reading Anthony Trollope because he’s so emotional. It had to be substantial.

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3 | Television
I love Portlandia and 30 Rock. I’m a huge Downton Abbey fanatic. Those waistlines! I was with my daughter recently and we tried to watch this kids’ animated film about fairies, called Epic. I was horrified by how violent and sexual it was right away. I remember watching Teletubbies on drugs a few years ago, so that’s out of the window.

4 | Film
I’m a big Lars von Trier fan, I love Todd Solondz. [Michael Haneke’s] Amour, that’s one of the greatest films of all time. I thought every frame was a kind of master painting. When you think of an old person enacting their death in such lurid detail, it’s incredible.

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5 | Music
I grew up mostly with my mother and her foundation was folk music, whether it was Bob Dylan or Pete Seeger, she was very much from that mould. The essential barometer was extreme quality. My mother tended to stay away from anything that was overtly successful [laughs]. We didn’t listen to a lot of Elton John, or Carole King or Joni Mitchell. There may have been a tad of jealousy, where she may have said well, “I wish I  had made that much money and garnered that much fame”. So, in terms of my parents’ contemporaries, as long they didn’t sell too many records, then we would listen to them [laughs].

6 | Pop
Pop has become so commercialised. That being said, I am still within that world somewhat. I was on TMZ the other day – they caught me at the airport and they made me sing a song. I still play the game, even though I claim to be out of it.

7 | Sport
I’ve never been into sports. The one thing that I have to say about sports is it’s the great equaliser. It is refreshing to go to some crappy bar and see everybody together watching a football game and getting along. That’s about it. Otherwise, of course, I want to have sex with a lot of athletes, but it doesn’t seem to be on the cards.

8 | Bookmarks
My online habits are dubious for sure. I try to surf out of the cesspool, but rarely succeed.

Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright (Universal) is out 3 March. Taken from Esquire's March issue, on newsstands now.

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