Vanity Fair VI: Hannah Kallenbach + Bradley Rubenstein


Hannah Kallenbach is a Brooklyn-based performance artist whose primary interest is in female grossness and exploring ways to reclaim the fetishization of her own body. She recently staged “Re:” at Vital Joint in Brooklyn, and "2 girls 1 hotdog" premiered at The Glove as part of The Exponential Festival. Hannah is associate directing the Shakespeare in the Square's food-fight-inspired production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream touring at the end of March through April.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being able to do whatever I want to do in a given moment without financial, social, political, psychological, or physical restraints.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I am learning to not spend as much money on my work, to use more trash or found items.

What is your current state of mind?

Make make make and document all that you make be young and embrace fucking up and have fun art can be fun theatre can be entertaining life can be fun.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Self-deprivation is pretty useless.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Feigning interests, small talk, fake nice.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I think having an identical twin is a marked characteristic of mine.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Intelligence. Smart humans are so often excused for shitty behavior based on their intellect. You see it during the #metoo and #timesup movements. People attempting to excuse shitty behavior with “but he’s so smart.” I don’t care how smart you are, how you got the social standing you now have. Do better.

What do you most value in your friends?

Someone who will say yes to dancing at 3 a.m.

When and where were you happiest?

In Greece in sunset in the ocean on an inflatable drunk alone, i remember thinking I am most happy right now.

On what occasion do you lie?

Oh, I lie all of the time. Small things mostly. Especially to strangers. I’ll say anything if it makes the interaction slightly more interesting for me. For instance, my name at Starbucks and Panera is Kiki. Every time I wear these pants with paint on them I bought that way from American Eagle, a stranger asks me if I’m a painter and I just agree and make up fake stories about my painting career. Sometimes I’ll make up whole stories of things that I haven’t done just to start conversations with strangers on the subway. I love to lie.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To be a singer. It must feel so liberating to soar with your voice like that.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I had an incredible memory so I could write in vivid detail about my life and the things I’ve seen. I think vivid memory is key to being a great writer.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

That I could talk with my parents freely and uncensored about ourselves. There’s so much I may never know about them.

What is your most treasured possession?

I’ve moved so much I really don’t have that much stuff, but I wrote these hand-written notes, in detail, about each person I’ve ever kissed. Originally I made them to give to my “future daughters,” which is hilariously dumb maybe, but yeah, it’s fascinating the details you forget if you don’t write them all down. Also I love that I thought that I might have daughters one day and they’d want to know their mother as a sexual being.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?


Who are your favorite writers?

I’m really into Kathy Acker right now, but I also hold a large space in my heart for Star Wars fan fiction.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

A hero…I’ve always been a fan of the Sith. Which I know are technically the villains. They are honest and find power in their emotions. Which I always found to be a beautiful message living in a society that tells us not to get too emotional. The Sith are kicking ass using their emotions to guide them in their power. I always loved that.

Who are your heroes in real life?

So many! I’m manically listing my stream of consciousness... Carrie Fisher, Aziza Barnes, Jessica Almasy, most all the children I babysit, Kristine Haruna Lee, Christen Clifford, Zoë Ligon, Carolee Schneemann, Rachel Chavkin, Roxane Gay, Theresa Buchheister, Sam Pinkleton, Michelle Obama, can I list my partner and all their parents?

What is it that you most dislike?

I dislike being taken advantage of, being talked down to, being fetishized, being ignored.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I am constantly seeking experiences.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

I would come back as a v straight bro as pure punishment.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?

But I would want to come back as a v gay dolphin.


Mr. Rubenstein is NYC-based painter, story teller, and smart culture aficionado.