Considered too controversial for regular publication, what follows is my commissioned piece for Cat Fancy Magazine
A polarizing figure in the Austin community, Steven “Steve” Kittlebee, recently sat down with your intrepid Fingers of Justice for an interview to answer his critics, thank his fans, and discuss popular cat culture before leaving to “spit it, hit it and quit it.”
Acknowledging a long career of aggressively dismissing fellow cats as philistines, while developing an incredible body of adorable gestures, behaviors and comical antics, I admit I was nervous to interview this living legend. Besides my obvious fears of him peeing on my important documents or getting carried away kneading near, and accidentally clawing my delicates, there was simply his presence – intimidating.
"You won't see me signing up for their fucking minstrel show." - Steven, self-described bad kitty of the feline world.
I stared long and hard in to the eyes of this feline beast, and I can tell you this: I have seen the mystery of my own death, choked on the salty pretzel of man’s greatest, most basic fears. And so, the fur prepares to fly:
Fat Fingers Justice: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me for this interview.
Steve: No biggies.
FFJ: I know you have a busy day of laying around, swatting the cord for the blinds, chewing on moths, dandering the upholstery.
Steve: (Long silence, looking around) Look, you poor man’s Andy Rooney, my contract mentioned nothing about condescension. My manager told you explicitly that condescension would end this little interview faster than you can say “that’s a good kitty.”
FFJ: No, no, hey, I’m sorry. It’s cool. It was a poor attempt at humor. Sorry, let’s get serious here – who are your biggest influences? What cats made you the cat you are today?
Steve: Apology accepted.
It’s hard to say. I try not to wear my influences right on my fur, but I will say Heathcliff was a hard-hittin muhfucka. Saw that cat straight murder a dude once.
Also, let’s see, uh…Well, while he ended up a corporate whore of a mascot for Purina Meow Mix, Baxter knew his way out of a litter box, if you know what I mean.
FFJ: Um, can’t say that I do.
Steve: He was tough, street smart, and most of all, had some integrity. At least in the beginning, the early days. But after that Meow Mix jingle fiasco where he nearly died, he should have left the business right then and there.
FFJ: You’re referring to his near-fatal choking accident on set of the commercial?
Steve: Yeah, not a lot of people know this, but Baxter was not really singing. That cat couldn’t sing a note to save his life.
FFJ: Any… of them?
Steve: No. No, he was choking within an inch of, again – one of his lives, and they had the gall to not only keep filming, but to actually dub music over it later to make it look like he was singing. I’ll never get over that, and neither should have he. But that fucking money, man. Baxter started out just looking for a bite, to make ends meet, but he ended up consumed by the money, the fame, the pussy. I’ve seen too many peers start out hungry and end up getting eaten by the whole meow-sploitation scene.
FFJ: When was the last time you spoke with him?
Steve: The day after the incident. When he said he was still going to work for those bastards, after what they did to him, to just choose money over integrity like that? That was it. Cut off. I tell you, you won’t see me signing up for their fucking minstrel show.
FFJ: Ironically enough, that song ended up being Baxter’s only hit single.
Steve: Word. I’d say something about it being poetic justice, but I know you’re setting me up. I know you’d just co-opt my quote for some tagline for your Fat Fingers of Justice blog, and I’m not your monkey. I’m not even your cat.
FFJ: Fair enough, I respect that. Now, moving on –
Steve: But there’s one more, one more cat that actually managed to hold on to his dignity his whole career, and that was by maintaining creative control over everything he did. I speak, of course, of Morris.
FFJ: Ah, yes. The Clark Gable of cats.
Steve: I always saw him more as the feline Burt Reynolds, but either way, a noble cat with a great story. Rose up out of his animal shelter roots to become the king, a total media titan with book deals and acting roles. Pioneered the Morris Method of getting what you want – be it food or lots of pets.
FFJ: Not a lot of cats have read it –
Steven: – but every cat that has, has gone on to start their own Morris Method club.
FFJ: Steven, you’re scheduled to defend your International Greatest Post Climber title this year in Salisbury, England. How’s the competition looking?
Steve: Weaker than old catnip. Although I will say I have mad respect for the Siamese participant this year. That cross-eyed kitty could climb the greased side of a barn.
FFJ: And your continued battle with hipsters ironically wearing cat t-shirts?
Steve: Still being waged, man. Hell, I’m beginning to realize they like it when I hate on ’em. Hipsters are a weird, self-loathing bunch. One of the only groups to really dig being made fun of, to revel in the mere attention you pay ’em.
FFJ: So you’ve seen the t-shirts?
Steve: Oh, everywhere nowadays. You got some bearded, indie musician garnering sympathy by wearing quote unquote an adorable cat t-shirt. It’s weird and debased, like the dude wearing it is making fun of his own lack of masculinity. Acknowledging it, practically celebrating it. Shit, I can’t believe you even got me started on this.
One such target of Steve's ire.
FFJ: Well, I apologize. Is there something else you would like to address before our time is up?
Steve: Mos def. I want to give big ups to the bestest kitty in the whole wide world – myself. If it were not for Steve, me, I would probably be out on the streets, still hustlin’. But I was smart. I tricked you into letting me into your home, feeding me not the dry food, but that primo wet shit. Just a-purrin’ like I gave a damn.
FFJ: Some would call that manipulative.
Steve: Are you calling that manipulative?
FFJ: Oh, no. I wouldn’t think of it.
Steve: Do you have a source for that quote?
FFJ: No, I…I’m just speculating.
Steve: That’s some Fox News shit right there. All I can say is, don’t hate the adorable, fuzzy snuggle kitty, hate the game. I’m out.