Today was the day that I heard back from Winston.
As usual, my inbox is piling up with spam from spammers and borderline spam from PR people and borderline borderline spam from colleagues, but today I don’t care because I know that somewhere in amongst all that glittering email trash is a gem. I am talking — and even now I can’t believe I’m writing this — about an email — heck, I am talking about the email … I am talking about the email in which Winston (yeah, that Winston — he’s so crazy he doesn’t need a last name, unless it’s Bananas) finally (finally finally finally) breaks his legendary silence. And as it turns out, Winston Bananas has a whole lot on his mind.
Let me back up real quick. Since 2009, hundreds of thousands of people have seen and admired Winston’s work, from his (now classic) breakthrough video “Winston Isn’t Normal,” through to more mature pieces like “Winston’s Not-So-Big Adventure” and (arguably) his masterpiece, “Banana Security.” But up until now, the reclusive and, indeed, primarily housebound star has barely even acknowledged his celebrity in public, and — with the possible exception of his brief, awkward stint as a fashion reporter — Winston’s own inner thoughts and aspirations have been left completely up to the speculation and guesswork of his millions of eager fans.
Winston, “Winston Isn’t Normal” (2009) — This is the groundbreaking video that started Winston’s career.
Most people believe that the reason for his silence is that he is a cat and cats can’t talk (see, for instance, “Meowfail”), but my own theory is that, like any great artist, Winston prefers to let his work speak for itself. If you will excuse the metaphor, the “bananas” that represent his oeuvre are not to be peeled without his express permission.
Winston, “Meowfail” (2010)
But my Winston email, in its own small way, will change that, and it is my sincere hope that this will be the beginning of a new phase in Winston’s cat career. A more public, active phase. A phase in which Winston directly engages (as he has already begun to do in this interview) with the entire Catosphere — not just Maru, Sockington, Memebon, and other household names, but the lesser-known cats who are pushing their genre forward and challenging its conventions — both as a part of the tradition and as a powerful influence on its trajectory.
What follows is the text of my interview with Winston Bananas, kindly provided by Winston’s handler, Rich Juzwiak.
BuzzFeed: What inspires you most?
Winston: I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000…or a can of cat food. I simply adore The sound of a banana peeling, the clink a can opening, the zip of string cheese being strung. Sometimes I get weird ideas off the top of my head like meowing without noise or jumping at the wall. It usually takes cutting a video of these things for me to get over them and move on to the next project.
BuzzFeed: Is there any other Internet-famous cat whose work you admire? Who?
Winston: Chase No Face is a brave community leader and deserving of all of the love that he gets.
[Ed. note: Chase No Face, for those unacquainted with the Internet catosphere, is a cat who actually genuinely DOES NOT HAVE A FACE. Despite all that, he is loved and happy, and (clearly) a hero. DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH, but you can learn more about him here.]
BuzzFeed: Have you ever been in love?
Winston: I’m in a polyamorous relationship with Purple Heart and Yellow Fingers. Both are plush toys. Purple Heart is, as of now, M.I.A. and Yellow Fingers suffered a disfiguring accident when he got into a fight with the vacuum cleaner. For those who are curious, I have not consummated my relationship with either. I’m not like that.
BuzzFeed: Is there any other Internet-famous animal who you think is a hack?
Winston: Shade is I don’t tell you you’re ugly, but I don’t have to tell you because you know.
BuzzFeed: Which of your videos are you most proud of and why?
Winston: “Banana Security.” I did a really good job of keeping those bananas secure, and the ones that went missing, I got to eat. Win’s win/win. I’m also proud of “Winston Isn’t Normal.” I single-pawedly debunked an entire Wikipedia section. Winston is amazing.
Winston, “Banana Security” (2010)
BuzzFeed: Describe a day in the life of Winston the cat.
Winston: Starting at 5:15 am, my brother, Rudy, and I play a game of leapfrog. Sometimes when we’re feeling adventurous, we knock things off the TV area. This goes on until Rudy gets thrown in jail. Then I scream for a while because if I don’t, I won’t get fed until 6:30 am, when the taller one gets out of bed. On days that he’s feeling extra stubborn, I knead him with three legs (two front, one back) and sneeze in his mouth. So then I get fed, but I can’t always pick up everything from my plate on account of my gorgeously flat face, so I scream some more for help. I usually do this about five times per meal. After that, I slip out of the kitchen and sleep somewhere without saying, “Thanks,” or, “Have a nice day at work.” Winstons don’t do that; you say, “Thanks,” and “Have a nice day at work,” to us. Maybe we hear you, maybe we couldn’t care less. Then I sleep all day and sometimes wrestle with Rudy if he gets too into grooming me. He must achieve a delicate balance of keeping me clean without waking me up or he pays. Just before the taller one gets home, I poop to give him a fresh welcome-home present. I can’t completely deprive the people who keep me fed, and so this is my way of showing appreciation. When he’s finished playing in the toilet with his gifts, I scream at him some more for taking so long and I tell him I’m hungry. Then I scream for help midway through eating, again. Sometimes I run around after dinner, but mostly I walk and squawk and scream for more food. Then I find a corner to sleep in, even though I know soon enough one of the big ones will grab me and make me watch TV — either Judge Judy or American Dad. I fall asleep next to whoever grabs me, usually, unless whoever I’m next to gets too touchy feely. I am a precious commodity. You can’t just touch me whenever you feel like it.
BuzzFeed: What do you think is the best cat video of all time?
Unknown Artist, “Beautiful Red Cat” (2010)
BuzzFeed: What’s with the bananas?
Winston: Banana you glad I didn’t say orange?
While we wait to see what Winston will get up to next, let’s take a last look at some of his incredible achievements to date, beginning with a couple of the pieces mentioned earlier in this article.
1. The Winterview With Allison Harvard
In which Winston turns fashion reporter and asks some hard-hitting questions of America’s Next Top Model contestant (and, to Internet nerds, “Creepy Chan”), Allison Harvard.
2. Winston’s Not-So-Big Adventure
In which Winston and his chauffeur take a short turn around the neighborhood.
3. Winston Eats All Manner Of Things
“He likes what he likes.”