In an exclusive New Porker interview, the artist formerly known as Bob Ross reveals he faked his 1995 death so that he could pursue his true calling: as the enigmatic, graffiti provocateur, Banksy.
Ross is best known for his PBS series The Joy of Painting, where he taught audiences how to paint landscapes and small animals. “In the beginning, I was just happy to be making a living painting,” Ross said, stroking his rescued hedgehog Tonto, in an undisclosed bunker in London. “But PBS took advantage of my passion for art and locked me into a lifetime contract, or as I called it: indentured servitude. I was shackled to their corporate canvas.”
“When I asked for a slight cost-of-living raise or to broaden the artistic horizons of The Joy of Painting, those big business buttholes up in their PBS ivory tower shot me down every time. Then one day, I just snapped!” Ross’ hand started to tremble as he scratched Tonto behind the ears. “I started hiding anti-establishment messages in the meadows and mountainsides of my paintings, but that wasn’t enough. One night, after a grueling 13 hour day at PBS, I grabbed a black hoodie and a spray can from my closet and hit the streets.”
“It was the perfect cover,” Ross said, “by day I was teaching people to paint birch trees and raccoons, but at night, I was bombing trains with graffiti, tagging street art across the city, and setting the underground scene ablaze. It’s like Clark Kent and Superman—Banksy has always been my alter ego.”
When we asked Ross why he faked his death instead of simply retiring the Joy of Painting persona, he said, “The contract. They owned my ass for life! I had to use their PBS approved brushes and canvasses—shit, I couldn’t even use my own paint supplies without checking with them first. And honestly, if I had to paint another setting sun, or some fucking doe lapping water from a goddamn bubbling brook, I’d of offed myself. For Banksy to truly live, Bob Ross had to die—so I killed him. With Bob Ross out of the picture, Banksy can do what he does best: subvert the system, 24/7.”
We asked Ross if he had any upcoming projects, “Upcoming projects? I’m 72 years old; my whole life has been nothing but projects. But now my knees are beat to hell, and I’m ruddy tired of being chased by fat Bobbies and hiding in shrubs and trashcans. Not to mention I have a serious case of trigger finger that aches every time I press down the nozzle on a spray can. I had a good run, but my body is saying no more.”
Ross fiddled with his hearing aid and added, “It’s funny. The reason I started using all those stencils is ‘cause I got so bloody blind from working at night, I couldn’t see what the hell I was painting on walls. The quality of my work really took a dip. But even a blind bugger like me can paint a rat or a gasmask when using a pre-prepped stencil. Anyways, to answer your question, my only upcoming project is…” At this point in the interview, Bob Ross nodded off to sleep. When we nudged him awake, he shook his head, pointed to the door, and mumbled, “exit through the gift shop.”
When approached about Ross’ working conditions, or his lifetime contract, representatives at PBS refused to comment.