21 questions

The World Trade Center Is Still Standing in Philippe Petit’s Head

Name: Philippe Petit
Age: 61
Neighborhood: Upper West Side, Artist-in-Residence, Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Occupation: High-Wire Artist, Magician, Street Juggler, Author, Lecturer. In addition to working on his one-man stage show WIRELESS! Philippe Petit Down to Earth., his show of drawings “Line Up: Rigging Knots + Glimpses of a Master Class,” in collaboration with photographer Victoria Dearing, opens today at Clic Gallery.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
A New Year’s Eve feast at Chanterelle.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I focus, I invent, I transform, I challenge, I attempt, I observe, I perform.

What was your first job in New York?
Walking on a steel cable stretched illegally between the Twin Towers.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Bill T. Jones’s Fela!

Do you give money to panhandlers?
If their eyes indicate a temporary loss of hope.

What’s your drink?
Tea in a glass, or Zubrowka at Pravda.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Rarely. My Kathy is a fabulous self-taught cook.

What’s your favorite medication?
Mousse au Chocolat.

What’s hanging above your sofa?
A Bill Thompson photograph of 1,500 people gathered around my chalk circle as I am street-juggling in Washington Square Park.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
I never pay attention to the price. By the way, I would like to be bald.

When’s bedtime?
Noon, midnight, 4 a.m. — it depends on what happened that day.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
The new one: less cars, more people.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
Vain, empty, false, useless.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
Having to sleep a few hours at night when the city is busy offering ephemeral myths, mysteries, and miracles.

Who is your mortal enemy?
Father Time.

When’s the last time you drove a car?
Yesterday, looking for a chapka in Little Odessa.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
It made sure I knew nothing about its existence.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
None — a Russian newspaper to practice the language.

Where do you go to be alone?
At the top of WTC, which still stands, reaching the clouds, inside my head.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
The certitude that this city is a continent and its inhabitants citizens of the world.

The World Trade Center Is Still Standing in Philippe Petit’s Head