"In order to acquire a growing and lasting respect in society, it is a good thing, if you possess great talent, to give, early in your youth, a very hard kick to the right shin of the society that you love. After that, be a snob. " (Salvador Dali)

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was reportedly a 'calculated eccentric' 1 . He apparently spent time planning his reputation to suit the stereotypical image of the crazed, inspired artistic genius marching to the beat of another tin whistle in an effort to impress the people around him. Of course, exactly how much of Dali's eccentricity was natural and how much was planned is open to conjecture: the debate of nature versus nurture rears its controversial head. The write-ups by Malicious Kitten and Or something point to severe trauma in the earlier years of Dali's life, which may or may not have contributed to his "wacky artist" image in later life. On the other hand, perhaps these wacky ideologies weren't orchestrated at all; perhaps Dali was merely subverting the natural paradigm to enhance his own creativity.

  • Dali used unusual and strange actions to seduce and impress his girlfriend Gala. He used to shave his armpits until they bled, then wore a perfume made of cow dung and fish glue to smell different to those around him.
  • There is a common story that Dali ate copious amounts of ripe camembert cheese before he went to bed. The tale says that he believed the cheese gave him crazy and vivid dreams which he used to fuel his creative artworks. Who needs drugs when you have dairy?
  • Dali had several stories on the reasoning behind his famous bristling moustache. At first he compared it to an insect antenna, feeling around and tasting the air, but that image soon gave way to a modern idea. "My moustache is my radar," he announced, "It pulls ideas out of space. Great painters need a luxuriant moustache like mine. The points have to be just under the eyes to get the right perspective." Even later Dali stated that the waxed points of his moustache were used to perforate dollar bills.
  • Dali's pet ocelot often went with the artist wherever he went. Once at a New York restaurant Dali tied the ocelot to the table leg, and completely surprised an upper class society- lady. He told her that the ocelet was only a cat, painted with an op-art design. She preferred to believe the ocelot was fake but Dali was apparently pleased with the conversation.
  • In 1936 Dali wore a skirt to the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition. This was, of course, considered quite strange back in the day.

1 from The Mammoth Book of Oddballs and Eccentrics, by Karl Shaw