Tell us a bit about your art, and about the costumes you wear?
I studied with my teacher Rosemary Geseck at The Baum School Of Art in Allentown, PA from 1988 to 2000. Rosemary allowed and encouraged people to develop their own style. After taking college level painting classes at age 14 and winning statewide awards in art and writing, painting ceased to be as fun and challenging as it once was. I took a lot the skills I learned at Baum and used them in my designs and costumes. I was retired from art and music for most of the last decade. I felt that my work was not appreciated or understood. Around 2007, I was looking around thrift shops for Elvis style outfits that had a glam rock/ hip hop influence. I couldn’t find anything like that so I started to make clothes like that. I suppose what I do could be described as wearable art.
What are you currently working on?
I have several elaborate outfits planned for the next few months. Due to the materials I use (hubcaps, LED lights, car parts, soda bottles, and action figures) making one outfit can sometime take up to a month.
If you had the time and resources to seque into another medium/ and or art project, what do you think it might be?
I always thought I was going to be a professional wrestler but when I graduated high school my family would not let me go to wrestling school. Due to some of the health problems I had, wrestling probably wouldn’t have been the best choice for me.
Do have any non art interests you’d like to discuss?
I play in the comedy schlock rock band Thunderlips And The Ultimate Males. Our first album should be released soon, featuring the R. Kelly style slow jam about clown sex in a bathroom and the now classic tune “Spank Shelter.” We should have some upcoming shows in the future.
I also collect medals and other collectibles from Russia and other countries. The last time I checked, I perhaps own around 2000 action figures from various toy lines (He-Man, G.I. Joe, Justice League America, Marvel Legends, Transformers, and M.A.S.K.)
What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around?
I have always been interested in history and the people who win throughout the ages determining how viewpoints of countries, leaders, and ideas are portrayed to the mainstream public. One of my upcoming outfits will be about the Vietnam War and the 1964 Presidential election. It still strikes me as odd that LBJ is not respected by democrats despite all of his massive civil rights legislation. I suspect this is due to the unjustified murder of Americans and Vietnamese people. Ironically it was blacks and whites fighting together for an insipid domino effect theory which broke down prejudice and social mistreatment to some degree. Prior to Vietnam, the only heavily integrated military effort would have been Teddy Roosevelt’s violent posturing in the Phillipines.
So far, I have made two outfits based on the Soviet leaders Stalin and Gorbachev. Most people saw these costumes and realized it was more of a fashion statement than a political one. I hope to make more designs based on world leaders like Sadat, Arafat, Shimon Peres and the social government during their time.
What’s your background?
I was born in Philadelphia in 1980. My family lived near the Art Museum area and moved to Northampton, PA, in the mid 1980’s. It was the type of town where the only movie theater around still played black and white Chaplin shorts, 1940’s cartoons, and “let’s all go to the lobby to get ourselves a treat” and the organ player wore a red velvet tuxedo. As a result of living in such a old fashioned environment, I tend to look at things from a odd outlook. Perhaps things are too complicated now with blue ray dvd’s, gps systems, i-phones, and so many other things. I still drive a van from 1989, listen to cassette tapes, and watch videos on my vcr. I moved back to Philadelphia a few years ago because Northampton became a crystal meth town.
I went to the School Of The Creative And Performing Arts in Philadelphia in the late 1990’s. I met a lot of cool people during my short tenure there. I worked on amateur experimental film and did a lot of writing during the last decade with some of them. I still have some mixed feelings regarding CAPA but I am glad I met the people from there.
What do you think of the Philly art scene? Are you involved with any groups or organizations?
I didn’t know there was a Philly art scene! That’s a complete joke! Philadelphia doesn’t have an arts scene. The art museum’s catchphrase is “come inside” because more people look at it as place to get your photo next to the Rocky statue than look at Renoir. Sure, I like Stallone films but there isn’t a “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” statue next to MOMA. Another good example of Philadelphia’s ineptitude is the Donovan MacNabb “you are going to love the arts in Philadelphia” commercials. Really? I thought that Donovan wasn’t even liked by Philly sports fans, much less patrons of the arts.
As far as the artists go, it gets even worse. Most older artists are neurotic baby boomers who are enraptured with Warhol (who is a less talented version of the brilliance of Dennis Flynn.) The art teachers in this city are basically bitter failures who just wanted to have the health benefits that unintentionally misleading students provides.
The students and younger artists are the worst of the lot. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” came out a very long time ago. Get over it! Why rip off Tim Burton when he hasn’t made an actual good movie since “Ed Wood”? The influence of Japanese anime is just as putrid and dreadful.
Furthermore, most galleries tend to be phallocentric and showcase white male artists who usually paint one kind of painting (more often than not based on pre and post impressionist art from 200 years ago.)
Rowdy Roddy Piper once told me “your only limit is yourself.” Sadly, like many social-economic aspects of this city, the arts scene in Philadelphia limits itself and doesn’t even know it.
My views on groups and organizations is out of sync with society. I feel that the idea of groups and families sometimes fail to respect individual will and responsibility. That being said, I’m not totally against them. I have known a lot of understanding people who could comprehend the right to be yourself.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading “Reset: Iran, Turkey, And America’s Future” by Stephen Kinzer. I am also reading Roy Thomas’ “All-Star Squadron,” the Earth-2 DC Comics heroes who help fight World War 2 and James Robinson’s “Justice League Of America.”
I was fortunate enough to read a preview of Vince Ancona’s new book “Intro To Planet Earth” and it will prove to the unwashed literary masses that Vince Ancona is the MVP (Most Valuable Poet.) Joyce Carol Oates and Walt Whitman wish they had the amount of talent in Vince’s pinky finger!
What is the music you like?
I am a huge fan of the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz. I also like Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Snow, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams (Sr., Jr., and the 3rd), The Residents, Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., Megadeth, William Shatner, Stryper, Motley Crue, Night Ranger, Barry Manilow, Fats Waller, Arthur “Big Boy” Cruddup, Muddy Waters, Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, The Carter Family, Bob Wills And The Texas Playboys, The Singin’ Brakeman Jimmie Rodgers, UFO, Fats Waller, The Dead Milkmen, Richard Marx, G.G. Allin, Throbbing Gristle, Slayer, Guns N’ Roses, Warrant, Weird Al Yankovic, The Beach Boys, Judas Priest, Kiss, Iron Maiden, The Moonglows, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, The Village People, and Bikini Kill.
One musical artist that I look up to would be Rootboy Slim. Instead of becoming a soul crunching Bilderberg groups associated politician like his fellow Yale classmate George W. Bush, Rootboy walked his own path. He crashed cars on the White House lawn, wore tight fitting basketball uniforms, and wrote classic songs like “Christmas At K-Mart” and “Boogie Til You Puke.” Rootboy Slim and The Sex Change Band (with the Rootettes) were a seriously underrated band from the 70’s and 80’s.
Who are your favorite visual artists?
My favorite artist would have to be Jack Kirby. Other artists I respect are Ben Louria, Joe Coleman, Rosemary Geseck, Mr. Imagination, Norbert Cox, Jim Starlin, Steve Ditko, Kevin McQuire, Liz Krick, Scott Helfrich, John Byrne, and George Peed. One day I will collaborate with Lauren Marsella and that should be amazing. Unlike the majority of those involved in the arts, I haven’t been influenced by established older artists. In fact, I have gone out of my way to avoid being influenced by others. I will admit to ripping off Liz Krick with the pink and black Dyermania outfit. If the only artist that I have copied from is amazingly talented as Liz Krick is, that isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.
What are your favorite movies?
The Searchers is my all time favorite film. The scene where John Wayne rides across a snowy field strewn with the carcasses of Native American women and children to look for his niece among the insane white women with foreheads covered with scalping scars is perhaps one the most chilling moments in cinema. Other movies I love are The Wild Bunch, High Plains Drifter, Unforgiven, The King Of New York, Y Tu Mama Tambien, 21 Grams, American Psycho, Transformers (1986 version), The Stranger, The Best Years Of Our Lives, Auto Focus, One Hour Photo, City Of God, Fort Apache, 16 Candles, Pretty In Pink, Letters From Iwo Jima, The Wrestler, Team America: World Police, Hobson’s Choice, Boogie Nights, St. Louis Blues, Inherit The Wind, Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Wings Of Desire, Far Away So Close, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Borat, The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, Blue Velvet, Strangers On A Train, Psycho, Burn! and The Fast Runner.
What are your favorite websites?
I have always been a fan of yojoe.com. Two other amazing websites would be fame lust and civicthreads.blogspot.com or http://twitter.comCivicthreads. Any event that features Fame Lust or Civic Threads will be the place to be.
If someone were to come to your town/city what places/bars/parks/events/etc.should they be sure to check out?
Sketch, located in the heart of Fishtown, is perhaps the best burger place ever. The Bambi Gallery, Topstitch, Sazz Vintage Clothes, Reverie, Bahdeebahdu, the Arcadia Boutique, and any place where Art After Dark is happening are really cool places to check out. Some cool bands to keep your eye on would be Void Vision, The Homophones, Sgt. Sass, Delco Nightingale, and The Great Unknown. DJ Robert Drake and DJ Marilyn Thomas’ new wave Sex Dwarf parties at Club Fluid is the highlight of first friday. The Zombie Prom at the Trocadero, Smooth Sailing and The Time Warp at the Barbary are all amazing events. The Ontario Street Comic Book Shop is not in a great neighborhood but it worth the trip. DJ DeeJay spins the best grooves at Silk City every saturday night in addition to his MMP (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince), BBG (Britney, Beyonce, GaGa), and BSB (Beatles, Stones, Bowie) parties are not to be missed. I have never seen a disc jockey go from playing the Notorious B.I.G to Toto to Bob Marley to Kenny Loggins and have the crowd keep partying the way DJ DeeJay does. He is truly spectacular. Julie Raboczi’s craft fairs and Seampoets Designs could be in any location and will always be fun.
Is there any else you’d like to discuss?
“When you’re champion, everyone is your enemy. You are a symbol of their ambition. You’re also proof of their failure.” – Harley Race