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Los Angeles, CA –- My boy Derek introduces me to some of the most interesting people. This past weekend brought two additions to the list: the performance artist (associated with body art and with extreme performance art), Ron Athey; and famed author, film director and visual artist, Clive Barker.
On Friday morning, I finally got to meet Ron Athey who Derek has known for many years. Ron's work explores subjects like the relationships between desire, sexuality, and traumatic experiences with many pieces including aspects of sadomasochism.
We met with Ron at his place in Hollywood where he had a wonderful brunch spread prepared for us that included poached eggs in marinara over polenta, carrot & ginger salad, and an assortment of fruits. He was a truly gracious host and genuinely engaging. The three of us talked for hours about a variety of passions including his work, travels and the work Derek and I are doing together. I felt an immediate connection with Ron and even remarked that I could understand why Derek had fallen so madly in love with him. I hope we get another opportunity to spend more time with Ron soon.
Our primary reason for being in LA, however, was to collaborate with Clive Barker on a project. Derek had set up the photo shoot back in December. Although nothing had been decided regarding content for the shoot, I had my hopes. Once we had met with Clive I pitched the idea of having him shoot Derek and I doing a blood art suspension. He agreed.
The plan was to do a two part piece with Derek suspended from the rafters in an inverted cross position. The first part would be of me kneeling beneath him, spilling my blood on the canvass from IV catheter lines in each arm and finger painting. The second part would include draining Derek's blood from similar IV catheter lines while he was still suspended over the canvas, spin-art fashion.
Of course the best laid plans don't always come to fruition exactly as engineered. Because Derek and I were the only ones on site that could run the IV catheters, we had to have Derek run mine before I started the rigging. That's right, when people ask me what the most difficult part of doing rope bondage is, I can now respond, "rigging with IV lines in both arms." I will say it was an interesting experience. Rigging right after getting stuck several times with 20 gage needles (Derek had some difficulty with the design of the new IV catheters) with a catheter sticking out from inside a vain and tubing hanging from each arm can definitely focus your attention on the rope. Unfortunately, by the time I finished the rigging and got Derek up, my lines had already clogged. I should have remembered to source out saline to flush the lines.
Side Bar: In any type of play, from novice to advanced, Derek and I both advocate taking every scene as a learning experience. Sometimes things don't play out exactly right, like in the example above, and every once in a while things can just go plain wrong. The important thing to remember is learn from these experiences, apply those lessons learned and continually improve our play.
While my IV lines were useless, I did manage to spill a little of my blood on the canvas when I tore them out of my arms and beat on the floor with my fists in frustration. And, there were no problems with Derek's lines... he bled beautifully.
Clive took over seven hundred photographs from the session Saturday night. We had a chance to view them at the end of the evening and I asked him to email one of my favorites (above) to include with this post. A DVD containing all of the images is being sent to me and I will post a selection into a gallery here once it arrives. I'm told that a series of images taken from this shoot entitled 'And he threw his blood against heaven' will also be included in Clive's upcoming book 'Imagining Man'. Having had this opportunity to work with Clive Barker and his crew has been extraordinary and the end results are amazing.
The three of us have decided to auction off the canvas created during the shoot with all the proceeds going to benefit the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. I'll post more on that later.