“Of course we have a subscription to Oedipus Epic,” natters Harry Brant, reclining in a Cynthia Rowley-inflected lawnchair and clad in a Daniel Buren-striped pajama onesie and silk slippers from Singapore Airlines’ Ultra-Premiere Class cabins. “It costs basically like a bazillion dollars to ship it over from Germany, but nobody does morally questionable incest-y fashion editorial like they do. Nobody.”
Brant Watch spoke to Harry the day that an 8-page Oedipus Epic editorial was leaked online. The spread features Harry, Peter II, and Stephanie Seymour in a series of vignettes inspired by popular coming-of-age-by-fucking-your-mom films such as Spanking the Monkey and Murmur of the Heart. It will appear in print alongside a 3,500 hagiography co-written by Derek Hastings, an aspiring blogger who is also the Brants’ long-time pool boy. (Hastings also recently made waves with the announcement that he’s joining Larry Gagosian’s gallery empire as a ‘wealth fluffer.’).
Brussels-based photographer Frederick Chucklestick conceptualized the shoot; post-production digital retouching was handled over the course of several months by Industrial Light & Magic. “Freddie was basically like, Does anything make you uncomfortable?” Peter II remembers. “We were like, We’ll do anything but sit on a black woman for this shoot. Anything.” That open-mindedness resulted in images like the one above, in which Harry embodies the character of Samiam, Lord of the Peacocks, while his mother portrays Leda, on the cusp of seduction with Zeus. (Peter II thought dressing as a swan would be “too childish.”) “Chucklestick kept asking me to scootch my crotch forward,” Harry laughs. “Connect with the bum, he’d say. Dock your crotch in your mum’s landing pad! It totally reminded me of that one episode of Different Strokes where they go into the bike shop owner’s basement.”
This shot mashes up a variety of pop-cultural influences (“Chucklestick is sooooo fucking postmodern,” Harry says). On one level, it’s a simple portrait of Peter II checking his mother’s scalp for lice while she stares directly at the voyeuristic camera eye, daring it to come and fornicate with her. On another level, it’s a visual rewrite of the Twilight series, combined with the basic plot of Funny Games: Two undead anemic vampire children invade the house of a helpless, beautiful woman, and engage in increasingly bizarre acts of torture and seduction. “You should see the outtakes,” Harry says. “Actually, I wish you could, but you can’t. German customs seized all of them. And when you freak out German people you know you’ve done something right.”
Brant Watch attempted to reach Patriarch Peter I for comment, but when approached near the family’s Greenwich home, he ran away at a brisk trot, yelling that he had “something stuck in his eye” and was definitely “not crying bitter tears of frustration and disappointment at what my life has become.”