Correct Culture: Man Bags, Muffinhead, Max Steele

Take the Picture – There seems to be a never-ending plethora of artists dabbling in the at times indulgent art of self-portraiture these days, but few ever rise to the fierce degree of established and still relevant talents like Cindy Sherman or Robert Mapplethorpe. Photographer Gregory Moon is that rare exception, and though his work is way different from the aforementioned art greats, he adds his own singular touch to his work, which veers from the ultra-sexual to the uber-sexy. Constantly revealing and evolving, he shows absolutely no fear in expressing his unique vision of himself and gives pause to those seeking only an unhealthy dose of counterfeit astonishment.

imageStyle That Doesn’t Suck – I’ve never been a fan of the “man bag,” those supposedly fashionable but oh-so-strange-looking oversized sacks of stylish indulgence that designers like Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton have tried to convince us normal male mortals (and not just the gay ones) that we need to complete our daily ensembles. I still rock a $12 black nylon backpack from 14th Street. But then I came across the superbly sublime designs of San Francisco-based accessories designer Basil Racuk, and I’ve been singing a decidedly different tune. A 20-year veteran of the fashion biz, Racuk worked his magic for several large houses before striking out on his own as an artisan working directly with private clients and a few select retail stores. His passion for California gold miners and the alterna-hippy vibe of Haight Ashbury has resulted in a collection of rare leather pieces dating back to the Gold Rush days. The pieces have a handcrafted, lived-in-already feel and feature such unexpected touches as handpainted finishes and ergonomic shapes that keep them fashionably current, yet comfortably minimal.

image Style Exiles – I first spotted Muffinhead on Facebook but didn’t truly take in his entire amazing self spectacle until spotting him at one of artist Kenny Scharf’s Cosmic Cavern black-light parties. Describing himself as a “performance absurdist and hyper-surreal cartoon character intent on bringing other worldly visions to life, he injects a bold and brash jolt of visual distraction that brings to mind such geniuses as Leigh Bowery. Since relocating to New York in 2005, he has brought his chaotic and somewhat obsessive panache to the city’s hottest galleries, events, and nightlife. His solo show The Exhibitionist at Arena Studios received rave reviews, and he has been a featured player in the Deitch Projects Art Parade since its inception. This “Art Terrorist” seeks first and foremost to see his concepts through to brilliant completion, often taking several grueling months to finish. His recent collaboration with Kenny Scharf called “SuperWow!” was one of those unique only-in-New-York experiences, bringing together a group art party, performance exhibit, and all-night dancing to dazzling effect.

image What Would You Wear to the Second Coming? – it/EQ collaborators Ethan Shoshan and Carlo Quispe create custom clothes based on psychosexual power relationships inherent in the wearer, uncovering unconscious desires and allowing personal liberation. The story of it/EQ is based on one of the principles of Shamanism, and that is imbuing meaning (personal, spiritual, social) onto things; that objects, people, places have special powers — living symbols of power — and to reach beyond the ego into a realm where we are all deeply connected. The first amulet that ever existed was the shell portion of a sea-urchin. It has a hole through it, called it/EQ (anus) and was made the first amulet because of its association with a particular power of healing through wind and breath. Ethan Shoshan, 29, is a social ecologist and multimedia artist born in Brooklyn. His works utilize many creative platforms using visual media, performance, sound, video, installation, clothes, and cooking. He is currently living and working in New York as yoga practitioner, macrobiotic chef, and volunteer for various community organizations. You can check out more projects and sign onto the mailing list at Carlo Quispe is 31, born in Lima, Peru, and now lives in New York in the Dominican ghetto of Washington Heights. Carlo’s work depicts men who have sex with men and their very private lives. His comic Killer Heights recently had a public showing in September at Printed Matter Inc. He is currently teaching visual literacy at the Hetrick-Martin Institute and is co-editing the next issue of World War 3 Illustrated, called “What We Want,” due out in early 2010.

image The Stuff You Need Right Now – With the continued advent of skinny jeans, finding the right shoe that keeps the elongated and lean line fresh requires footwear that doesn’t look bulky or make you resemble a modern-day version of Bozo. Nobody wants toothpick legs balanced on boat-sized feet. I usually opt for a classic pair of Chucks but was recently turned on to the reinvention of a true old school classic. Reworking their ultra-classic signature canvas kicks first introduced to the masses in 1916 by the company US Rubber, Pro-Keds has teamed with the uber-trendy boutique Opening Ceremony to create a line of red, white, and blue styles in faded washes, bandana prints, and even denim.

image Shop till Ya Drop – Live Fast is hands down the coolest shop on the LES. The carry and support an amazing array of independent designers who create one-of-a-kind pieces and accessories. Scooter La Forge, JackieHatesYou, Blue Tape Crew, Ramon Maiden, Bullets, Stiletto Leatherwear, OAP London, Michael Nirenberg, and Nickels & Dimes can all be found here, and the shop also creates rock-n-roll-inspired wedding/gala event dresses from their in-house studio. Owner Cecilia Anton opened the shop in 2005 and soon after turned the basement into a wildly popular gallery featuring artists like Nick Zedd, Vanessa Bucci, Joe Simko, and Monica Casanova. Upcoming shows include the aforementioned JackieHatesYou on October 31 from 6-11pm, and Scooter La Forge’s “Mega Monsters” on November 20. If you haven’t figured out your Halloween costume yet, get your ass down there ASAP as this is definitely the spot to put something together that will look fiercely fresh and stand out in a likely crowd of Sarah Palin wannabes.

image Fiercely Correct Art – New York-based painter Lara Jochim has pretty much done it all in her quest to keep things creative. Between serving up stints as a DJ, fashion stylist, record store clerk, theme party host, and 9-to-5 publishing gal, she “relaxes” by painting abstract figurative landscapes of swirling colors and collaged distraction.

image Caution: Correctness Ahead – Max Steele is a NYC-based performance artist/ blogger du jour/ go-go sensation whose personal sense of style often includes random correctness such as the Mickey Mouse tank he sports above. The kids in NY are really working the vintage again, thank God, and I’ve noticed that even though this never-ending 80s retro regurgitation refuses to leave us, there is a current of the future starting to creep up. I sat down with Max recently to ask him a few questions.

Tell me about growing up- where you’re from, were you out, gay, and performing? I’m originally from LA, but my family moved to a tiny island Bay Area suburb called Alameda when I was nine. My parents are both actors, so I was out from the get-go. Real artsy hippie CA vibe, I’m very lucky.

What made you come to NYC and what was the first fierce thing that happened to you? I came to NYC because when I was in high school this really cute punk band played SF on tour and I had a crush on the guitarist and they said they were from New York. The first fierce thing that happened when I got here was that for the first time in my life, dudes started cruising me. All of a sudden I existed.

What do you aspire to, and what inspires you? I aspire to share my work (performance and writing) with more and more people. I want to widen the discussion to include as many people as possible. I’m inspired a lot by the work of my brilliant friends, and by literature.

What all do you do to do what you love to do in NYC? I work days as a law firm receptionist, I go-go dance, and do freelance writing gigs to get money. I wish I could support myself without having a 9-5, but I’m still young.

Favorite color / drink / restaurant / club nite / performance-nightlife artist? Green, soy White Russian, Kate’s Joint, three-way tie (Queers Beers and Rears @ Cake Shop, JUDY! @ The Hose, and whenever there’s an East Village Boys party), Tayisha Busay.

Upcoming projects, dream jobs, and correct e-mail/web site contact info? I’m playing Starr Space on 10/17, opening for Ana Da Silva from the Raincoats, working on a new solo performance art show called Encourager, and writing the next issue of my psychedelic porno poetry zine Scorcher.

imageFast Food Fashion – I am a huge fan of irreverent t-shirts, the less in good taste the better. My new guilty pleasures come from Mike Hawk Teez, started by childhood friends Rick Ramos and Frank Guerra, who based their collection of crude sayings on stupid phrases they would come up with back in their college daze. They come up with the fictional characters Mike Hawk, the typical dirty-minded guy, and Betty Wacksitt, the empowered hot girl who tells it like it is. Not politically correct by a long shot, which is exactly why they are SO very correct.

San Francisco Street Treat – Just spent a few weeks in San Francisco, where the street art scene is completely off the hook. Ironically, several of that city’s leading artists have been migrating to NYC and leaving their mark on both coasts. So if some of these images look familiar, you’re not trippin. The era of bi-coastal tagging is alive and well.




All photos except Basil Racuk, Gregory Moon, Lara Jochim, and Mike Hawk Teez by Walt Cessna.

Correct Culture: Tobie Giddio, Illustrationist

Tobie Giddio is one of the most unique and inspiring artists I have ever been lucky enough to work with during my past 25 years in the fashion biz. We first met in the late 80s when the New York club scene was ground zero for creative kids in search of an outlet outside of the mainstream media. I was about to launch an alternative anti-fashion magazine called STOP and Tobie, already a friend, soon became one of my most important and favorite contributors. From the very beginning of her career she has displayed an unbelievably polished and signature technique. Her work takes you into a gorgeously sublime & abstract world where you find yourself in an elegant, almost futuristic dream. I’ve never seen nor met another artist with her perspective and the passion she brings to her work is utterly infectious. She inspires me to always move ahead — but in the most beautiful way possible.


When did you first start drawing? I started drawing as a child and never really stopped. I loved drawing ladies in period gowns because I watched a lot of Barbra Streisand movies growing up. I was very inspired by all the Cecil Beaton period costumes with her 60s/70s make-up, hair, etc., and I still am. Then as a teenager I was into copying Richard Avedon photographs in my “studio” in the basement. Then there was The Eyes of Laura Mars, which probably put me over the edge.

Did you draw obsessively as a child? Not really obsessively … it was more of an escape. I loved nothing more than to put those giant headphones on and draw … Elton John, Donna Summer, Barbra, then Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees, Queen, Disco … it was heaven and that pretty much still is for me.

You’re an 80s kid — what do you take from that period and use in your work today? I moved to NYC in 1982 to go to school. I like to think of us as the “fortunate generation.” The true melting pot as we knew it no longer exists in NYC. Nightclubs at the time were just so incredibly abundant with genuinely talented people and fantastic music … it was inspiring and a bit intimidating too, but it made you push yourself to be better, it made you dig down deep to find what was absolutely yours and to create from that place. It wasn’t about falling into some sort of lame standard of cool. The people I was surrounded by were just so amazing. Sister Dimension and Billy Beyond were some of my closest friends at the time (and still are) so I spent a lot of time at the Pyramid on Avenue A. The performances, the visuals, the music that I witnessed there for years are a huge part of my foundation as an artist. I was also spending a lot of time in London, and it was so incredible. Beings like Leigh Bowery and all the characters of that moment were just blowing my mind with inspiration. That time for me was so much about experiencing the limitlessness of how beautiful, how expansive, how expressive you could and should be. The 80s were great, but honestly I’ve embraced every decade so far for completely different reasons.

What particular job/assignment helped jump start your career? Well, while all that 80s stuff was going on, I was working, funny enough. I would have to say doing those black & white Bergdorf Goodman ads that ran in The New York Times every week. But my very first published piece was for the East Village Eye. I was still a student, and Donald Schneider just put one of my drawings in there for no reason other than because he liked it, no article or editorial, nothing, full page … I loved that.

Who are your major influences/icons illustrator/artist/designer wise? Heroes I have many, but here’s a to eleven, no particular order … Agnes Martin, Lee Bontecue, Tori Amos, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paolo Roversi, Leigh Bowery, John Galliano, Joni Mitchell, Keith Haring, Milton Glaser, and Picasso.

What inspires you in terms of pop culture/music/life in general? Hmmm, well music has always been a primary “art supply” in the studio. I work silently until I feel I am where I need to be, and then it goes on nice and loud and I completely let go into full on enjoyment. At the moment I’m not listening to a lot that’s new. I listen to a lot of Tori Amos because she’s so prolific and genius and gives me the rich production value. That and my other tried and true reliable. Nature, modern art, not so much that’s going on at the moment but I am loving the paintings of Tomma Abts … incredible abstractions.

Do you still draw for yourself, or do you find yourself mostly doing it for work now that you’re more established? I’ve always drawn for myself. It has to please me or it just doesn’t flow, though my intent has changed over the years. In the beginning I felt a responsibility to be a part of visualizing the art of fashion illustration as all our guys were dying of AIDS and Steven Meisel was busy catapulting fashion photography to this level that it was not before. A lot has happened since then, and there are many illustrators and agencies out there now. I continue to draw for myself but my intention has taken off and evolved from where I started. I think it’s a mission accomplished in terms of keeping drawing fashion alive so I’ve personally moved on. I now work with an intention to express a much more personal yet hopefully universal vision of beauty that serves in a different way.


Do you consider yourself an illustrator? Artist? Or both? I don’t think it’s entirely correct to call what I’m doing now fashion illustration. I say that with huge respect for the art of illustration. Hopefully without sounding like a pretentious fuck I can simply call myself an artist. I think it’s really about where I feel aligned with. I no longer work with an illustration agency or am a part of all the fashion illustration collective publications … It’s just me and my attorney at this point working for those who are in full appreciation of where I am coming from and exhibiting in places that resonate with the essence of the work. My assignments have a huge range of content. Sometimes it’s fashion, but it goes way outside that as well.

People are always saying that illustration — especially fashion illustration — is dead. How do you feel about that? Well I guess we’re talking about within the fashion community now. Yes, with these guys it is dead or just not relevant. Aside from the odd Mats Gustavson editorial in Italian Vogue or Visionaire once in a blue moon, you’re not going to see actual fashion illustration very much in what was once considered its proper arenas. I used to care a lot about it, but not so much now. It’s pointless to take it personally or to take the bitter pill. The fashion community’s collective mindset just could not embrace it. The idea that fashion illustration is some kind of quaint not-so-relevant stepsister to photography is ingrained in their psyche, and you’re not going to get through that no matter how talented you are, so for me this has meant a real need to carve my own way completely, even leaving my original intent to be a fashion illustrator. The truth is, great art is great art — it is always relevant and will find its place even if that turns out to be fashion. I think it’s a job of an artist to protect the work, nurture what is revealing itself, and to be steadfast and clear about its destiny regardless of what the world seems to be presenting … so, if you’re asking me how I feel about these attitudes in the industry, I can say it has been a source of frustration over the years, but at this point I’m fine with it. It’s not what defines my life or work. I’m making the work I want to make and I am very content with that.

What/who is your dream assignment? Proper editorials in relevant magazines, animations for retail environments for stores like Viktor & Rolf, print with brands that are truly innovative and gorgeous, music video for musicians I love, my version of a Yellow Submarine type of film. There’s something really great about not hitting your peak too early … I feel lucky that there’s so much more to come and I’m 45. The whole youth thing is so ridiculous. I don’t think the real deal actually happens as a young artist no matter who you are. I’m into building something authentically and steadily, something that will last and I can do as an old lady.

What are you trying to transmit/say with your work? Purity. Transcendence. The divine.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Somewhere very dressed up.

With all the emphasis on technology these days, how much of it do you incorporate/use in your work compared to when you first started out? I like to think the final result is at the perfect balance of digital technology and work by hand. All the drawing and collage is by hand. I start with a sumi ink drawing and then layer translucent color films that I’ve cut with a straight edge. Then it is scanned and cleaned up, meaning all the unnecessary cuts and bits of tape are removed, bubbles from the film, whatever … not too clean but just enough. Then there’s some color correcting and retouching so the black ink is nice and rich and the color at its best. I love the level the computer has taken my work to. I resisted it for a long time, but I realized at one point that I was holding back the work, and it did not serve me ultimately to hand it over to art directors for them to take care of. Then came the animation and having the necessity of how to integrate work on paper into the computer.

What’s the most satisfying thing about what you do? There’s nothing like the feeling of being in complete partnership with the creative powers that be, when the work is coming strong and fast, no editing, no deciding, no throw away, just one line after the next, one shape after the next, it’s exhilarating really, pure pleasure and when I’m done I feel so grateful to have been a part of the process.

Portrait of Tobie Giddio By Billy Erb.

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Correct Culture: Hairy Eyeballs, Aetherphone Blues

Shop Till You Drop – One day as I was wandering around Williamsburg looking for random street art to photograph I literally stumbled upon the most insane jewel box of a store filled with most eye-catching hairy eyeball graphics imaginable. Everything that makes a super skate geek happy can be found at Mishka, from signature print jeans to rare collectible toys to the aforementioned hairy eyeball pillows and caps. Plus, when you need to take a shopping break, you can chill and challenge your buds to a round on the in-store video arcade or just kick back and ogle the Adam Wallacavage squid chandelier that hangs almost menacingly in the center of the store. The clientele is as captivating as the merch, and the sales staff are so laid back you might not even realize they’re there. In other words, the perfect shopping experience.


Blog or Die – My absolute everyday must-read-or-die blog is Eitel Thoughts by Reavis Eitel. Always visually arresting and bitingly ironic, Eitel takes you into his world and serves up his personal take on everything from his health to Sundaze at Vandam with tongue planted firmly in chic. Here’s a brief Q & A I recently conducted with him.

What is the purpose/inspiration for your blog? It’s characteristically without purpose! I started it because I wasn’t feeling well. I had no idea that anyone would ever read it. If I had any idea, I wouldn’t have made it so confessional and personal, but I just continue to go with it.

What are your favorite things about living in NYC? At this point, just convenience and anonymity. You’re also still pretty protected from how banal and slow the rest of the world is when living here. If you don’t think so, then try going an hour or so outside of Manhattan. Whenever I cross over the bridge to return, I can breathe again.

You have made an incredible personal transformation — what inspired you and what are you aiming for? Thanks. I switched to whole grain. Just looking to further my all-natural healthy agenda in personal maintenance and fitness pursuits.

Is there an underground scene still in NYC and what/who are your favorite parts of it? No.

Give me a brief bio — the usual, where you’re from, what you’ve done, what’s in your future? I was born and raised in Manhattan where I went to school through college. I intend to retire in the future.


Style Exiles – Twenty-eight-year-old Nicholas Gorham is a Vancouver transplant specializing in cabaret-based performance art, but that’s putting it lightly. Filled with the kind of sassy bravado that few can actually pull off, his performances have become known not only for his side-splitting humor, but the way-over-the-top visuals he serves. A regular at the Inbred/Hybrid book club burlesque reading series, his recent reinterpretation of the classic Tin Tin was a hodgepodge of larger-than-life hair, major make-up and theatrics taken to terrific extremes. In his spare time, he designs one-of-a-kind hats that run the gamut from leopard-print mini-saucers perched on the tip of your head to more involved and abstract black mesh numbers that are architectural and stylishly accurate, although I chose to photograph him in a cap by Kangol cause I’m confusing like that. But you can check out Nick modeling his headgear here.


Street Treat – I caught up with performer extraordinaire Armen Ra ({encode=”” title=””}) sneaking a ciggy after his breathtaking performance at the Participant gallery on Houston Street. Besides possessing an unending capacity for fiercely personal style statements, Ra is one of the few souls on this planet truly gifted enough to master the theremin, an early electronic musical instrument controlled without actual physical contact from the player. The controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas which sense the position of the player’s hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand and amplitude with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. To watch Ra perform is like a love making session as he sensuously maneuvers and strokes the air around the instrument, creating arresting musical interludes that are as seductive and spellbinding as an opium-induced trance. If you’ve never witnessed this live and in person, you truly do not know what you’re missing. Ra always serves up a super correct visual, melding masculine and feminine overtones like no other.


Style Child – Denise Azira has a penchant for urban-oriented style staples given a fashionable twist. Her knuckle rings are lady-, not thug-like, but still leave a tough impression — almost like chic self defense jewelry. But her silver millipede necklace really hits the mark, wrapping itself around the neck as if it were actually alive.


Tag You’re It – I’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite random street art sightings as of late are almost like abstract paintings, eclipsing their graffiti origins and taking things up a notch to an almost painterly level. It seems as if the days of just bombing your name are truly a thing of the past as a new posse of urban artists prefers to leave their mark with visuals that could just as well hang in a gallery when not being uncovered on the side of a wall or in a dark, skanky alley.

Photographs (except for Reavis Eitel and Denise Azira) by Walt Cessna. See more from Walt Cessna on Facebook.

Correct Culture: Egg Work, Photo Finishes, Bauhaus Built

Fiercely Correct Art – Besides being a talented photographer whose alterna-persona Rosie The Clown is known for beyond-scandalous performance art shenanigans and homo-erotic photos that feature him as a bizarre clown serving up a rather, ahem, large appendage, artist Paul Wirhun a.k.a. The Eggman is also an uber-talented artist working in a medium involving eggshells and found wood. Inspired by early modernist paintings, Asian ceramics, and Japanese prints, Wirhun painstakingly arranges thousands of eggshell fragments into surreal, sensuous collage/paintings depicting everything from a young man’s curvaceous backside to the Brooklyn Bridge.


Caution: Correctness Ahead – John Kelly is a performance and visual artist whose legendary career dates back to the early East Village clubs of the 80s. His talent seems to know no bounds, as he is not only a trained dancer who studied with the American Ballet Theater, but also a visual artist who studied painting and drawing with Larry Rivers and Barbara Pearlman at Parsons School of Design. His homage to Joni Mitchell, “Paved Paradise,” was so unsettlingly realistic that he was invited to give a command performance for her at Fez in 1998. Since the 80s he has created over 30 performance works and has appeared at many alternative venues including PS1, the Warhol Museum, LaMaMa, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival. He recently had a successful showing of his paintings and drawings titled “The Mirror Stages: Self-Portraits 1979-2009,” at Alexander Gray Associates, and was last seen on the big screen acting in John Turturro’s Romance & Cigarettes in 2005. He is constantly in a state of creation, utilizing the many splendid gifts he is blessed with to exhilarating effect. But most important, Kelly remains one of the most humble, sincere, and truly sweet people on a scene that often turns even those with the best intentions into bitchy caricatures of what some feel a performance artist or diva should be. After a much-deserved rest this coming September, he will be focusing more on his acting, hopefully bringing his particular brand of magic to the wider audience he so justly deserves.


Take the Picture – Victoria Dearing is incapable of cliché, in constant motion through the world refusing all those easy visual options, refusing repeatedly to take the photograph that so many already have and will do again, always seeing everything anew instead. She will not focus on the poverty even in the poorest pueblo of El Salvador but rather grants us elegantly composed, almost abstract details of everyday existence — images which tell us all we need to know about life here, yet with the promise of redemption, that spark of beauty which every person and place guards. Likewise in Africa she creates compositions of great tonal and aesthetic intrigue whilst never reducing her subject matter to mere geometries, always connecting directly to their essential humanity. Dearing is opposed to the condescension and compromise inherent to so much photojournalism; instead, she offers her utter and genuine curiosity and, yes, friendliness toward the world and all its inhabitants … an exceptional openness apparent in every one of her photographs. Dearing has photography built into her DNA and has been taking pictures all her life, negotiating that path between commercial imagery and personal vision where that art has currently found itself at its most fruitful. At a time when everyone travels and everyone takes photographs, it has become easier rather than harder to distinguish between the true photographic eye and the tourist’s banal snapshot. Any one of Dearing’s images makes it immediately clear that whether you mean a “decisive moment” or Barthes “punctum” — whatever the word for it — she has that rare and precious gift of truly seeing and so letting us see also.


The Stuff You Need Now – I asked my friend Alex Bator to describe in his own words exactly what the deal is with his hot new T-shirt collection Dessau ({encode=”” title=””}:

I chose the vintage bike as an ICON, because it represents freedom. A metaphor for that good feeling we all get from doing the things that we love to do. DESSAU on the other hand is one of the founding cities of BAUHAUS the art school/design movement. If you recall, I had always published Stuf Mag under an assumed parent company: Amerikan Bauhaus. To me the Bauhaus movement represented and new way of thinking and teaching. Bringing several artistic disciplines under one roof, for what seemed like the first time, there was a lot gained by the proximity of arts and more importantly ARTISTS. This lead to collaboration and unexpected goodness. Thus Dessau is based on this collaborative effort. In this way I am looking for other artists and brands to collaborate with. And because of all of the above, and COI (Conflict of Interest) included I am ok with moving very slow, very limited edition type of productions.

Personality: I am as you know a guy from Detroit I have always been drawn to cars, Muscle, Euro, Micro, Trucks, cool shapes and colors, I’m all about it. Motorcycle were stronger when I was a kid and used to dart around on a Vespa Style Honda 50 and super fun, Little Indian which was the lawn mowers version of a mini bike replete with Briggs and Stratton, pull start engine. I remember I bought one, took it all apart, painted the frame black, dropped new chrome fenders on it and recovered the seat with Denim that I probably re-cycled from a pair of old jeans or a jacket. Unfortunately the photo documentation is a bit weak, but maybe I could dig up, scan and PSD magic it back to visible life. 110 Film camera’s sucked for sure. Weirdly enough I‘ve recently found a slew of global brands that are mining the same idiosyncratic passions, literally stating: “We’re into Vintage Cars, Motorcycles and Skateboarding”. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you I’m into skateboarding! (ya, that was a J-oke and I know you got it!).

Photographs (except for Victoria Dearing) by Walt Cessna. See more from Walt Cessna on Facebook.

Correct Culture: Time, Hybrids, Clicks, & Drags

Major Music – Mixing a powerful combination of funky dance, bluesy rock, and urban pop, add in beyond-energetic live performances with a powerful fashion sense that references everything from old school punk to The Guardian Angels and fierce fast food fashion finds, and you have Farrad. His new CD is called The Time Is Now, and the song to catch first is “The Way U Do.” If you are not dancing your butt off within the first few seconds, you simply have no soul. Zipper harness by Sohung Designs.


Caution: Correctness Ahead – Inbred-Hybrid Collective is an insulated performance art-based troupe of very select talent hoping to get out to a wider audience and fill a void that has been getting more vacuous since 2000, when much of that scene disappeared. Their Book Club Burlesque series is genius, using the old school-book club format mixed with performance art to create thematic events. The next event is based on Tin-Tin and takes place in late July. Their pictured leader prefers to go nameless, but as you can see from his ensemble of futura glam gorgeousness, the visuals will be ultra distracting.


Style Exiles – Multidisciplined visual artist and director Rob Roth provides custom image solutions for performance, rock ‘n roll, art parties, and club promotion and events. His creative stamina and relentless pursuit of a defined mythology consistently results in works of unprecedented originality, always refreshingly unselfconscious. Roth was a founder of the renowned downtown performance phenomenon Click & Drag, a cyber-fetish spectacle at the legendary nightclub Mother. There will be a new Click & Drag party on October 17 at Santos’ Party House; if not, an alternative venue will be arranged. Be warned: there is a very strict dress code. His most recent works include The Mystery Of Claywoman, a mockumentary/performance piece written by and starring Michael Cavadias as a 500-year-old woman from another planet, featuring Amy Poehler, Alan Cumming, and Edgar Oliver. The film version also stars Debbie Harry and Justin Bond. It follows his enormously successful rock opera Screen Test starring Theo Kogan and choreographed by Vangeline Theater. A DVD will be available soon.


Blog or Die – Even though print magazine ad revenue is down by 29% from just last year, there’s a slew of new titles hitting the stands in the hopes of reversing the trend towards on-line publishing. One of the freshest if not raciest is Try State, which features in their own words “quality art, trash, nudes, fetish, punk, music & fashion victims”. My reason for you to pick it up is that they feature some of the best up-and-coming international photographers and artists that you’ll see there first — before they get scooped up by the bigger titles.

Could there really be a good literary- and art-based site that isn’t pretentious, redundant, or stale? Yes. John Sebastian’s eclectic and eager The New York Optimist is a hodgepodge of short stories, features on emerging art talent, and other assorted visual candy. Definitely a treat for those looking for mental distraction of the correct caliber.


Endnote – Last column, I screwed up some of the photos and wanted to give two super-fine ladies their due. Street Treat Natalie Cora serves us with her jaunty pom-pom topped cap, and It Girl Lindsey Salerno shows us why being young, attitudal, and gorgeous is always a very correct thing.

Photos: Walt Cessna. See more from Walt Cessna on Facebook.

Correct Culture: Andrea Marshall

Andrea Marshall’s work consists mainly of self-portraits that explore the self in relation to traditional archetypal concepts of the nature of womanhood. She visually renders this juxtaposition through a symbiotic dialogue between history and contemporary culture. Through a range of media, including both painting and photography, she examines internal psychological conflict through personae reflecting the idealistic and tragic nature of the prototypical female. Through self-portraiture syncretized with symbolic female personae, she strives to connect rather than isolate the female experience and contribute to evolving yet eternal female imagery. I totally lifted all that from her bio, but on a personal note, I first met Andrea in 2003 when we both worked for at Gallaghers, a fashion archive and gallery on East 12th Street. She always impressed me as being not only extremely talented, but fiercely wise beyond her years. Just being in her presence was daily inspiration. I’m so happy to be back in touch with her and share her extremely correct work. Pictured above, Andrea’s Bananas Blowing. After the jump, a self-portrait of the artist.

Who/what inspires you? Frida Kahlo. Madonna. The Virgin Mother. Mary Magdalene. Dutch, Mexican, Egyptians. People who aren’t afraid to feel and be. Love.

What are you trying to say with your artwork? I hope to convey passion. I create because I am trying to understand my role as a woman in contemporary society and how it relates to and has been influenced by the universal nature of womanhood. Confused between the image of The Divine Mother with 10 children, a full kitchen and a farm, The Blind, Caged Bird with a crying heart, and The Free Spirit with big dreams and a trail of men chasing after her … Am I heartbroken? or cold-hearted? Can we be everything? I think we all have experiences in our lives that challenge us and change us, sometimes we think we are the only ones, but the truth is, we relate to one another through the same experiences that separate us. I hope my work will connect with people. And for every heartache, there will be an equal show of Resolution.

Why the self-portraits? Who am I Lord?

What’s up with the bananas? Phallic. Andy Warhol used bananas. Men have so much power and dominance in the art world. And also, as a woman, in terms of my relationships with men: I have been supported by them, screwed by them, I have been in love with them, lived for them, envied them, and I have been devastated by them. I don’t have a dick but I can have many bananas.

Give me a bit of your background and where you see yourself five years from now. I seriously studied fashion. I moved to New York to become a famous fashion designer, to be shocking like Madonna, to dress like a Gothic, witch, hippie. Well, my obsession with fashion has taken an alternative course … but I’m still a little bit Gothic, witch, hippie. In five years from now, I hope to be inspired by a different member of the fruit family (haha). I’d like to own a white, octagon-shaped casa in the desert of Mexico, and on every wall hangs one painting by each of my eight favorite artists: Frida Kahlo, Lucas Cranach, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau, Picasso, Manet, Matisse, and Memling. I will sit in the middle of the room in a dragon-painted black kimono, drinking dry red wine and admiring my paintings. Seriously … I hope to be inspired and motivated and working and creating every day! Finding my voice as a visual artist.

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Correct Culture: Naughty Needlepoint, Apocalyptic Hats

Fiercely Correct Art – Maria E. Pineres showing at DCKT. I’ve known Maria since she was a brilliantly before-her-time teen rocking Sprouse & Alaia at the 80s Palladium in the Mike Todd room. She’d done many things over the years: model, muse, OCD graphic-obsessed repetitive artist, best friend to too many count, interior decorator, proud aunt to Master Schellenbach, for the past 10 years creating the most insanely yet abstractly detailed needlepoints depicting vintage 60s & 70s porn imagery mostly, but also venturing into the arenas of fashion and celebrity portraiture (her Eminem is classically correct). Her new show was a chilled-out affair of old 80s pals reconnecting and getting a chance to catch an artist so obviously at the top of her form and selling out to boot. Go girl. Plus it was a blast sneaking cigs with fellow artist painter Erika Keck, whom I’ll be featuring soon. She in the painter of her generation to watch. TRUST.

Style Exiles – Juanita More is the ruling and most caring & giving queen working the San Francisco scene. Her party, Booty Call Wednesdays, is tres gay and a must-stop and disco drop for connected homos and sassy friends alike. This beer can & diva-sunglassed pose has that Latina La Trasha style we all love.


The Stuff You Need Now – Emily Payne used to design an SF-based line called Brick that excelled at magically morphed 40s vixens meshed with Star Wars Ewok hoodies taken to gloriously oversized proportions. Her new LA-based collection, Payne, is a bit more grown up but no less cutting edge, mixing asymmetric layers and future fierce proportions. Emily photographed above wearing a Payne one-piece by Isaac Payne.

Tag You’re It – A recent jaunt to Bushwick yielded some of the finest examples of street art in this rather rough ‘n’ ready yet couture & cute neighborhood. Everywhere there is correctness to behold — brazen taggers marking their territory for visual trick and treats. I wanna single out the mommy from John & Kate Plus 8, which is kinda touchingly creepy in a colorforms-gone-wrong way.





Street Treats – I have been gagging on all the correct kids I come across on a daily basis lately. From the divine mistress of the theremin, Armen Ra, after her performance du jour at Participant looking especially chic in a backless dress and cigarette. Manileke has one of the coolest names I’ve ever come across and amazing capacity for counterfeit astonishment when it comes to literally tweaking his nipples. He was one of the more unique specimens at Folsom Fair. Finally, Natalie Cora is an accessories designer who I caught doubling as a make-up artist on West 23rd Street, shooting one of the hopefully many more commercials NYC needs to help bolster its embarrassing economic crunch berries. Her uber-correct tilted pom-topped cap and shrunken munchkin vest were serving major style overload on a particularly dry fashion-wise day.


What Would You Wear to the Second Coming? – Kangol modeled by Zane. It’s a question I often ponder since they keep trying to shove it down our throats that ze endz timez is near. Oy. I prefer to fantasize about the few, distinct items of clothing I would need to get me through to the afterlife. Henceforth, a new section where I showcase the shiz that I would actually wear and need to keep wearing if, ya know, we were all about to bite it. I know I’m sprouting angel wings, but my head is going to be turned out by that urban streetwear (and unfortunate Samuel Jackson obsession, but that’s another story) hat force, Kangol. This summer seasons styles are a strange ode to “I Want You Back”-era Michael Jackson (which is why I styled it on a young white boy. Oops, sorry) and two-tone cool linen newsboy caps that instantly transform any tired basic ensemble into a fierce fast-food fashion fix.

The It Girl of More than the Moment – I discovered Lindsy Salerno three years ago when she was a wisecracking Betty Page meets Snow White 16-year-old with a penchant for older men and brazen books. She was already a regular on the punky EV scene, but because of her cat-eyed and alabaster-skinned good looks always stood away from the crowd. Three years later this modern but softened supervixen spends her time playing electric guitar, working at a record company, and modeling for those lucky enough to get her to sit for them. See I have an in. I’ve grown up with her and still haven’t come across anyone as brassy and bossy, severe yet sensitive, looking for trouble in all the right places since.

Photos: Walt Cessna. See more from Walt Cessna on Facebook.

Correct Culture: Fearsome Hats Pose, Kenny Scharf Glows

Shop Till You Drop – Patricia Field has been ground zero for forward fashion seemingly forever, but her new featured hat collection by Trivia’l raises the bar. Designed by Neon Music, the hats are fiercely futuristic, severely surreal, and at times tastelessly tongue in chic. Upside-down black crucifixes are given a couture edge, while the skull is reinvigorated by a fresh sprinkling of black plumes. There’s a showgirl on acid feeling throughout, but the novelty is tempered by a polished perfection and carefully crafted finish. Beyonce is a fan and picked up a not so subtle style to wear on her current tour. These creations are for the un-faint of heart who like to make a major entrance worthy of the most dedicated diva.


The Stuff You Need Right Now – Two things a correct modern girl simply can’t wouldn’t and should never go without: fabulous ink and even more gorgeous lip gloss. She already has the tats, but singer/actress Theo Kogan wanted to fulfill one of her biggest dreams — to be a beauty mogul. Her line of luscious lip glosses, Armour Beauty, features shades like Gazarri’s (inspired by an 80s hair meta club in Los Angeles) and Cat Club and are impossibly glossy and super ultra bright. Theo can currently be found performing with her band Theo & The Skyscrapers and starring in short films like Rob Roth’s beyond brilliant “Screen Test.” Theo, as usual, continues to inspire on so many fronts, and her first foray into the world of beauty is literally flawless.

Blog or Die – Most gay blogs are either complete porn or completely boring. Not so Beachcruiser BlackBook (no relation), a rare mix of subversive gay pop culture, random horny dudes, and up- to-the minute homo-centricities. This blog provides a correct preview of its soon-to-be-published companion zine, Beachcruiser, which oddly enough is based in Asbury Park, NJ, proving that you don’t have to be in Chelsea to be at the center of the gay universe.


Tag You’re It – The three completely random examples of street art pictured here were all found within a two-block stretch of Williamsburg, proving that when it visually rains, it fucking pours. I love the simplicity of the Preston tag with its cursive font lazily scrawled across a makeshift skateboard.


The Japanimae bug-eyed character of the second one keeps it tight and correct …


… while the makeshift cut, color, and collage style of the last is (literally) off the pages of Juxtapozed, proving that some of the best art in trendy magazines is better seen smack dab in the street and not some pretentious gallery.


Party Like It’s 1985 – Kenny Scharf had the craziest blacklight party in the basement of his Willburg studio this week and not only treated each guest to an original neon face painting, but rocked a correct undies-over-gun print tights look that had the kids gagging. Scott Ewalt spun a monster mash of boogie-down classics while $1 Buds kept the crowd from getting thirsty. By 1am it was a steam den of fluorescent freaks, frugging the fierce away and oblivious to the sudden streaks of their melting make-up. The magic brownie hit just as Stephen Saban, Michael Schmidt, and Lisa Edelstein all magically appeared as if we were back in 1985 and the Palladium’s Mike Todd Room had suddenly come back to life. Trip me the Fu*k out. BTW: Check out his new book, Kenny Scharf, out now from Rizzoli and featuring an awesome array of his favorite work from the past 25 years.

All photos by Walt Cessna.

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Correct Culture: From Burlesque to Bedsheets

Last month, San Francisco’s very own legendary performance art troupe The Cockettes staged a wonderful show at the Bleeker Theater. What made it all so amazing was the inclusion of several of New York’s own special talents, highlighting the fact that the big A is in the middle of downtown cultural resurgence the likes of which we haven’t seen since Haoui Montaug & Anita Sarko’s infamous No Entiendes cabaret at the 80s nightclub Danceteria. Two of the biggest stars to first perform there were the queen of reinvention (and lover of oxygen facials) Madonna and the undisputed queen of performance art (and pissing off the NEA) Karen Finley. While the jury is still out in terms of who the future stars of tomorrow may be, it’s safe to say that their talent and impact on a new scene is immeasurable.


Caution: Correctness Ahead – At the Mutineers shindig on the SS Lilac perma-docked at Pier 40, Inbred/Hybrid Collective presented a stellar evening of installation & well-chosen performance. The delovely and divine double threat Darlinda greeted guests in her makeshift boudoir on the ship’s deck, serving backless dress couture and a healthy dose of counterfeit astonishment. Her performance and accompanying striptease was naughty and oh so nice. Besides giving good striptease, Darlinda likes to tackle ongoing art projects, her most recent being Year in Rainbow, where she documented her daily adventures wearing one of six colors every other month. Her eccentric dance troupe Animal Crackers are best described as Duke Ellington meets the Marx Brothers, while her other, the Schlep Sisters, specialize in Jewish-themed burlesque. Her biggest inspiration is Anita Berber, a renaissance performer from the 30s known via the book The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber: Weimar Berlin’s Priestess of Depravity. “It’s my bible,” purrs Darlinda, who in her spare time teaches at the New York School of Burlesque and performs weekly at Burlesque at the Beach, part of the Coney Island Sideshow. Who says Russ Meyer-esque super vixens are extinct? Darlinda proves that theory to be oh, so wrong.


Fiercely Correct Art – John Kelly’s new exhibit “The Mirror Stages: Self-Portraits, 1979-2009” @ Alexander Gray Associates (May 20 to June 26) showcases his beyond brilliant work as a visual artist whose imagination and self-reflection are not only a stunning treat, but also a rare example of an artist able to balance in one medium as gorgeously as he does his in performance art. Hung collage-style all on one wall, the self portraits offer a provocative glimpse into the soul of a man who is able to inhabit many different identities, each one more genius than the next. And BTW, after an eight-year absence, the two-time Obie Award winning artist Kelly once again inhabits the persona of Joni Mitchell in an entirely new evening of songs and stories. Conceived and performed by John Kelly, produced by Tweed TheaterWorks in association with Robbi Kearns, and directed by Kevin Malony, Paved Paradise Redux: The Art of Joni Mitchell runs for seven performances only beginning June 18 at Abrons Arts Center. Buy tickets here.


Take The Picture – German-born photographer Dietmar Busse came to NYC in 1991 and worked as the proverbial assistant to pretty much everyone before striking out on his own four years later. He quickly amassed a huge pile of tears from magazines like Visionaire, Paper, The New York Times, and Bazaar before stopping in 2001 because he felt his work was getting too commercial. Some might call that career suicide, but Busse proved them wrong with his 2003 book Flower Album, and continuing on his fine art path with his current project — Starlets, Artists, Dogs & Homosexuals — which features portraits ranging from fashion designer Isabel Toledo to performance artist and The Box regular Rose Wood.


Style Exiles – By my definition, a true style exile is someone that is beyond unique, slightly demented, and has the ability to not take themselves too seriously. Paul Alexander, 1/3 of the dance music act The Ones, has always gone his own way, but his recent take on the ubiquitous cape trend threw me for a lovely loop. Taking his fitted bed sheet and fetchingly draping it over his shoulders, he gives new meaning to the phrase “just rolled out of bed.” The boy with the neon pink towering pouf smartly kerchiefed to his head (at the very top of this post) is just so ridiculous you have to pay him homage and admire his ducking skills when it comes to navigating close quarters unprepared for such a tall style statement.


Major Music – Known for their smash hit dance single “Flawless,” a flare for casual correctness, and the ability to get funky in the most dire situations, The Ones are gearing up to release a new CD (tentatively titled Dancing in the Daylight) this fall. Paul Alexander, Nashom Wooden, and Jojo Americo are longtime scenesters that have never stopped turning it out. They always feature a larger-than-life performance with futuristic visuals and a nonstop party once they hit the stage. In the meantime, they are serving us with neon-taped painters suits, Billy Beyond Sun Shades, and glow-in-the-dark umbrellas for when you get lost on the dance floor in a disco rain.

All photos (except Dietmar Busse image) by Walt Cessna.

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