Sometimes when you fancy someone, it’s easy to forget that an interview is not a date. Which is a necessary disclaimer for the nature of this interview with hot bearish artist Scooter LaForge. His work forges together 70’s kitsch colour schemes, gay porn, cute fluffy animals, childhood book illustrations and bold expressionistic brush strokes, check out www.scooterlaforge.com to see what we mean.
So, lets start at the beginning, a very good place to start. Did this artist lark begin with art school?
I never really went to an art school per se, but I went to University and I studied Graphic Design. I all my graphic design projects rather than do it on a computer and I still excelled in it, but it was always towards a handmade thing. Then later on down the line I ended up going to Cooper Union [a bursary art school housed in a beautiful building in the New York’s East Village] that was a couple of years ago, I’m just doing my thing now.
Things seem to be taking off now…
Yeah, things are taking off! In fact it’s taken off within the last year majorly. I’ve sold more art work than in my entire life, I’ve been painting for almost twenty years.
Your website has an amazing name dropping list of celebrity clients, what ones are you most proud of, or embarrassed about?
It’s more they collected my t-shirts, like this one here [Scooter wears a grey t-shirt with one of the seven dwarves displaying a large penis, pissing on a Tom Of Finland style cop, a urinal and the words ‘PISS OFF !’]. The people who bought the paintings are more institutions in the city have actually started purchasing. Like I got one in this hospital, Bellvue Hospital. It’s a well known hospital, I went into the psyche ward last year because I was going crazy in my head and they allowed me to paint in there, and after I came out they acquired one of my paintings to their collection, it hangs in the crisis centre where I was admitted, and that area has the painting in it.
A lot of your work is quite explicit, what one did they pick?
I was doing abstracts, not explicit. All paintbrushes and abstracts and stuff.
They’re quite young boys that you’re painting and yet it’s quite sexual imagery, has anyone ever called you a paedophile?
No, they haven’t, but I do painting a lot of young boys. Just for the record, I’m not into young boys. I mean, you’re probably like 21 years old?
Yeah, you’re very cute and stuff but I usually go for guys older, like my own age. I’m not into young boys, I don’t know why I’m drawn to that, I’m drawn to the child-like factor in it because I feel like that inside. A lot of my imagery I pull from children’s books and then I put my own twist on it. It has nothing to do with me being a paedophiliac or anything…
Oh I wasn’t saying you were, it’s just looking at your artwork, I can imagine the tabloids…
I can see why you would think that, yeah.
So, why do you mix in that, well sexual stuff- like the bears pissing…
They’re a lot of my own fantasies that I think about or want to portray sometimes, all the piss stuff, but I take all those bears, cats and bunny rabbits, kind of represent friends of mine, that I attach them to. One night I went out to this club called The Eagle, there was this guy I met and he reminded me of a cat and he had this stripy shirt on, and I was like ‘that reminds me of a cat’ but I thought he was really hot, so I went home and painted a cat picture of him [rolls up sleeve and shows a tattoo on his arm of said cat] I will take people I meet and turn them into a stuffed animal or a bunny or something and then I secretly put them into the paintings – the bear represents someone, the little bunny represents a person, they’re all secretly representative of guys that I have crushed on or people in my life, friends.
That’s really cute.
Yeah, do you like that? It’s true though
So my friends were saying that the NY scene has really cleaned up
Very cleaned up,
So where would you go for a piss night?
They don’t have it here. They have it in San Fransisco, but this city, forget it. There’s nothing like that, that I know of. And those are my fantasies, I would never really – I don’t know if I would go out in public and do that stuff, ‘cos I’m really kind of a vanilla guy. There’s nothing like that here, so that’s probably why all this stuff comes out of New York, everything is so boring and confined and there’s no – not that I know of – sexclubs or back rooms like you have there in Europe. I’ve lived here since 2001, so I think they’ve cleared things up since I moved here.
You’ve got some great cartoon tattoos, I hate it when people have them all serious…
I love cartoons too, I’m like a kid at heart, I have mickey mouse, popeye, and this [points to one on his upper arm] is the guy I met at the Eagle, I get them over the years.
Do you not worry the guy will find out that you have a metaphorical cartoon of him permanently drawn on your body?
He won’t. I’ve never seen him again since that night I met him. I didn’t even exchange names with him but he inspired me, he reminded me of a sexy cat. You kind of remind me of a bunny rabbit, if I ever wanted to put you in a painting I would do you in the form of a little bunny rabbit. Do you like that?
Ok cool. But he probably doesn’t even know.
So when’s your next exhibition?
I have an exhibition coming up with East Village Boys this spring. And we’re making a book, a monograph of prints. I don’t really have an art dealer, I sell my own works. That’s not by choice, I don’t know how to do that I’m a one man business. I’ve been selling things pretty things off my website. I lot of people are having their own shows in their own houses in New York, they invite bands and DJs, I had an art show like that in Brooklyn.
Is it an aesthetic thing or down to the economic crisis?
It’s such a luxury to buy paintings, I don’t think a lot of people are buying them. It’s really weird because I’ve been selling a lot of painting to people in Europe. Like 2 to a guy in Sweden, in France bought 10 t-shirts, so for some reason people over there are responding to it.
It’s funny, nearly every band I interview from NY are received really well in Europe but have no support back home…
Is Europe obsessed with New York? There’s a lot of NYC bands who get famous over there and here, nothing. I have a friend who’s in a band, extremely popular in Europe, here – nothing. She’ll walk out of the door and people will be “arg!” screaming and chasing her, she’s won awards, and here no one knows who she is or cares.
Is it down to a surplus of bands here in NY?
I don’t know, but she’s in one of the top selling bands in England.
Ah! Ana Matronic!
Do you know her?
I interviewed her aaaages ago…
Well she was one of my first childhood crushes, we’re from San Francisco, we had a big crush on eachother and we still see eachother here, she lives in Brooklyn, she was telling me she’d walk down the street and people would scream for her, and here one time we went to the movies and no one blinks an eye, its really weird. She’s the only person I know in this band. It’s cool, they started in the clubs, we used to go to the clubs here a lot together, so… It seems like London is a lot more open to new things, in NY it’s all about Rap. In the general mainstream, I mean there’s still stuff, underground bands, happening, but they don’t have a rock station. They just pulled the last two off the air, if you turn the radio on it’s all pop music and rap music, that’s it. They don’t have alternative music here at all
What’s your favourite painting?
It’s called ‘Bluebird of Happiness’ It’s two guys, one guy is on his knees, and the other one is standing up and the other one is sucking his dick, that’s my favourite one, its just so sweet, if you saw it in person, you would love it ‘cos it actually looks like its from the 70’s
How big are they?
Usually 40 x 40. I’ll send you the sizes and titles. That’s one of my favourites as I took a picture of my two friends who were kind enough to pose for me. There’s another painting and its probably my all time favourite painting I’ve ever done its auto-felatio hulk, it’s a guy bending over and sucking his dick with two birds on him with striped t-shirts on. But that guy is someone that I’ve actually go out with, on and off, for the whole time iv’e lived here and I actually drew it from memory. I love this guy he’s so sweet and talented.
Yeah, talented in that he can bend over and suck his dick off, I mean he’s really skinny. One time we were having sex and we were both sitting on the bed, he was sitting here and was sitting here and all of a sudden he just bend over and sucking both of our dicks off just like nothing. I was like wow, that is really hot.
I can see why you went out for so long
But the thing with him was that he will not let me take pictures of him sucking his dick of, or like I was ‘I wont even put your face in it, ill only take it from here down’ and he wont. He’s really shy, really, really.
I can relate to that.
Words: Bob Henderson