For the seventh collection, we reformed all systems of production and design that holistically make up this project. We obsessed over the details - the packaging, the sizes of the snaps and the type of equipment used to set them, small but significant investments in tools, new thread and ultra-precise cutting die vendors now located only a few blocks from our workshop. More often than not these types of businesses are family-run, and tremendous resources for making and materials. One of the most rewarding aspects of working in this industry is the relationships you can build by working alongside like-minded people with common goals - especially if that goal is simply to make something beautiful or interesting.
This collection is an exercise in creative partnerships. The tone is a fervent appeal to the senses. The message of each piece is fundamentally tied to another by its cultural and physical touch points (driven by a purposeful randomness) - there are mutations of pulp - subversive intersections - working at an adult video arcade in college and bearing witness to the city’s seemingly endless appetite for carnal exchanges and illicit drug use - and the eventual understanding that the institution was incredibly important to several marginalized groups within our community - and for many more, a (relatively) safe place to express oneself and fantasize. We embedded iconic local business names within film titles, in addition to writing exercises about traumatic grade school memories (cry baby). We reexamined our understanding of artistic value - the primary case study being the infamous novel Naked Came the Stranger - a literary experiment of sorts, conceived by Mike McGrady and written by twenty four of his fellow Newsday staff members in reaction to the American public’s obsession with (and the unprecedented commercial success of) kinky sex novels in the sixties. The book was penned under the name Penelope Ashe, a ‘demure long island house wife’. Each writer took one chapter with only a thin outline provided by McGrady, and a warning that “True excellence in writing will be blue-penciled into oblivion. There will be an unremitting emphasis on sex." The book sold well, but it wasn’t until the hoax was revealed to the public that it soared to the New York Times best sellers list (and was eventually made into a film) - Sometime during this exercise we stumbled upon a lo-res, web-based-trashy-novel-title-generator and foil stamped the poetic ad-libs onto wallets and card cases. We blurred fiction, fantasy and reality. We worked and consulted with incredibly talented makers, thinkers and doers - a true ensemble cast, a super cult, a lady in the body.
We had the unique opportunity to shoot behind-the-scenes photos on an early Friday afternoon at Mary’s Club, an unmistakable and legendary landmark of downtown Portland, Oregon. Our friends at Blacktop Films were shooting Viva on her 20th anniversary of dancing at Mary’s - one of their final shoots to wrap a three year project documenting her story. The atmosphere was celebratory, the patrons predominantly Viva’s friends and acquaintances.
The interiors of the space are amazing - sixty year old murals, dozens of framed portraits of former employees, and an incredibly cramped basement where the dry storage for the Mexican restaurant attached to the bar is held, as well as the private spaces for the dancers and staff. The owner, Vicky Keller, was incredibly welcoming and one of the highlights of the afternoon was the tour of her office, where each wall is covered in a meticulously rendered collage of personal photographs and newspaper clippings depicting decades of Portland’s sex worker and transgender communities.