Issue #6 - October 2011: Page 1 / Page 2

Previous Issues

In this issue:
ART: Duggie Fields interviewed by Princess Julia / PHOTOGRAPHY: Brutal Boys - Vasilisa Forbes / INTERVIEW: 6 Objects of Desire - Giles Round / PHOTOGRAPHY: Tim Moore - Letter to Jane / INTERVIEW: Julian Kynaston - Illamasqua / ART: Vaginal Davis / FASHION: Andrew Davis / FASHION: Hidden & Mono. / ART: David Blandy / FOUND: Match Books

ART: Vaginal Davis - Haemorrhoids & Asteroids

Vaginal Davis is an acclaimed drag performance artist from California, now based in Berlin. Her work spans a multitude of genre including - but not restricted to - performance, painting, curating, composing & writing, she is also muse to fashion designer, Rick Owens.

Ms. Davis' impressive oeuvre dates back to conceptual art bands of the late 1970s, includes appearances in cult films such as Hustler White by Bruces LaBruce & editing & self-publishing the zines 'Dowager', 'Crude', 'Fertile La Toyah Jackson Magazine' & 'Shrimp" to name a few - proving she is nothing if not prolific.

Mono. caught up with Ms. Davis for an email Q&A.

Mono. Describe your look.
Vaginal Davis: I look like a woman trapped in the body of a woman.

M. What are you working on right now?
VD: I'm always working on several projects at the same time because Vaginal Davis in Swahili means, "she who can't stop multi-tasking." At the moment I'm in preproduction with my new collaboration 'The Communist Bigamist - Two Love Stories' with lesbian icon Susanne Sachsse. This piece is loosely based on the 1953 film 'The Bigamist' that was directed by one of the few female helmers of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Miss Ida Lupino.

I'm also prepping a short subject that I'll direct which will be a mixture of newsreel & 'olde fashion' coming attraction trailer that is my contribution to the Living Archive Festival that will take place at Arsenal Institute for Film & Video Art next year in Berlin.

In the fall I take my expanded cinema performance Memory Island to the Tate Modern, London & Xperimenta 11 in Barcelona & will also teach a block seminar as part of the Trashing Performance/Performance Matters Conference at the University of London's Goldsmith College.

Jan 29, 2012 in the states I will premiere my commission piece "My Pussy is Still in Los Angeles (I Only Live in Berlin) at the site specific location of UCLA's William Andrews Clark Memorial Library in historic West Adams District as part of West of Rome & the Getty/Pacific Standard Time series.

No matter where I travel I have to dash back to Berlin every month to host 'Rising Stars, Falling Stars', the monthly performative silent film event that I have been curating for 5 years.

M. You are famed as the 'Queen of Zines' - what prompted you to start publishing?
VD: I thought that if I became editor of my own periodical publication it would be a great way to meet & fornicate with attractive virile young men. As usual when I try to strategize something it backfires & all I got was unwanted international press & blame for jump starting the queer zine & homecore movements.

M. Which zines & artists have influenced you the most?
VD: I never considered my Fertile La Toyah Jackson Magazine a "zine" The arts & entertainment magazine 'After Dark' from the 1970s was my template & inspiration.


I used availabism - making use of what is readily & easily available to produce my magazine. I had a day job at UCLA's Placement & Career Planning Center & utilised free access to a Xerox machine to create my product. This was before home computers & desktop publishing. All I had at my disposal was a Royal portable typewriter from the 1920s & my cut & paste, tape & staple technique - very lo tech, but efficient in many ways.

The artists that helped formulate my aesthetic: Kenneth Anger, Pier Paolo Passolini, Jean Genet, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Dorothy Arzner, Elsa Maxwell, Kay Thompson, Radcliffe Hall, Valerie Solanis, Gore Vidal, Sal Mineo, Ruth St. Denis, Eugenie De Guerin & Ingeborg Bachmann

M. What do you value most – beauty or intelligence?
VD: Intelligence is overrated. Give me a hallowed juicy boy who is as dumb as a brick. A smarty/farty can't give Ms. Squirrel her proverbial gnut. I'm also fascinated by the extreme fugly, or people who purposely make themselves as unattractive as possible both physically & emotionally just to fend off desire.

M. Who or what do you miss the most?
VD: Living in Berlin I miss mid century Googie style diners, lunch counterettes or just plain greasy spoon culture. Also there isn't any good Mexican food in Berlin & absolutely no El Salvadorean restaurants. When I am back in the states I gorge on El Salvadorean pupusas.

M. Was there life before Vaginal Davis?
VD: I emerged perfect as you see me now, an ageless omnipotent crystalline entity hatched from the primordial ooze of the LaBrea Tar pits.

M. If you could only give one great piece of advice, what would it be?
VD: If you're going to play in a dookie playground. You have to expect some dookie.

Interview: Matt Ryalls


FASHION: Andrew Davis

Former top pastry chef turned upbeat menswear stylist, Andrew Davis talks to Mono. about his 8 minutes with Tom Cruise, his friendship with Isabella Blow, the death threat he received from a PR & 'Stars in Their Eyes', as well as his favourite high street & designer menswear brands & the priceless tip he gave Anna Wintour about getting stuck in elevators...

Mono. You were already at the top of your chosen career as a pastry chef, so what made you want to become a stylist?
Andrew Davis: It's slightly bonkers to think that I was in charge of a pastry kitchen in a very busy hotel, directing 5 staff, when I was inspired by a copy of Italian Vogue & then decided to come to London & study fashion… I wasn't that young either. I mean, I was too scared to even tell my parents what I was up to for a whole year. So, when I phoned home from London, I asked my college flatmates to make 'busy kitchen noises' in the background.

I had always loved fashion though. When I was a teenager in Manchester I'd always made clothes to wear to The Hacienda. I really thought that was what everyone did. I watched Neneh Cherry come through the floor dressed as a 'sporty nun' at a Gaultier fashion show, so I lived & breathed JPG for a while. Seeing McQueen's notorious 'The Birds' show on TV – Mr Pearl in an hour glass jacket & spike heels just blew me away.

M. What are the defining moments of your career so far?
AD: My 8 minute long cover shoot with Tom Cruise was pretty intense... After styling my first D&G show I was like 'Shit I've done it, it's not a dream anymore.'

M. Which menswear designers, in your opinion are interesting at the moment?
AD: Raf [Simons] is God. Both with his own label & at Jil Sander.

M. Which high street menswear brands are interesting to you & why?
AD: I love TOPMAN'S support of menswear & the way they work with new talent. I also love River Island – it's bang on trend & so bloody cheap. I'd die without ASOS. It's so handy for work, you order it & it arrives the same day. Genius.

M. As well as shooting for Arena Homme + The Face, Interview & HERO, you have styled some fairly major celebrities too - Tom Cruise, Daniel Craig, Mariah Carey. Did your previous work in 'Wardrobe' on 'Stars in their Eyes' help you deal with dressing real celebrities?
AD: Ha! 'Stars up ya arse' as we called it, was great fun. Working at Granada TV was mad. I used to watch Corrie [Coronation Street] being filmed on TV screens in the office & then I'd see Helen Mirren reading her script.

M. I first met you when we worked in PR. I remember how hard you worked at PR, utter dedication. In fact, you left PR only after receiving a 'death threat' from the PR Director. Fashion is notoriously volatile. Did this experience make you stronger?
AD: Actually my time in PR was really speciaI. I learned so much from the directors. I remember talking them into taking Robert Carey Williams on.

I received a light hearted death threat, over a 'Sloppy Giuseppe' at Pizza Express. I mean, I actually managed to forget Matthew Williamson's shoes, which were crucially needed for a trunk show in Scotland!! I actually loved my time in PR & learned so much. I was quite cheeky though, I once told Jade Jagger the only press she'd got all season was the cover of 'Bella' & a trend piece in 'Take a Break'.

M. I remember Anna Wintour visiting the PR office we worked in. We were specifically told not to talk to her. However as she left the office you informed her that 'the lift sometimes got stuck between floors 2 & 3, but to just give it a good hard kick between the doors & it should shift.'


You are known as having a brilliant, sometimes risqué sense of humour, in an industry that mostly takes itself very seriously, do you think humour is important?
AD: Yes, very - although I hate it when people say 'oh let's get Andrew, he's a hoot'.

M. Tell me about your friendship with the wonderful Isabella Blow.
AD: I met Issy through my friends at McQueen. I'd only just left college. I went to meet her at her house & after about 20 minutes of chatting I was suddenly shooting for the Sunday Times. I then styled a couture show for Philip Treacey, so I moved to Paris & lived with Issy for a couple of months there. She had the most wicked sense of humour, but in the background was always the worry of money & talk of things darker.

I would go out until late in Paris & when I came home she would sit next to me & just revel in the tales of my night. Towards the end I saw her less & less. I think many people who she had given so much to, let her down. The whole thing still makes me very angry. I'm mostly angry with that Geordie Greig for sensationally playing of her voice mail at her memorial. I'd not heard her voice for months. It was totally unnecessary...

M. Which new stylists do you rate?
AD: I'm obsessed with Stephen Mann. He styles Missoni Men's, amongst other things. His blog is called He's soooo restrained, & I'm soooo totally jealous...

M. What about photographers?
AD: Jamie Hawkesworth & Thomas Lohr. They are great to shoot with & they are also nice & easy on the eye - if you get my drift…

M. What makes you happy?
AD: Alcides [Andrew's husband], my friends, The River Cafe, boys in tube sox, Manchester at 4am, dancing in East London , cocktail parties at home, my garden, the rain app on my iPad.

M. Which direction would you now like to see you career go in?
AD: I'm writing a book called 'From Pastry to Prada.' I'm looking in to opening a Cafe in East London & I'm working on a label with a fashion buyer friend.

I'd like to teach a lot more. But, if I could leave fashion & do something new I'd jump tomorrow. I'm totally ready for a new challenge.

Interview: Karen Maher


FASHION: Hidden & Mono.

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Mono. exclusively previews the the Hidden Spring Summer 2012 collection. Hidden is the first apparel offering from elusive creative lab Nowhere. Using organic cotton, bamboo & wools in super-saturated blacks with accents or white, gold & grey, the Hidden collection takes it's design cues from a combined love of skateboarding, hip hop, old skool & electro.

Each piece has been trialled, refined & perfected over many years to create a master-garment, the result being an authoritative debut collection where functionality & fit combined with a sensitve use of fabrics to deliver an exciting new menswear label.

The Hidden collection will be retailing online & via selected retail outlets, to find out more contact Nowhere:


Photography: Mikolai Berg
Stylist: Matt Ryalls
Hair: Marc Ramos
grooming: Veronica Martinez

Model: James Smith at Models1



Art: David Blandy

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David Blandy is a multi-faceted artist, working with a range of both media & performative alter egos. Along with live art, he uses film, comics & most recently bespoke arcade games, to create transformative works which explore our relationship with pop culture. Mono. caught up with David at his home in Brighton.

Mono. Your arcade game project pits your various performance characters against each other. How does it feel to you to play?
David Blandy: [Laughs] Very cathartic. I really enjoy playing with David Blandy, actually, because there's so little to him; you've got to be really tactical But I feel this game still needs a lot of work. I want it to be a fully functioning fighting game, so that every character has a throw, an overhead, a low move, so that normal fighting game tactics come in.

M. Who's your toughest character?
DB: That's Child of the Atom & he's like the bad version of the Lone Pilgrim, if you see what I mean. In Street Fighter, [Capcom's best selling series of fighting games] there's Ryu & Evil Ryu, Ken & Violent Ken. Yeah, Atom. He's got some serious moves. Oh, he's got Atomic Beam, Atomic Blast, Atomic Genocide: they're all sort of based on actual move names. Genocide Cutter is a real name of a move in King of Fighters [SNK series of fighting games]. It was just tweaking. The whole thing was taking things that exist already & it was sort of recontextualisation.

[DB gets absorbed in the violence on screen...]

DB: There's something quite sad about it really, because I'm constantly destroying myself. It's a battle to the death between me or any of my selves & which one's going to win out? It's almost inevitable that the monster that is Child of the Atom will vanquish all foes. But, he is beatable. You can beat him, but it's always going to be it's pretty much 10-0 in fighting games terms.

M. What made you decide to build an arcade machine & not a console game?
DB: The physicality of the actual arcade makes it a whole different experience. I guess it would be interesting on a console, but it's that whole idea of, you know, going into an arcade & seeing all these characters & you've got to choose one. You've got to decide, who am I today? Then you have to work out the moves at the same time & it's actually all versions of the self.

M. Have any hardcore gamers tried out Duals & Dualities yet?
AD: So far no, but at Sunday [art fair 13-16 October] we're having a Street Fighter competition, a competition on this & I'm going to bring along some of the community. I've been working on a history of fighting games in the UK with this guy who's known as Sendo, James. He's a quite well known member of the fighting game community, which is mostly defined by the website Neo Empire. They organise the biggest fighting game tournament in the UK called Super VS Battle, which happens every August. You turn up & there's about 300, 400 people just there to play fighting games & show that they're the best.

Also just to meet up & to do the thing they love doing & it's a lot of dedication to get to the level these guys are. I'm really rubbish in their terms, but you know I'm half decent. I'd say I'm low intermediate level.

  Also just to meet up & to do the thing they love doing & it's a lot of dedication to get to the level these guys are. I'm really rubbish in their terms, but you know I'm half decent. I'd say I'm low intermediate level.

M. Where does Duals & Dualities fit with the rest of your performance based work?
DB: I found it a really useful way of almost recontextualising the entire practice, bringing together all the different characters I had worked on over the years & seeing them as one larger metanarrative, really. They all get brought into the same space & how do they make sense? They're also almost poking fun at that whole idea of performance art, in a way, or the art performance as being this precious thing.

M. You’re also selling David Blandy action figures at Sunday…?
DB: Yes, here are the figures. So you've got the Minstrel, the Lone Pilgrim, David Blandy, Child of the Atom, Man from Elsewhere, Blues Legend, the 12" David Blandy… I wanted that reference to the idea that some of them are boxed & some of them are unboxed, as though you've found them in various car boot sales. It's just someone's collection of a little known cartoon series or computer game & they're like figures of the game.

M. Will it be difficult to develop a new character after the omnipotent Child of the Atom?
DB: It's strange you should say that, because I've been working on a new character called Anjin, which is the Japanese word for pilot. It's to try & think about my relationship to Japanese culture, which obviously has been touched on in the Lone Pilgrim work, the Orochi Pilgrim stuff & also Child of the Atom. But I felt like none of them had really addressed directly the sort of complexities & confusions of the post-colonial & also the kind of Orientalist view of Japan.

It's based on the story of William Adams whose the first Englishman to set foot in Japan in 1600. He was taken prisoner, obviously. But in the end the Shogun took a liking to him & he became his translator & also his window onto the world. I'm going to try & tell this tale through six episodes of an animation as though it's a long lost 80s anime - along the lines of, & sampling heavily from, Ulysses 31.

Interview: Mark Sheerin


FOUND: Match Books & Boxes

Mono. Issue #6 FOUND: Matchbooks 1 Mono. Issue #6 FOUND: Matchbooks 2 Mono. Issue #6 FOUND: Matchbooks 3 Mono. Issue #6 FOUND: Matchbooks 4 Mono. Issue #6 FOUND: Matchbooks 5 Mono. Issue #6 FOUND: Matchbooks 6 Mono. Issue #6 FOUND: Matchbooks 7

Found objects are fascinating to those that are inclined to look for them. They wait patiently until discovered to tell their story. Found collections however, are like reading an unpublished autobiography.

This collection of was found in a bag on a London street by Mono. editor, Matt Ryalls. This assemblage of match books & boxes feels very much a man's collection. On the surface they speak of weddings attended, hotels visited & restaurants sampled from around the world on, but because they say so little, the questions they allude to are compelling.

Are these the souvenirs of a well travelled salesman?
Was dinner a lonely affair?
Were there romantic liaisons along the way?
What happened to our collector?
Did Michelle & Peter live happily ever after?