Art, My Ass

Performance art. Did I scare you? These words are the equivalent of the word “mime” to most people, and with good reason. Someone told the makers of porn movies that these words exist. Whoever it is should be forced to live with the consequences — those consequences being the resulting Ass Artist series.

Granted, I like art, especially if it pushes the boundaries and intrigues my little lizard brain. But how do you like your art, you say: sculpted, etched or spraying out of someone’s asshole? In the most incredulous installment into the annals (anals?) of porn’s weird world comes the Ass Artist series. This circus-act-cum-stroke-of-genius focuses on the je ne sais quoi abilities of a tiny Russian blonde who squirts paint from her posterior and onto canvases to create, um, art. Of course, in between these amazing moments of anal creation caught on film are scenes of mostly lackluster fucking, to keep the critics busy, I guess. In the coveted title role, Mila (replaced in the recent installments by ├â┬╝bercolon Nina Whett) uses mini douches to inject the paint into her butt, then squats and gives a big push while tastefully — dare I say intuitively — applying streams to surface, swabbing finishing touches with her distended opening. Remember Farrah Fawcett’s comeback, where she painted herself in a Playboy video? Farrah clearly didn’t have the artistic courage to realize the potential her new medium afforded, thus missing the fine art boat and eclipsing her genius. Or maybe colorful paint enemas just never crossed her mind.

The Ass Artist videos are undoubtedly the works of a closeted Yves Klein fan. The leading figure in Paris for performance art in the 1960s, Klein was a magnetic persona in front of the camera, especially in the Anthropometry performance, during which he conducted three models as they smeared themselves with paint and pressed their images onto a stretched canvas. When viewing the old footage or photos from the performance, it’s interesting to note the well-heeled museum patrons sipping cocktails and viewing the show while an orchestra plays. Just as with Mila and Nina, there is something mesmerizing about Klein, whether he’s arranging naked models, brandishing a blowtorch in front of a canvas or flinging himself off a wall. Dressed in a starched white shirt and bow tie, he has the focused look of a zealot, what Alan Kaprow called “ecstatic blindness” — the ultimate liberation the artist seeks in the act of creation. Perhaps this is the razor edge our anal visionaries are treading.

If you’re sitting there with your jaw hanging open, wondering what on earth there is to jack off to in a series like this, I’m right there with you. Even the reviews I’ve read by porn industry reviewers seem to be scratching their heads, choking down the gag reflex, and trying to write about the sex scenes that are sandwiched between the bizarre tempera enemas. However, there is a sub-sub-genre porn fetish that caters to one major aspect of this visionary artistry: paint fetish.

Yes Virgina, some people have what is called a paint fetish. This fetish involves a woman (it’s primarily a heterosexual fetish) covering herself in, or being smeared with, paint. Some porn videos fall into this category by including scenes with liquid latex, and some use actual paint. The Ass Artist series just happens to take it where no man (or woman) has gone before.

Typically, paint fetish videos feature one scene that includes a woman getting all dirty, and then she has typical formula porn sex. Many of these scenes are in the wall-to-wall video genre. However, there is one very messy paint scene included in the plot-driven Veronica Hart film, Dangerous Games. La Casa de Mistress Isabelle has an entire cast in “fantasy” body paint — another subfetish.

The “messy girls” fetish is a bit more wide-reaching and well-known than paint, but covers the same ground. The messy fetish is the umbrella term that includes the paint fetish — though let the jury hear that no participant claims herself to be an artist of any kind. Currently, Yahoo! Groups hosts over 140 groups related to or dedicated to the “wet and messy” fetish (or WAM), and some of the groups have over 1,000 members. This is simply women smeared (or smearing themselves) with different things: sloppy, colorful foods or paints, or particular fetish foods such as pastries, or sometimes other items like fake blood, motor oil or mud. The women are naked and clothed, wet, messy, muddy, slimy, jumping in fountains, pool-tossing, wrestling, having pie fights and humiliating each other.

It’s easier to find films that include the more general WAM scenes. Femme 2 is an all-girl film that takes place in various water scenes: hot tubs, bathtubs, car washing (you can make hose jokes).Slide Bi Me is a bi film that includes a Slip ‘n Slide. Nina Hartley’s Guide to Couple’s Sexploration has a food scene, and the dykes in Sugar High Glitter City love their candy — a lot. The lesbians in Home Cookin’ sure know how to make a sundae. And the heterosexual Erotic Visions boasts a full-body buffet.

Sadly, we may not see Ass Artist performances in MOMA until we’re dyeing the gray out of our hair, but as with Yves Klein, we can be sure that the stoic art world will eventually come around (it always does, my friends). Our children may someday enjoy an Ass Artist revival; perhaps Art in America will pick it up. Meanwhile, try not to get too tempted to shove paint up your ass for the sake of art.

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