Hotline... Dial 1 for Electric Adam
Latex + Experience = Electric Adam, UK based artist. We talk hotel experiences, dreams and a bit about what went into his latest creation Angels for Machines (part of The Performance Arcade here in Wellington Waterfront, NZ - Mar 1-4, 2018). More details here.
1. Tell us, what's your favourite thing about staying at a hotel? The mini bar? The pool? The complimentary slippers?
My favorite thing about staying in a hotel is when you can watch TV while in the bath. ROCK AND ROLL!!! Not all hotel rooms have the perfect layout for this but when they do it’s like the stars have aligned and bliss is reached!!! Sadly Sunset Beach or Golden Girls isn’t on TV anymore.
2. We love your style, what are your influences and how do you translate them into your work? When did your obsession with latex materials start?
I got taken around a lot of old buildings and castles as a kid, we were always on trips to see stuff like that. My favorite part was the armoury and dungeons! I loved all the body armour, chainmail and even though I was horrified by what used to happened in the dungeon I thought it could be fun in the stocks and cages!
I was a child of the 80’s so was saturated with fetish imagery. Debbie Harry in a black bin bag! He-Man, She-Ra, Mad Max, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Dune, Time Masters, Tron, the list is endless! There was so much fetish costumes and sensibilities in those films and shows and I absolutely loved it. I always wanted to make myself tight shiny costumes and armour. I grew up in the middle of a giant building site, our street was the first to be finished in a new commuter estate like the one in Poltergeist or E.T. I scavenged the building sites and gathered pipes, plastic, anything that I could to make weird costumes from. When I saw the latex Catwoman costume in Batman Returns I knew what material I wanted to work with. I still scavenge junk piles for weird materials to work with along side latex, I like making use of rubbish and turning it into something that looks like it’s from another world.
3. We are curious, what has been your most interesting/romantic/creepy hotel experience, tell us about it, then rate it 1-5 stars?
Me and and old friend drove across Tunisia to a small town in the desert called Matmata. The place has loads of ancient troglodyte dwellings dug out from giant pits in the ground. One had been turned into a nice, modern hotel, but I persuaded my friend that we should stay in another called Hotel Sidi Driss. This is because it’s where they filmed Luke Skywalker's home in the original Star Wars (I’m a massive fan/geek). We were the only people staying there, the manager was friendly, but seemed baffled we’d be there because we liked Star Wars. He got out an old packet of photos that were taken during the filming, I was geeking out but he was really uninterested, I asked if he liked Star Wars, he shrugged and said “Prefer cowboys”. We went out into the village that night to eat and when we returned the hotel doors were locked and the lights were off, we knocked and shouted but no one answered. The only other way to get in was to climb down from the rim of the top of the pit, over 25 feet down. We experimented with route but I persuaded my friend it was too dangerous. After nearly an hour of knocking and shouting we were resigned to the fact we’d have to sleep in the car but then the night watchman appeared, not entirely sober. He let us in and got us a beer and I asked him if we could do a photo shoot with one of my costumes, he shrugged and stuck around to watch as I got into some latex and posed as a kind of rubbery desert creature in Luke Skywalker’s house! He disappeared into one of the dugout caves but we could see the light of his cigarettes glowing for the duration of the shoot. When it came to bed time the only way to turn the light off in our cave was to unscrew the light bulbs. The next morning we were woken by a coach load of chinese tourists and a TV crew wandering around. It was the best hotel experience I’ve ever had and I’d go back in a second!!! 5 STARS! The best in the galaxy!
4. When it comes to matters of the heart, do you find your work reflects this?
I think I’m a lot more careful and less risk averse when it comes to relationships. But, latex is a recurring theme in both my art and my men!
5. Tell us about your last dream.
As I’m drifting off to sleep I often get a terrible and overwhelming feeling I’m about to suffocate. I’ve had asthma all my life and it took a long time to learn how to not panic when I couldn’t breath. I use what I leant in my performances and while creating airless vacuums I feel relaxed and totally in control. But in those half asleep moments when my imagination combines with dreams the feelings of panic and loss of control sometimes comes back.
6. What was your last dress up party and what did you go as?
On Saturday night I went to Torture Garden (the world's biggest fetish club) and dressed up as ‘The Wife of Mr Noseybonk’. Mr Noseybonk was a terrifying character in a UK kids TV show in the 80’s. I always loved horror movies as a kid, they didn’t scare me. But very random things freaked me and he was the most disturbing thing EVER! So, I invented what I thought his wife must have looked like and got dancing (I can’t see anything in there!) See pic below...
7. If you could collab with one person, dead or alive, who would it be, what would you do?
I’d love to have made a film with Maya Deren. We’d make a sequel to Meshes of the Afternoon with me trapped in a nightmare vortex of vacuum latex with angels and demons tormenting me. If she wasn't available I’d shoot something really naughty with James Bidgood, the maker of Pink Narcissus!
8. Tell us about the inspiration behind your latest work Angels for Machines - showing in the Performance Arcade 1-4 March, 2018 (get along too it here).
After making a lot of latex outfits for fetish clubs, I started making stranger and more elaborate pieces. I was interested in restricting and distorting the human form to make myself half human, half other worldly being. When I discovered I could vacuum pac myself inside one using my breathing I realised this was a strange, minimal performance in itself. By slowly vacuuming and inflating myself in there I become a living sculpture. It felt like glancing into another dimension and seeing something you could never really understand or connect with. I was reading a lot of Arthur Machen and his stories really resonated with these ideas.
The Machine is a large latex monolith structure that my entire body is trapped inside. Over the duration of the performance I undertake the mammoth task of forcing all the air out with my breathing until all the latex walls have sucked tight around me and completely vacuumed me inside. I turn into a living alabaster colour living stone calving. The Machine has lots of influences and ideas, the main one is quite personal. I’m pushing my body as far as I can, a lifetime of fighting for breath as an asthmatic has been my training really. It means I can do it without panicking and knowing what my body does under stress. As the latex is fully vacuumed my entire body is revealed, it’s completely exposing in that I’m reduced to a human form with no features. But the latex is a protective shell that makes me able to hide from the world, I can’t see or hear properly in there and am entirely vulnerable. It’s equally protective and exposing.
9. Any secrets you'd like to share with us?
I’ve just bought a My Little Pony dress for new years eve, it’s OUTSTANDING!