Cock Bling :: Venfield 8 on His Phallic Fashion Statements
What to do when Designer Fatigue and Accessory Ennui strike? Cast a jaundiced eye about in search of a fresh color palette or a fresh take on line, form, function, and style? Or strike off in a daring new direction?
For the adventurous, the last option could seem daunting. What new worlds still lay in wait for designers to investigate? From the classic elegance of Dior to Lady Gaga’s meat dress, it might seem that everything under the sun has been celebrated, paraded on the catwalk, placed in front of the cameras, subjected to debate... and then forgotten. What’s left?
How about man’s best (onboard) friend? How about the culturally overlooked (and yet omnipresent) penis?
Imagine it. Penises crusted in bling or decorated with tattoos; penises matched, with visual flair, to designer name brands; pubic hair enhanced with black feathers. There’s a daring new vision of man’s favorite appendage coming into focus, with the penis taking on the glamor and excitement of high-end accessories even as the artist behind the images takes sure aim at our label-obsessed global culture. And here’s the thing: These dazzling meditations launched not from some elite catalogue or glossy magazine, but from the most democratic of platforms -- Tumblr.
Who Is That Masked Man?
Los Angeles-based photographer Venfield 8 brings an outlaw sensibility back to anatomically explicit (and gay-implicit) art with his smart, sultry portraits, satirical takes on fashion and accessories, and a boldly controversial series that examines the sexual undercurrents of stylized violence.
His work has excited the admiration of pop site Boy Culture (where a photo of Venfield 8, disguised in a Batman cowl, was posted recently) and prompted an essay by "Art in America" writer Calvin Hutchens, a fan of Venfield 8, that appeared exclusively on the photographer’s website.
All this started less than one year ago when the artist launched his identity and his instantly buzz-worthy images on Tumblr last May. The response has mushroomed into something of a phenomenon, and Venfield 8 has responded in kind, planning some major new projects that are sure to galvanize the overlapping worlds of art and eros.
Venfield 8 came upon this new expressive avenue -- and his post-industrial, slightly dystopian pseudonym -- by chance, when a friend seeking entree into the adult film industry asked him to take some photos to show porn producers.
"He said, ’I just need a couple of good hard-on shots,’ " Venfield 8 told EDGE recently. The results were so spectacular that the budding actor was deluged with requests for the identity of his photographer -- a name he had sworn not to divulge, because Venfield 8 has a successful career shooting for mainstream magazines. Hence his "secret identity," something with which the photographer had some fun recently when, disguised in a Batman cowl, he posed for a portrait by filmmaker Olivier Lebourg.
Boy Culture joined in on the fun. "Does this image give you any more clues as to who he might be?" a Jan. 14 posting teased. "At some point, he’ll be doing gallery shows and will have to (?) step out of his batcave."
Or will he? Those gallery shows have already started. Last September a small gallery called Antebellum, owned by Rick Castro and located in Los Angeles, put some of the lensman’s work on display.
More exhibitions are imminent, but that doesn’t mean that Venfield 8 is preparing to step out from behind the camera and into the spotlight. For one thing, one suspects, the whole secret identity element is just too much fun. For another, there is a serious side to all this. Venfield 8’s photos are sly, sassy, sexy, and stylish, with a look and a vibe that’s all their own; that makes them recognizable and, to a growing extent, popular.
But they also say something. They say lots of things, really, ranging from simple appreciation for the erotic charge associated with the way a man can smell (that’s the theme of his "Essence Masculine" portraits) to the ways in which a male-dominated and heterocentric culture victimizes both men and women... and eroticizes such aggression. That’s the theme of Venfield 8’s newest line of photos, "Luxury Assault" (an exclusive peek at which appears here).