Tonight! Coilhouse at the Edwardian Ball

“Flowers” – an image from the Edwardian Ball by Eric Gillet

Last weekend, I decided – at the last minute, on a whim – to drive to San Francisco from LA to see my beautiful co-editor Mer play violin and theremin at the Edwardian Ball. The Ball itself was a dream come true; I witnessed Gorey-inspired circus routines, swishing crinolines, and epic handlebar ‘staches. No one was taking themselves seriously at all, and the goofball atmosphere had a rare romance about it.  Well, due to some unfortunate traffic, I missed the chance to see Mer play that night. But I’m in luck, for – again, it seems, at the last minute – it was decided that Mer would be coming down here for the second week of the Edwardian Ball, to LA! Here is the description from the Edwardian Ball site:

The Edwardian Ball Los Angeles – a splendid San Francisco tradition flies south for the winter, presenting an elegant, turn of the century celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus arts, DJs, ballroom dance, fashion, technology, and of course, the art and stories of Edward Gorey.  Held in the historic Tower Theater, and hosted by LA’s own big top phenomenon Cirque Berzerk in partnership with Edwardian Ball co-creators Rosin Coven and Vau de Vire Society, the night promises an unforgettable blend of audience and performance with humor, darkness, and style.  Also featuring Helios Jive, DJ Xian, Jill Tracy, Miz Margo, Dark Garden Corsetry, and many special guests.

One of the first portraits I ever took: Edwardian Ball DJ Miz Margo.

LA readers, you’d better not miss this. It’s the first time that the Edwardian Ball is happening here in LA, and it’s literally a circus blowing through town – one that we should welcome warmly, and in style (read Mer’s article California Carnival Spirit for more on what to expect). It’s also the first time that Zo, Mer and I will be in the same place at the same time since our launch party, and we’ll have Issue 02’s on hand for anyone who wants to check it out. See you there!

Saturday January 31st, 2009
Tower Theater
Doors and show 8:00pm, all ages welcome
$30 general, $75 VIP (includes reserved balcony seating & hosted absinthe bar)

The Rictus Art of Olivier de Sagazan

“Like a caged beast, born of a caged beast, born of a caged beast, born of a caged beast, born dead and then…” –Samuel Beckett

Stills from Olivier de Sagazan’s 1998 sculptural performance work, Eye and the Chair.

Joe Haskins just alerted me to this astounding piece of performance art by a man named Olivier de Sagazan, titled Return to Close:

Clayface, for real.

Olivier de Sagazan has an appropriately unsettling site with a wide array of stills and clips from his live installations, as well as an image gallery of sublimely horrific sculptures. There doesn’t seem to be much web content on him written in native English. If any of our French (or is it Belgian?) speaking readers have information about this fascinating fellow available, it’d be wonderful to discover more about the man and his singularly beastly, loamy work!

Weekly Ad Uncoiling: MTV’s

You work in this soul-crushing business for as many years as I have, you relish the chance to do some pro-bono Cause advertising, the chance to Do Some Good. For me, that chance came a few years when I got to write a Drug-Free America TV spot which dramatically illustrated that Drugs Don’t Work in the office — which is of course a position I wholeheartedly disagree with.

I’ve never gotten the chance to work on AIDS awareness/prevention like the lucky creators of this :60 spot from ad agency Lowe Mena in Dubai. It’s for MTV’s Such a slick motherfuckin’ spot, huh? The editing. The spot-on casting. The trippy, ethereal music. The cool voiceover…”Can you hear me, taste me? Barroom brawler or prom queen…” And of course, the simply brilliant creative linchpin: chewing gum. Such a perfect metaphor for casual sex. Except of course, you can’t get AIDS through saliva exchange, or drinking lover’s spit. But then, why let “logic” or “responsibility” get in the way of the sacred artistic ad process? What are you, copyranter? An asshole account executive?

Amy Ross’s Furry Fungi

I’ve recently found myself drawn to art that simply, honestly makes me happy. After years of looking at and blogging about all manner of darque art, all I crave right now are images that make me feel like a child – not in the helpless sense, but in terms of wonderment and the belief that the world is a magical place that opens up to me. Earlier this week, I mentioned that Hirotoshi Ito’s sculptures that had that effect on me, and now I’ve uncovered someone else whose work makes me feel this: Amy Ross.

On her blog, NatureMorph, Ross imagines herself as a mad scientist. As she writes in her artist’s statement:

My drawings offer visual hypotheses to the question: what would happen if the DNA sequence of a plant or mushroom were spliced with that of an animal? Using graphite, watercolor, and walnut ink on paper as well as directly on gallery walls in site-specific installations, I portray animals morphed with branches, mushrooms, berries, and blossoms, thus forming implausible hybrid creatures. These images subvert the traditional genre of botanical illustration by approaching the close study of the natural world through the lens of genetic engineering and mutation gone awry.

I’ve seen similar ideas before – in paintings, in fiction, in taxidermy – but Ross’s gentle treatment feels somehow different, familiar. Perhaps the explanation for that sense is as simple as these pictures reminding me of illustrations from a long-forgotten storybook, or flashbacks to picking mushrooms as a child (a common family activity in Russia). Could I have stumbled on one of these, at an age too early to remember, before it scampered out of sight? One can hope.

Sketch of a tenrec

Inflatable Rubber Alien Egg: What to Wear?

If you’ve always wanted to recreate this creepy deleted scene from Alien, here comes your chance! Latex blog 3XL reports that London-based company has created an inflatable bondage ball shaped like the terrifying eggs from the seminal space horror film. At a price of £950.00, the Alien Egg promises to deliver “the ultimate sensory deprivation experience.” Check out the jazzy animated gif and description from the manufacturer’s site:

The Alien Egg is made from two ‘skins’ of rubber. The outer layer is made of thick 0.8 mm rubber whilst the inner layer is made of medium 0.5 mm rubber. Each skin can be made in different colour to give the Egg the maximum visual effect. It has a British Respiratory Gas Mask inside which has a double length corrugated tube going to the outside for breathing

You enter the Alien Egg and put on the respiratory mask which connects to the exterior through a tube. The four full length zips quickly close the Alien Egg holding your entire body inside its rubber walls. When inflated, the Alien Egg restricts all movements from within and isolate you perfectly inside its shell.

My favorite selling point: “In’s Alien Egg… No one can hear you scream!” Well, if you’re going to get yourself one of these happy places, why not go all the way and transform yourself into a complete rubber monster? For another €1037.50, you can get the heat-sensitive, color-changing Jelly Fish Corset with “inflatable hip lips” that’s pictured above right, and then the alien experience (and possibly, your whole life) will be complete. Disclosure: for all my poking fun at latex price tags in this post, I should note that a few years ago I had the pleasure of photographing the exact corset pictured above, and I can say that to the discerning collector/fetishist, it’s worth every penny. I see it more as a sculpture than a garment, and hope to see Pressure creator Siba Kladic produce more pieces, though she’s been quiet on the web for years. Like Kariwanz, Siba’s work transcends the raunch of run-of-the-mill rubberwear and enters a far more sublime, uncharted sex/fashion landscape. For more tentacular creations, visit her site, Pressure Corsets.

Pants Off Men: An Extremely Uber Toon

Musically, I have two main guilty pleasures: ABBA and And One. Like most bands producing evil dance music, And One is best enjoyed when the lyrics are sung in German, for it provides fodder for interpretations such as the one above. If you like your Boyd Rice like this, and your Bollywood films like that, then hit play, get up, and be ready to punch the floor to this EBM classic like you’ve never heard it before.

[via Milly]

We’re All Mad Here

It’s Lewis Carroll’s birthday, so don’t just do something – stand there! The author who opened and bent our young brains before science fiction had its turn would be turning 177 today. This is also the man who singlehandedly affected my entire life by inspiring my mother to name her only child after his Alice. It’s a long story, but I think she knew what fate awaited me as a result. To commemorate this special day, a somewhat unsettling clip from the very first stop-motion Alice In Wonderland. Made in 1951 by puppeteer and animation magician Lou Bunin, this one precedes the Jan Švankmajer version.

Oh what the hell, a scene from Švankmajer’s Alice under the jump, just because it’s such a perfect introduction to the leading lady.

Setting Sail in the Flickr Ocean: My Vintage Vogue

It’s time for another tribute to the greatest photo-sharing experience the Web has to offer, Flickr. This installment does not showcase one of the many talented photographers and artists decking Flickr’s halls with their creations, but a different breed of flickr-er [flickree? flickroo?] – the curator. Flickr user MyVintageVogue uploads hundreds of incredible scans from vintage fashion magazines. These images, dating between the 1920s and 60s, fill me with daily awe of the elegance of old-school photography.

The immaculate make-up and hair, jaw-dropping composition and strict tailoring not only hold up but are excellent examples of Doing It Right. Some of these actually remind me of Nadya’s work, which brings me to another observation: fetish themes. My opinion is colored by years of admiring fetish photography, but just look at this image from Vogue Magazine, 1957!

And how about this Horst P. Horst shoe revelry from 1941?

And there is so much more! Between the impossible silhouettes, futuristic elements and avant-garde designs you’re guaranteed to slip into a trance while browsing this photo-stream. Tread with caution before you click the jump – a bounty of MyVintageVogue eye candy awaits!

Hirotoshi Ito: The Meat Inside the Stones

Photo by TruShu on Flickr: “With smiles like that they must be … stoned. Bada-bum!

Aww, look at those toofs. I kinda wish these three guys would start bobbing up and down and singing me a happy tune. I wish I could have these three on my bedside, ready to talk when I really need some guidance. They look like they’d give really, really good advice, don’t they? These were crafted by 51-year-old Hirotoshi Ito. Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Ito’s bio at the the Keiko Gallery site:

After graduating from the distinguished Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, Mr. Ito was destined to take over his father’s masonry business in his hometown of Matsumoto City in Nagano Prefecture. He works out of his studio at home, creating his sculptures, while attending his family business.

Hirotoshi Ito continues to find new and original ways to create sculptures that people would touch and feel the unexpected softness and the warmth of them. He would be honored if his work would add laughs and smiles to people who come in contact with them.

What I love about these sculptures is the idea of a secret life. Since I was old enough to understand adventure stories (shout-out to Mio, my Mio), I was enchanted with the idea that the right string of words could make a door appear when there wasn’t one before, that every object (the more mundane, the better) had an alternate purpose, revealed only to those who could see the world in a different way. It’s rare to find something on the net that reaches me on such a tactile level, but I can almost smell the roasted coffee beans, mixed in with the scent of cold moss and stones. It makes me wish, as I believed with all my heart was possible as a child, that my hands could know the secret to unlocking any object they touched.

Oh My Friggin’ Kung-Fu Grip ‘Bama

Okay. Um…

Coilhouse takes pride in not being yet another lazy link-dumping blog, but y’know, this is one of those times where the less said, the better. Just… just click the image below. It links to a very special place. Once you’re there, scroll all the way down to the bottom.

(Via the craziest Canuck I know, Chip Zdarsky.)

Gawd bless America. And Japan.

[EDIT 01/23/09: Hooo WEE! That one went viral so fast, it knocked the Gamu Toys website on its ass. Luckily, some smart fella over at captured the site as a PDF before it disappeared. Here ya go.]

‘Couple more doozies after the jump.