By Caitlin Donohue
Few parties at San Francisco leather bar Powerhouse can be characterized as “Victorian”. But there it was, the flyer for the dearly departed monthly Oh! The Party for the Dirty Gentleman, a sweetly drawn, brightly colored scene of genteel men … having all kinds of nasty sex. On the image a curlicue scroll offered the reason for this refined perversion: the signature of a one Felix D’Eon.
Now located in Mexico City, visual artist D’Eon lives a rarified existence in a flat in the Condesa neighborhood. Trinkets from his travels from Southeast Asia (where he was learning about the art of hammered gold jewelry) line the walls, along with his crocheted lucha libre masks that hold a faint hint of fetish about them. It’s here in these rooms that D’Eon hosts a parade of models who pose for his magical sex scenes — from lesbians in Jules Vernes submarine scenes to forest men being sexually accosted by curious bears, all in his trademark decorative style. In honor of this week’s Folsom Street Fair, we thought it was the perfect moment to honor the people who are expanding the scope of kinky sexuality. We chatted with D’Eon about why he loves to make sexy so scenic.
AHDM4U :: Why draw naked people and sexy scenes like yours?
FELIX D’EON :: For the pure pleasure of it. Nothing is more beguiling than a beautiful body (and there is such a range of beautiful bodies!), nor of bodies finding pleasure in one another. Pure sensuous delight is my primary motivation in defining the curve of a thigh or a breast, or the delightful shadows that give form to a rounded ass. However, I also paint these scenes because they have not really been painted before; I try to give seriousness to the subject of queer love and desire, to paint them in historical styles to which our sensibilities where previously denied. They are an attempt to address a historical wrong, and celebrate queer love as something natural and eternal.
AHDM4U :: Who was the first nude you ever drew?
FELIX :: I first started drawing and painting nudes in high school; I remember reading a book about the artist Jacque-Louis David, and how he and his classmates painted one another nude while they studied at the Academy. I was perhaps 15 at the time. I found the idea terribly romantic (and rather hot), so I asked my fellow students if they would like to pose for me. Being on the swim team, my friends were used to nudity in any case, and came by my house to model. Soon thereafter my mother enrolled me in figure drawing classes at the local community college, and in short order, nearly all my friends had found themselves naked in my house, posing for paintings. It’s a pattern I continue!
AHDM4U :: Who are your models?
FELIX :: My models are my friends, people I meet at parties, fans who write to say they love my work. People I met at the World Nude Bike Ride or Folsom Street Fair or hanging around on nude beaches. Anyone who catches my eye and is adventuresome enough to say yes!
Felix’s flyer for the dearly departed Powerhouse SF get-together Oh! The Party for the Dirty Gentleman
AHDM4U :: How do you choose the motifs of your drawings?
FELIX :: I try to make work that looks historically possible; it’s important to me that the work exhibits a verisimilitude, that would prompt the viewer to wonder, if only for a moment, if the work might actually be vintage. I like to tell stories, sexy or romantic, and I also try to vary what I do. Previously, most of my paintings feature very handsome and slender young men, so now I try to include different body types, genders, and ethnicities as I work, in order to amplify what I do and speak to more people. I think that I was mostly painting what I was, I suppose; a slender young man. But as I’ve gotten older my range of tastes has expanded. I also started to feel like I was repeating myself.
AHDM4U :: How many works do you produce in an average week?
FELIX :: I produce about five or so. Usually one or two very well made ones, which have backgrounds and carefully thought out story lines, and about three simple ones, usually without backgrounds, which I sell for under 100 dollars on my eBay store.
AHDM4U :: Who would you say your audience is?
FELIX :: I think my audience is constantly broadening. But: queer people, of all genders, by and large. The subjects of my paintings tend to be male, and therefore most of my audience are gay males, but I think that the romantic and subversive quality to my work pulls in a variety of people.
AHDM4U :: You’re currently located in Mexico City. Why do you live there?
FELIX :: I’m originally from Guadalajara, although I spent most of my life in the U.S. I grew up in LA and went to college in San Francisco where I’ve spent most of my adult life, but at various times I also lived in New Orleans and in a tiny mountain community outside of Nashville, Tennessee. I decided at a certain point that California was simply to expensive to live in. Furthermore, I missed Mexico, and the culture I had been raised in, and decided for reasons of personal and spiritual growth that Mexico is where I should be.
AHDM4U :: How would you describe the themes your art deals with? Do they go beyond sex and love?
FELIX :: The themes are all wrapped around sex and desire, but not all of them are nude or overtly sexy. The real theme is love. I think because the images are painted in vintage styles which are known to be romantic, conservative, and wholesome, no matter how filthy a painting is, it exudes romantic and wholesome feelings in the viewer. My work seeks to render normative a desire which has always been seen as subversive.
AHDM4U :: What projects are you currently working on?
FELIX :: I am planning on starting a series inspired by homophobia in different countries; Russia, Nigeria, Jamaica and India, among others, have terrible laws and make life very difficult for gay men and women. I already started with a series of Russian paintings, but I intend to continue with these other countries, and make paintings which are romantic and beautiful, which feature gay couples and gay families with children, presented as utterly beautiful, as a kind of unobtrusive propaganda.
AHDM4U :: Where can we buy your work?