Flash back to Art Basel 2003. On NE 37th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, a thirteen-foot mural of a nude posterior view, emphasis on the derrire, appeared on a wall.
Tan, with her blond hair in a bun, the female subject personified the lyrics of Sir Mix-a-Lot ("That when a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist/And a round thing in your face/You get sprung"). She became known around town by the affectionate nickname "Booty," in honor of her greatest (size-wise) attribute.
Artist Daniel Fila painted the piece, titled Erin, with the permission of the property's owner, architect Chad Oppenheim. But the well-padded nude was not to everyone's taste: In the dark of a weekend night in March 2004, an unknown perpetrator, roller in hand, obliterated the figure in a swath of white. Erin and her big booty were gone.
For a while.
Art Basel 2005 marked the revival of the big-butt figure, although this time the view was from the front in a new painting, Adam and Eve. Now the 25-year-old Fila finds himself again mired in controversy. The Bitch recently received an accusation that the female subject's face in Adam and Eve was appropriated inappropriately from a feminist-theme self-portrait by the real Erin. According to Bill Randolf, who attended Columbus College of Art and Design with both Fila and the painting's purported subject, painter and photographer Erin Wozniak, the face was lifted from Wozniak's photo Open Wide.
Fila clarifies: The first painting (from behind) and the second (from the front) are indeed his interpretations of Wozniak, whom Fila admired when the two were classmates at CCAD.
"I had a crush on her," Fila says. "She is a beautiful woman and a really talented artist, so I did a painting that looked like her in a way." When it came to rendering Wozniak's face, Fila drew a blank.
"I didn't have any reference for her," he explains. So he used a photo of her self-portrait. "I wanted to give my audience her real face."
Wozniak, reached in New Zealand, where she now lives, characterizes Fila's pursuit in a more ominous light and expresses outrage over the use of her image.
"What Daniel Fila has done is taken my artwork not a photo, but my artwork, and directly copied it, publicly presenting it as his own," Wozniak fumes via e-mail. "He has also defamed my work by pasting it onto a grossly over-sexualized naked figure. His comments that he wanted to give it a öreal face' totally ignore the issue."
Fila denies the work references Wozniak in a disrespectful or unoriginal manner. "I am genuine talent," he tells The Bitch in an e-mail following an initial interview. "My painting was initially controversial because it was quite simply a glorification of the female anatomy."
Fila says he sent Wozniak a photo of Erin the first version. "She said she was öat a loss for words,'" according to Fila, adding Wozniak no longer responds to his e-mails.
More loquacious with The Bitch on the subject of Fila, Wozniak adds, "He seems incapable of comprehending obvious moral issues with his use of my artwork and my identity."
Saturday's International Noise Conference at live music bastion Churchill's in Little Haiti absolutely killed it, with more than twenty acts hitting the indoor stage for raucous fifteen-minute sets while Shuttle Lounge mixed its mesmerizing concoction of Spandau Ballet covers and Miami-inspired haiku on the deck outside.
Some of the acts were pure grindcore à la Godflesh, but many decibels were used far more subversively, particularly by Jessica Riley, who seemed to be channeling a staid Laurie Anderson, with a vocoder and simple soundboard. But then an intentional pratfall sent Riley and all of her equipment hurtling offstage and into the surprised but delighted crowd.
Nursing a Newcastle and a few bruises after her gig, Riley a tall, suit-clad blond wearing the horn-rimmed specs of an academician and toting a dainty aqua American Tourister overnight bag said, "I just decided I wanted to perform, so I put my name on the list and drove down here overnight from Boston." Riley returned to the stage later in the evening to recite a poem about her hatred for children and pets.
Otto Von Schirach, the region's reigning noise terrorist, played a brief but brilliant midnight set that combined electronica, screaming, and a real quartet of saxophone, violin, trombone, and drums.
Meanwhile across the bay, Jon Bon Jovi, seemingly unable to depart the area following his "concert" last week, was sucking down white wine and ousting patrons from their seats in order to accommodate his small entourage at RokBar on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach.
Getting Away with It
Doped up on heartworm meds recently, The Bitch found herself in a place as far from Miami as possible: Strayerville. It's a maddeningly odd yet oddly delightful place of backward-flying blimps, ashtray-flavor mints, and protective auras for sale, populated by people with names like Susie May and Dr. Spectacles. You can read all about it in the Parsley Advertiser, an occasional nonsense zine put out by 30-year-old Corey Kingsbury of Miami Shores.
Kingsbury, a graphic designer at the Biscayne Boulevard Times, began the Parsley Advertiser (online at theparsley.com) about a year ago as a pocket-size flipbook of random musings and images. He began leaving the booklets at art galleries and bars, supermarkets and restaurants, hoping people would pick them up and enter his amusingly ridiculous imaginary world. Nowadays the Parsley Advertiser is a bona fide full-size rag, set to print 5000 glossy copies for the upcoming winter 2006 issue. Kingsbury counts fifteen subscribers who pay voluntary donations to have the thing delivered.
"You can increase the size of your forehead by up to 300 percent with our amazing pamphlet," trumpets one "ad" in the fall 2005 issue, the most recent. "Increase the credibility of your public delusions with our stone tablets," says another. One article describes the new stress-relief craze of backflipping. In a column called "Switch Board," Kingsbury asks, "Is Autumn-ated the exact opposite of Spring-loaded?" Then there's "Growing Apart Acres," where, an ad trumpets, you can "lose yourself and your significant other in our 40,000-acre paradise!"
Aside from the support of a few friends, Kingsbury, a self-described "sedentary" layabout, funds the endeavor about $1500 per issue on his own.
"It's silly, goofy shit," Kingsbury says, but not silly, goofy shit like The Onion, he adds. "That stuff is too easy for me.... That's cake; that's pie," Kingsbury says of current-event spoofs. Instead he prefers to stay solidly in "kind of like this abstract place in time," with mid-twentieth-century news photos, stories about the end of the world, and ads proclaiming, "New deals on ancient monuments!"
Kingsbury describes his editorial approach simply: "I try and stay where people get a head snap; they're like, öWhat?'"
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Grind on Me
West Coast skaters like Stacy Peralta get the credit for inventing the modern version of the pastime, their efforts memorialized in films like Lords of Dogtown and Dogtown and Z-Boys. But Miami native Robbie Weir says East Coast skateboarders (such as himself and Hollywood's Alan "Ollie" Gelfand) deserve props as well, and he's written a book to that effect. Miami Inverted, penned by Weir and South Beach fashion photographer Willie Miller, chronicles Weir's early years skating at Runway Park in Perrine in the late Seventies and early Eighties, and his rise to fame as a member of the infamous Bones Brigade.
"I wrote it after I broke my arm skating in 2001," says Weir, a Miami Beach resident and owner of a film production company. "I'd sit at Ted's Hideaway and just write notes. After three months, I had a ton of notes and started putting it together."
Weir, now 40 years old, got his first break at the age of thirteen, when he did skateboarding trips for a national Burger King commercial, a spot that led to a sponsorship offer from skateboard manufacturing giant Powell Peralta. "Riding for Powell Peralta was like playing for the Yankees," Weir says. "It was sort of all uphill from there." The book reads like a history of the subculture, almost from its beginnings; for instance, Weir first skated with Tony Hawk when the latter was twelve years old and Weir was fourteen.