LAist Interview: Jim Wirt, aka, Gay Bigfoot
Jim Wirt is a St. Louis native living in LA, but most people know him as Gay Bigfoot. The 42-year-old North Hollywood resident moved out to Los Angeles in 1996 and is a local artist who recently found himself in the middle of some online censorship when he tried to get one of his pieces printed on a t-shirt. Here's his story...
You're an artist, you had some art you wanted to put on a t-shirt, you went to Cafe Press and then what happened?
Thairin Smothers (one of the co-curators of the show) called me a few days after the show opening saying folks were wondering if I was going to make the image into shirts, so I figured the easiest thing to do would be to put the image up on Cafepress.com. Well, a few hours after putting the image up it was removed because they said it was 'sexual in nature'. [Editor's Note: The painting in questions is below the jump. It is slightly NSFW]
Then you went to another Cafe Press like site, what happened there? Same thing?
Yes, after Cafepress.com rejected my image I put the image up on Zazzle.com (another print on demand shop), and they removed the image as well because they thought it was a real Andy Warhol print! When I proved to them that it wasn't by showing the elements I used to create it they changed their tune and said it was removed because it was 'offensive and sexually explicit'.
So the t-shirts finally came in, how did that finally happen?
In the past I've had shirts printed through my friend Michelle's company Angrygirl.org in Tarzana. They are available through World of Wonder Storefront Gallery (located at 6650 Hollywood Blvd.), and I plan to try and get them in various stores on Melrose and in West Hollywood.
Tell us about this piece. What does it mean and what are you trying to say?
It was something that came out of necessity. Basically, since World of Wonder has started putting on art shows (starting with Lenora Claire's awesome Golden Girls show) I've been helping with setting up shows. So I was helping out with the Andy Warhol show, but I didn't have a piece ready because I was spending most of my time there getting the show ready. Anyway, the image just came to my mind one night and I went with it.
I figured it was a natural match, since banana's kind of look like dicks to begin with. I used to work for the gay porn icon Jeff Stryker, so as a tribute to him I used his big veiny cock as inspiration. The message I'm trying to say is best summed up from the song 'We Fight For Cock' by the gay heavy metal band Pink Steel: "Cock is my business, and business is good!"
You, as in Gay Bigfoot, have quite a following on MySpace, 16,000+ friends in all. Who is Gay Bigfoot and what's his story?
I joined Myspace around 3 months after it launched and had a regular profile like everyone else, and after 2 years I got bored one day and decided to change it to something different.....and Gay Bigfoot was born. I started an advice column in my blog, and within a year I went from having 600 friends to 16,000. It's pretty crazy, but it makes me happy to put a smile on people's faces and hopefully offer some solid advice when they need it. Feel free to send your questions about love, relationships, sexual disfunctions to: myspace.com/ultrawirt
How about an example of this advice?
Here's a piece of advice from the archives:
NINE INCH NAILSYou post only photos of bigfoots, Do you ever show your face or are you anonymous?
dear gay bigfoot,
recently I went out and got me a set of the finest nails money can buy.... the only problem is now I can't type, wipe my ass, or do anything that I used to be able to... the worst part is when I drink.... I feel as though I have become disabled... what should I do?? they make me feel oh so beautiful.....
ah, to be a slave to fashion....ain't it a bitch? But it does feel FABULOUS looking FABULOUS! My advice? Suffer through it, you'll be better off in the end if you do. Eventually you will learn how to do all the things you were able to do before, it just may take a little time to adjust. What you should do is advertise for a fetish slave on craigslist.org, and have them do all the things you can't like wipe your butt, feed you, pick your nose, diddle your pussy bean......there are plenty of guys out there with low self esteem that would jump at the chance to wait on you hand and foot.
Of course, you may have to take a dump on their chest or piss in their mouth to keep them happy......but it will be worth it! So stay sexxxy and FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I actually only show pictures of Gay Bigfoot who looks a lot like the lead character from Harry and the Hendersons.......but that's just a weird coincidence! As far as showing my face, I do leave clues as to how people can see what I really look like. They just have to poke around and they will find them.
Who are your favorite local Los Angeles artists?
Wow, that's a tough one. There are so many great artists out there, so I don't want to accidently exclude anyone from the list........but, if I were to just ramble off the top of my head I would say Glen Hanson, Austin Young, Plasticgod, Gidget Gein, Lenora Claire, Erin Martinez, Jeremy Cross, Big Tasty, Sam Wooley, Chris Zimmerman.......and anyone who bothers to take the time to sit down and create something from nothing!
Artistic Training (school, teachers, influences, etc)?
I have no formal art training, other than the stuff they taught me in high school. My two biggest influences are my sister Penny and my cousin Kenny, both kick ass artists in their own right. Outside influences include Mad Magazine, Ed Roth, Peter Bagge,
Andy Warhol, Robert Williams.....so many to choose from!
Best place to catch great art in LA?
This may seem biased, but I think the shows World of Wonder Storefront Gallery have been some of the most exciting shows I've been involved in. Another great place to check out art is Hyaena Gallery, located in Burbank. It's an art gallery/store filled with crazy art, books, toys....you name it, they have it there! I had my first book signing there when Coloring Book Land: Coloring Outside The Lines of Good Taste (my book based on my website) came out.
What is your website, coloringbookland.com all about? And are all those t-shirts and posters of art by you?
Coloringbookland.com is a humor site, but it's NSFW. The artwork is copy right free clip art and I put offensive and shocking words describing the action I'm seeing in the image. I personally do not draw the images on the site, but I have been drawing and painting since I was 3 years old. This is just one of my more 'pop art' projects.
Best place to buy printed t-shirts in LA?
What's your approach and process to your work and the message you're trying to spread?
I tend to work pretty fast, so I usually go with whatever makes me laugh the hardest, or excites me the most. As far as any message.........well, I guess my sense of humor is slightly demented, so if I had any message it would be that pop culture is disposable so why not have fun with it?
Gay Bigfoot's 'Bonaner" original is still on display at World of Wonder Storefront Gallery (6650 Hollywood Blvd.) until February 22nd. The gallery is open every day around 12 p.m., hosted by James St. James (we recommend you call ahead to make sure). You can now buy t-shirts for $20 dollars each as well -- available in black and white, both men and womens style.