One might find it difficult to walk by a poster or scroll past an event on Facebook featuring the words “art erotica” without doing a double take. It’s only natural to have a carnal curiosity to investigate an art exhibit dedicated to all things, well, erotic.
On April 7, members of the Octopus Club, a fundraising arm of the Aids Services of Austin (ASA), threw Art Erotica to raise money for the Paul Kirby Fund, a foundation dedicated to helping those diagnosed HIV/AIDS. Artists were invited to donate pieces in the spirit of sexuality.
The journey begins by walking down a red carpet that cascades from the waist of a poised Kai Lee Mykel’s dress. Behind her, there is a chaotic feast for the eyes in an open warehouse that includes go-go dancers in hard hats, gracing orange construction ladders, various kiosks displaying art of every medium and sexual preference, and with attendees in various fetish wear. That’s just at first glance.
To the left is a long table featuring a three foot tall penis-shaped cake, complete with white frosting dripping from its tip. The pecker-inspired confection was guarded by it’s maker, a leather-harness clad Rafael Santos with his similarly dressed assistant Hector Adame, who managed to sum up the spirit of the night in a brief statement: “I’m very comfortable in my own skin. We’ve all got the same thing.”
Between model/burlesque dancer Sabra Johnson’s five-foot-tall martini (soon to serve as her dance prop) and Q Austin’s sexual sound booth is the Penis and Vagina project headed by Marcus Sanchez. Sanchez is one of five “Head Octopi” of the Octopus Club, Events Coordinator at ASA and Chair Member of this year’s Art Erotica.
Sanchez said the show was open to any artist with only one guideline: keep it erotic. “I think it’s cool because a lot of artists who donate don’t ever show any other places,” Sanchez said. “[For] a lot of artists, this is the one time they do erotic art.”
Over $75,000 was raised for the Paul Kirby Fund last year — leaps and bounds from the $300 raised during the first Art Erotica. Marcus assured us that every penny of the proceeds goes to providing persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS anything with from rent to food or even medication.
The event was produced solely by volunteers. Sanchez said he attributes much of the event’s success to the artists themselves.
“A huge part of the event is the artists,” Sanchez said. “The artists give us art, promote the event, and help to set up the production on the day of. They really see this as an event for them and really get into it, which we love because this started as a small art show and turned into this huge art exhibit. And best of all, it’s for a good cause.”