Claudia Rankine has won the 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award for poetry for her acclaimed book ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’. Our smash hit sold-out stage adaptation of Citizen by Stephen Sachs, directed by Shirley Jo Finney, has earned rave reviews, been hailed as Critic’s Choice in the Los Angeles Times and is extended to October 11.
‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ at the Fountain Theatre
The Los Angeles-based PEN Center USA Literary Awards honor work in eleven categories—fiction, creative nonfiction, research nonfiction, poetry, children’s/young adult, graphic literature, translation, journalism (print and NEW online), drama, screenplay, and teleplay—produced or published in 2015 by writers living west of the Mississippi River.
[WARNING: This post contains adult content and images]
One of the characters in Zayd Dohrn’s play Reborning has a unique profession. And we don’t mean Kelly (Joanna Strapp), the gal who makes lifelike dolls. We’re talking about her boyfriend, Daizy (Ryan Doucette). He makes … well … how does Kelly politely describe them? “Adult rubber and latex items.” Dildos. Which Daizy waves about their NY loft in the play. So, when it came time to produce the LA Premiere of this funny and powerful comedy/drama, the Fountain was put in the unique and unusual position of needing to hire someone to paint the dildos so they looked as realistic as the dolls Kelly creates.
And where does one go to find a dildo painter? The Fountain turned to Gabriella Guzman, a student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Where are you from? Where did you get your art training?
Well my Cuban self was born in Virginia (random, right?), but my parents raised me in Miami, which is basically second Cuba. No lie. I pretty much get empanadas pelted at my face as soon as I step off the plane. I’ve been in public art schools my whole life, but I’m currently studying Illustration & Fine Art at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
How did you get this unique job on this production?
Apparently [Artistic Director/Producer] Stephen Sachs sat down at the dinner table one night and asked his son, Daniel [who also attends Art Center], if he had any friends who would be good at a penis paint job. Immediately, my name came to his mind. And to this day, I have no idea how to feel about that.
What was your reaction when you were offered this job?
My immediate reaction was to ask Daniel why in the heck he thought of me as the ideal penis painter. But after a while, I realized that this job makes for the greatest story because it’s my first job! After all, how many people can say their first job title was “Dildo Painter”?
Gabriella Guzman hard at work.
Have you ever painted anything like this before?
You know, as twisted as my mind is, I’ve actually never painted penises before. I should do it more often, though, cuz they definitely make great reference for trees or mushrooms or horrific worm demons. Seriously, just add teeth to one of those things and it’s a pelvic nightmare Dali wishes he would’ve painted.
How are the dildos used in the play?
One of the main characters, Daizy, makes photo-realistic penis sculptures for a living. At one point, he walks out on stage with one of the penises hanging out of his pants! I’m happy to say that the audience thinks it’s a real penis most of the time until they notice how big it is (HA! See what I did there?)
Kristin Carey, Joanna Strapp, Ryan Doucette
What’s it like painting a dildo? Did it make you uncomfortable at first?
Working with the rubber material was challenging at first because any paint I’d put on the surface would immediately crack once the rubber was bent or stretched, but luckily I got a lesson in material methods by a real Special FX Makeup Artist and I was able to use his supplies to produce better results. All in all, painting dildos made me feel like an incredibly unique human being at first, but after a while, I started wishing I was a lesbian just so I’d never have to see another dick again!
Did you tell your friends what you were dong? How did they react?
As soon as I got the job, my immediate thought was “Omg FACEBOOOOK STATUUUS”, which just shows you where our culture is today. My male friends reacted by offering themselves up as reference, but golly gosh, as much as I loved those offers, I respectfully declined. I remember getting tagged in a lot of posts about phallic sculptures and there were quite a few enlarged stills of pornos messaged to me. Isn’t it great to have supportive friends?
Have you told your parents? What was their reaction?
My mom, being an old fashioned Cuban woman who is too sweet and pure to have heard of such things, reacted pleasantly when I told her I was a dildo painter simply because she had absolutely no idea what a dildo was. I remember her saying “Oh sweetie, how nice. Is that a type of plant?”
Do you enjoy painting them?
Gabby takes her work home.
I feel like there’s no way for me to answer these questions without sounding like I really like penises.
And painting them ain’t so bad either.
What is involved in painting a dildo? Can you briefly take us through the process?
You need to paint rubber using a special paint called Skin Illustrator, and the paint has to go on in very thin layers otherwise it’ll rub off or get clunky. It’s kind of like painting with watercolor, only instead of water, you use alcohol. Once the dildos are dry, you spray them with “Green Marble”, a makeup sealer that keeps everything from rubbing off for a good week or so. You drop off your finished dildos, go home, and once you’ve finally forgotten about penises, you get called to come back for a retouch. Rinse and repeat!
Have you ever been involved in a theater or play before?
I’ve never been involved in a play before or been part of any theater work. It was so exciting to see everyone scramble, to discover what it’s like to put a play together. It requires a lot of teamwork, I’ll tell you that much.
How did you feel on Opening Night, seeing your dildos up there on stage?
When Daizy ran out on stage with my dick hanging out of his pants, I punched my friend in the arm out of excitement.
What’s it like being part of the production team at the Fountain? Has it been a good experience?
I absolutely LOVED being a part of the production team at the Fountain! It was so amazing to feel like a functioning adult for a few weeks, with a job and a title! Everyone at the Fountain has been so accepting, kind, and professional. I’m proud to be a member of this family.
You can see Gabriella’s handiwork in the LA Premiere of Reborning at the Fountain Theatre, now playing to March 15th.Get Tickets/More Info