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      Jonathan Yeo Is the King of Political Cock Art

      November 19, 2012

      It's the general consensus that the majority of politicians are dickheads. Perhaps they were born good, moral, decent people, but as soon as the ties and trouser-suits come on and the verbal bullshit starts spilling out, large, flaccid penises begin to sprout from their foreheads, growing ever harder as they descend further into their own mucky web of nonsensical policies and broken promises.

      Why it's taken so long for someone to capitalise on that and make political portraits out of actual dicks, I have no idea, but finally someone has. That someone is British artist Jonathan Yeo, who came up in the art game painting photo-realistic portraits of the rich and famous, before eventually attracting the attention of the Bush administration and forging his niche in the world of political-porno artwork.

      Seeing as I spent a lot of time scrawling cocks on school property, Jonathan's a bit of a personal hero of mine, so I rang him up for a chat.

      VICE: So tell me, Jonathan – why did you start making collages out of pornos?
      Jonathan Yeo: Well, I was approached by the White House after they'd seen my Tony Blair portrait and they wanted me to paint President Bush. I wasn't a particular fan of Bush, but I thought it would be an interesting thing to do. I had endless requests to send information about myself – vetting stuff, where I was born, where my parents were born, sketches of what the thing might look like – then, after months of doing this sort of shit, they suddenly changed their minds.

      And that experience made you decide to make George Bush's face out of penises, vaginas and arseholes? 
      No, I had a thought that the portrait would work well as a collage and the obvious choice for a collage of a face would be porn, as all the skin tones are already there. I wanted to send it to the White House to see if they'd notice, but before I got a chance to test my theory, Steve Lazarides put it in his gallery, it went viral and my website got five or six million hits in three days.    

      Is there any method or reasoning to the subjects you choose?
      Yeah, I try to pick subjects who somehow trade on their sexuality or sex, pornography, morality, or whatever has somehow defined their lives. Paris Hilton was an obvious one to do. And Mary Whitehouse because she was a great figure of hate in my youth for not allowing anything newsy on television. She was a moralising and meddling figure and spoiled all the fun for us kids in the 70s and 80s. I managed to make her top lip entirely out of one big black cock, which I imagine would have her spinning in her grave.

      Haha. Are you trying to say anything about pornography with the collages? Or is it literally that they're just good resources for skin tones? 
      Well, I have two young daughters of my own, so I was suddenly aware of the way sexuality is portrayed in the media – especially the gradual creeping of pornification into advertising, the sexualisation of children and how we're all getting used to it. I'm not saying that should all be shut down, but I do think it’s a shame if there’s too much exposure to it too early.

      Although, another explanation I've given is when I was doing a show in LA and talking to some people who I didn't think would get it. I told them it was my accountant's idea and that he'd said, "Jonny, you're spending all this money on porn, why don't you use it for your art and we could claim it off against tax?" And they went, "Wow – that's really smart."

      Are the porn magazines you use personal favourites? Or do you just use whatever's available?
      Most porn these days is altered or done in Hollywood with hot, Hollywood lighting, fake tan and fake breasts. Since everything looks so unreal and orange, I had to use stuff that was more cheaply made: amateur stuff, readers wives and stuff done overseas. Since the first was a portrait of Bush, I wanted his hair to be authentic pubic hair and you don’t find much of that in porn these days. I ended up finding some German magazines that specialise in that, though.


      Cliff Richard and Mary Whitehouse.

      How many pornos usually go into one of these pieces?
      Quite a lot. There’s a lot of wastage. I tend to use a whole magazine and only get 10 useful pieces out of it, but it's somewhere between 50 and 100 clippings for one of the bigger pieces, which would still leave 90 percent of the magazine intact. I got complaints from neighbours when I left magazines outside in see-through recycling bags, but I didn’t know how I should recycle them. I thought about leaving them outside the local boys' secondary school as a charitable gesture.

      How philanthropic. How is it buying and walking around with stacks and stacks and porn before you start a piece? 
      There's an irony of going into a specialist porn shop, buying 20 copies of a magazine that's useful for certain skin tones and the guy behind the till going, "You do realise this is the same magazine, right?" Then he'd look at me really suspiciously, like I was the weirdo in this shop full of perverts in macs.

      Some of the people you've portrayed – George Bush and Sarah Palin, for example – could be described as, for lack of a better word, dickheads. Are you commenting on that at all in your work? 
      What bothered me with those two is their hypocrisy. On one hand you’ve got this ridiculous Victorian attitude towards sex to pander to the narrow-minded right-wingers, then, on the other hand, there’s this insane imperialism. It’s the double standards that bother me.

      Ridicule is one area where politicians are vulnerable because it takes away some of their power. I’d like to think that they both knew about what I’d done and were annoyed about it, but I’ve got a feeling that George Bush has a very good sense of humour and would have laughed it off. I reckon Sarah Palin takes herself pretty seriously, though. She's this Alaskan Bible-bashing sort of hick, so I'd hope she was offended by it.

      You and me both. Did you get any aggressive responses to those pieces?
      I got a few angry emails from Texans, but no death threats from hardcore Republicans, disappointingly.


      Tiger Woods' head.

      Have you got plans for any more collages?
      I’ve got one more that might be the last one I do: Silvio Berlusconi. I don’t want it to be a complete piss-take, because that man is obviously a genius to have been able to get away with so much. It’s amazing – he’s a crook, a media mogul, a pimp – we’ll look back in a couple generations and think 'Oh my god, how did he get away with so much?'

      Owning all the media, being one of the richest men in Italy, running the country for years, having sex with underage prostitutes and being caught doing it, bribery and corruption scandals and avoiding jail for all of that. He’s a contemporary Roman emperor and he's always got this broad grin on his face. I haven’t met him, but I imagine he’s a lot of fun. He’s a bit of a legend.

      I’m sure he’d appreciate the gesture. Thanks, Jonathan!

      Follow Aleks on Twitter: @Slandr

      More porn:

      Indifferent Cats in Porn

      We Went to the Porn Awards

      Be a Porn Writer in Seven Easy Steps

      Living Porn: When a Dude Wants You to Sit There and Do Nothing While He Jerks Off 

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      Topics: jonathan yeo, interview, george bush, portrait, porn, mary whitehouse, Tiger Woods, sarah palin, boobs, dick, Pussy

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