Talking Toxic with Walt Cassidy AKA Walt Paper

WC 2013

Good evening ladies and gents!

I have something truly outrageous for you this evening, a coup and a half I can tell ya! One of my greatest inspirations recently agreed to Talk Toxic with me on this ‘ere blog – a man I’m sure you will all be familiar with; Nightlife legend, former club kid, front man of BOOB and artist of wonderous repute…. WALT CASSIDY aka WALT PAPER!!!!!!! I tell you I could have died when he agreed!

Focusing on array of topics including his days with seminal art-punk troupe and focus of Tuck and Cover issues 2 BOOB, as well as his continuing work as an artist exploring and utilising varying media, prepare yourselves as you sink your teeth into this latest edition of Talking Toxic! Enjoy…


Walt, your work as an artist has spanned almost three different lives and in doing so three different mediums that link and intertwine. You have stated previously that the divide between primitive and modern as well as the connections between psychology and mysticism, autobiography and methodology have carried great poignancy for you. How do you feel your work has progressed and how do perceive your growth as an artist?

I have always felt, since I was very young, that I was working on one continuous artwork….my life. The looks, objects and images that I have created and continue to create I consider to be residue of one master work, life. Someone once told me that my artwork felt “lived in”, which I took as a great compliment. This idea of occupancy, is something that is integral to my work. Occupancy operates on a very specific frequency, which requires constant tuning. My artworks are utilitarian, tools that I use for this type of tuning in my life.

Taking a step backwards, you were highly influential within the Club Scenes of the eighties and nineties as Walt Paper. Your work then seemed to focus on the artist as the object – a kind of Gunther Brus living spectacle utilising tribal imagery and contextualising this within modern urban environments. What inspired the creation of these images?

In the late 80’s, when I was in High School, I became involved with the Hardcore Punk and Industrial music scene in Virginia Beach. It provided me with a solid foundation of ethics from which I still operate to this day. Through that scene, I learned I could focus my creativity through community, street culture, the body, gender, and identity. All these things could be used as mediums, and I liked the way they operated in a public forum.

When I got to NYC in 1990, as an 18 year old art student, I was introduced to nightlife, and became involved with The Club Kids, many of whom I felt a great kinship. I was embraced and employed by the Peter Gatien empire of mega-clubs that dominated the city. It was very exciting, and reminiscent of the old Hollywood Studio system and Andy Warhol’s Factory. I felt supported, protected, and promoted on a much higher level.

I was also a student of African and Tribal Studies in college, which greatly informed my work. One professor who was of great influence on me, was Halim El Dahb, an Egyptian musician who had done musical scores for Martha Graham. I felt an affinity with the developing Modern Primitive movement, and was a great admirer of artists such as Ron Athey and the energy surrounding a body modification shop called Gauntlet that had opened in NYC.


As your creations evolved and you formed the wonderful Art-Punk group BOOB with Loxanna et al. your style changed again. What was the inspiration for this project? You have often said, as well did your bandmates, that you felt frustrated during this period because of a number of external factors effecting New York at the time – could you elaborate on this?

BOOB started amidst Rudy Giuliani’s “Quality of Life” campaign of the late 90’s which sought to sterilize NYC, and in the process eliminated most of Manhattan’s street and nightlife culture, by systematically closing all the prominent venues from Limelight to CBGB.

Having graduated, in many regards, from The Club Kids, we sought to focus our energy into a band. At the time, music was dominated by grunge, which was identity specific, but not especially flashy. With BOOB, we wanted to shift those aesthetics and present something that was much more theatrical and colorful. We also wanted to utilized the talent of our friends, and channel it into photography, films, costumes, and stage sets that accompanied our performances.


During the previously mentioned period, a number of similarities were drawn between yourself and Kembra Pfahler. How do you view Pfahler’s work and what is your current involvement with her?

I love Kembra, and have always been a great fan of her work. She is one of the great mentors of my life. Our bands performed together, and we also lived together for some time.

Kembra introduced me to great film. She is the person responsible for turning me on to Pasolini and Kenneth Anger. She also exposed me to Hermann Nitsch, Rudolf Schwarzkogler and the Vienna Actionists.

She single handedly taught me how to survive as an artist, introducing me to the notion that I didn’t have to self destruct in order to be creative.

Certainly even now there seems to be a hint of the DIY availabalist aesthetic to some of your creations – Although, in recent interviews you have mentioned the possession of energies by objects previously owned had become a hindrance to your process – what do you mean by this?

I love the Availablist component of Kembra’s work. I don’t see my work as Availabist, because I only initially used found objects in my first photo series, Kitchen Spells.

After doing that series, I felt that the energy attached to found objects dictated that any composition, within a photograph, was inherently collaborative. Conceptually, I wanted to distance myself from this because I felt that it was parasitic. To eliminate the possibility of “shared energy” within the work, I began to construct all of the objects, instead of collecting them. I began to build sculptures for the purpose of photographing them.

I prefer to work with elemental source material…metal, wood, wire. I generally stay away from using precious metal and fine grade wood, opting instead for brass and plywood. I like the formal aspects, as well as, the implication of utility.

Perhaps, I am an Elementalist? 🙂

Following on from this; you have explained before that your work, especially the intricate metal pieces you have been creating, focus greatly on imbuing the materials you work with, with emotional energy designed to order chaos. Can you elaborate more on this process?

I have a long time connection to drawing and illustration, and in most of my work, despite the medium, I frequently move towards narrowing perspective in order to make the content seem more “drawn”. I see my works as energy maps, and myself as a diarist, using narrative abstraction to record and order emotional chaos.

The patterns in my work, I refer to as “protective motifs”. These motifs, are stacked with references, and are used as an alphabet from with I construct an ongoing narrative that moves from one piece to the next, sequentially…. a process of illumination and grounding.

Walt Cassidy - Through

Walt Cassidy – Through

A number of the pieces displayed at the Invisible Export one man show, seemed to explore the correlation and intersection of geometric patterns as well as their interaction with the negative space surrounding them, where sometimes light or other patterns took on a kind of life of their own. This was particularly noticeable in ‘Through’ as well as ‘Attack on the Ascending’. What is driving you to explore these interactions?

Walt Cassidy - Attack on the Ascending

Walt Cassidy – Attack on the Ascending

The common themes in my work are escape, evolution, transcendence, emotional violence, struggle, and the dilemma of dominance and submission.

Within each construction, I build in the potential for evolution….there is always a passageway amidst the chaos, a portal of hope that allows one to move forward from the present into the future, through darkness into light, from captivity to freedom.

Beth Citron after viewing your collection at IE remarked that your work seemed to be a form of protection, how would you respond to this?

My work can be viewed within the context of Talismanic art, but as I mentioned before, I see it at utilitarian. For me the works serve as conductors and transformers of energy.

The occult, Alchemy and religious lore seem to feature heavily in your work, why do you feature this so heavily?

Alchemy certainly plays a role in my work, as does Mythology. Agrarianism is a primary component in my work. Because I grew up on a farm in Missouri, many of the structural references in my mind are rooted in agriculture and the earthy mysticism that surrounds the lifestyle of farmers.

I was raised Agnostic and without religion, so religious lore and the occult are not of great influence. People like to imagine me as esoteric, but I see myself as much more common and “of the people”. I have always been very public in what I do, and am not a big fan of secrets or elitism. I am not that precious.

This is evident in the titling of my first suite of photographs, Kitchen Spells. Although the use of the term “spells” implies a connection to the occult, the addition of “kitchen” counters it by referencing housewives, everyday home life, and the terrain of the common everyday man.

When you took part in the ‘Displaced Persons’ exhibit there was a statement that read ‘sometimes beauty must be achieved through loneliness and discomfort, and the same can be said about art.’ Would you agree with this?

Yes, I find that to be true. I once told a collector of my work, “All I need to make work, is a broken heart and a deadline.” But, I am trying to change that for myself. I find a tremendous amount of joy and release in my work, although much of my subject matter stems from pain.

I feel a responsibility to not pollute the world with my pain, so I channel it into my work, pump light through it and tune it to a frequency that is uplifting…much like a great R&B song.

Your new jewelry collection collaboration, ‘The Nervous Peal’ is debuting soon, what can we expect from this latest series?

I am doing a line of jewelry with Boehm JLWS. These pieces are based on a series drawings I did of outdoor athletic sculptures. This series deals with the relationship of the body to performative structures, so I find it interesting that we are now making those same forms into something that can be worn on the body.

We are working with the materials of my sculptures, wood and distressed brass. The pieces have the quality of an aged tattoo, dynamic but soft and weathered. The scale of the necklaces give them a Jodorowsky meets Flava Flav kind of vibe.

They will be available online in limited editions from the Boehm JWLS website and through certain retailers.

Where can our readers see your work next?

I currently have an installation of works in the shop Galeria Melissa in Soho, through March 10th and new work appearing in the upcoming exhibition:

I Killed My Father, I Ate Human Flesh, I Quiver With Joy: An Obsession With Pier Paolo Pasolini

February 22 – March 23, 2013

Allegra LaViola Gallery, 179 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002

A massive thank you to Walt for taking the time to take part in this issue of Talking Toxic, it was an absolute pleasure to interview him!

Don’t forget to check out his Tumblr for all of his latest work:

Stay tuned, share, comment and tell everyone!

Bile and Bruises




Serving FISH: Black Lagoon realness with Janey Hayes MUA

Hey guys,

many of you will remember that recently… okay November last year, that I was taking a trip to the UK skills show in Birmingham to play model for uber-talented Make-up Artist Janey Hayes.

After being given the brief of ‘Golden Hollywood’ by her adjudicators, Janey selected the enduring image of the Creature from the Black Lagoon – a classic slice of cinema from the era’s tail end. Don’t remember the look? Feast your eyes on this and talk about fishy realness! creatureblacklagoon2

Competition rules stated that at least three prosthetics that had been hand made were utilised in the final look – Janey fitted me for FOURTEEN – and included a mixture of body paint and airbrush techniques. This was a full on teardown aiight?! Now, being a queen who doesn’t typically shave for my appearances, this meant re-accquainting myself as well as my legs, arms etc. with a bic disposable… I’m a little rusty so most of the bathroom in our swanky ass hotel room looked like the prom scene in Carrie by the end of it – NOT CUTE but very funny.  Here’s a sample of some of the raw prosthetics prior to application and painting (Janey had four hours to paint me head to toe btw).


The event itself, which drew competitors from all across the UK entering various different skilled based tests (from plumbing to catering), was attended by thousands. Seriously, thousands of young people came to stare at the competitors, which translated to me being in a pair of tiny pants and not much else for the majority of the day – one of the other models looked as though she had turned blue from the cold, though that may have been the paint, I couldn’t really tell.

Janey worked incredibly hard and turned out by far the most striking and well realised image in the whole competition, I felt so proud to represent her work. Really and truly. We placed ‘Highly Commended’ overall and Haye’s work was noticed by a huge amount of people from the industry. You couldn’t exactly miss us, especially not after I headed for a walk-about with Janey after the judging, there were some small children who bit off more than they could chew when they attempted to get close and play with the prosthetics… DON’T TOUCH THE SCALES BITCHES! You gonna get swallowed and not in the good way, black lagoon don’t do gobbling!

Here’s a snapshot of the final image:


One of the tutors representing Bristol College shot some video for us, I edited this sharpish so it’s very rough but gives you an idea of how the whole thing went:

That’s all from me for now but stay tuned, there’s so much on the horizon…

Bile and Bruises



In Response to Julie Burchill

Wow, another bigoted idiot masquerading as an intellectual. In the grand tradition of murderous idiocy, Burchill has attacked the trans-lobbyists for daring to decry sloppy usage of language and vile sentiment as applied to her friend. Guess what Burchill, you’re a hate mongering monster, how dare you attack the transgendered for having an opinion that contradicts your narrow view. You are openly discriminatory and contradict yourself countless times. Your initial defense of your friend who described the plight of women who don’t adhere to ‘Brazillian transexual’ standards of beauty is beyond the pale, firstly why would anyone use such an outdated and bigoted image and secondly who would you assume that every transperson looks a certain way – I believe your words were ‘bed wetters in bad wigs’ and then further attack the intelligence of these individuals. I’d rather not look to you and your ‘swinging PhD’ for guidance on these matters, I think I’d prefer to look to someone articulate enough to construct arguments without relying on incorrect imagery, prejudicial slander and total ignorance. If any of you are interested and would like to look into trans activism and rights as well as the broad landscape of creativity and artistry that has helped make this world a safer and more beautiful place to live in, please look up Sylvia Rivera or Calpernia Sarah Addams two idols of mine who inspire countless thousands with their bravery, honesty and positivity. (The Sylvia Rivera Law Project set up in honour of the late trans-activist) Lynee Breedlove of Tribe 8 – trans activist, musician, author and comedian

Original Post by Burchill

Talking Toxic: Hear no evil, Speak no evil, SEE EVIL! With Catherine Ingram and Michael Goes Click Photography

Welcome back!!! A brand new year has rolled out it’s shiny uncertain face to be plastered in stockings, make-up and mayhem… It feels good to be alive… Did you miss me? (Ooh I felt like Courtney Love then, quick grab me a handful of prescription meds and a bottle of Champale).

Shortly before last years end, I was asked to take part in a photoshoot with the wonderful, Michael Goes Click photography. I jumped at the chance to work with this young talent for two reasons; 1, because Michael asked and he’s amazing, 2 – the shoot was designed to represent the hear no evil, see no evil, see evil concept relating to budget cuts effecting mental health service users in Derbyshire that are effectively cutting off a lifeline known as Derbyshire Voice. I’m sure that anyone reading this will either have suffered from the blight of mental illness or at the very least know someone who has. I’m sure that you also will know how debilitating whatever form it takes, can be to an individual as well as those around them and that institutions designed to support those affected are currently being badly hit by the recession as are many charitable and third sector institutions. This is is further exasperated by local governing bodies who slash budgets in favour of pet projects and frivolous spending options


Today I’m talking to Catherine Ingram (C), chief executive of Derbyshire Voice and Michael Hill (M) of Michael Goes Click photography about exactly what is happening up north and behind closed council doors…

Dis) The Derbyshire Voice provides a life line to mental health service users in the community. How is its survival being threatened?

(C) The charity is funded by 4 partner NHS and local authority organisations. The fact that one funder wishes to leave this partnership is de-stabalising and we wanted to create a very public awareness as a reminder of how important the charity is to people. If the money is taken away I will have to make some hard decisions but it will inevitably mean that we can support less people from the City and that the council can do anything to their mental health services without involving or consulting us. The council employ the social workers who section people under the Mental Health Act and our work with them to improve the situation will inevitably have to stop which means even less support for people detained against their will. Mental heath is the only area of “care” where you can receive treatment against your will and its a terrifying experience for many who can just not naturally follow white male western defined standards of “normality”.

Dis) You’ve been running a number of peaceful protests in the city – how has the public responded to these events?

The public has been amazing!!!! We have been so touched by the support from the public and have been amazed by the level of support we have received. Ive never been on a demonstration where strangers have believe in the cause so much they have taken up a placard and walked the streets with us! The large mental health charities and the media bang on about this huge stigma there is about mental ill health but in reality we question if that is the reality – what better way to control a group of people than spread the myth that everyone thinks they are “mad, bad and dangerous” ? Its something to reflect upon! The greatest realisation we had after speaking to the public was that nearly everyone has had their lives touched personally by mental health and that they had a particularly awful treatment or hadnt been able to receive any help at all – this is what makes us determined to carry on our work.

hear see speak

Dis) Michael, you had some very clear themes that ran through the shoot but before we discuss these, what was your hope for these images?

(M) My general hopes for the images would be that they would communicate a level of anger, while still maintaining being trapped, and masked. There had to be a satirical undertone to the photos as well (considering the circumstances under which the money has been taken from Derbyshire Voice, I chose the Guy Fawkes mask for this as it already has a pre-existing meaning).

Dis) symbols of political revolution, death as well as the infamous see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil maxim were clearly defined within the context of the images produced. Why did you choose to utilise this particular set of themes?

(M) I was given a lot of leeway with what the pictures were actually supposed to be – I changed the topic in my pictures from “hear no evil, Speak no evil, see no evil” to “Hear No Evil, Speak no evil, see evil” as it seemed to fit more with the situation –
Hear no evil – people with mental health problems in Derby face losing the only service that listen.
Speak no evil – we were being stopped at every turn trying to arrange the protest, so in the end we just went and did it.
(Also, the name of the campaign was “No Voice, No Hope”, so this fitted in nicely).
See evil – The closure of such an important service, and the lack of care and support from the council / social services etc. Seeing the council waste £32m on a renovation that wasn’t even needed.

(C) I gave Michael the brief – “Speak your truth even if your voice shakes”  and he ran with it and interpreted it in his own wonderful way! I believe that there are many ways and mediums to communicate our message and that visual communication is often more affective than verbal diatribes – images have a power that often exceed words and have an ambiguity that can be personally interpreted by the viewer and stimulate a reaction in a very different way. The images will be printed in our next magazine and I am so proud and thankful for the two creative people that spent time and energy to work with us to achieve this.

Dis) Catherine, can you explain a little more about the importance of DV and what it’s continued future means to mental health service users in the area?

(C) Derbyshire Voice is more important to people than we realised! Almost anyone that has sought mental health support or received treatment against their will in a psychiatric unit will tell you that the services are abusive and often very damaging. I was personally treated against my will and still live with the trauma of that experience. We try to work in partnership with those who run services to help them to understand the support people need and to improve the quality of what they provide so that it helps rather than damages people. As the recession hits mental ill health and emotional distress are on the rise yet the services available are being cut at the time more people need them – we believe that the work we do is more important than it has ever been.


Dis) How have Derbyshire council responded to the wave of protests in the area – have they discussed the issues surrounding the budget cuts and provided any plausible reasons for these cuts to be made?
(C) Derby City council have not yet responded to any of my communications! We have however secured over 4000 signatures on our petition and the council must now have a debate about Derbyshire Voice on the 30th January. This is only the second time ever that a group has achieved this and I am hoping that the strength of feeling will go some way to make the council realise that we are important and they must continue to invest. I dont believe the proposal has been thought through as they dont even have our name correct in their budget proposal report and describe as a youth service!

Dis) Have they addressed the issues of funding related to their new build council house costing them an estimated 30 million pounds?

(C) No the issues relating to their 30 million quids council offices have not been addressed – they are now planning a velodrome for the city!

(M) The main justification for the cost of the council houses was a “Hydro Power Plant” that uses the river on the other side of the building, and the rental space they now had in there. “Modernizing” the site seemed to be the key to making their money back. But I haven’t heard anything else.

Dis) is there anything our readers can do?

(C) Im sure many of your readers have already helped by signing the petition (and thank you heaps Bristol lovelies!) but if people want to offer more support they can write to the council leader (Paul Bayliss) or any of the councillors prior to the meeting on the 30th January to express their support for Derbyshire Voice and the importance of mental health funding at this difficult time.

Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me and for giving me the opportunity to work on this project with you guys, I hope we can help and bring as much attention to this issue as possible. And to anyone reading this, please write in to Councillor Bayliss and make your opinion count!!!

The Derby County Council website is as follows:

For more information regarding Derbyshire Voice, the work that they do and for regular updates please visit:

Bile and Bruises