“Oh ‘ello there. Welcome to me humble home. Care for a spot of tea? Jeeves! Put a pot on for these lovely readers and make it snappy! *snaps feathers* In the meantime, entertain yourselves with the above video and accompanying photos plus the story of, well, MOI.”
I see you’ve met Mr. Moon. He’s a sassy old boy, isn’t he? He did great last Friday at the Bellhouse where I submitted him as my entry for the 6th annual Carnivorous Nights Competition, hosted by M.A.R.T. and the Secret Science Club. While I have no photos of my presentation, I was wearing a black floor length ball gown from 1940 and my black rooster head-piece, along with some mink-tail arm cuffs for good measure. To provide a vague visual:
*photo compliments of Milica Schiavio
*photo compliments of Beth Tusso
That’s the lovely and endlessly talented Daisy Tainton seated next to me. I think our hairs make a pretty picture, yes? Her entry was an animatronic cat which played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” from its asshole.
Oh look! Found one:
*compliments od the Good Days blog.
But I digress. Back to Mr. Moon, who began his first stage of life as an extremely rare breed of chicken known as a Silkied Ameraucana. They began as a spontaneous genetic mutation resulting in these darling birds with fur-like feathers. There are only thirty or so of them in the country; if you’d like to learn more about the species, please see this lengthy conversation between breeders which documents their discovery.
While I was working on this mount, I was deep into a very thick biography of drummer Keith Moon. As the drummer for a band called the Beachcombers and later on The Who, he turned the traditional role of percussion on its head. Before he came along, a drummer’s role was to set up a steady foundation upon which the singer and guitarist could shine. Not content to be the audio version of wallpaper, Keith made himself into a frontman, a total fucking rock star in fact. He had the largest, most outrageous drum kit in the world and just beat the thing to death every night onstage. He broke the mold, not unlike this new species of chicken.
The downside to this breed is that they are short-lived. Something about their silky feathers (which make them so remarkable in the first place) not holding enough body heat to sustain them. Again, I drew parallels to Keith Moon and other famous young artists who perish so early in their lives: they are like these furiously burning comets just hurtling through life, bound to burn to death. What makes them so outstanding can also be their demise.
Since Mr. Moon was developing into a rock star rooster, I found it only fitting that he be completely embellished with genuine Swarovski crystals on his face and feet. And for some reason the bob cat glass eyes seemed fitting.
Anyway, while it’s tragic that these inexplicably magnetic beings expire so early in their lives, it shouldn’t go unsaid that while they are burning away, they are also lighting up the lives of anyone in their orbit.
So why not give Mr. Moon a second life as the most beautiful fiber-optic taxidermy lamp that ever existed? After all, the driving thrust behind my passion for this craft is the idea that I’m giving these wonderful creatures an eternal life, so to speak. Why not let him keep lighting up the lives of all whom he meets?
This was no easy task for me, as I’d never made a lamp before. It took some time, but I figured out how rig a bird form with hundreds of fiber optic threads, all emerging from several points, and then painstakingly taxied the skin onto the whole mess. There was much fenageling, but eventually I got the threads to sit just where I wanted them to. After trimming them all to the right lengths, I found a light source that was bright enough to make an impact after traveling through the cables but not so hot that it would melt them. Next up was finding the lamp/stand. I sourced an oldie from a second-hand shop nearby, rewired the whole thing (I’m a junior electrician now too!) and covered the glass panels in a patterned white brocade to mute the light. And, tada!
Good evening to you as well, Mr. Moon.
That was, give or take a few words, my entire presentation. I knocked it out of the park. I absolutely love being able to flex my showmanship muscles while flaunting something I’m so very proud of. I get such a rush from being on stage/performing, I can feel it all night. I guess I want to be a star too, kind of like Mr. Moon.
There were some other amazing pieces, I havent been able to find too much coverage online, but one young woman brought an entire beautifully mounted coyote named “Winnie” which would’ve taken a ribbon at any conventional taxidermy competition, no doubt. There was Nate Hill, ( known for his squirm-inducing Chinatown garbage taxidermy tours) tipping the gross-out scales with a live specimen tree-trimming presentation. There was an insect trapped in a chunk of amber that somehow still moved. The two-headed mouse with a top hat. I also missed several presentations while waiting backstage to go up but fortunately for you (and myself) this was all being filmed by a television crew. Not really sure what I am allowed to say without stepping on anyone’s dicks so I’ll just leave it at that and then post more when the show airs.
There was also a large dog with a monkey on its back and a whole smattering of other artifacts, as well as a mounted fox, also sporting a monkey on its back which was wielding a bottle opener. Why? Because the mount was concealing a beer cooler. But if you’re like me and hate the brew, fret not. The thing pissed whiskey too. (note to self: booze + taxidermy= crowd going apeshit). For photos of all the entries and a wrap up from a guest perspective, check out this Good Days blog by Sir Snuggles.
So who won? The pissing fox took Grand Master and the dog placed second, no shock there. I came in third which is still pretty rad. The competition was fierce and people really stepped up their game. I’ll just come back next year with an even more outstanding piece. Competitions are good for that; unlike client custom work, I really push myself to go out on a ledge and venture out of my comfort zone, skill-wise. I take risks, both conceptually and physically with the actual mount and pour my heart into it. I’m also extremely competitive and I hate losing. So long as I keep it in check, that can be a healthy driving force behind my growth as an artist.
I was at a complete loss of words while accepting my trophy, and muttered something like “feels like home” which I’m sure made no sense at all. What I was trying to convey is that, in the presence of the judges (whom I hold in the highest esteem), and my fellow taxidermy enthusiasts, I feel like I’m really home. It’s a unique feeling and I took a mental snapshot so I could hold onto it for when I get lonely in my little studio in south Philly.
We were ushered backstage to pose with our trophies for photos, and with the three of us left standing there after it all was over, I began to sense I was the third wheel in a bromantical masturbatory fest so I excused myself (not to one in particular as I was apparently invisible) and packed up my bird, extension cord, etc. When I emerged from backstage the entire show room was cleaned out, chairs folded, floor swept. I heaved a giant sigh.
The spell was broken.
Back to life.
In this instance, that means getting right back on the saddle for another quick jaunt up to NYC to knock out two of my Twenty4Twenty projects in one night. Stay tuned!