Innuendo is the collaboration between Illuminate Steele and make up artist Ava Adore.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
What have you been up to creatively since we last spoke?
I finally finished my album “Davidian Sex Club”, and the feeling is so surreal. It is such a personal accomplishment for me, as it has always been my ongoing aspiration to leave a body of work that will represent my legacy when I leave this world. I have shot a video for every single song that is on this album, as it was important to me that the complete body of work for the project also possessed a complete visual aspect. Currently, I am once again packing up and headed to Montreal Fetish Weekend to guest DJ at several of the fantastic events that they have planned during the long Labour Day weekend. I also have a few performances scheduled in Toronto, where I will also be shooting the first half of my new upcoming single “Serotonin”. Promotion wise, I run a music event in Minneapolis called Wavelength_MSP, which I am in the midst of promoting various upcoming events for. Film wise, I’ve been learning how to shoot on 16mm film with my newly obtained KRM 70, and hope to have my short film completed by December. I am in the midst of putting together a mini-tour for late spring next year, but I am currently in need of a little R&R. Maybe when I get back from Toronto, I can finally head out to Catalina Island and get my scuba re-certification completed. A girl can dream…
For your video ‘Innuendo (version II)’, you worked with makeup artist Ava Adore. Tell how this collaboration came together:
Last year the original version of “Innuendo” was shot; it featured the extraordinarily talented and beautiful Elektra Cute. It turned out that when that particular version was released, it proved to be too much “Innuendo”. In fact, most music publications refused to feature it because they thought it was “too risque” even though the video featured no nudity whatsoever. It kept getting banned on YouTube, and I hate to admit it, but I took it very personal. The vision for the first version was something that I created, was very passionate about, and worked really hard with the director of photography Scott Hoffman to create. No other individual but Elektra Cute had the experience, persona, and allure to nail each scene for that particular shoot, and the receptivity that it received was very upsetting, unjust and prudish. Nonetheless, I chose to shoot an alternate version of the video that had a heavy Lilith concept to it, because I felt that it was important to recognize and embrace the true depth of power that femininity possesses. The raw sexuality of Lilith is dark, passionate, destructive and unfathomably beautiful. It is the kind of power that has destroyed civilizations, spurring on the lust of men to possess and conquer. I needed this aspect to be strongly highlighted and visually accentuated in the video. That’s where I came to the realization that Ava Bohar would be the only person that could assist me in clearly obtaining the dark Lilith personification. I had seen her work in shoots with various local models throughout the Twin Cities, and I have always admired her vision and expression of “dark beauty”. She is a true conduit of everything that “Dark Beauty” could mean or represent. Her work is impeccable, original and exists in a league of its own. The crazy thing is her talent defies her young age, which highlights just how gifted she really is. I can honestly say that I am a true fan of her work and look forward to creating with her in the future. I would also like to recognize the raw sexuality, magnetism and showmanship of the lovely Dotty Staccato. The video would not possess the power that it does without her or her fire. She actually caught me off guard a few times with all of her raw passion and beauty while we were shooting! Dotty Staccato is a definite powerhouse of passion, performance and beauty. Support your local burlesque scene <3
Written/Directed/Edited Illuminatè Steele
Director of Photography Scott Hoffman
Video Model Feature Dotty Staccato
Hair/Makeup/Body Paint: Ava Bohar
You took the role as director, how was this experience for you?
I have always taken the reigns as the director and editor for all of my videos (except for Desire By Design, which was directed by Scott Hoffman). I’ve always felt that it was imperative my essence be present in every aspect of creation, as I’m trying to release my vision/message in the most unfiltered, uncut and potent way to the masses. It’s my life-force purpose to communicate, and without some sort of knowledge of how to utilize the tools that are involved in that process, I am not effective as a communicator or artist. I regret that I never finished my degree in cinematography at the Art Academy of San Francisco in 2009. So, besides the informal courses and apprenticeships that I have received from mentors, I’m self taught through trial, error and circumstance. I’m thankful for all of the unofficial mentors that I’ve had in my life that were passionate and kind enough to share their knowledge with me. I could say that I officially got my start in media during the DC ’08 Obama era. I moonlighted as an underground graphic designer making promotional material and shooting/editing footage of local bands in the DC underground music scene. At that time, I’d mastered Final Cut Pro, and all of the software programs that ran all of the industrial plotters where I used to work while I was enlisted and working on the military base. I would drive to the base in the middle of the night, sneak in through a window, make coffee, put Skinny Puppy on and operate all of the production equipment that we used for strategic mapping. I had the best prices in DC, and everyone knew that I could provide unbelievable monster size promo flyers for a quarter of the normal going price. I had the punks, the Ethiopian jam bands and even the indie kids hitting me up for service. I had a dear friend/mentor “Seanny Baby”who was a local DC photographer in the 80s, who had done a bunch of photo work with Bad Brains, Butthole Surfers and X. He taught me the old school punk way of “midnight hijacking”, where you would go out with these huge promo posters, industrial glue + gloss and put them everywhere where potential clientele would see the advertisement… and of course if anyone wanted the promo gone off the side of the building, they would have to paint over it. With two people, I would say the application and placement for a 3-footer would probably take like 10 seconds. I never hijacked a billboard, but I did fantasized about it often back then. These days, my ongoing secret fantasy is to pull off a shoot of a modern day version of Duran Duran’s “The Chauffeur”. Unfortunately, each time I have tried to do it, the planning always falls through. I think that is the universe’s way of telling me to dig deeper in order to create my own original material, which I continue to do whether it is through story boarding a concept, directing, editing or writing, producing and performing new material.
Hello Ava, we just saw so much of your wonderful artistry. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a Makeup Artist from Minneapolis, MN. I specifically like to do Body Painting, SFX, and darker art. I always say the body is a canvas and might as well utilize it to the fullest potential. Self expression is important to the soul. I’m trying to mostly do films as a makeup artist. I mostly focus on hand painting body paint and also working with airbrushes. I use water activated makeup for most of my creations like Mehron Cosmetics and IWATA. Inspiration comes from old school horror films to patterns and designs from lace; inspiration comes randomly. My dream gig would to be working with Tim Burton or SFX Artist Ve Neill. The message I am trying to convey is love the skin you’re in and to always be open for self expression. The events I have coming up is my booth at Cryption which is a local horror convention. The kind of projects I’m working on is more SFX makeup based and using more prosthetics while incorporating body painting as well.
Ava, what was it like to work with Illuminate Steele?
Illuminate Steele is one of the kindest individuals and talented artists I’ve ever met. She’s so supportive in my art and it makes me feel more open in the art community. She works hard everyday through music and events. For the music video, she was very professional and brought forth awesome ideas for the makeup artistry and Gothic visual elements in her music video. She is wonderful to collaborate with and I’d do it again times a million. I’m always trying to be creative every single day in many forms and I’m proud to say working with people like Illuminate in this industry makes everything more fun and seeing the final results is the best part.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you now?
Dark beauty is the essence of finding the art in the shadows, to be intrigued by the macabre and unusual. Dark beauty is a beautiful form of self expression and interest.
Photo credits Lars Kommienezuspadt and Zoe Prindz