An Erotic Subversion of the Ultimate Amorous Icon from Creative Wunderkind Bart Hess
Sheath your arrows: the voluptuous red heart, international symbol of love, is reimagined in this a visceral new short by genre-defying Dutch artist Bart Hess. With echoes of high-tech fetish fashion and Jeff Koons’ contemporary pop art classic “Hanging Heart,” Hess’ latest video stages a Sapphic encounter from within crimson latex balloons. “I want to create a tension between the body and material—almost as though they become one,” says the multidisciplinary creative, whose work at the edge of sensation has included collaborations with Nick Knight and Lucy McRae, a neon fantasy for Tod’s and a head-to-toe slime outfit for the artwork to Lady Gaga’s last album Born This Way. Here Hess turns to fringe science, confessing a fascination with the mysterious phenomenon of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). “It’s a physical sensation that most people describe as a tingling in the head or a ‘brain orgasm’ that can be caused by all kinds of sounds,” he explains of the intense experience, which, if you believe its proponents, can be provoked by online uploads of mundane tasks. “One video that definitely triggers something with me is of a woman playing with a balloon. Together with an amazing team I translated the idea into my own short.”
What material are the balloons made from?
Bart Hess: They're actually just normal balloons, but giant. I wanted to create the feeling that the balloons were made of fluid metal, so we made them really shiny with loads of lube.
Could the models breathe in there?
BH: Yes, of course! We tested with the balloons for weeks to make sure it was safe. You can actually stay in there for about 10 minutes but for the shoot we only did takes of two minutes. We were really lucky with the models—they weren’t scared at all and knew how to pose, even with two-meter balloons on their heads.
Any risqué anecdotes from the set?
BH: We were shooting this amazing shot of the girls’ interaction. After some minutes I felt the models should get some fresh air. With my Dutch accent I said “Girls it is time to breathe now!” Awkwardly, the girls thought I said, “Girls, it is time to breed now!”
Angelica (left) wears rose gold scrapers by H&H, bodycon dress by Victoria Beckham; Alice (right) wears rose gold scrapers by H&H, satin bra by Eres, net bra (worn underneath) from American Apparel, bodycon underskirt by Wolford.
Liz Goldwyn Directs the Award-Winning Actor in a Dark Burlesque Portrait
Perched in a dreamy rose garden, a seductive and melancholic Jena Malone narrates this poetic 19th-century-inspired short by filmmaker and author Liz Goldwyn. Part of a series of works devoted to demystifying the sex industry, The Painted Lady casts the future Hunger Games: Catching Fire star—who made her name in Donnie Darko and Saved!—as a young woman who recalls an encounter with a lushly powdered call girl. As Malone's distinctive voice glides over the hazy footage, intercut shots transform her baby-faced ingénue into a defiant, colorfully made-up femme fatale against a floral backdrop. Only 21 when the vignette was filmed six years ago, the actor’s performance was informed by her own personal transformation at the time. “I was definitely a girl on the verge," explains Malone. "Liz had the sense to see the woman that was crystallizing inside of me. It felt comfortable and somewhat voyeuristic—like the woman I was to become was having a muse’s sitting with my younger self, asking her to remember things." Much like Goldwyn's acclaimed HBO documentary Pretty Things, an exploration of American Burlesque culture, The Painted Lady and its sister project, Sporting Guide, spark discussion of broad social issues, such how our view of the body impacts feminine identity. “In all the work that I do I'm promoting an intelligent conversation about sex,” the director explains. “Jena might look glamorous, but there's a lot of darkness in these stories.”
The Cosmetics Muse and Her Filmmaker Husband Test Their Cinematic Knowledge
Made up in Technicolor hues of acid pink, green and orange, supermodel Kristen McMenamy rides an emotional rollercoaster in this short for M·A·C’s new Reel Sexy makeup collection directed by husband Miles Aldridge. To bring to life Aldridge’s off-kilter imagery, M·A·C’s Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director James Gager cast McMenamy as the histrionic heroine for the meta-movie performance. “There is nothing that isn’t dramatic about Kristen, from her statuesque body and long gray hair, to the way she carries herself,” he says. “It was an amazing experience to watch her because she was literally watching nothing on the screen. She gave all this great emotion and was so much into it that she actually cried.” For the vivid palette, Gager took his cues from the larger-than-life world of Hollywood’s leading ladies who regularly use M·A·C makeup, whether on film sets, front covers or the red carpet. While McMenamy is made up in M·A·C’s trademark bold fashion, the products can be worn as sheer washes of pastel color too, says Gager: “It brings a sophistication to the look, and is perfect for springtime.” Here, McMenamy and Aldridge test their knowledge of each other’s cinematic leanings.
What would be the movie title to Miles/Kristen’s life?
Kristen: La Dolce Vita. He has watched the film a million times and it captures the essence of how Miles sees life: meaningful and meaningless at the same time and full of both love and emptiness, as well as beautiful women and continuous drama.
Miles: The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen, because of her renaissance.
And which movie star would you cast to play Miles/Kristen in the story of their life?
Kristen: Jim Carey would play him brilliantly, although Miles looks a bit like Tim Robbins, so if Carey is too expensive, I’d cast Robbins. Malcolm McDowell would be my third choice.
Miles: It would have to be somebody from the 1940s because Kristen’s skin has that pale quality to it that Hollywood actresses had from that era. Joan Crawford would be prefect.
What is Miles/Kristen’s favorite place to watch movies?
Kristen: His all time favorite cinema is the Everyman in Hampstead, London. He likes the posh artsy cinemas, where they give you olives and martinis. That is the difference between us—I love the cheap Cineplex theatres where you can smell the popcorn, get the pick ‘n’ mix and the big Diet Coke.
Miles: Probably the Everyman cinema in Hampstead. We’ve been going there since we first met. We have so much history there. We’ve been there when she was pregnant with kids, then with the kids… you know, taking them to see films like Hellboy…
Is Miles/Kristen more likely to laugh out loud or cry silently during a movie?
Kristen: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Miles cry watching a film. Laugh? Yes. He laughs the most when he watches a good funny film. He likes a sick moment… he likes the sick, funny moments
Miles: She’s very emotional, so I think a bit of both. But I’d expect a tear to roll down her cheek if it was a heavy romantic or emotional scene.
What’s on Miles/Kristen’s snack menu at the movies?
Kristen: He’s a beer and nuts kind of guy.
Miles: She’s a salty popcorn eater. The pink popcorn she eats in the M·A·C film was actually sprayed with paint and Kristen wasn’t meant to eat it. But nobody wanted to cut the action—she was so in character at that point—so we just let her eat.
If Miles/Kristen could adapt any novel into a screenplay, what would it be?
Kristen: He likes Martin Amis, so perhaps Experience [Amis’s autobiography]. As for me, I think they’ve got to do the Mötley Crüe biography The Dirt—it’s genius. It’s rock ‘n’ roll, drugs, sex and drama. When I read that book I was laughing and crying, it’s so touching, you wouldn’t believe it.
Miles: Maybe Tess of the d'Urbervilles, like a Thomas Hardy, rural sort of story… she likes those kinds of women.