Friday, January 9, 2009

Dirty Dirty Ho Ho Ho

"The old elf has surfaced often in McCarthy's oeuvre, from the outrageous fecal-smearing bacchanalia of the mid-'90s Tokyo Santa (1996) and Santa Chocolate Shop (1997), to an entire series of recent sculptural works based on a Santa figure holding aloft a tree-like butt plug. This latter series culminated in Chocolate Santa (2007), McCarthy's warped take on entrepreneurship in the form of a fully functioning "Chocolate Santa with Butt Plug" factory, churning out $100 gift boxes at a rate of 1,000 a day in New York's Maccarone Gallery.

"I did the whole thing in two months," recalls McCarthy with disbelief. After refitting the gallery so that it passed the Board of Health, he made the mold, found a chocolatier, set up a company, and found people who "knew how to make this stuff." Then, he says, "I hired an ad agency and put ads in Vanity Fair and other magazines." McCarthy laughs. "It looked like success, but I always thought it would be a company that would fail financially — and it did. There was this thing in Artforum about how much money I was going to make and how I had sold out. They calculated that I was going to sell 30,000." He ended up selling around 1,600. "I have about 12,000 in storage, packed in shredded Artforums."

Around the same time, McCarthy turned his venture-capital attention to an even larger yuletide commercial failure. "Last year I tried to buy a Santa's Village by Lake Arrowhead," he says. The dilapidated village — part of a '50s-era franchise of Santa theme parks in California and Chicago — opened in the mountains just outside LA in 1955, six weeks before nearby Disneyland opened its doors. "I was planning on just treating it as a sculpture," McCarthy says. "I had plans for making films there, then operating parts of it." Although he did sneak in to take photographs, the project was never realized."

Read the rest of Santa's Little Helper (I just realized MP had put it online!) here.

Just got back from a week up near Chico on the Hi Good shoot. More to follow!

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