Klickt man sich durch das Instagram-Portfolio von Klaus Wiekind, fühlt es sich an wie eine spacige Reise durch Vergangenheit und Zukunft – stets begleitet von hocherotischem Content, der unter die Haut geht. Dadurch wurden auch wir auf ihn aufmerksam, schließlich ist es nicht alltäglich, wenn es jemand dermaßen ästhetisch aussehen lassen kann, sich selbst in den Mund zu urinieren. Der 23-Jährige lebt und arbeitet in Paris, macht Porn und Performt bei der Clubreihe “Kindergarten”. Aus seinen Arbeiten lassen sich immer wieder Kritik am gesellschaftlichen Mainstream und den festgefahrenen Strukturen in der Gay-Community lesen. Diese Haltung spürt man auch im Interview, das er uns kürzlich gegeben hat…
Your recent work is heavily themed towards isolation and the whole staying at home thing.
How are you coping with the situation?
Being quite of a loner, the lockdown didn’t feel like much of a change to me. But after a while I found myself craving for intimacy and human company and I realized how much I relied on these to maintain my self-esteem. I think intimacy and community are two really important things for queer people to thrive, as rejection and insecurity are a big part of our journeys. Chosen families and communities act as support systems, lovers help with self-worth. Both of which have been taken away from us, leaving us way more vulnerable to old demons resurfacing. With this crisis, isolation took a whole new meaning, with way heavier consequences on my peer’s mental health so I knew I had to twist that into a more tangible and helpful way. I have never been more productive actually!
Did you really hang down all your mirrors like you said on Instagram?
I actually did, yes! I woke up one day with the biggest rush of self-loathing and couldn’t even bear the sight of myself. My bed being surrounded by three big mirrors, i freaked out, took them all down, and covered the four others in my hallway. While I usually overload myself with mirrors to keep me framed, suddenly they only made everything feel way too real to handle.
You are a club kid. How much do you miss going out at night? Do you have planned something special for a comeback the party series called “Kindergarten” that you are part of after this crisis is over?
I miss it as much as I miss hugging my friends and fucking with strangers. As I said, a sense of community is a rather big part of queer mental health. And to me, a lot of this came through clubbing. Familiar faces all joined together, in a space where we make our own rules and we can be free and have fun. Losing yourself on the dancefloor and letting your body be swallowed by the hundreds of others, sweat mixing together as one and forgetting everything for a moment. I think un-marginalized people don’t realize how crucial and important this was for many of us, just to pull through hard times. As of Kindergarten, it’s still impossible to say since nothing is being done to help nightlife and cultural events. We’re completely blind as to what the future will look like, and it’s heartbreaking to see all the clubs we loved being put into such financial struggles. Those were homes to us. But i’m sure we’ll find ways to get back on track when this is all over.
“I’ve been very vocal about my addiction to porn, and how I used it (both as a creator and a consumer) as a way to escape my own gender and sexual struggles – only to end up losing myself even more.”
The porn you make is very different from what is perceived gay mainstream – what is your main intention by creating the kind of art that you do?
Porn is a really powerful yet dangerous tool, as it doesn’t only provide visuals to what viewers desire, but simultaneously shapes their desires as well.. I think many queer people, because of the lack of actual sex education or representation, used porn as a way of discovering and educating themselves, which is great to a certain extent. But it’s not news that porn, or at least mainstream porn, is a very reductive image of the way we fuck – of how we could or should fuck and who to do it with – of how to feel and how to perform – even of how to look. In short, Porn is a rough cut that lacks perspective, lacks a voice and basically mutes the tremendous political and social power of sex.
I’ve been very vocal about my addiction to porn, and how I used it (both as a creator and a consumer) as a way to escape my own gender and sexual struggles – only to end up losing myself even more. The constant exposure to over-performative bodies fucking in perfectly choreographed sodocracy only made me feel even more inadequate. It’s been two years since I’ve stopped consuming porn entirely, and I’ve just started getting back to making it, but my intentions remain the same: Explore the emotional realm and the many dynamics of power that go on behind all the sweat and the moans, through a queer perspective. To try and shape new perspectives of desire without glossing over the struggles, the insecurities, the shame. To present sexuality not just as mechanics, but as a way of thinking identity, roles, and power, as a way of opening up conversations on taboos, on kinks, on fears.
You rock this over-the-top-alien-look.
What’s your inspiration and what do you try to embody?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been looking to get a grasp on who I am and where I fit, whether it’s about gender, sexuality, mental health or even social behaviour, without much of a success to be honest. But in drag I’ve found something that I couldn’t find anywhere else, not even in photography: A possibility to embody glimpses of queer identities I relate to, and even create new versions of them, without having to put any label on it, and more importantly, in an ever-changing way. Man, woman, non-binary, dom, sub, switch side, whatever, they’re all great if you resonate with them. But in a weird way, I find a better sense of identity, of belonging, in a yellow hankie coming out of backpocket, in the sound of vinyl tight on the body, in the weight of a padlock, or the vibrance of pink. Basically all those little artefacts, those pieces of sexual expression that shaped the visual vocabulary of queer existence through history, rearranged in order to create new ways of being, and new ways of being turned on.
You seem to integrate a lot of aspects between hypermasculinity and feminine appearance in your photos, your looks and your fashion. How do you perceive, live and express gender, stereotypes and masculinity?
I’m quite aware of my obsession with (hyper)masculinity, as I find it both terrifying and insanely appealing, much like a good horror movie villain. Over-confidence, allowed assault, over-bearing leadership and at the same time complete submission to orders, over-performativity, ultra endurance mixed with a total shutdown of emotions – I could go on and on about how sociopathic « manliness » is. It’s always been a tricky conversation when I’m asked why I tend to use my drag to express mainly male visions. However, I am also aware that the current growth of drag in its feminine form comes not only from a place of better exposure for cisgender men but also that, in some ways, drag in its feminine form tends to reinforce the patriarchal idea that femininity is a pile of artifices slapped onto a «lacking body» to make it whole, while masculinity is essential, instinctive, simply by default.
To be completely honest, i don’t think i’ve ever struggled as much with being feminine than with being a man. There is an idea of power, brutality and violence, but also of disposability anchored in the idea of being a man that always struck me. Maybe even more in gay culture! But I’ve started growing as a queer individual solely when I faced the fact that masculinity is as much of a patriarchal construct as femininity – and the fact that people tend to read me as male while I’m using as much makeup, artifices, body-modifying pieces, accents and poses doesn’t say anything about me. It simply shows that what you may perceive as a default setting is as much a collage of illusions as gender in itself. Only then could I start playing with this illusion, and what better way to do so than with stereotypes, as they are so comfortable, so easy to read, and so easy to break. At this point, I don’t even consider my work to be a play on gender per se, but rather a play on power, with a tight focus on redefining submission as the strongest power move.
Your first picture on Instagram shows your beaten up face. The caption says “More of a punishment than a hate crime”. How can we understand that?
Which ways do we have to go against homophobia?
The night I got beaten up by four guys in my building hall, the first questions I got from my family were: “What were you wearing?” and “Did you have makeup on?” As if this would justify the aggression and helped them getting a grasp on why it happened. The truth is, this was one of the rare nights when I was completely bland-looking. Just a white t-shirt and black shorts. Not even that short, knee-length! And that was actually the most traumatizing and hardest part to process. We think, as queer people, that it’s sometimes safer to “tone it down”, just to get from place A to place B, and then let it all out. But that night, the wake-up call was loud and clear: The way I looked, the way I dressed or the amount of makeup did not matter. My existence was somehow enough of a reason to unleash such violence upon me. And it truly didn’t feel like a hatred lash-out or a vicious display of aggression, but much more like a reminder that this is not my territory: “You do not belong here, and you should be punished for being who you are.” And getting over that feeling was probably one of the hardest things I had to do. Bruises heal way faster than the mind. But it is crucial that we keep going, and fighting, otherwise we let them win. Fighting through mindful representation, through education, through pride and visibility. And most of all: abolish patriarchy.