Porn stars want to be painted. At least, that appears to be the case for New York artist Julio Aguilera. After completing portraits of Adam & Eve contract star Carmen Luvana, demand for space on Aguilera's canvas has skyrocketed, and the artist couldn't be more excited. The same could be said for the starlets with whom he is working.
To date, two stars have agreed to join Luvana. Alley London of HighCountryHonnies.com became the second to work with Aguilera, and Ninn Worx_SR contract star Sophia Lynn has agreed to be the third. Currently, Ginger Lee is in talks with Aguilera.
Aguilera is pleased with the surge in interest, as his plan was never to stop after painting Luvana. The artist is fascinated by what adult entertainers represent and how they portray it.
"Their job is to show fantasy, every time they get on stage or in front of a camera," he explains.
He feels that this role in our culture is important and that the adult entertainer is just the latest manifestation of the sexual performer. In fact, it was this realization that caused him to take a look at the past, specifically at Pablo Picasso's "Les Demoiselles of Avignon," or "Ladies of Avignon."
Understanding what it means to be an adult entertainment star, particularly as the latest iteration of the sexual entertainer, drove Aguilera to begin the porn star portraits project. The artist has always been influenced by Picasso, but this time, he is reacting to the limitations of his role model. "Ladies of Avignon," according to Aguilera, needs to be updated.
"It worked for the beginning of the 20th century, but times have changed," he says. "Porn stars have replaced Picasso's ladies, and it's my job to paint it."
Picasso's prostitute painting turned 100 in 2007, which did influence Aguilera's thinking. After a century at the top, he says, it is time for a new view of the taboo.
The project is beginning with individual portraits, Aguilera says, so he can get to know each of the stars. But it will culminate in a large painting with five performers, reminiscent of Picasso's "Ladies."
"It will look nothing like Picasso's piece," Aguilera says. "The women we lust after today need a new style of art to capture their beauty."
Aguilera has not chosen the five women who will be used for the final painting, and he refuses to give any hints.
"I'm still looking around," he says, "but I do have a few ideas."
Aguilera's geometric style relies on aggressive brushstrokes that leave ridges on the canvas. The result is a textured painting that brings the subject to life, and hard angles reflect a three-dimensional quality. Because Aguilera mixes the paint on the canvas, the colors that result are truly unique. The colors blend elements of the painting which are then segmented by the geometric characteristics.
To kick off the project, Aguilera started with a figurative study of Carmen Luvana before moving to the geometric version. The paintings highlight the contrast between inner and outer appearance. Heat radiates from the study ("Hot Carmen"), while the edgy geometric version portrays the challenges of the performer's lifestyle.
"Aguilera's an amazing artist," Luvana says. "I couldn't take my eyes off ‘Hot Carmen.'"
Alley London is the first online star to join Aguilera's portfolio of subjects. Using a partially disrobed photos of London in the woods, he is going straight to the geometric style.
"Alley gave me some great material to work with," Aguilera says with a smile. "I can do a lot with the way her jeans blend into the background, not to mention the angles made by her legs and arms."
Already, Aguilera is carving London into geometric pieces.
"I absolutely love Julio's work," London says. "He has an amazing eye."
London says some of her co-stars at HighCountryHonnies.com are interested in posing for the Venezuelan-born artist.
Ginger Lee has tentatively agreed to participate, and Sophia Lynn is fully on board.
"I've never done anything like this before," Lynn explains, "and I just had to try it."
In a market where traditional methods of promotion have been exhausted, she was excited to see a new idea.
Lynn is in good company with that view. An investment banker with a prestigious firm (who would comment only on condition of anonymity) agrees that the adult entertainment market desperately needs new ideas. A bear market for porn begs for a different approach. With the likelihood of negative growth looming for 2007, he probably is correct. Aguilera's porn star portraits could expand the base of porn consumers while bringing the industry into the mainstream in an innovative way.
So far, the key to Aguilera's success has been his track record. Aguilera has been painting since he was a child and selling investment-grade art for more than 25 years. Undeniably, he is a serious artist, with paintings commanding more than $10,000 each (often, much more).
A lesser artist would have been snubbed, especially because the industry tends to keep outsiders at arm's length.
"Julio had to be a talented artist for me to work with him," Lynn explains. "I need to know that this project will get results."
The paintings of Luvana prove that Aguilera is off to a great start. The line of stars waiting to be immortalized is likely to keep growing.