BEVERLY HILLS—The Maximillian Gallery at the Sunset Marquis Hotel on Alta Loma Street was still crowded when we arrived at 8:30 Saturday night to see the first showing of now-famed Los Angeles street artist DeeKay, but despite distractions from the giant grafitti'd- and pasted-up electric guitar and a similarly-adorned sidewalk newspaper box, we had no trouble locating our target: She looked exactly like Kylie Ireland, veteran porn star.
The showing, which will run through June 30, is titled "What Graffiti is to New York, Street Art is to Los Angeles," and it's sponsored by the blog MelroseAndFairfax, which bills itself as "A celebration of street art in Los Angeles." But how Ms. Ireland came to the site's attention is a story in itself.
"What happened is, I recently got married to The Andy Appleton, and he has always had a thing for street art," Ireland/DeeKay explained. "And he's English, so obviously, American street art is different than English street art. He started a little blog, BombedOutLA.com, and I kind of became the defacto photographer, because I've been a photographer for like ten years, but I've never really shared it with the public. But being as my whole world is out there for everyone to see, including parts of me I don't even get to see in person, you know, and with the radio show and everything, everything is out there, so I kind of kept my photography as something just for me. But when I started doing these pictures, I started realizing that there's a street art that is 'we paste,' which is basically putting a poster on a wall, and I started thinking, 'I could do that with my signs.'
"So I started pasting up some of my motel signs from my own photography," she continued, "and then just for fun, I started throwing up some pictures of myself from box covers—some of the first ones I used were from VCA, from Uninhibited Girl—and I would lay myself on top of the sign, or lean myself against it, and I'd just go out and paste them up on the street, and next thing I knew, MelroseAndFairfax, the blog—I think they're the second biggest blog in the world—they noticed my stuff on Melrose, and asked me if I would do an interview that they were working on with Art TV. I did that; it's supposed to come out in September, but that's when it came out that DeeKay was also Kylie Ireland, so that was everywhere, and then MelroseAndFairfax, they curated this show and asked me to be in it."
Ireland has just five pieces in the exhibit, each featuring the redhead or her anime persona, and by 9 o'clock Saturday evening, she'd already sold two of them—so of course we asked where we could find more of her work?
"I do it all over LA," she said, seemingly unaware of the double entendre. "I've done a lot of pieces on Melrose; I know there's a couple still lurking out there. It really depends on how quickly you get there, because the thing about street art is that it goes so fast; it's such a temporary thing. I've done quite a few downtown because I've been working down where I used to live, the Fallout Shelter—we've been working on Star Wars XXX, so at night, I've usually been sneaking out and I'll go put a couple of pieces down there. There's one on the front of that building, as a matter of fact. In the Arts District, I've put a lot there.
"Mostly, people have asked me, 'Why are you doing this? This is vandalism,' but I tend to stick to places where it's okay—and anyway, it's temporary," she explained. "It's just really strange, because it's not like I had a plan to do this; it was just sort of a, 'Look, I'm gonna do this,' and I just started pasting them up, and it looked cool and I was having fun and it's exciting because you get to sneak around at night, and it was great because Andrew my husband and I would go out and sneak around and paste these things up. And it's kind of exciting because you're vaguely breaking the law, and we'd do it and go home and have great sex, so we started doing it more and more and more, and so really, that's why I did it: I did it for great sex!"
"Well," she said, "everybody asks me, 'What's your meaning? What does it mean?' Because so many people have a political message or they're trying to say something, and I don't really have that. I'm doing it because it's... fun? I mean, you could say that with a question mark, because I'm really not trying to send a message; I'm just going, 'Hey, look: A chick with a cool sign.'"
The images are usually from her vast collection of photos of "sleazy, seedy" motel signs, but the gallery showing is new territory for her.
"This is different," she admitted. "I mean, doing street art on the streets is one thing; it's quick; it's you go, you paste it, you run away. Pasting it on canvas is weird; it's a different form of medium, and being in a show is really weird, because I've never fancied myself as an artist—which is not right, because technically, Kylie Ireland is an artist. I'm a photographer. I've done porn, which is art. I've directed movies, which is art. I care about what goes into it. I've done art direction on a lot of movies like Upload and Corruption and 8th Day; that's art. Wait till you see Star Wars: We built a land speeder. That's art. I told the owner of the gallery, I said, 'I'm gonna bring that land speeder in and I'm gonna sit it in the middle of your gallery.'"
But doing street art is apparently also infectious.
"Zoe Voss has started hanging around downtown with us, and she's started doing street art because we were all kind of playing with it on the set," DeeKay stated. "She's started doing stencils and spraying them, and we all went out and we art-bombed underneath the Sixth Street Bridge the other night; her and Aiden [Starr] and Ashley, her friend, and me and Andy and Brian Street Team—we all went out and did a bunch of grafitti underneath the Sixth Street Bridge; it was fun! So Zoe Voss is now going to be a street artist as well, so we're spawning street artists—so watch out!"
Those not in the Los Angeles area who are interested in seeing photos of DeeKay's art can click over to her website here.
But what about Ireland's porn career?
"I haven't been doing a whole lot of it lately; mostly girl/girl stuff," she said. "I don't know why; it comes in phases. Lately, it's been a lot of the 'older girl teaching the younger girl the ways of the flesh' sort of thing. It's what I'm into now. Later, who knows?"