Yesterday, we had a call from the owner of that door, artist and latter-day dandy of some notoriety, Sebastian Horsley…
Horsley (above) is probably best known for two things – sex and crucifixion. The latter came about as a result of his desire to base his art on his own experiences. “How can you paint the crucifixion without being crucified?” he reasoned. And so, in 2000, he travelled to The Philippines with photographer Dennis Morris and artist Sarah Lucas in order to take part in a bizarre re-enactment ritual. The work that came out of Horsley’s gruesome experience is documented here.
And then there is the sex. In a piece for The Observer, for whom Horsley was to become a short-lived and typically controversial sex columnist, he claimed to have slept with 1000 prostitutes and to “have spent 25 years throwing my money and heart at tarts”. The piece also reveals that Horsley himself spent time as a male prostitute in London’s Shephard Market.
He continued his association with the world’s oldest profession at the Meard St address where he both works and has his studio. “I actually used to run a brothel out of there,” he tells CR, “but I stopped two years ago. I got robbed and people kept kicking the door in – it all got a bit out of control.”
Horsley says he had the sign made to keep prospective punters away and also as a kind of Dadaist piece. “It has been stared at and photographed for over two years. Partly because it was funny and partly because it is known as my door. It attracts people, makes them laugh and think and makes them photograph it. One such person was Mr Saville.” Never a shrinking violet, he says that the result is that “I feel I have been upstaged by my own front door.”
Horsley, however, is sure to return to prominence with the publication of his memoirs, Dandy in the Underworld, in September. As the PR blurb has it “From his childhood with an alcoholic mother who regularly attempted suicide, to his affair with a notorious Scottish gangster Dandy in the Underworld is the memoir of the most controversial artist and dandy in London. He has swum with sharks, made a million on the stock market, been a male escort, spent thousands on visiting prostitutes, and discovered the very unglamorous side of heroin and crack addiction.”
And he makes great signs.