Studio Visit & Smoothies with Rocky Angel
By Heather Rosner
I met Rocky at JOY’s, Radioactive Swamp art show. Chris DOGT (Defenders Of Good Times!) sent a text asking if Rocky Angel could paint faces that evening; however, there was one caveat, he painted nude. I laughed & said, “as long as the children are gone”.
The moment Rocky Angel walked in, the gallery was empty because the crowd had gravitated into the garden to watch the Slow Poisoner’s performance, providing an intimate introduction. I believe he was wearing cut off jean shorts & red cowboy boots. Rocky’s face was painted pink and his head adorned in a pink bandana. He was intimidating but shockingly gentle in nature. I touched his exposed thigh and told him he had nice legs. After getting him settled into his face painting area we didn’t engage much. Later, I looked up his art and it was impressive.
Rocky’s oil paintings are brightly colored yet darkly introspective and otherworldly. They contain religious undertones, sexuality, and cosmic scenes with spaceships & extra terrestrials. Rocky’spaintings catch your eye, but it’s the content that captivates andleaves you wondering what the fuck you’re looking at. They appear to have a multi dimensional, non linear narrative. Each painting is titled too, one fascinating title worth mentioning, The Rainbow Demon Goes Cruising in Response to a Love Vibration Transmission.
Rocky lives & makes art in Oakland, California. I visited him in his studio on a beautiful warm and sunny Wednesday afternoon, which happened to fall on International Women’s Day. I walked up and called him as instructed, but upon arrival another girl was waiting to be let inside the building. Rocky came down in full face paint, a bandana, & t shirt with no underwear. The girl moved aside and giggled, “this must be for you”. We both laughed.
When we walked into Rocky’s studio a wave of heat hit us, it was definitely a comfortable temperature for painting nude. Rocky took off his shirt as to begin painting where he left off before my arrival. I stood there nervously smiling, while trying to normalize the situation in my head. The music was cathartic if not relaxing. Rocky asked me if I wanted to touch him, I politely declined and he teasingly reminded me that I touched him on my own accord the night we met at the gallery.
We discussed CFNM (Clothed Female Naked Male) and voyeuristic/ exhibitionist relationships while I was on all four cleaning up the gifted Vitamin Water I spilled on the carpet (not awkward at all). I told him about a costly adult content performance art show I’d like to get a grant for and he got very excited. There’s no way to hide excitement when you’re nude. While Rocky painted, I looked around at all of his cool treasures and took photos. We discussed music, religion, art & UFO’s.
A bit later we drove to the Castro to get smoothies at Green Surge. Rocky treated me to a delicious smoothie and a couple European tourists took photos of us. We sat in the sunshine & drank our delicious smoothies while I watched people ogling us, taking in all that is Rocky Angel.
I got home and felt inexplicably weird. My comfort zone had been penetrated. I met a true uninhibited freak, living naturally and unapologetically. The experience was slightly uncomfortable, maybe because of my own normative values, but I wished it hadn’t been. I wish I were more comfortable with my own body image & vulnerability. In the following days I questioned my own prejudices regarding fetishes & norms. The experience left me striving to be more open minded & accepting of a lifestyle I originally knew nothing about. This is how we grow, right?
Last we left off you were on your way to a UFO convention in Joshua Tree where you were going to paint nude. You were working on a painting titled, Visitor From Atmospheria. Did you have a good time? How did it go? Any good stories you can share?
The UFO convention was in L.A., and it was fun. A regional director of MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) was there and I got to tell him about the experience described in a question below. The plan was not for me to paint there, but at Giant Rock in Joshua Tree. I ended up doing the painting performance in the courtyard of a clothing optional inn in Palm Springs. Just as I had finished setting up and begun mixing colors a guy who was doing some work there pointed his drill at me and said, ”Hey, mothersticker, this is a fuck up!“ It struck me so funny that he told me about the time he did that at a supermarket checkout with a banana and the cashier couldn’t stop laughing.
Your paintings include UFO’s and Alien creatures. I read about your childhood hit & run by a UFO in your Broadly interview. You mentioned that you buried it because the adults didn’t believe you. We briefly discussed it, would you care to elaborate more on it now?
There’s not much more to tell about it. I was outside playing with the other children, ran toward a tree that I think was bare, and saw a glowing white ball in the sky. As soon as I noticed it, it swooped down really fast, was about the size of a large marble, and hit me in my right eye. I ran inside and told the adults what happened. They didn’t believe me, but acknowledged that my eye was red and swollen.
What inspires to you to make art?
My creative energy has been there as long as I can remember. Art is something I just took to naturally.
Historically face painting can be traced back to neanderthals; it has a rich cultural history, along with a theatrical & carnival element too. How did you start painting faces?
I started doing it long ago, for my performance art. On some level, I can identify with both neanderthals and highly evolved beings, and I love theatrical and carnival atmospheres.
Wearing face paint while being nude seems like it could be a mask or disguise, do you feel it gives you a sense of anonymity?
It gives me some sense of anonymity, but also allows me to create characters and personas on top of it. Many people tell me they’re more used to seeing me with the face paint.
Do you care if your nudity makes people uncomfortable?
I care, but I’m not going to let their hangups change who I am. I hope to be a part of a liberation of the planet that causes them to not feel that discomfort. Body freedom is the personal liberty from which all others spring forth, because it is the most personal and innate.
You became a nudist at a young age but you had to keep it hidden, how did you realize your desire to liberate yourself from clothing & make it into performance art?
I kept it hidden sometimes, but not always. Liberating myself from clothing happened pretty naturally, as I realized clothes sometimes made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t until many years later that I thought of making it a part of performance art.
You love the Oakland Raiders and go to every home game. What will you do when the Oakland Raiders leave the Bay?
I went to every home game, but now that they’re leaving they’re not getting any more of my money. I won’t help fund the relocation. I may still watch a game on TV now and then, but that’s about it. The NFL and pro sports in general will be a much smaller part of my life.
You have stellar taste in music, what are you listening to right now?
Thank you! Right now I’m listening to Sun Ra - ‘Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Volume 1’ (1970). I especially love the last tune,“Cosmic Explorer”.