Vulgarity, Vomit & Vanity: Scottee

Posted on 22 January 2009

London based performance artist, Scottee can seamlessly shift among many roles including that of a grotesque jelly-belly pregnant woman to a raging man with a balloon on his head known as “Big Head” and then he can become a strangely beautiful cabaret performer in a duo known as “The Tenor Ladies”.  His work investigates themes dealing with the twisted side of human nature, especially the dark and creepy side of femininity. The 23 year old has been called one of London’s most revolutionary performers by Time Out Magazine and he has garnered press in Dazed and Confused, ID and more.  This busy artiste’s work has also been featured in venues such as Royal Opera House and the legendary Roundhouse.

1. If you weren’t a performance artist/DJ what would you be?
An Avon Lady. I like women who attempt glamour on a shoe string budget. Avon is such a institution in the UK for working class women trying to reach above their station, they are usually plus sized, 40 something’s with set curls and pearls – which is basically what I aspire to.
As an avon lady you can also get away with an orange tan, wearing lilac twin sets and nosing about people’s houses – I mean what is there not to love about Avon? I’m also partial to a naff fragrance too.

2. Give an overview of how you conceive the characters that you become?
I’m really nosy so they usually come from people I’ve had brief encounters with or people I’ve sat next to on the train. I’m aware they are all very British. We have a long line of ‘eccentric’ characters in the UK from Oscar Wilde to Quentin Crisp but I prefer ‘The Unsung Wierdos’ – women who spend their life in floral, having plastic surgery and eating copious amounts of cake.
I’m also really inspired but perturbed by the dark side of femininity like domestic abuse, rape, illegal abortions etc. Most characters start with a basic idea, my Diet Coke break show came from 90′s adverts of New York women flocking to the office window at 11:30 to see a muscle boy drink his cola. I added this with the YouTube phenomena ‘Diet Coke & Mentos’ and built a story of housewife who gets up the duff by the Diet Coke boy and she ends up giving birth to a bottle —OBVIOUSLY!

3. How does fashion play into your shows:
I have a studio with Lee Benjamin (famed for his work with Leigh Bowery, Erasure & Jessica Ogden). We work together on developing my ideas around costume. Costume plays a big part in what I do as it usually has a function in the story line, birthing, abortion, vasectomy etc. Lee is fantastic and can make anything I need, which is also helpful when putting ideas together – I don’t need to limit any inspiration as i know Lee can make it happen. We are both very much put off by the world of ‘fashion’ so i wouldn’t say it informed my work but would like to say I inform fashion.

4. What has been your favorite show so far?
I really enjoy collaboration – I’ve been really lucky and been able to work with the people I have wanted from photographer Ellis Scott to cabaret duo Bourgeious & Maurice – who I adore working with. Its always nice to work with people with a sense of humor. My favorite show would be the current show I’m working on ‘Tenor Ladies’ with Sami Knight. We are both big girls and like a pie or two. We decided to work with each other though a frustration of the lack of large role models who are sexy, sassy and have something to say. We can’t leave it all to Beth Ditto! We debut our first show this week – a 45 minute concert of show stoppers and music of ‘the age’ that has been forgotten by the cabaret elite. Sami is also one of these performers who are witty and dead professional which helps rehearsal immensely.

5. Do you think that “English Eccentricity” is one of the components in your art?
I’m not sure – we don’t really think of ourselves and being eccentric over here – I suppose its just our culture. Men of all ages, sexuality and backgrounds seem to love dressing as women in this country, It’s a weird trait but it happens. I suppose with previous eccentrics behind us it makes it slightly easier to be a bit weird.

6. Who are some of your favorite performance artists past or present?
I really don’t take mush inspiration from other performance artists, I draw more references from people like Dawn French (French & Saunders), Mamma Cass, Carry-On actress Hattie Jacques, Diana Dorrs – basically fat and funny women.

7. What single piece of advice would you give to a person who wants to do what you do, but is too shy to go about it:
Use your shyness – use what you have, not everyone needs to be an OTT performer. There is a beauty in subtlety too.

If you were an animal what animal would you be and why:
I’d like to be something less complex – humans are such complex characters with complex relationships – maybe a dog?!

Categorized | Art & Culture