London artist Clayton Pettet, the “Art School Virgin” who touted losing his virginity as a performance art piece for the past five months, finally hosted the event at 35 Marylebone Gardens in London last night. Guests were surprised to find out that it was actually just an elaborate April Fool’s joke a half year in the making.
Pettet announced back in October that he would be losing his virginity to an unnamed “partner” in a London performance space in front of an audience. “It will be aesthetically pleasing,” he said, and confirmed that “My partner and I will both have a light smattering of paint on our bodies while we’re having sex on an unstretched piece of canvas to create a permanent piece of the performance.”
He sold tickets, he pushed back the date several times, he scoffed a fellow artist that claimed he inspired the piece that Pettet aptly titled Art School Stole My Virginity.
Last night, Pettet performed the piece in front of a gallery of 120 viewers. He did not lose his anal virginity to a man, but asked patrons to insert a banana into his mouth six times instead.
Four topless people – one women, three men – marched out wordlessly, holding up signs that read “ANAL VIRGIN”. One of the men was Pettet; everyone else wore white shrouds. They were all in black pants, I guess because black goes with everything, including and especially performance art.
Scrawled all over Pettet’s body were words like “NSFW” and “TEEN WHORE”. Pettet scrubbed the words off him till his skin turned red. One of the boys grabbed him and started to cut chunks of his hair off. The crowd gasped. The woman daubed black paint on all over Pettet’s mouth.
Finally, we were led into the basement and taken to a small room. The topless woman sat cross-legged on the floor, solemnly regarding graffiti scrawled on the walls, with lines like “MY NEW ANUS, PUT IT IN” and “Performance art is shit. Get a grip and pick up a fucking paintbrush”. One just read, simply, “#trending”. Well, you can’t accuse Pettet of not being reflexive.
The hooded man pointed to me and asked me to follow. As I walk out, I catch a glimpse of another line of graffiti that reads: “Part 2 – penetration booth”.
The booth was very, very small. I crouched to get in. Pettet was sat inside, still in his pants, with two piles of bananas in front of him.
“I am your anal virgin,” he said. “You are my partner. Pick up a banana.” I immediately started to panic: penetrating a 19-year-old was not on my to-do list tonight, even if it’s with a piece of fruit. “Now penetrate with my mouth eight times.”
I gratefully slid the banana into Pettet’s mouth as he stared me down. Then he took the banana out of my hand, snapped it in two and told me to leave. I scrambled out and was guided to another gallery space, with three-foot-high canvases featuring cartoonishly bright, primitive illustrations of girls being fingered, hacked-off limbs, mirrors with cum on them, and self-portraits of Pettet. They were all available to buy on Instagram, a poster told us.
He later told DD that it was never his intention to have sex. “I’ve always said I didn’t believe in virginity, so it kind of defeats the point if I’d actually lost my virginity for my art show!”
He claims that he’s “still a virgin” and “will never have sex,” which is allegedly a technical lie. He slept with his inspiration two weeks ago, no bananas involved.
One gallery-goer describes the performance as “brilliant,” claiming “the performance was the press“:
‘Art School Stole My Virginity’ was the finest showcase of media and PR hype as art, a comment on modern day humanity. From one mere tumblr post and image, Clayton created a global hysteria and panic that he then showcased tonight at the launch. It was a ploy which is in essence a huge commentary on society on their obsession with sex and virginity. It was an exhibition within an exhibition, played out within the exhibition. It would have been so anticlimactic had Clayton just been fucked on stage, the void of this was so much more. It was the biggest “fuck you” and rebellion against the world’s expectations played out artistically and maturely.
Photo via Willow Garms