We first learned about London-based artist John Bingham this week, when he claimed to be the originator of the Art School Stole My Virginity concept, widely reported to be the original idea of 19-year-old Central Saint Martins student Clayton Pettet, last October.
Pettet announced that he would “lose his virginity” in front of a gallery full of spectators last year in order to “stimulate interesting debate and questions regarding the subject,” insinuating that he had conceived the “ultimate once-in-a-lifetime performance” on his own.
In response to Pettet, 24-year-old Wimbledon College of Art student Bingham released a statement to the press claiming that Pettet’s performance had been inspired by his idea, which he shared with Pettet back in 2010.
“I won’t go as far to say that Clayton stole my idea for a show,” Bingham said, “but I will say that he was aware of my plans (when I shared them with him in 2010) and did well to add that flamboyant ‘Clayton Twist’ to get tongues wagging about his new performance.”
Pettet’s performance, in which he intended to lose his anal virginity, was originally scheduled for January 2014. It has been tentatively pushed back to April.
Bingham plans to move forward with his performance art piece, entitled Art School Stole My Sexuality, this April as well. In it, he will engage in a public threesome with a male art dealer and a female assistant.
In an exclusive interview with Queerty, Bingham also reveals that he will consistently play the role of “the bottom” during his performance, he will be penetrated both by the male and by the female (using a penis attache, or, a strap-on dildo), and he will film his parent’s reaction to the performance. Checkmate.
Queerty: You told us that a female will be penetrating you during Art School Stole My Sexuality. Will the male in your piece will also be penetrating you?
John Bingham: The male will be penetrating me as well as the female. They will most likely penetrate each other.
Q: Are there any sexual acts other than penetration (oral stimulation, masturbation, etc.) planned for the piece?
JB: No sexual act is out of bounds and I anticipate these will happen organically.
Q: Your parents will essentially be watching you have sex with a man and a woman. Have they been supportive thus far?
JB: My parents are coming round to the idea, they should be making an appearance. I think it will introduce an interesting dynamic to the performance. They are supportive, they let me get on with the work that I am extremely passionate about.
Q: Do you mind us asking if you identify as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual?
JB: I’ll be disclosing my sexuality to press after the performance.
Q: Anything else we should know?
JB: I’ll also let you know that celebrities Ivan Massow (the gay entrepreneur) and the owner of Gaydar and hit shows Survivor and The Big Breakfast Charlie Parsons have backed my performance and have said that they’d like to attend.
Bingham also says a firm date has not been scheduled, but he’d “like it to go ahead either a day before Clayton’s or the same day.” As it stands, the performance is scheduled to happen at the Westbury Hotel in Mayfair.
Bingham’s first official statement regarding Art School Stole My Sexuality, released exclusively to Queerty, is below:
I believe that if Sexuality exists, then it is our sexuality to embrace in whatever way we choose. I present to you Art School Stole My Sexuality. A performative piece, I seek to share my intimate explorations of my body and sexual consciousness. Thus the private becomes the public, the intimate the open. I seek to unravel the foreskin of our psychosexual limitations.
A singular thread runs through this piece: the reclaiming of an individual’s sexuality from heterogeneous views of what it is to be male. By deliberately choosing two additional “cast members”, a male and a female, I intend to subscribe to no established sexual convention – homosexuality and heterosexuality become redundant in this new psychosexual sphere.
The only consistent role I play will be that of the bottom/ the “penatratee”/the “receiver”/the “fucked”/ the “ridden”. My role, both a performative and sexual one, embodies not subjugation but rather, a freeing of sinews; an embracing of external entrants so often neglected by the masculine.
Using a penis attaché, conventionally referred to as a “strap on”, the female performer/player/lover will enthusiastically penetrate me.
This undermines conventional gender roles, and exposes a sexual exploit normally confined to the privacy of one’s home or pornography.
Again, the foreskin unravels.
Crucial to the piece will be the filming of my parent’s reaction; the visualisation of gender and sexuality norms being ripped apart before our very eyes.
I may be young and inexperienced as both a visual artist and sexual artist, and if this is the only work of mine that leaves a cultural imprint, I accept.
For this will live with me as I age, not as a burden, but an early awakening to the fruits of sexual freedom.
I am sex. Sex is me.