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Photographs by Dan Cooper, Hammermania, Neisha Studios, Katie Gillen and Ves Pitts.

Special thanks to Abby Ehmann,
and of course to Flambeaux.

Flambeaux's sculptures for the heads and bodies of New York's party-till-dawn  divas, darlings, and exhibitionists, along with his bombastic pyrotechnic stage performances, have paved the way for a business creating images and costume art for such clientele as Puff Daddy, David LaChapelle, MTV and Natalie Merchant.

Flambeaux calls his  imaginative fetish wear and headgear "armor to protect the broken heart, and headpieces to encase the beauty of the fractured mind."

Scottish-born, circus-trained in London, and having lived all over the world, Flambeaux's work incorporates the primeval, the primitive, the ancient, the Byzantine, the Oriental, the Medieval, the Renaissance, the organic, the religious, and the futuristic in a manner that can be compared to Swiss artist-designer H. R.  Giger.

Here, to stimulate your imagination, is a collection of photos of Flambeaux's creations, accompanied by his own thoughts.

Flambeaux:  The headpieces that I make now, they come basically from the fact that when I was in Mexico, I used to live in the desert. I used to ranch cattle. And when I was there, I used to pick up a lot of stuff in the desert I found fascinating because I was from Scotland. And this really got me into natural forms, a lot of which I use when I make my headpieces. Now I recreate them, but then I would use the actual things: cactus spines, seed pods, and many strange desert plants and bones and things that I'd never really come across before in Scotland. And I would put all these things together.

From there I went to New Orleans. I pretty much like picked up this huge fantastic culture, a lot of which I was involved in because I'm a showman as well as a sculptor. And I also did fiery pyrotechnic shows back in those days, which really went to the whole Mardi Gras thing.

So I got to know the culture down there; it was expressive, artistic, and also with its roots in something really traditionalistic and old. That's where I took the name Flambeaux, (a) because it had so many like funny connotations. It's like who I am. And also because it's an ancient Haitian fire ritual people turned me on to when I was down there.

That's Flambeaux at left.

And I just kind of personified or caricatured what I felt like the spirit of New Orleans should be.

And that involved decadence. That involved beauty. That involved struggle and freedom and very romantic ideas of what that whole thing was about. It involved culture -- Haitian culture -- a culture I hardly even knew, but one that I adopted. So I basically took little chiseled pieces of the cultures that I've been around, and I mixed them together in a flavor that I saw as very New Orleans, very primal and very voodoo-like.

And that's what I made into the shows I put on -- really quite major fire shows -- there and now here, with the head masks and the imagery I present with models and everything.

I was pretty much raised in a village that was majorly cut off from things; a small Scottish village. And I was left to my own devices there pretty much a lot. So my major influences were definitely nature. It was the air; that was one thing. The other thing that really influenced me was the desire to go to the exact opposite of where I was at. In other words, a place like New York, but we're also talking about technology and the future, which is why a lot of my stuff combines ancient stuff with complete futurism.

When I make a costume, when I make a headpiece, I definitely am most interested in taking a piece of a person's character, and exaggerating it to let them be themselves, even if it is more of a fantasy for them than anything else, because they've already showed me a certain side of themselves that I would be privileged to exploit.


Sometimes someone can come to me and say I love this thing or that, and they want me to make them one, but they don't know what it should be. But within two minutes of conversation I can be like look, look, something's coming to mind. I know you won't think of this, but you know the women they used to have in front of the ships, you know, what do you think -- oh my God. What if you had one of these things coming up and you were actually -- oh, I love that! And then I'd push the image, you know, like they wanted to see themselves as pushing through the fog. Always on the proud prow of the ship kind of thing. And they're like YES. And the spell is cast. So I can see what they're looking for, and then I try and find an image to suit it.

Sometimes it's animalistic, and sometimes it's just completely abstract. As long as it has elegance. And if what I create works, and of course it usually does, then they can wear it at any of the events that I throw, or for anything that they use it for, through time they become comfortable with letting that side of them out. And that is their personality, and that's what I like to explore.

But the main point of it all is, just as long as what I'm creating clicks in the smallest unconscious part -- an image in the back of people's minds, or something from a Biblical movie with Gina Lollobrigida, or something from a -- it doesn't matter where it's from. From the deepest part -- so it doesn't matter as long as it brings up something that they’d forgotten, and they're glad to see again in a very unique and strange and beautiful elegant way. That's what makes me happy. As long as that happens, then I'll move with it.

The Flambeaux event shown was at
Click + Drag, Mother's weekly cyber fetish soiree.