Bloody Hell: Musicians Using Their Precious Bodily Fluid
[Another assignment for current intern-in-residence, Dorothy Lee. -AC]
Some might find the following products to be fascinating. But if you’re like me, and I’m going to guess that many of you probably are, you’ll likely find these products to be pretty creepy, especially the last one on this list!
Marvel Comics issued the first Super Special KISS comic books in 1977 and the red ink used in them was mixed with the blood of the band members … or was it?
Gene Simmons recalls someone coming up with the idea to put real blood in the ink at the time when the first Super Special KISS comic books were being made. The idea did not come from himself, but perhaps from Bill Aucoin (former band manager) or Sean Delaney (former producer, road manager and co-songwriter). The band flew to Marvel’s printing plant in Buffalo, where they pour the ink and make comic books, and a notary public witnessed the blood being drawn.
The band later flew to New York where they were photographed adding their vials of blood to a barrel of red ink. The authenticity of the process was certified by a notary public and the notarized document titled “KISS comic book contract” was made available:
‘This is to certify that KISS members, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss, have each donated blood which is being collectively mixed with the red ink to be used for the first issue of the Marvel/KISS comics. The blood was extracted on February 21st, 1977 at Nassau Coliseum and has been under guarded refrigeration until this day when it was delivered to the Borden Ink plant in Depew, New York.’
After all this, rumour has it that the red ink containing the blood of KISS members was used in printing Sports Illustrated magazines instead of the KISS comic books due to a mix-up at the printers’.
2. THE FLAMING LIPS
The Flaming Lips released a limited edition of their album ‘The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends’ on vinyl for Record Store Day on April 21st, 2012. The album features collaborations with Ke$ha, Chris Martin, Nick Cave, Yoko Ono, Bon Iver, Neon Indian, Prefuse 73, Biz Markie, and Lightning Bolt among others. The Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne had requested blood samples from the album’s collaborators to be included on some editions of the album, and was given blood by some of the collaborators including Ke$ha, Nick Cave, Erykah Badu, Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo, Prefuse 73, Bon Iver, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. The blood of these artists was bottled to swirl around the record as it spins but Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves had her blood pressed into the wax itself. There were only 300 copies of these made.
The double LPs with blood were pressed at United Record Pressing in Nashville, and Coyne sold ten copies (which were encased in plexiglass with a photo collage cover made from the front cover photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins) for $2,500 USD each (plus $200 hand-delivery fee). The proceeds went to The Oklahoma Humane Society and The Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma. Copies of the regular vinyl set were given to customers who bought a copy of the limited edition vinyl for listening purposes. AnatomyOne, of Oklahoma City’s Womb Gallery, hand-delivered the limited edition vinyls and the buyers were photographed holding their copies which Coyne posted on his Twitter account.
This isn’t the first time that Coyne used blood in his products. In 2010, he printed a copy of his poster art for the band’s appearance at Austin City Limits on Sunday 10/10/10 with his own blood. On October 12
On October 12th, 2010, the band uploaded a video on Youtube of Wayne making this poster with a short quote: “There’s only 1… let the bidding begin!”. In December 2010, the poster was auctioned on eBay for $10,000.00 and all proceeds went to The Flaming Lips associated music college and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. Also, all the rest of the Austin City Limits posters apparently have Wayne’s bloody thumb print on them.
3. GREGG ALLMAN
A portrait of Gregg Allman was painted by surrealist Vincent Castiglia using the blood of Allman and his children. The portrait is based on a photograph by Neal Preston, and is included in the deluxe package and the initial run of vinyl copies of Allman’s latest and final album ‘Southern Blood’ which was released on September 8th of this year.
Allman’s daughter, Layla Brooklyn, initially came up with the idea for the portrait when her father told her about a work of art he had acquired in 2009 entitled “Gravity” that was painted with the artist’s own blood. “Gravity” is one of Castiglia’s most celebrated pieces of work from 2006. Allman approached Castiglia in late 2015 to ask if he would be interested in painting his portrait as album art for Southern Blood, and Castiglia was immediately interested. Castiglia stored vials of Allman’s blood in his refrigerator for over a year, and started work on the portrait shortly after Allman passed away earlier this year on May 27th at the age of 69.
Castiglia spoke of his work on the portrait in a news release:
“This is the single most important work I’ve ever painted. When Gregg shipped me the vials of his blood, no one could have foreseen what was to come — that ultimately the painting wouldn’t be created until after his passing. Painting Gregg’s portrait in his and his children’s blood, memorializing him posthumously, was one of the most emotively intense experiences.”
Castiglia uses only blood and water on paper for his paintings. He also stated that painting Allman’s portrait was one of the greatest honours of his life.
A video of Castiglia creating Allman’s portrait can be viewed via Yahoo Music:
4. STEVE VAI
American guitarist Steve Vai is the co-designer of the Ibanez JEM series of electric guitars. The Ibanez JEM2K, also known as the JEM2KDNA, is a JEM series guitar model and signature model of Vai. It is a special limited edition model made to commemorate the new millennium. The guitars were painted by Darren Johansen of About Time Designs, and features a multi-colour swirl finish with the blood of Vai mixed into the red paint. Darren has said that the ratio he mixed of paint to blood is approximately 8:1, so the content is quite high. He also explained that if a customer buys a canvas, they get a picture of Darren and another person mixing the blood into the paint, and a picture of the room they made the guitars in. The canvases also have the same content of blood and paint. The Ibanez JEM2KDNA guitars were made in the year 2000 and only 300 were made.
Darren has said that the ratio he mixed of paint to blood is approximately 8:1, so the content is quite high. He also explained that if a customer buys a canvas, they get a picture of Darren and another person mixing the blood into the paint, and a picture of the room they made the guitars in. The canvases also have the same content of blood and paint. The Ibanez JEM2KDNA guitars were made in the year 2000 and only 300 were made.
5. DMITRIY MOROZOV (aka ::vtol::)
Moscow-based media artist and musician Dmitriy Morozov (aka ::vtol::) has invented a synthesizer-like instrument that runs on blood. Morozov drained 4.5 liters of his own blood gradually which was stored over 18 months and diluted it to 7 liters of liquid with distilled water, glucose, sodium citrate and other substances to power the instrument. The blood is placed into canisters which imitate “19th-century electrical experiments.” The electrolytes in the blood, when brought into contact with the aluminum and copper in the battery, generates a small electrical current. The blood-filled “batteries” power a “small algorithmic synth module, which plays a sound through a small speaker”.
The official launch for the instrument, Until I Die, was held at the Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia in December last year where Morozov gave a demonstration, draining an additional 2.5 litres of his blood to create the direct current voltage which ran for a reported eight hours.
Morozov described his motivation in creating this freaky synthesizer-like instrument or “techno-biological hybrid device” as “an effort by the artist to ‘become‘ the installation”. He explained it as follows:
“This device is something that is in all but name me, which uses my vitality to create electronic sounds. Moreover, I become the observer, looking at my own performance by device that exists as a result of my efforts, and is located outside my body. Thus, although for only a short period of time, I can achieve my own creative existence.”
Morozov’s synthesizer-like instrument, Until I Die, can be seen in the video below:
::vtol:: until I die from ::vtol:: on Vimeo.
Fascinating or weirdly creepy? Apparently, blood isn’t the only bodily fluid or tissue used in artist’s products. For example, Eohippus pressed hair into the wax of 100 copies of their vinyl for “Getting Your Hair Wet With Pee” and soaked them in pee!
Also, a cremation company called And Vinyly offers to press human ashes, or pet ashes, into vinyl. The basic package of up to thirty discs costs £3000 (approximately $5008 in Canadian dollars). And Vinyly reassures potential customers that “despite the site’s light-hearted tone, all our services are carried out with the utmost respect and care”.