Wussy Talks: David Richardson

If there were ever a quintessential Atlanta club kid, David Richardson would wear that crown. He would probably make the crown out of something kooky, bits of what would be regarded as rubble crafted into an avant garde art deco tiara. This is what David does. David makes mess into magic, trash into treasure.

Though no longer a kid, David has been pioneering fabulous fashions since the ‘80s. His drag persona, Babydoll Schultz, camped and kitsched the heyday of ‘90s Atlanta club life. David is still killing it, owning the powers of concepts and creation, with each new look. Drawing from many different wells of influence, he mish mashes a bit of one culture here, a relic of another time frame there, resulting in a new style all together, always fluid and fun

WUSSY talks to David about the ever changing Atlanta landscape and his looks and likes.

In what ways has the queer community changed over time in the Southeast?
The average person is more politically aware and involved now. There were activists in the 70s and 80s of course, but most gays at that time were more concerned with getting fucked up and getting fucked. I've never been particularly interested in politics. To me living your life the way you choose is a bit of a political statement in itself. These days, we now have gay couples trying to be straight, adopting kids, going to church and what not. Assimilation is important, but I thought not having kids was one of the comps of being gay. In the 80s, Atlanta was a gay Mecca, still is. It draws in people from surrounding states who want to be freed from the expectations of family. That was certainly the case with me. I moved here in the mid 80s with a mass exodus of friends from Charlotte and the possibilities seemed limitless. I certainly blossomed in the rich club scene here. Clubbing in those days was different. There were tons more clubs, there were 24 hour clubs, you could go out every night of the week and I took full advantage. I spent endless hours coming up with just the right look. Everyone seemed to make more of an effort to pull together a look back then. Thankfully, there has been a return to that mentality lately where everyone now seems to be in some sort of drag or other. It's all about fantasy and mystery, you can be anything you can imagine. I love all of the young drags now, they go all out and commit to a look/concept. The counter culture in Atlanta was very nearly destroyed by the Olympics in 1996, they tried to sanitize the city for mass consumption. It took a decade to recover from that horrendous time. When I moved here, Midtown was mostly fags, artists, drug addicts, and bohemian types. Now it's like Disneyland with baby carriages everywhere. Just ludicrous.

Who are some of your major aesthetic inspirations (even periods of time in art history, etc)
Divine, Nina Hagen, Bowie, Joan Crawford, the surrealist movement, Dada, collage, 1940s glamour, the Spanish nqusition, cartoons. I take inspiration from everything. My favorite thing to do is to hybidize concepts. The juxtaposition of seemingly clashing abstractions has yielded some fun looks. I did Queen Elizabeth as filtered through 1970s British punk. I also did a tribal clown, John Travolta merged with Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Andy Warhol spliced with Candy Darling, Swamp Thing goes disco, and a Satanic Santa Claus. My main goal is to have fun with a look, even if it's just to dress up at home, take pics and wash it off.

Creating 'looks' is a joyous exploration in trans-formative application, to be 'even more myself' in the most freeing (and at times controversial) fashion possible with what I have at hand.

Do you feel you put on a certain persona? Are certain looks a creative extension of who you are?
Maybe when it was the 80s I would create a look and commit (for that night) to the persona I thought that look demanded, submerging myself in the freedom offered by 'being different for a night' - but these days, overall, I don't use drag to camouflage my identity or to escape into a different persona or act out a certain way allowed by how I look. In fact, all of my looks are, at their base, extensions of who I am - if you look at those extensions as direct and colorful explorations of how costume and makeup can express something of yourself that may be simmering on the periphery of consciousness. Creating 'looks' is a joyous exploration in trans-formative application, to be 'even more myself' in the most freeing (and at times controversial) fashion possible with what I have at hand

What are some of your favorite films?
I am most definitely a cinephile. There is so much I love, my favorite film is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original, of course). Watched it once sitting in a bathtub with a mini TV plopped on the top of the toilet when a friends parents were visiting and sleeping in the living room. I just can't get enough of that twisted family. I also love Joan Crawford films, the best is Queen Bee. An ultra bitch wearing upholstery fabric is a fag's wet dream. Also, The osedion Adventure, In A Glass Cage, Female Trouble (Divine=Icon Hero), Last Year at Marienbad, Liquid Sky, Showgirls, anything by Mario Bava (camera angles and super saturated color), Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and the Douglas Sirk massively overproduced melodramas of the 1950s in lurid Technicolor. I could go on forever. Film is my favorite art form.

Favorite music?
Musically, my faves are Chris And Cosey, David Bowie, 70s disco, 80s industrial, 90s trip hop, Eurthymics. Mostly synthy stuff. I was really into the glo-fi movement of a couple of years ago. Neon Indian, Small Black and Washed Out. They reminded me of AM gold stuff I'd listen to on 8-track in my Chrysler New Yorker.

How has film or music informed or influenced your work?
Certainly I have experimented with the looks/outfits/makeup of many of my favorite on-screen and on-stage personalities, and I find it fascinating to attempt to recreate (when the event calls for it) the looks of those people and call them my own, with my own twists and turns. So many films and musicians have done so much I admire that I can't help but think they influence me, if only on a subconscious level. Liquid Sky and its makeup and performance art vernacular, Skinny Puppy and their moody richnes

Are there any current artists who particularly admire?
I've been around long enough to see artist come and go - admiration is a tricky word. I fully support the new queens who are emerging on the scene and absolutely admire their new-found excitement to go that extra mile (which did exist with the performers of the past and disappeared, only to finally come back into focus with societies openness to such exhibitions and the growing freedom these new artist enjoy). There are so many artist of days gone by that I admire too --- it takes a special kind of person (and I like to consider myself one) to put on a 'look' and take it out into the street, or to go that extra mile and take it onto a stage before a live audience - and I will always admire anyone who can do that type of thing with full commitment and passion, in the past or the present. Current artists I admire include Austin Young. His loving portraiture of the fabulous and the freaky are to die for. I also really dig Nick Cave, the performance/fabric sculpting artist. His Soundsuits are amazing, layer upon layer of bright color and whimsy. Painter Mark Ryden's work is also very clever and bucolic.