Just tripped across a quasi-news item about a high school art teacher in Virginia who was fired (put on "administrative leave," technically) for his off-hours career as a painter who uses his butt like a stamp. That's right: he dips his ass--and whatever happens to dangle in proximity, judging from stray jots you can spot in the pieces--in paint and presses it onto a canvas to make artworks. I just found the blurb about his inevitable ACLU-sponsored lawsuit, though the quasi-termination happened back in December 2006, apparently after years of the controversy bubbling under the surface.
As for the politics of it all, I have little to say. A high school teacher with a potentially embarrassing side career gets canned and sues. Happens every day. Was it a violation of his rights? You bet. Was it a small town school board's best attempt to avoid upsetting their Bible Belt constituency? Of course. It is all completely blown out of proportion? Abso-freakin'-lutely. Happens every day.
What gets me in all of it is, simply, how much fantastic free publicity the Butt-Artist Guy is getting out of it. His paintings are curiosities, which helps sell them. They've become controversial, which really helps sell them. And now, his story and links to his website are plastered all over the news -- which REALLY helps sell them (some pages on his site get an "exceeded bandwith limit" message). Goes to illustrate something I, as a struggling artist in my own way, have come to a bitter understanding of: notoriety is more important quality. Infamy sells better than respect. There is no such thing as bad publicity. The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Blah, blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
I've often wondered what will be my great publicity stunt. I have some thoughts, though it's not really something you can plan, but rather must seize when it comes. Maybe I'll rescue someone dramatically. Maybe I'll get a really good zinger in on some sleazy politician at a press conference. Maybe I'll do something controversial and get fired for it and sue. That last scenario may be my best hope, frankly. Just have to be sure I have plenty of savings to live on in case it flops. Stay tuned.