©kristi lebowitz2011 copy

Photograph by Kristi Lebowitz
Interview By Conor Riley

Ever wonder who was creating the genius fliers for Ladyfag’s Holy Mountain parties? Meet Scott Ewalt, visual artist and New York legend, who is also responsible for the iconic neon rooster sign outside of The Cock on 2nd Ave, and the owner of a massive collection of sleazy NYC artifacts from decades past. In between working on upcoming imagery for The Blonds and his Thursday night DJ set at The Cock, we were able to catch up with the artist and talk about the inspiration behind his Holy Mountain fliers, NYC’s best kept secrets, and what’s coming up next for him this fall.

OAK: Can you tell us about your extensive collection of NYC memorabilia? What prompted you to first start preserving these artifacts?
SCOTT EWALT: I think bad taste is a debatable term, and all the objects I loved were being discarded as bad taste. So I amassed this huge collection of Burlesk and New York history, and luckily I have the right living space to show it all.

OAK:Your posters for Holy Mountain definitely fit the witchy/occult theme of Jodorowsky film the party plays tribute to, but there’s also a call-back to the aesthetic of old heavy metal album covers as well. Can you tell us about what influenced the motif of these fliers?
SE: They definitely do. the square formats of LP’s and Instagram emphasize it. Ladyfag has a broad palette of visual interests, so when we first decided to work together, she came over and we had a long night going through LP covers and magic and mythology books. We realized we both loved the dark luxury of heavy metal art like Frazetta and Boris Vallejo, Rembrandt, symbolist and surrealist films and paintings, and psychedlic posters from the Fillmore West. She has a spectacular nose that reminds me of Jacqueline de Ribbes and Siouxsie Sioux, and so I like including it whenever i can. She usually gives me an theme like the sun, or duality, or the sea and I go from there. Then I show her and she says “Ok, now make it even darker….”.

OAK: In addition to collecting and creating art and other visuals, you’ve been DJing for over 20 years. What are your favorite parties to play?
SE: Thursdays at The Cock has been going strong for 17 years and I really enjoy it every week.

OAK: What type of music do you enjoy playing the most?
SE: It’s rare that I get to play it for a captivated audience, except at Cosmic Cavern A Go Go or the Burlesque Hall of Fame but my favorite music is the greasy crazy dance records from the early sixties, and early fuzz drenched punk records from the mid sixties.

OAK: Speaking of The Cock, you designed the bar’s iconic neon sign. Can you tell us about how this came to be?
SE: Mario Diaz was the one who had the idea for The Cock and he came over and we knocked it out. He knew I loved chickens and neon, so it was a dream job. It’s an iconic place and I’m glad people love the red neon roosters.

OAK: Who are some of your favorite visual artists?
SE: my favorite artist from history are Gustav Moreau, Gustave Dore, Jean Cocteau, Fellini, Steven Arnold, Eric Stanton, and living artists Robert Williams, Nancy Grossman and Allen Jones. I’m lucky to have friendships with most of my favorite current visual artists: Charles Atlas, Kembra Pfahler, Kenny Scharf, EV Day, Genesis Breyer P Orridge, Ron Athey, Joe Coleman, Paul Kopkau, Aaron Cobbett, Tom Woodruff, Billy Erb, Andrew Logan, Kabuki Starshine, Bambi the Mermaid, Basil Twist, Grant Phillipo, and Vincent Jacquard to name a few. Equally inspiring are friends that do music and performance, which are too many people to begin to list, or actually are the work of art, like Johanna Constantine, Amanda Lepore, Gregory Nalbone, Muffinhead, Jojo Americo and Xander Gaines.

OAK: What do you think is New York’s best kept secret?
SE: The Slipper Room. I’m also a groupie for strippers. Stripping is my favorite American visual art form.

OAK: What is the last great film you saw?
SE: Mirror Mirror directed by Baillie Walsh.

OAK: With such an extensive and eclectic career in NYC, what has been your favorite project to work on thus far and why?

SE: My first solo show “Back in the Night” at Participant because I was able to combine everything I love into one show.

OAK: Alarmingly, summer is just about over. What are your plans going into Fall 2015?
SE: I’m included by in a show called Party Out of Bounds that opens at LaMama Galeria on September 18th that includes a lot of artist I really love. I’m currently working on a number of projects relating to fashion week, both music and visuals. I work with MAO pr, The Blonds, and Academy Art University every season. I am also hard at work on my next show which I hope to finish in a year or so. It’s a show of very detailed dreamlike architectural portraits of the first topless clubs I loved as a kid.

OAK: Your work and collections reflect a very distinct era of NYC. What do you think the 2015 version will look like decades down the road? Or rather, what will we want to look back on fondly/preserve from right now?
SE: Even though I love the analog era of dangerous sleazy New York the most, I am fascinated by all the weird Dubai-style building going up next to structures that are two centuries old. I like distressed Futurism. I think like any era of New York it will seem simple in a few decades and people will look at images from now and think how it wasn’t crowded and will be amazed at all the ways people get around.