Meet performance artist, Johnny 2.0 – you’ll be seeing and hearing quite a lot more of him in the next year, year and a half! Especially if you’re a hound for horror!
If you happen to be in or near LA when he’s performing, you MUST go see and experience the raw intensity and emotion this man can exuberate into his performances! He’s actually been known to bleed in/for his performances…
But what does he see? How has he turned his life around?
The former gogo dancer and club personality has essentially grown up after staring death in the face. Johnny, was kind enough to take some time to answer some of my questions. Click on the link below to read the interview and see some of Johnny’s NSFW photos!
—How did the name Johnny 2.0 come about?
Shortly after I turned 21 it was goal of mine to join the “Filthy Family” which ran a successful club called Miss Kitty’s Parlour in LA. My first night there I had a bit too much to drink and gained enough balls to approach the madame herself, Miss Kitty, and pulled her aside to say, “I really want to work for you and your family!”
She instructed me to leave my number with the door girl. Several days later I received a call from a beautiful woman who was part of the family at the time, named Yulia, and before I knew it I had been asked to go-go dance for them!
It took several weeks of working with the Filthy Family to finally get my name as there was already a “Johnny Rokitt” working with the family. During rehearsals one of the owners, Jamie 9, would always confuse me with the other Johnny when calling us. Finally I was deemed “2.0” in order to separate us and relieve any confusion.
I was honored to finally be given a name! It was a very proud moment of my “club career.” Prior to being called “2.0” I was called “Go-Go Johnny” because I was working 4 nights a week dancing at different clubs and events. I got tired of the name “Go-Go” and fell right into “2.0” with ease!
—Are you still with the Filthy Family?
No…I no longer work with them. I’ve done some guest appearances in past events of theirs, but I no longer work with them on a continuous basis.
Truth be told I had some amazing times and memories working with the crew. Over the years Miss Kitty’s has taken on many incarnations and gone through many transitions, so when I decided to focus on my performance art I had to break away from club life. I got to a certain point where I wanted to have creative control over my image and vision, I felt as if I was hindering my abilities working with them.
I still have much love for the family but at a certain point I knew it was in my best interest to move on.
—Who is Johnny 2.0?
Johnny 2.0 has taken many forms over the years. I would say that at this point in my life he is my signature stamp for the performance art I do. Taking my theatrical history and knowledge of Stanislavsky and Chekov—as well as the people whom inspire me: Anna Halprin, Marina Ambromavic and Matthew Barney—I began to adapt these techniques into my living art. Today, Johnny 2.0 is my mark for any creative project I choose to take on.
—What inspires Johnny 2.0?
Emotion inspires me. Being able to convey one’s idea of a feeling, thought, motion and/or ability (etc., etc.) truly inspires me. That, and now my beautiful partner! Having his love and support keeps me going. He is my everything and I want to make him proud!
Being a performance artist is great because there are no rules or laws. It is a personal translation of a thought or idea.
—What’s next for Johnny 2.0?
Currently working on an amazing project/performance entitled, “The Weight of Color.” It is an audio-visual experience. I’m also in talks with Clive and Bert Green—who owns the Bert Green Fine Arts Gallery in downtown LA—to debut this performance in conjunction with a new Clive Barker art exhibit which is in the works!
One element of it, a stop motion film (directed by Jenny Caloca and Alexandra Gibson), is currently in post production. Once the video is done it will act as a projection laying over my physical performance. It is, to date, the most elaborate project I’ve produced on my own! Previous shows and performances—such as “Crucio,” “Wire,” or “Castration“—were all very simple in concept and movement.
I’m trying, at this point in my life, to consistently push myself physically and mentally. With this project I’m directing it towards more of a multi-media realm with projections, audio, music and physical performance. I’ve constantly got ideas in my head for future shows, some of which stay with me and others which go away. For me it really is my projecting what I’m feeling at that moment in my life.
I want to show the world what is inside my head in the most unique and beautiful way I can, despite how painful or complex it may appear.
In addition to this project, I was asked by horror master, Clive Barker, to be a part of the new Hellraiser documentary! I am honored to say that I am the first new cenobite he has created in over 20 years, which will be debuted in the documentary currently being filmed! It has been a great experience and I’m working with a wonderful team of SFX people and the director and producer are just so excited… it really puts everyone in such a good mood!
More recently I’ll be shooting for the new Bruno Gmünder book project. Seems as if I’ve always got something going on.
—I look forward to seeing this, by when will we be able to see The Weight of Color?
“The Weight of Color” has to be perfect and I don’t mind tanking my time with this. At this point I’m aiming for an official release date more towards the end of the year or beginning of 2011, but that can always change too. There has been too much work poured into this project to not give it a fair showing. I’m aiming big for this and want to debut this performance in a gallery, museum or theatre.
—This isn’t the first time you’ve worked with Clive, Crucio was produced by the horror legend, wasn’t it?
“Crucio” wasn’t produced by Clive, no… he acted as an adviser/consultant on the project. He was my mentor through out the whole process of its creation.
—Speaking of Crucio, though I couldn’t manage to see it in person, I DID see some of the pictures from that night. You were quite…uh…naked in it, weren’t you? What was Crucio about?
“Crucio” in Latin means ‘to torture’ and this production was my interpretation of one man’s battle against his faith, when confronted sexually. Through his writings was he only able to expel these thoughts in order to find clarity. By doing so he was met face-to-face with his own shadow, which allowed him to explore these emotions he was going through.
It was a hybrid performance of theatre and performance art. I knew the only way I could best tell this man’s story was to be naked. I find the human body to be the ultimate tool; by exposing myself completely I welcomed the audience to see and feel every part of what I was going through.
—Now I know the nudity had artistic merit to it, but…is there any chance we’ll see you in the buff again? Or, for my pervy curiosity naughtier readers, is there anything around NOW we can see you in (that I don’t have to pay a subscription for)?
Sure, I’m always working on various projects which require me to be nude. I’m not the most attractive man but I sometimes feel more comfortable working nude. Besides my many photo projects with Clive, I have an element in my live shows where I’m always exposing myself.
Until I get my own website up, people who want to follow me will just have to come see me live. I usually post news on facebook so that’s the best place to reach me or read about whats new in my world.
—Can you give us any insight on your character in the new Hellraiser movie? Name? Sketches? …Movie plot? Clive mentioned a thing or two about the film on his twitter.
I cannot and will not say anything at this time. There are too many people anticipating news from the Hellraiser franchise, I know, but unfortunately I just can’t say anything at this time.
There’s been a lot going on and I can’t say anything until things are set in stone, you know?
[Frank whispers: “Damn!”]
—When I first encountered you, I remember you mentioning a car accident that nearly killed you, what happened?
In 2006 I had just started up a club with several amazing men, Hayden Headphone (member of the band The Hmmm) and DJ Barbeau (of Dirty Sanchez fame). We were a month into it, and I was feeling really good about the direction this club was going in.
The night of my accident I left the venue around 3am. I was headed home on the freeway when I noticed a driver behind me swerving between lanes in an effort to move out of the direction this other car was driving, I merged into a lane and the driver of the car behind me had sped up and clipped the tail end of my car. This sent me spinning and I hit the side wall, the force was so great I bounced off the wall and flipped several times before ending up on the opposite side of the freeway. I blacked out, when I came to I was being pulled out of my car.
Not one person came to see me in the hospital, which was an eye opener for me. There were very few people that stayed by my side during this time. Once I left the hospital I was angry. I was because I no longer had my car and I was angry that I had to re-learn how to walk properly again. It was a moment in my life where I felt defeated, but as the weeks went on I put myself in check and started a new life for myself. I left the days of wild sex, drugs, touring and wild party life behind me. I was determined to redirect my creative abilities, my needs in life to support me in every healthy way I could. Today, I have an amazing job at a major television studio and I’m devoting my free time to my art.
Life is on my terms right now and I’m loving every second of it.
—I never knew you had to learn how to walk again! I’m so glad to hear that the ball is on your court now. So you’ve been sober since the accident, then?
Sober from drugs, yes. I cant ever go back to my horrible habits. There’s so much more to life than to waste it away trying to get high.
—Does any of that past environment influence you today?
Of course, everything I’ve experienced has made me the man I am today. You live and learn and clean your shit up along the way. Any strong and guided adult will acknowledge when you have made a mistake and learn from it. I really feel like I’m in a better place now at this point in my life. I’m only 27 and still have so many years to grow! I’m very excited for the future…
All photography courtesy and copyright of Mr. Clive Barker