Deluded High Fashion and Shameless Low Budget Sleaze: Enter the World of Tickle Torture
The Minneapolis synth-pop artist says: "If life gives you a runway, you gotta flex."
Photo by Alexander Kohnstamm.
Tickle Torture never stops surprising us. Whether he's spraying the crowd with champagne and glitter cannons at CMJ, or lounging austere, observing a bedazzled make out session in the video for "You're Gonna Be My Baby" or sending us a chocolate mold of his wang in the mail, this man is our favorite who-knows-what-the-heck's-coming-next kinda artist. Of course all of this peacockery and free treats wouldn't be worth a damn if his music wasn't ripe and rich as a perfect peachy ass. The other week he performed at the legendary First Ave & 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis. No biggie, he's played there a bunch of times before, but this event wasn't just a live show.
"We got asked to play after a fashion show and when we found out we would have access to the runway during our performance, plans were immediately hatched to present a full Tickle fashion line," explains Uncle Tickle. "If life gives you a runway, you gotta flex."
Words to live by. Below is a couple of live excerpts from the show—essentially an orgy of gold body paint, feathers, chains, touching, fondling, and feathers—as well as a bunch of snaps from the night. We thought it would be a good chance to talk fashion with Tickle Torture, and find out what he's up to for 2015.
Noisey: Did you have a hand in all the creations?
Tickle Torture: I was involved mainly as a financier and excitable dog trying to help out as much as I could. Sierra Starr and Sam Spafford took matters into their own hands after that, I'm pretty sure Sierra spent three days straight hot gluing rhinestones.
What was your inspiration?
I stumbled upon a record of French space-rock band Les Rockets a few years back. I bought it based on the cover alone. A bunch of dudes covered in silver body paint, dressed in space suits, frozen in blocks of ice, floating through outer space, shooting lasers. Game over. Turns out the music was pretty great, too, and they played in these outfits live. I admire any band with the full, crazed, committment to transporting the audience into a fantastical place. Also see George Clinton and his UFO.
How many gold spray cans do you use every Tickle Torture show?
We actually use a golden powder mixed with baby oil which is then applied to the Ticklers with a large house painting brush. It's just like paintin' a barn. Most of our backstage arguments are over what ratio of gold powder to baby oil is optimum for both coverage and sheen. Voices get raised. People get pissed. But it all works out. Buying three large bottles of baby oil at Walgreens every couple weeks starts to feel a little creepy.
Photos by Mike Madison.
How would you describe Tickle Torture aesthetic?
Deluded high fashion and shameless low budget sleaze.
Ancient pagan rituals and Rick Owens bedroom wear.
Witchery, BDSM tribal fantasies, and Alexander McQueen at the world's best orgy.
Partying every night to run from the sadness.
After the first time I painted myself gold, it became a compulsion. Being mostly naked and slathered in a symbol of decadence and luxury changes the way people act. Humping the ground painted gold somehow elevates the act. It's like watching Roman sculptures grind on each other. We have yet to experiment with other colors so we don't have the scientific method to back us up, but I think gold just makes people horny.
Photo by Sam Spafford, accessories Mya Lambrecht.
Why does each show end with you whipping your penis out?
That's not true.
Whoops! Our bad. Do you remember the first time you did it?
Not specifically, but it was most likely at a venue called the King Club in Madison, WI that has since closed and re-opened as a "gay sport's bar" by the name of Woof's. Their website is in a pretty awesome state right now. But I have a long and healthy history of being "the naked guy"—so it's really hard to pinpoint a specific show.
You were in an indie band before TT. Were you secretly dressing up and making awesome synth pop in a gold thong while you were in your old band, or did you uncover this side of yourself after the band split up?
I was working on Tickle T as a somewhat embarrassing side project for the last couple years of that band, but didn't really go full force maximum power until we broke up.
Photos by Tony Nelson.
How do you feel onstage?
An invincible sexual thunderbolt.
A lonely sixth grader jerking off for the first time.
A world class chef preparing a PBJ at home in his skivvies.
What's your worst glue gun injury you've ever sustained?
I have thus far managed to keep the burnt skin injuries to just the fingertips, but Sierra had this lovely tale: "In attempt to perfect a bejeweled bra piece (while using myself as a body reference) I created a lovely welt, the size of a third nipple, on my left breast. The stuff carnival dreams are made of. How appropriate!"
What the most you've ever spent on a gold accessory?
Not counting the crown, probably $10. Most of the gold shit in these pictures and videos is Sierra's, and she hasn't spent more than $5.
Thrifty! How many people do you think get laid after a TT show?
Lemme put it this way, if you didn't get laid after a Tickle Torture show, you probably didn't stay 'til the end.
What does uncle tickle have in store for 2015?
First order of business is getting rid of these scabies and I'll figure it out from there.
You think he's jkidding about the scabies but as an up date Tickle wrote to us and said: The scabies part is no joke. This shit itches allll over!!!!! Gahhhhhh I'm going nuts!!!! Gotta get that scabies cream.