A Conversation With Artist + Camgirl Lindsay Dye
The painter, sculptor, and cake-sitter discusses the cam world, the art world, and the negotiation between her public and private life.
I discovered artist and camgirl Lindsay Dye on my Instagram’s “Explore” page, the way I happen upon many beautiful people who unwittingly absorb my time and self-esteem. Click through Dye’s Instagram, and you’ll get both titillated and hungry, an unusual but strangely comforting way to feel. There are pieces from her Bushwick series: paintings and sculptures poking fun at the neighborhood’s gentrifying artists. There’s her bedroom, glowing purple. There are children’s toys, playfully self-effacing memes (“When you are an equal opportunity camgirl,” reads one, with Dye holding two varieties of dildos), and birthday cakes, so many cakes, Dye’s derrière poised either just above or right in them, her skin covered in frosting.
Like many fetishes, cake-sitting feels comical in its specificity. But the act is so tactile and the object in question so reminiscent of childhood that, upon watching Dye do it, I remembered the impatient desire for cake at friends’ parties, wanting to dig my hands in, able to taste the artificial sweeteners just by looking at them. “Please don’t report my cake-sitting videos,” she’s captioned one. “They make people happy.”
Dye, who recently performed at Crushed: Brooklyn Dirty Book Fair—where she also released her zine, Bushwick Fantasies 2—doesn’t consider her work as a camgirl “performance art”; her multitudinous practices are not one and the same. But she does create a kind of mood: colorful, cartoonish, not unlike a birthday cake. When viewers started screenshotting her cam sessions and distributing them—or, creepily, e-mailing them to her, threatening to reveal her identity—she turned the screen captures into physical prints, selling them on her website for up to $100. The project, Buy Me Offline, enabled Dye to sell the props in her bedroom, like hump-worthy toy donkeys.
She also utilizes the experience in her performance work. In “Cyberwendy,” she FaceTimed a four-hour cam session, shown live at Victor Roman’s Defragment at the Rivington Design House. Visitors had the option to tip her with a credit card. In a reversed take on “Cyberwendy,” Dye performed “IRL Camshow,” an hour-long livestream—using her personal cam account—at the opening reception of Insuh Yoon’s Flowerland at Superchief Gallery. Regular viewers of hers were flummoxed by the new background; gallery patrons, though off-screen, became accidental participants.
Recently, Dye directed a shoot for art/porn magazine, MATH, featuring lots of ice cream (food is inextricable from sex, it seems, even the most cloying kinds). The shoot will preclude an upcoming show. Below, we spoke to Dye over e-mail about her childlike imagination, her childhood itself, Florida, and the blurry, ultimately delightful lines between all her mediums.
How long have you been writing? You write prose, and you recently reviewed NSFW: The Female Gaze at the Museum of Sex for Gallery Gurls.
I’m an ‘art-school-artist,’ so I’ve re-written thousands of my own—and others’—artist statements. Writing about artwork and going to exhibitions is part of my career. I studied photography in Miami, graduated with a sculpture degree in New York City, and now I’m performing. I’ve never considered writing “my practice.” It’s more of a skill that I can employ when the occasion calls for it.
I have purposely been private about my love life since the beginning of my camming career. When I’ve kept a secret for a while, memories become malleable; I have more room to fantasize. I birthed Bushwick Fantasies in opposition to my Camgirl work. The “fantasies” are autobiographical short stories about being silently in love with someone and being okay with not telling them, or even seeing them. I’m so willing to accept minimal amounts of intimate interactions because I am required to satisfy myself, very literally, through camming. I chose writing instead of making visual work because I knew that the person these stories are about wouldn’t read them.
I’m curious about your earliest moments of self-expression. Did you make art as a child?
This is my business card from when I was 8 years old. There was never a time where I didn’t consider myself an artist. I started out cartooning, working my way to my present day cake-sitting, heh. “I grew up in a bathing suit” is the first sentence of my artist statement from graduate school. The state of Florida and growing up in Miami will always be my main art inspo.
When you started working as a camgirl, how important was the staging aesthetic for you? It was interesting to see your props become art objects in Buy Me Offline.
My learning curve was that my actual Internet speed and connection was more important than iridescent wallpaper and LED lights. While audiences in chatrooms get to know you a bit through your taste, direct communication, whether it be verbal or gestural, is more important than aesthetics. Buy Me Offline highlighted how my cam-set would transform over time: décor to props to art objects, along with the degradation of these objects. The prints let the art world in on my camming experience and a new type of illegal archive photography. The objects that fell out of this project have become symbols and imagery that I use in the work I make about Bushwick: plants, donkey hoppers, iced coffee.
In a previous interview, you wrote that the cam world and art world, for you, “are not really feeding each other at the moment, so I’m still working that out.” How is that working out now?
I do differ my daily cam performances from an intentional live performance I’ve scheduled or been hired for at an exhibition or show. I don’t necessarily consider my daily performances in my chatroom “art,” while they can be artful.
With your live cam shows, do you think they’re helping to collapse the audiences—merging them?
I like to think about the reason an individual is initially showing up or tuning in and how behavior after a performance mutates: someone’s reasoning for being there could completely change. My supportive online chatroom members have come to my IRL performances and they leave as gallery patrons, in the same way that a gallery patron happening upon my work in an exhibit could leave as a new chatroom fapper. And so on…
“I’m so willing to accept minimal amounts of intimate interactions because I am required to satisfy myself, very literally, through camming.”
Cake-sitting is very much a fetish, but visually speaking, cakes fit your vibe overall: colorful, childlike, playful. Why this gesture?
Cake-sitting was the compromise between the cam world and the art world negotiation that finally translated, acting out particularly ceremonial fetishes I’ve learned online in front of a live audience.
I’ve been camming for over five years now. The most disturbing to the purest actions have been asked of me. I have clients who get off on the degradation of my eyeglass prescription and will tip me to wear my ‘very thick lenses.’ Other chatroom members tip big while I eat strawberry sour straws. My chatroom and I collectively arrived at cake-sitting at some point.
Food has become an integral part of my chatroom experience because I have the tendency to leave my cam on while I eat meals—a major Camgirl faux pas, but a humanization tactic on my part. I’ve selected fetishes to act out that have a cartoonish, childlike appeal, as fetishes inherently do. They’re an exaggeration. Cake-sitting, within sexual fetishisms, falls under WAM (wet and messy) or sploshing, the tactile sensations of substances or the viewing of others undergoing this sensation. The ‘graphicness’ here, I think, comes from defiling a previously un-sexualized, common object. The importance of the cake: an object everyone has experiences with throughout their lives, beginning at age one.
Can you tell me about your more two-dimensional and three-dimensional-sculptural work, such as your Bushwick series?
The work is about living and camming in Bushwick and how the environment affects my camming experience: props I buy, people I interact with, language that has become important, recurring colors and objects from all my cam sets.
Why Is Bushwick so special?
The amount of artists living in Bushwick is comical—of course, most of my friends are artists. I find it even more comical when artists don’t make work about their immediate surroundings; the surroundings they have simultaneously quickly and vastly populated. It’s like, “We’re all here; let’s not talk about why, k, see you at Bossa.” The discomfort with talking about our immediate environment probably comes from the fact that we are gentrifying an already established community that was important for reasons existing before we got here.
What are you working on currently?
I recently directed a shoot titled “C2C BB” that will be in an upcoming issue of the art & porn magazine MATH. Artist Xan Violet was our on-set ice cream sculptor, which led to the collaborative planning of a pop-up show this month in the freezers of a Bushwick bodega. The necessity of food in our work and analyzing our eating habits have become a daily research topic.
Camgirl Resume Shirts are also back up for Preorder, and Bushwick Fantasies 1 and 2 are available, too.
Text & Interview: Monica Uszerowicz
Photo: Olimpia Dior
Images And Video: Lindsay Dye
Article by: Ravelin Magazine