Laura Windvogel’s style is as colourful and sexy as her watercolours are
Words: Dylan Muhlenberg Photographs: Nick Gordon
“My captions are important,” says Laura Windvogel, aka Lady Skollie, while putting up the Perspex cards that accompany her watercolours. “Don’t look at the art without reading them.”
We’re at the Worldart Gallery, which hosted Laura’s debut show a few weeks back, and because the Wasted Rita inspired captions were so heavy (not just figuratively) they fell off. Today Laura’s using stronger double-sided tape to put up captions that read, “Modern day Ophelia but with calming pills, pain pills and get over your f***ing-self pills.” That piece goes for a coupla thousand. If the woman who taught the watercolour classes that a 17-year old Laura attended with her mom knew this, she’d probably shed a little tear.
“We were the only non-whites in the class, and you know when people make jokes and stuff and it’s just ignorant? It was inherently racist. We were forced to listen to Celine Dion week after week with these insanely traditional, Afrikaner women. When I left the class I gifted the teacher a painting of a bust and she gave it back, saying, 'Jesus wouldn’t like it.'”
The illustrator and gender activist’s show Ask For What You Want is running 2-31 July, and like the other things that Laura's done in the past, it’s been a bit of a coup.
“Opening night was so dope. I’m always surprised when I do something and people actually show up.”
Ask For What You Want is Laura’s solo debut and came about because, "For the last two years I’ve been having trouble getting to where I want. To ask for what I actually want. So I’ve stopped pretending to be selfish and have actually become more selfish. It’s easy in some ways and in other ways not so much. I’ve become more abrupt and shorter than I was before. And instead of spending time with people I’m spending more time with myself."
Years before, when she didn’t know herself as well, Laura tricked herself into believing that she was into retail, and then proceeded to make so much money from sets and window displays that she could afford to rent a space where she produced hardly anything. Now she knows exactly who and what she is, and is far more prolific. It’s much better this way.
Laura’s boyfriend, whom she mentions often, is a stylish man, too, and together they have so much clothing that they’ve dedicated a room in their home to her “107 or 111 dresses.” Dude’s name is Batandwa and he owns a production company called The Visual Content Gang, which does music videos and that Young South Africa thing that 10&5 did recently.
“Batandwa Alperstein. But nothing of him can go in here.”
What I am allowed to mention is that the couple would like to work together at some stage. Something serious and less coy than what Laura’s done in the past.
“Erica Lust and Cindy Gallop inspire me. Because at the end of the day we need more extreme close ups of a dick pushing into a vagina, right? I’m kidding. That’s what kills heterosexual porn for me. I can’t. Like, why’s it so close up?”
Not so much about sex but the relationships, encounters and games people play in between getting into each other’s pants, Laura’s work is an important voice speaking in a place occupied by “basic bitches.”
“The worst are our magazines. ‘And then I put ice in my mouth and went down on him…’ You lying, bitch, no one does that. Who has time to make ice? I diss everyone, all those women’s magazines, I told them that they’re bringing women down. Those women writing that crap are obviously not getting The D.”
The nature of Lady Skollie’s work results in “a lot of fuccbois” and Laura has had to endure the type of guy using cheap shots to engage her, but like she says, “I have no interest in motherf***ers asking me about why I paint bananas.” Also, because Laura had to be as honest with the answers to the questions she asked others for Kaapstad Kinsey, the sex zine that she made, it’s resulted in some uncomfortable situations.
“I had this really weird interview the other day where the guy asked, (hur hur voice), ‘So is you promiscuous cos all your art is so promiscuous, like?’ And I thought that it’s so problematic to ask a woman that type of question. Because no, I’m not promiscuous, I’m actually the exact opposite. I just find it interesting that as soon as someone depicts something that everyone is thinking anyway, they think that they can use that as a chance to tell you whatever.”
Which makes me look inward. This story is supposed to be about Lady Skollie’s dress sense, and all I’ve spoken to her about is sex, sex, sex. I ask her to describe the outfit that she’s wearing.
“Today I’m dressed as an (Kugel voice), ‘Ethnic Power Ranger in my skintight velvet.’ There’s this mansion in Rondebosch that does some really Miss South Africa stuff. Milq and Honey. My boyfriend bought me this and another one in purple with leopard print and pink.”
Laura starts pulling other items out of the laundry bag that she’s brought with her, telling us the stories behind her wonderful apparel.
“This gold top is insane. Weighs a gram. It’s a set with a blazer and a dress. I just feel weird wearing shit like this right now. I’m more androgynous now. I’m into sneakers a lot. My mother’s an Afrikaans teacher at a very coloured school and could never understand that concept of the importance of sneakers. That clichéd colouredness. Now that I’m making my own money, I’m like (Diva voice), ‘You can’t tell me that! I’ll buy all the sneakers I want!’ Depending on how ghetto you want to be you can add an extended tongue to the shoe. Like a football boot’s. These pants are from Lulu. She has tables just over here and will text: ‘girls, come!’ And women are literally fighting one another in the streets. She’s so hot. I’ve never seen an ass like that. It’s like this big (hands show off a big-sized fish) and her waist is like this big (hands show off a little fish). She’s almost 50. It’s such a mindf**k.”
Using Lulu’s ass as a way to steer our conversation back to sex I ask Laura to elaborate on the notorious sex parties she’s hosted in the past. Ex Etiquette: a breakdown of break ups, required revelers to bring something that their ex had left at their house, with the hoodies and mixtapes being used as cover charge to enter the party. Then there was the sex-themed party Lady Skollie hosted last September.
“People get very sexy. Yoh! To the point where I had to answer for it. Two chicks f***ed each other. Then photographs surfaced of someone giving a blowjob in the bathroom. Just a pair of feet spread out from under the cubicle. Hashtag who was wearing the yellow adidas? We eventually found out who gave the blowjob and who got the blowjob. Fu**ing M*****. You can’t take him anywhere.”
Then there’s the Lady Skollie radio show.
“I had a segment called Dear Auntie Moaner. Moaner like, ‘aaah!’ – moaning. Which was fun. People could phone in and ask me stuff. I think my stance was too heavy-handed, though. I put myself into all the situations. I empathise. I’m not like my sister. She knows the inner workings of a pussy like no other. She’s an opera singer. But got super interested in women’s rights and feminism and works at this social thing, FEMME, that teaches girls to be street smart and know their bodies.”
We get a few more shots, share a coupla laughs and then finish up as more and more people start wandering into the gallery. When the interview's coming to an end and we're talking sex toys, Fleshlights specifically, Laura asks if I’m into Oculus Rift.
No, I’m straight.
"It’s like virtual reality," she says, and proceeds with an enthusiastic explanation of the vivid, gender-bending possibilities of the device. "It’s 360. All around you. Like what we saw in the movies as kids. It’s proper. You can sync it up to sex toys so the Fleshlight will pulsate in time with the porn."