On Tuesday evening at the corner of Clinton Street and Houston Street, a few passersby stopped to look at a t-shirt hoisted for display on the top floor of Superchief Gallery at Culturefix. Most were shocked by what they saw. The black shirt had on it a set of feline eyes with dancing flames inside them, recognizable as the logo for Broadway's "Cats," but underneath it was another word instead of the name of that show. On the shirt, clearly visible from the street below, was the word "Cunts."
That word may always drop like a bomb, but Tuesday's exhibition from House of Ladosha—the art and hip-hop collective fronted by cross-dressing eccentrics Antonio Blair and Adam Radakovich—seemed intent on reclaiming it. The show, dubbed "The Whole House Easts," is a sparkling mix of video documents showing House of Ladosha members drinking 40s, satirical logo tees, text art, LES skatercore, and in-your-face performance.
Embedded in the art is their appropriation of "cunty" as a word of praise. For example, a photo on display shows Rihanna with a tattoo, courtesy of Photoshop, that reads CUNTLIFE. The singer is something of a muse to House of Ladosha. One of their more successful looks is a reproduction of the famous grunge-era shirt featuring a cross-eyed yellow smiley face, but reading "RIHANNA" instead of "NIRVANA."
"The reason all of us are such close friends is because we have a very similar sense of humor," Radakovich explained. He was standing shivering outside the upstairs window, having a smoke while wearing little more than a Kenzo cap and a Tales From The Crypt t-shirt. ("That show used to scare the fucking shit out of me," he said.)
"So the Rihanna thing happened," he continued. "And then the Cuntlife thing, so I guess it's just looking at things we find interesting or funny and then incorporating it into the way we talk to each other—our very gay New York language. And we're all very creative so it's very natural to have this."
Around 8:00, after the crowd had indulged in wine, beer, and duck confit canapés, Blair (AKA Dosha Destruction) and Radakovich (AKA Cunty Crawford Ladosha) took the stage to perform two of the songs that have earned them points in rap circles and gigs opening up for Azealia Banks. Blair whipped his butt-length hair and Radakovich, towering over everyone, contorted his long limbs to the screams of the crowd, which included a smattering of downtown kids capturing the moment on iPads, fellow members of the House of Ladosha, and influential party promoter Ladyfag.
While chatting with Radakovich over a cigarette, we were eventually joined by Blair, who got sidetracked coming outside by girls waiting to kiss him on the cheek.
"I think it's gorgeous, I think it looks amazing, and I think people are really gonna like it," he said, scratching at his goatee. "It's a melange of taste and aesthetics going on. I love the ‘My Pussy Tastes Likes Yerba Mate' text art. I saw Juliana [Huxtable Ladosha, a member of the collective] posted it on Instagram and I thought it was photoshopped. I couldn't believe it was up there. That's my favorite thing, to walk in and see ‘My Pussy Tastes Like Yerba Mate.'"
"The Whole House Eats" will end its week-long run February 14, freeing up time for House of Ladosha to focus on music, including a jaunt down to Monterrey, Mexico, to play a festival. After a conversational detour to discuss the opening's debt to Michelle Pfeiffer's hair in the new remake of Dark Shadows, a movie neither has seen, Radakovich and Blair began to walk downstairs to rejoin the reception. Then one of the attendees pointed up at the window on the top floor of Superchief.
"Adam, I'm treasuring this," he said. "Because in the morning people are gonna see a shirt that says ‘Cunts' really huge."
"Well," Radakovich said. "If you see it, you are it."