by Brian Clarey
We gathered in Brad and Tammy Spencer’s fabulous downtown Reidsville apartment, the epicenter of creative talent in this small town — dubbed the “Listening Loft” — almost an hour outside the nearest city.
The musician Crystal Bright has been living up here for months, working on her next project. Several of Greensboro’s arts community denizens have made the trek: Sue Sassman, Ogi Overman, a bellydancer in costume with jangly bangles, the burlesque queens Jenn Martin and Tiger Roxxx, musicians, painters and those supporters and marketers without whom the scene would exist in a vacuum.
The model Brandy Valentine strode the room in full body paint, applied by Scott Fray in just 90 minutes or so: a black base with stencil work done in gold with vaguely Egyptian themes. The stencils are available commercially under the Living Brush brand, one of many upcoming business deals for the champions of the bodypainting world
As the kitchen island filled with party food — chicken fingerspimiento cheese, endive with apple and bleu cheese, a formidable Snickers cake and raw-cacao fudge among the spread — invited guests orbited around Madelyn Greco, aka Foxy Moxy, a vision in red, who gathered them all here to share the good news.
We already knew that Greco and her partner Fray had once again been crowned world-champion bodypainters, taking their fourth and fifth titles this year at the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria, one in the Classic Facepainting category and the other for their work in the UV Fluorescent category.
“We are the only artists in history to achieve this in the bodypainting world,” Greco said.
She and Fray arrived in the Triad from Pittsburgh almost a decade ago in a creative whirlwind incorporating fine art, burlesque and bodypainting that quickly took root in the artistic community.
“They’re doing burlesque in Scuppernong Books and at the Idiot Box,” she said. “I love to see that stuff, what people take as inspiration and run with it.”
And now the Greensboro arts establishment has come calling.
Living Art Greensboro, which will culminate on Sept. 28 amid the artistic flurry of 17 Days, will be a qualifying event for Living Art America, the country’s premier bodypainting competition, which Greco and Fray won in 2010.
“It will be two bodypainting events, back to back, like sister events,” Fray says. “There’s only six days between them. We were successful in getting international artists to come to Greensboro [for this].”
The timing also dovetails neatly with the GSN Network’s new bodypainting TV show “Skin Wars,” which debuts Wednesday night. They’ll be hosting screening parties for each episode in the Crown, on the third floor of Greensboro’s Carolina Theatre, for the eight-episode run, which will lead right into 17 Days.
“That’s what happens when you take a team to the Super Bowl,” Fray said.
In the Listening Loft, Greco peeled away from her admirers and, armed with brush and paint, began applying color to the face of one of her guests: metallic swirls and wisps of color — a signature piece that exhilarates its living canvas.
Fray says it always happens like that.
“Out of all the many things I’ve done in my life,” he said, “this is the only one that has an electrical charge.”