Hey kiddies! This is my new photograph, called LADY BATHORY.
Lady Elizabeth Bathory was an actual person. She was a Hungarian countess in the 16th century, and one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Apocryphally, she bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth and beauty.
The story of Lady Bathory serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of vanity, and comments on the current preoccupation with youth and beauty in our contemporary society – from the mainstreaming of plastic surgery and botox injections, to body waxing and even piercing and tattoos.
I wanted to create a contemporary version of the Lady Bathory legend. In my photograph, the bloodletting is depicted as a kind of spa treatment, with Lady Bathory wearing a green mud mask and cucumbers on her eyes.
This photograph was staged at The Foundation, an architectural salvage business in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. Patrick, the owner, donated an antique bathtub to use, and made this image possible by allowing us to build our large set in his space.
My beautiful girlfriend Strychnine Jen played the part of Lady Bathory. She was also an active member of my production crew, and spearheaded the enormous task of painting and scraping the dried blood grout lines on 2,420 pieces of white tile.
My friends and regular crew members Matt Tady and Demian Vela helped erect the walls of my set.
Here you can see Jen relaxing in the bathtub as I position the overhead light.
The more difficult role of Lady Bathory’s virginal victim was played by my friend Andee Hindery. She is an aerial fabric acrobat, and the only friend I have that could physically handle being hogtied and suspended from the ceiling. Andee’s roommate Rachel, also an acrobat (and a dominatrix), came in to teach us the complicated knots necessary to suspend Andee.
Here you can see Matt and Demian trying to figure out how to hoist Andee into position.
Once Andee was in position, we quickly brought in Jen and began shooting.
Although we had made a rig out of surgical tubing and an air compressor to pump blood through Andee’s slashed throat (a latex appliance), it failed to deliver the geyser of blood I wanted, so I decided to shoot the blood separately.
Here you can see Jen hard at work mixing gallons and gallons of fake blood. We got the recipe from a special feature on the movie SLITHER: dark Karo syrup, Hershey’s chocolate, and red food coloring.
I taped a mark on the tile wall to show where Andee’s neck had been, and then had Demian and Matt pour blood in countless different ways, trying to get the perfect blood pour.
Because the blood was photographed on my actual set, the lighting and the focus were a perfect match, so it was relatively easy to combine the frames in Photoshop. Although I admit, cutting it out took me a long, long time.
See you next time!