Dusty O aka David Hodge has been a much loved part of the scene for 25 years as a promoter, DJ (he won a Boyz award for that), fashion icon, performer and even a columnist for Boyz. He was as highly visible as it was possible to be. Now things have changed and it’s Dusty’s creative work that has become visible. Next week sees the launch of a major exhibition of Dusty’s artwork at Digbeth Art Space in Birmingham. Dusty’s friend Boy George has written the introduction for the show and we asked Dusty to explain how this all happened.
Introduction by Boy George
‘That Dusty O, she’s been quite a few things since departing Birmingham in the West Midlands and arriving in London. Club kid, drag queen, club host, DJ, Diva, cage rattler and now artist. You could say Dusty O has always been an artist. Her beautifully painted face airbrushed to perfection and dressed head to toe in Vivienne Westwood giving the impression that she was perhaps a lady of secret wealth. Not so, Dusty has always grafted and created and it is no surprise that the now bearded Dusty has turned to art. Her work is autobiographical and drags you through a cartoon world of nightlife, drag queens, wannabes and the occasional pop icon. Flirting with religion, sexuality and challenging PC concepts with a cheeky irreverence. It is bright, bold, sexually charged, psychedelic and unapologetic.’
A few words from Dusty:
When Madame Jojo’s closed four years ago I was at a crossroads. I had worked on the club scene for 25 years and knew nothing else. My identity was Dusty O and I had forgotten what civilian life was like away from my self contacted bubble. I had done well and my sobriquet was “Queen of Soho” but I no longer had a crown. I knew it was time to start again.
I got a job in a lovely hair salon called Gary Ingham and became their maitre’d. I still work there part time and love it, particularly my colleagues. I still needed to be creative however and started painting as a hobby. I sold a few pieces and things just kind of spiralled. I held a couple of self-funded exhibitions and began selling really well. Then this year I held a big showcase at a gallery in Sitges. It sold well and I got some great reviews. When I came home I was approached by the owner of Davenport’s Brewery who are now my official sponsors and who have coordinated my first big solo exhibition in the UK. It’s called Dragged Back To My Roots as I’m originally from Birmingham and that’s where it’s being held. The work is a personal journey from the last 30 years, the drag, booze, crazy people, drugs lovers and discos were my “process” and my work is a journey into queer clubbing and my own experiences. It’s happy, neon, dark, mixed up and maximalist. I play with gender and religion and hopefully take no hostages. Colours are my pen and paper and my story is neon.
It’s a very personal exhibition. A bit like a diary but in oils and acrylics, 41 slices of my soul. It’s kind of fitting it’s being held in my hometown as that’s where my journey began and this is the start of stage two. I’m living proof that the direction you take in life is your own!
From Saturday 1 to Saturday 15 December, 10am to 7pm
Dragged Back to my Roots–A Personal Journey by Dusty O
Digbeth Art Space, Zellig, Gibb Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4AT