by Joe Heaps Nelson
Rebecca Goyette, the Lobsta Girl, is out there, in full Lobster gear, making the world a weirder place. As you will see, she is an accomplished seamstress, and a New England historian; these skills and interests she uses to bring her peculiar obsessions to life. Before she was a Lobsta Girl, she learned improvisation and street performance as a member of the troupe the Missile Dick Chicks ("I spent most of the time George Bush was in office wearing a 2 1/2 foot strap on missile"). Is her artwork licentious? Is it salacious? You bet! This character is extravagantly lustful, a brazen hussy, ruled by Venus, a passionate rebuke to the chastity of her dreary Puritan forbears, a real 21st century superhero of concupiscence. When I was trying to figure out how to explain the Lobsta Girl, the first words that popped into my mind were "salty wench". I thought, that's certainly not politically correct, and it could be interpreted as not very nice. I had better run it by her. So I called her up and said, "Hey, how would you feel if I described you as a salty wench?" Her response: "Salty wench, nice!"
Joe Heaps Nelson: Ladies and gentlemen, I am in the studio of my friend Rebecca Goyette...
Rebecca Goyette: Whoot whoot!
Heaps: A.k.a. the Lobsta Girl. On the wall I see many costumes and props, including several sets of lobster claws and lobster dicks, nets, lobster torsoes; and there are also a bunch of sculptures in here, some lascivious lobsta girls, and Puritans, a giant Plymouth Rock, surmounted by a pilgrim ship with dicks for cannons; and the first thing Rebecca made me do was watch her new video. It's a gigantic lobster orgy scene, and it's really horny!
Goyette: Hahahahahahaha! I like the idea that the artwork is horny, and not the maker! Hahahahahaha!
Heaps: So tell me about the Lobsta Girl character. How did you start being Lobster Girl, and how did you get the idea, and where does Lobsta Girl end, and Rebecca Goyette begin?
Goyette: It's sometimes hard to say. It's definitely the intersection between life and art that goes on with me. My wheels start spinning even when I meet a person, and I say, Oh my God, I see who you would be in my videos. I see you as a character, and I start to go off and build a story. I guess I started performing as Lobsta Girl back when I was showing at Jack the Pelican. Then I made a costume that was Lobsta Girl, and in my first performance, I pretended like I was on top of the ocean by rolling around on a blue yoga ball in the gallery, and I didn't have any other props, and I refused to talk to anybody, but you could just watch me and my antics. Complete physical comedy.
Heaps: This was in full costume?
Goyette: Yeah, I started by sewing the lobster claw boxing gloves. I researched lobster sex, and became completely fascinated by lobster sex.
Heaps: I have got to say, I have learned more about lobster sex from you than any other source.
Goyette: Hahahahahahaha! Yeah, I'm the resident expert on that, apparently! For me, it became a structure for me to make my artwork. Maybe to start by briefly saying how they do it would help. Lobster girls are the aggressor at first, but they only choose the strongest, fighting male lobsters. That's who they find attractive. So, they compete for those strong guys. Basically, when a lobster girl wants to have sex with a lobster dude, she knocks on his lobster cave in the ocean, and she boxes him down and squirts him with aphrodisiac drugs out of her forehead. She gets inside, and she's the seductress at first, and she's in charge of the whole sex game, but then, in order to have sex...
Heaps: She has to take off her shell!
Goyette: That's right! So she's completely shell-less, and that's her skeleton, so she becomes very vulnerable. She's now the submissive.
Heaps: Now I understand, based on my research, of course, that male lobsters have 2 penises.
Goyette: That's another big lure for me. I can't get away from it. Wow, the guy has 2 dicks, and he inserts them just into her flesh randomly, because she's basically just this floppy, fleshy thing at this point.
Heaps: With no shell.
Goyette: So I thought, that's so interesting. Then it takes her a week to a month to grow her shell back, so she has to stay in his lobster cave while it grows back. So I can imagine the guy, thinking I'll have a fun time with this lobster lady, and then he's stuck with her being there and he has to take care of her until she can leave.
Heaps: She's pretty stuck!
Goyette: She's really stuck! For me, that was how I interpreted the story at times, was thinking about the guy, not expecting it to go any further, and then being saddled with her as a responsibility.
Heaps: I suppose if you're a lobster, you know how it goes.
Goyette: Yeah, you should know how it goes. This is true. But I'm doing this bridge between being human, and lobster, and my characters are never really totally lobsters. Obviously I am infusing them with human emotions and interpretations.
Heaps: And you are making new videos all the time, and there are a ton of metaphors you can use, if you choose.
Goyette: Yeah, right now I'm developing a lobster video for my trip to Greece. I'm making 14 double dick Speedos for the Greek guys to wear. I'm going to be doing a residency on an uninhabited Greek island, with 35 Greek people, and I'm the token American, so I thought this is the perfect setup for a Lobsta Girl video because I don't know any of the people. I know the one guy who invited me, and that's it. He hasn't studied my videos so much, which is always good, because I don't want somebody to really know my M.O. that much. It's more exciting for me to work with somebody new, who hasn't experienced my work.
Heaps: Be Careful you're liable to explode their brains.
Goyette: I want them to be fresh. When I do a video, I'm really improvising and I might tell the person, hey would you like to be in one of my Lobsta Girl videos, and they're like sure, but then I go home and I start to make a costume for them, but they don't have any idea what that costume might be. So, in the case of this Marquis de Sade character, I found this artist because I did a screening at a bar, and he was a rapper. They turned off my video sound, they asked me if it would be OK to play the video as a background to this rapper. I said I would love to see what that looks like. So, he started rapping and it was amazing how he rapped, because he was talking about S & M and sexuality in his rap. It was freestyle, but it was very intellectual freestyle too, so it was sexual, and it was coming from a very smart and specific place, which, I don't even want to get into criticizing hip hop, but it was very, wow, this is very fresh and offbeat, and I felt that there was a connection there.
Heaps: Who's the guy?
Goyette: His name is Chris Carr, and so I made him into the Marquis de Sade character in my Fuck Platter video. I made this double dick out of cheetah print fabric, and I stuffed it with a whipped cream can, so he could spray us with whipped cream cum out of his dicks. I made a whole French outfit for him, so he would look really fancy, with the white socks, the black shoes, the whole bit. So, he didn't know how he was going to be dressed, and I was even paranoid, because I was like, I'm not sure how this is gonna go down, will he think I'm making fun of him as a black man? I don't want there to be somebody having a negative feeling, but I want to take the risk to try to build a character for the person before they come in, and all they have to do is roll with it, and whatever happens happens. If he didn't like it, that would just have had to be a part of the video. But, he really loved it. I knew he was into S & M, so I gave him the ultimate S & M character to be, so it wasn't a huge stretch, but I wondered how he would react with 6 other strangers in this lobster pileup. Will he really take command of the situation?
Heaps: It was a big lobster pileup, and the Marquis de Sade was hosing 'em down like an old pro.
Goyette: It's really fun! And I learned about him as I got to know him. He did his MFA at Columbia in medieval studies, and he thought hip hop is missing something in terms of not dealing with sexuality in a certain type of way, that he wanted to, so I have a lot in common with him. I keep meeting people and finding common ground and getting collaborations to happen, getting people to become part of the process of making these works. That part is really fun.
Heaps: You work with a lot of different artists, and we know a lot of the same people, like Duke Riley, who else has been in there?
Goyette: Aaron Johnson and Jason Cole Mager, who are both artists, were in the first video. I made the first video with a guy who was well known for making lobster rolls out of his apartment in Greenpoint.
Heaps: So, Lobsta Rollin was the first Lobsta Girl video?
Goyette: Yeah, I started this character at Jack the Pelican. It was pretty nebulous, but it was coming out of all this research I had done on the Salem Witch trials, and lobster was considered a very low food in the Puritan times. They learned how to eat lobster from the Native Americans, and they had a rule at the time in the little Puritan towns in New England, if you were to serve too much lobster a week to your servants, you would get slapped with a heavy fine for abusing your servants. In fact, they called them servants, but that was the first form of slavery in Puritan times. Most of the slaves were from the Caribbean, mostly Barbados.
Heaps: Was it indentured servitude?
Goyette: Yeah. They were not paid, they had to live with the families, and serve as maids, and as people who worked in the fields. It was happening right at the beginning of our country. I go back and forth, with my interest in lobster sexuality, and my interest in Americana, and being from New England, that's more what my interest in lobsters has to do with. It's not really a Salvador Dali reference, but I definitely get that reaction, that's OK. So, being from Massachusetts, starting this whole Lobsta Girl thing after doing a lot of projects as a Puritan character, I decided to just delve into the Lobster thing, because I was interested in the sexuality, and all my projects always go very overtly sexual, no matter what the subject is that I'm studying at first. I end up warping it into a very sexual place. So, just at the beginning of my research and performing as Lobsta Girl, somebody wrote me and said, hey, there's this guy making lobster rolls out of his apartment in Greenpoint. I thought you might be interested. So, he was in the New York Times for selling lobster rolls on the fly! You're not allowed to sell food out of your apartment, but he had developed a character called Dr. Claw, and he would go on his red motorcycle and deliver you a lobster roll, or people would come to his apartment and knock on the door, and he would slide the lobster roll through the mail slot, and they would slide the money through. So, he did it drug dealer style, in a way, so I was totally into him! I started researching him so much. He had a video online, where he was showing how he made the rolls in his apartment, and oh my God, his whole apartment was filled with nautical things. So, this is a perfect set for a video, it was just so perfect. What I did was, I ordered a lobster roll and had him deliver it to me, and I showed up at the door in my costume. He was like, oh my God, I can't believe it, this is amazing! I said, come on up, I want to talk to you. I have been researching lobster sex, and I am dying to do a lobster sex video with you, because of what you're doing. Also, what he was really all about was trying to show New Yorkers what a real New England lobster roll is, which is just basically, lobster, mayonnaise, in a buttered hot dog bun. It's not any other frou frou bullshit. It's not some kind of food you want to mess with in a New Age restaurant, you know what I'm sayin'? He was making it, like, the real deal.
Heaps: Where was he getting his lobsters?
Goyette: His dad had the connection, because his dad owned a lobster company in Maine. He was getting shipments from Maine every week, really cheap. So it was a great business for him to be doing. He was part owner of Surf Bar, and he gave that up and he was doing this stuff on the fly, 'cause now he's on TV. He has a show on the cooking network. So now he's not selling them from his apartment any more.
Heaps: Well wait until they find out about his lobster porn career!
Goyette: That was what he kept saying to me! This is how I started to develop my strategies and language of improvisation, with him. He told me I would love to do this video, but I don't have a lot of time. I will give you one solid day of shooting in my place and you bring whatever or whoever you want and we'll make it happen, but I can only give you one day. That got my wheels turning. I waited 3 months before I did the shoot, I sewed all kinds of costumes. I didn't like that he was kind of going for a hip hop thing when he was really a white dude from Massachusetts, so I kind of made him more of a guido. I kind of changed his persona. I still let him be a tough, macho guy, but I was molding the character.
Heaps: You're the director!
Goyette: It was fun for me. I decided I had to show him selling the rolls in the video, so I got Aaron Johnson and Jason Cole Mager to dress up in these Gorton fisherman outfits, and then they would peer in the window watching us have sex and texting and trying to get lobster rolls, and he interrupted our sex act to go make some rolls for these guys and slip it through the mail slot.
Heaps: Come to think of it, you ended up eating a lobster roll in that video, and you were a Lobsta Girl, so, not only do you have lobster sex, you also have lobster cannibalism.
Goyette: Totally. That was why I wanted to always go back and forth, like what the fuck is going on, she's not really a lobster. I definitely was thinking about cannibalism, and he's just shoving it in my mouth, and then we kiss at the end with the lobster roll between us, so it's just this obsessive, I think of them as very fetishized and obsessive. I am obsessed with lobster. I love to eat lobster, and all the lobster paraphenalia, every week people send me all kinds of info on lobster stuff, people send me lobster bibs.
It's sort of ridiculous, at first I was like, but I'm making SERIOUS ART! Now I love that. There's something psychological happening in the videos, I don't know, the whole process is fun.
Heaps: So then you did one with Duke Riley on a boat.
Goyette: Since I was following this idea that I would do it in the lobster lair of the man, I wanted to do it with Duke. At first I was thinking about the tattoo shop, and after we started talking I said I want you in a nautical setting, and he said Bex, I do have a sailboat. Why don't we do it on the sailboat? I'm like, oh my God, this is perfect! And Duke knew Ben, and this is so funny, he was like, oh, that guy?! I can outdo that guy! There's no way he can be more sexual than me! My video's gonna be better than his! So, I set up this rivalry already! And he didn't really like Ben, and they're both from Greenpoint, or at least his tattoo shop was there, and the boat was docked there. So I said, Duke, do you have any special requests? Lobsters have double dicks, and he said, yeah, I do have a special request. I don't want just 2 dicks. If he had 2 dicks, I want 4 dicks, and I want one of 'em long enough to strangle you with!
Heaps: That's a quote!
Goyette: I like this idea that if somebody made a request like that, I would totally honor those requests. It would be a very submissive act, in a sense. Yeah, I will do that. Then, his assistant, who was helping him with some of his artwork...
Goyette: Not Kitty, but, his name is Brett Land. I said Duke, it would be cool if you had a skipper on the boat, like if you had another dude. He's like, I have the perfect guy. So, Brett didn't even know he was going to be in this video. He had no idea. I didn't even know what Brett would look like, either. He's been on a lot of adventures with Duke too, he's been hopping trains with Duke. So, they really have the persona of pirates. They're pirates together already, and they were sailing on the boat a lot that summer. So when I showed up I had a double dick for him to wear, but I also brought a big beer belly costume, a vinyl beer belly that I'd sewn. I thought, maybe I'll put a beer belly on him, I don't know.
Heaps: The skipper from Gilligan's Island had one!
Goyette: Yeah! But when I saw him, he had the tattoos, like Duke, and I'm like, you don't want to put anything on these guys, it's a beautiful sunny day on the East River. I'm just gonna keep nothing on 'em, just the dicks and the claws, and it was so great. He was perfectly a good sport. There was a threesome scene, and he just came out of the hull of the boat, with this dead fish on a line, and he was swinging that in the scene, and I was grabbing both of them, and sucking on his double dicks while Duke was doing me from behind, and he's swinging this fish around, it's so ridiculous!
Heaps: Did you pass the Circle Line, or anything good like that?
Goyette: Oh my God, YES!!!! In fact, there were boats honking their horns at us, people were waving at us, and we even passed by a wedding! So the wedding people were horrified. I was waving to the wedding people and flashing my tits at them!
Heaps: Was it in Dumbo? By the Fulton Ferry Landing?
Goyette: Yeah! So funny. We got so many cheers, 'cause a lot of the scenes were done inside the boat, and we got on top of the hull, like on the roof, so everybody could see us, and we were getting so cheered on! That was so fun. And the videographer was great, she really acted like she was a porn director the whole time. I knew that I wouldn't be able to use all the sound from the boat because it's so windy out there, so I said, don't worry, if you need to say stuff to us, do it! She was like, come on Rebecca! Grab him! This is your moment! Get it! Suck that dick! Suck it! She's just screaming and cheering on, and it was just hilarious. We had so much fun. We were out on that boat for 12 hours, because we were caught against the tide in both directions. So, it was just like, wow.
Heaps: I remember I went and saw that screening at the Invisible Dog, and there was a question and answer afterward, and somebody asked Duke something, and he said, "Well I got what I wanted out of it!"
Rebecca: Hahahahaha! We were rigging up the sail, and getting the boat going, and I loved that footage because it was really unconscious, they didn't really even think about us shooting them, it's just the dudes, very natural. I brought some beers, maybe 2 six packs, which is ridiculous, I didn't realize we'd be out on the boat for so long. He was just like, oh man! You didn't bring that much beer! He started to get a little nervous, like how was he going to deal with this scene, and then it clicked in his mind, you could see him, like, I'm ready! And then he just asked me, how do you want this to be? You want a fling, or you want a romance?! And I said I think, you know what, I think I'll take the fling. Fling really meant when he stuffed me back into the hull of the boat, I was doing a handstand in the hull for quite a long time. He was manhandling me, and shoving me into the boat, I woke up the next day SORE, meanwhile I had on 5 pairs of underwear, I totally had my chastity belt, I'm like, No, we're not gonna actually do it at all! Hahahaha! One gallerist asked me, he made a comment like, I think she really did it with him! I think she actually had sex with him! Hahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha!
Heaps: It's that Hollywood magic!
Rebecca: Yeah, he definitely was trying to outdo Ben Sargent, and that was fun, and it was really natural and easy to kind of go for it with him! And it was weird because he's a friend, and I've collaborated with him. I played his pregnant, stripteasing wife in the boat battle at the Queens Museum and stuff. That was so fun. The thing about Duke that I really loved to show in this video, and I was trying to insert into his boat battle too, is he has an extremely sexual and perverse side, and a very wild side! It's not necessarily in the artwork that you see in the Chelsea gallery, there's another dimension to him. It is and it isn't, his wildness comes out more like he'll explode a boat with fireworks that he's not allowed to use, and that's totally like a Federal offense! I like that sexual side of him and I wanted to draw that out. I love the artist, but I see something about the person that I want to have come out in my work, you know?
Heaps: So the latest Lobsta Girl video is this moody, underwater, sexy, massive lobster orgy with a lot of characters.
Rebecca: Yeah, a couple of the people I knew, but they weren't necessarily performers, but there was one guy, Irvin Morazan, who's a performance artist, pretty well known for his stuff. I gave him 8 dicks! Hahaha! I made him an octopus dick, because he's a really great performer, and I hadn't really worked with a performance artist yet. In every video I make I want there to be one artist that has something to do with the concept of the piece, so, he was that character in the Fuck Platter, conceptually. It may not come across to the viewer as that's the reason why he's there, but he's a beautiful performer and I thought, wow, that would be great if his 8 dicks were trailing around on that platter making shapes and stuff. I said you can do something that's really you, in the costume, if you want to add something that you usually use for your performance. All he added was to cover his face with a pantyho, so he became more anonymous, more of a shape, a body. I loved each individual in that piece, because everybody was so different. He added that element of he's very used to working with his body as a performer, whereas, intentionally, I was working with a guy who makes lobster rolls, or Duke, who's more known as - he's known for what he's known for, but not necessarily for performance art. The black woman in that video, I found her on Craigslist, her name is Uniska Wahala Kano. Because I put an ad out on Craigslist, I needed people to help me sew lobster claws, and costume element, like maybe I could get a few people to help me, in a sewing circle kind of way. But I told everybody, I'm shooting a video, it's a lobster orgy scene with the Marquis de Sade, and she called me and said, this is great, but I don't sew, but I would like to play the Marquis de Sade. So she comes in, and she's HOT, wearing these short shorts, and she just comes in, so in charge! Like WHOA, she just blew me away. I was going to have that video be just me, and Alicia Gibson, and she's a Lobsta Girl who looks like she could be my younger sister.
Heaps: And what about the atmospheric soundtrack for Fuck Platter?
Goyette: I created a soundscape, using sounds from the video shoot itself, but I mixed those with sounds from porno movies, and other sounds, such as a garden hose. When he's spraying us down with the whipped cream dicks, I'm interested in confounding the viewer with whether it's a fake sound or a real sound. It hypes up the action. And with that piece I worked with Ella Joyce Buckley, who created a beat, and the musical background, a mixture of sexy porn beat & psychedelic sounds. Because of the repetitive action, the video needed music.
Heaps: So what's in the future for Lobsta Girl?
Goyette: Well, I'm doing some stuff with Marni Kotak, she's the first performance artist to give birth in a gallery.
Heaps: Oh yeah, I remember she did a performance in a car, where she re-enacted losing her virginity.
Goyette: Her thing is art mimicking life performance. So all of her stuff is based on scenarios from her life. I got the idea that I wanted to give birth to some lobster babies, and lobsters lay eggs on the back of their tail shell. So, I was getting ready for a birthing scene, and I asked Marni Kotak if she would be my lobster doula. She was interested in that, but I figured out that what I wanted to do first was to shoot the scene in Greece. It's going to be a choice between these 14 men in the lobster double dick Speedos. So, one of them is going to be the father of my baby; I don't know which Greek dude it's gonna be, 'cause I'll have lots of affairs on the uninhabited island.
Heaps: Well as long as your shell is off, anything can happen.
Goyette: Yeah and they're all really strong, and they're gonna be fighting all the time. So when I come back, I'm gonna give birth to the random Greek baby and she'll be my doula, I didn't shoot that birthing scene yet, an orgasmic birth in a butter bath. In a claw foot tub. It has to be a claw foot tub. Marni was riffing off that idea that I had about doulas, and she had an idea for herself. She started this thing where she has art doula dervices. So, yesterday, I performed in her video, where I was giving birth, I went to her, and it was very corporate, she was this corporate art doula, and she said what are your ultimate birthing fantasies, how do you want to give birth? And I wasn't playing Lobsta Girl, just a regular lady. Looking like Wilma Flintstone. I said, I want to give birth on the shore of the ocean. I see myself in Sag Harbor, in the undertow, giving contractions, contractions, and I'm really getting there, and all of a sudden you help me to have ORGASMIC!!!!! BIRTH!!!! And instead of pain, I'm feeling it! And I'm having the BIGGEST ORGASM OF MY LIFE!!!!! So then we did the birthing scene, and I'm having this orgasmic birth, and I give birth to her baby, but her baby is 25 pounds! He's a year old. So I'm holding Ajax and I said, Oh, my beautiful baby boy! All 25 pounds of you! You're so special, you gave me the best orgasm your mommy ever had! One day I'm going to tell you about that orgasm, when you get older and you'll understand what I'm talking about, but thank you for the pleasure you gave me! So, oh my God this is crazy! Now it's just so funny, we're going back and forth as each other's doulas, so, it's great!!!
Heaps: Pretty demented!!!
Goyette: Hahahahahahahaha! Of course i dont care if i come off as a pervert, because that's the goal!
When Rebecca Goyette returns from her 14- Lobsta dude gang bang in Greece, her work (and mine) will be in the group show The Double Dirty Dozen at Freight and Volume Gallery in New York City, opening August 16 and continuing through September 22
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Joe Heaps Nelson is an artist and writer in New York City.