Pop star or porn star. Actually Huizenga is a balance between the two. Pop Porn!
Actually Huizenga is a musician, a cinematographer and enfant terrible of the LA scene. Her films often carry a kitsch aesthetic, while her music is infused sometimes in retro-futuristic references and other times in pure pop. On her new art project, she collaborates with her beau, well-known photographer Sokrates Mitsios and together they explore sexuality and contemporary relationships through vivid visual imagery, often crossing the known barriers of political correctness in pop aesthetics. Besides her life story, we asked Actually some questions about her new, controversial work and what were her impressions of the country from her recent trip to Greece.
Actually Huizenga is my name and my music name is Actually. My given name was Ashley, but it is a very popular name in LA so I changed it to Actually because I always turn my head when people use that word in a sentence anyhow. I was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California. I was extremely studious in an all-girls private school and I used an extra free block to be able to take art class And Glee Club (which you had to audition for, I always refused solos because I was shy to the point of passing out). I looked like a skeleton with long blond hair to my knees, I had braces for 4 years too. I was also on the cross country team and my father wanted me to be an athlete. When I lost California state finals I told him I was going to focus on art, art history, and writing. No time for boys or kissing until senior year. I don't regret being uncool at all! Because I was not interested in boys, my parents assumed I was gay and had a "talk" with me at a local Mexican Restaurant that was (and I think still is) known as a cruising zone in Silver Lake. I thought that was cool.
I finally became cool when I went to college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Pasadena Art Center College of Design (California). My teachers were amazing. I started out as a painter but found video to be more interesting and soon found performance within video to be more interesting still....and then some dude in a band that I was dating suddenly needed a keyboard player because his needed to go to AA....so I eventually worked my way up to being co-front man. Then I started making music videos. Making music videos for my own songs was the best excuse to cast pretty boys so I could make out with them for the sake of art. I have a BA in Fine Art that never helped me get a steady job. I am currently living between LA, NY, London...and now Athens!
I truly feel that my life is my art. At the moment I am focusing on my solo career as ACTUALLY. I have just finished producing an album and Im looking for someone to put it out. In the meantime I am working on music videos, freelance fetish jobs and my snuff pop (SoftRock).
My earliest childhood memory: Mostly I remember the smell of waxed wood and pastel colors, and shade configurations made by window blinds. I also remember wood in the snow and the smell of a heated wooden hallway (it would be the East Coast where my parents are both from). I distinctly remember the smell and the look of dark wood that is wet from heated moisture. Whenever I see or smell this, I have dejavu. I also strongly recall the smell of moth balls and touching beached glass and fish skin while sitting in a high chair. I also remember taking baths in the sink (from my grandma in Cape Cod, MASS as well as in LA). My mother was a Playboy bunny at the club. My godmother was an actual Penthouse Pet of the year in the late 80's; you'll have to guess which covers. Her favorite movie was "Caligula"; its one of my favorites now too. They used to dress me up in wigs and hats (I was bald until I was 2) and beautiful women (Playboy and Penthouse pets) came over to play with me a lot. SuperBowl Cheerleaders used to play with me at football parties too...but that's a different story. Let's just say I learned how to walk amidst a lot of beautiful legs in heels and glistening, pumped up muscles (My Dad was the doctor for the Raiders and also OJ Simpson's Doctor on trial. GULP).
The artist who influenced me when I was growing up was David Bowie. And that is an understatement. I was obsessed ever since I saw him on TV in the movie "Labyrinth." (first time I ever "masturbated"). I was going to drag shows dressed like David Bowie before I got my period (which i got at 18/senior year). Through him I learned about books, other musicians,movies, everything. The School of Bowie for sure. I made a video to submit to that old show FanAtic when I was in middle school and climbed on the top of the Griffith Park Observatory with a sign and dressed like him ( I never got a response from VH1). My first car in high school had a license plate that read "GLAMRCK" and I had a mullet and a hairless cat named Bowie. (My current hairless cat is named Sweet Raisin. Bowie died of a heart attack almost two years ago. He is buried outside the family home in his favorite Chinese Emperor outfit)
I am really just interested in amusing myself and the people around me (especially fellow artists and friends whom I respect artistically). I have always enjoyed creating environments and situations for people to come into which are "fun" but also a part of my work. When I was little, I was obsessed with making my own coloring books (usually mermaids or faeries or something like that). I would xerox my pen drawings for the other kids to crayon in like a coloring book. I think this a good basic example of how I like to offer myself and my art. I spend all my time and money so that others can contribute to the project in an amusing and artistic way, without ever having to be nervous of my credit being altered. The work doesn't mean anything unless someone cares enough to try and fill in the lines with color.
It is very difficult for me to break the different facets of my style up into categories because they all blend together into what I am. I cannot explain what I am on my own... I usually need other people to remind me! To see someone smiling and simply enjoying the humor and the sexuality and the color of what I have put my life's blood into...that is when I am happy. I am ecstatic when I am performing though (in a video or on stage; feels like kissing a crush every time. Nervous delights).
The "sex" thing happens because it is the purest element with the most complicated connotations...It is a very rich and giving yet dangerously fickle master. The secret to my control (in art) is the fact that I give a lot of control away in other areas of my life.
The thing I really can't do and want to do: I guess be a man? I'd love to be a pretty gay boy and dress the way I do now (not in drag, but effeminately)....pretty much do everything the same way I do now but be a twink with similar features. I would like to know what it feels like to use a penis. I would probably even experiment with girls as a gay man too, just to feel it even though my pheromones would naturally be against it. I would be a 50/50 top/bottom with my boyfriend I think. I like to share.
I used to really want to be a man, but recently I have become more comfortable with being a woman and using those aspects as part of my work. I don't hide my boobs anymore like I used to. If you watch my movie "Write A Book About It" you will notice that I always hid them. I only just started showing them this year. I like them now. The Soft Rock series is the premier of my naked breasts on film.
In answer to your question to a "typical day in my life" : A typical day of my life....is really just fucked. Being "typical" can only be painful. Like watching TV, its fun for a few hours...but then you start getting nauseous. I like pre-recording shows though.
I found the bureaucracy in Greece quite shocking. I was trying to do Visa stuff....and women were pulling out folders from the seventies overflowing with moldy stamped notebook paper while little kids were running around screaming and throwing spinach pies all over the place. I don't understand why they don't use computers. Oh ! And once a cab driver freaked out and screamed at me because I closed the taxi door too hard. Socrates and my friend Alexandros said it was because I am an American. Americans slam doors...
I was a little surprised by some older women...kind of mean. One said she wanted to "pull my hair out" because I was kissing Socrates in public? Whatever! Seems like the work ethic is a bit stagnant But on the whole I think Greeks are very jovial and I appreciate their dedication to Greek tradition...especially in food! I LOVE horta and grilled octopus and tarama....there is nothing like Greek food. Astoria, Brooklyn is the only other place to get a hint of its overwhelming glory. I also have to mention that I have Never seen apartments anywhere in the world that look like Athens apartments...with those patterned drawnings and late-80's styled insect-like bubble patios.... I would love to shoot a music video featuring these apartments.
I think that the police men (and women) of Athens are really good looking. Not all of them of course, but Most of them are young and lean and good looking. Their outfits are really nice as well; they fit tightly which I like. I think I would pick 4 of the best looking ones ...and see where their pent up aggression from the riots and the sun would lead them...as I sing in a giant clam shell bed with rain pouring down on us or something like that.
The most disgusting thing I ever did for art....That is a perfect question for the "Write A Book About It" movie which is mostly disgusting. I had to make all my own props and special effects and since the movie is about immortals who have to eat the insides of the people who love them for 10 year increments of immortality...I had to use a lot of real animal parts from butcher shops. I would buy gallons of fake blood from the Hollywood costume store and have an igloo cooler on set with the body parts coated in the fake blood. My actors only had to put pickled cabbage in their mouths (which is also quite gross), but once I got really into a scene and actually bit a piece of a pig heart off with my teeth. I think that was disgusting, but I didn't really get that grossed out; other people did. I've put a lot of things in my mouth that I shouldn't. At least I don't eat fast food.
Extreme means hitting the highest point at the other end of whatever I have been doing, which has always been quite difficult for me to conceptualize. At one end I could be a pop star and at the other end a porn star...and then there is a fine artist somewhere in between. In the spit roast, I guess the true artist would be the belly of the pig; I will let you decide which end of the piggy is the pop and which end is the porn! If you look at my art, it really isn't pop or porn in either of those traditional senses. So maybe I am simply a nontraditional star. Truthfully, I always think of a "star" as someone who has world fame with a lot of money, which I don't but I could, and that's why I used that word just now. And now back to the question: I think it’s more about me honing in on a specific aspect of my work (sexuality) than actually "going all the way" with it. If I did the most extreme of what I sometimes imagine, I would probably be in prison with a life sentence (they wouldn't give me death right away because I'm too fun to be around!)
As for intentional, I would say, yes, that most things I actually put the effort into displaying before people is deliberate. But, on the other hand, a lot of what I do is compulsive...like a base animal. My live performances are very unrestrained and usually unplanned. Does anyone feel lust, fear, or pain intentionally?
I want to arouse not only myself, but the viewer as well. Life is difficult, restricting and boring enough; it’s sometimes really nice to know that artists are out there making art that could excite and stimulate you. I want to provoke myself, so that will probably end up provoking someone else as well.
Someone is always going to be offended. Despite the extreme cruelty, often pure evil, of humanity, people still love to get upset about sex. "Being Offended" is a strange thing. I still don't really understand it. Is it fear of evil? True, sometimes sex can be evil, but only in the wrong context. Anything can be evil when in the arms of it. In movies, people seem to love it. And most people are so used to seeing violence on/in their entertainment systems, that it means nothing to see an image of real-life evil (like an image from war or something). Funny that a woman's nipples become NC-17, but a head getting severed from a body is only, at the most, rated R. It's a strange line: people want to see what can be, what can be imagined, and yet they also want to ignore a lot of what actually is (especially Americans). I'm not particularly offended that people are offended by my work. Being offended is the viewer's choice. If my work is offending people, then hopefully I can be more offensive, because at least I am getting someone to feel something. People say I need to "tone it down" in order to make a pop career; I tried washing the color out for a while but I almost killed myself in the process. So, fuck them. Why should I deny what I am or what I could be? I want to make myself happy artistically before all else. I am a selfish artist.
I hate the word taboos because it sounds like tattoos. I don't hate tattoos though, so what I am saying doesn't really make sense. Taboos don't really make sense. That goes in the category of "offense," which I think I have discussed quite enough! Funny enough, I only hear the feedback [for the softrock films] of others through other people. No one has come up to me personally and talked about my work (except for a few close friends (who are involved in the process anyhow). What I have heard through others is usually good. And the bad, is always of the cliché "offended" types... ya know, Christian mothers and such. Now that I have moved back to LA, I'm trying to release my record ("Wet Look") so I can go on tour and get exhausted on a stage as many nights/days in a row as possible. In fine art/ pop porn news, I am working on SoftRock3 with Socrates Mitsios right now. I really want to get that actress Paz De La Huerta in the 4th installment. I don't usually get excited by people on TV, but I have been totally enticed by her take on sex and the camera (that show "Boardwalk Empire"). I would also like dolphins involved...in a more frightening way than most dolphins are displayed...friendliness mixed with the fear of betrayal in an animal who looks like it is always smiling.
I just started that kick starter program in order to make that happen, even though it sounds so cheesy and I vomited while applying. Socrates and I have been offered housing in Marrakesh and Hydra, Greece to make our 4th film, but I need to make the money for the flight! In the meantime, I just really want to perform live as much as possible. I have been playing shows in strip clubs, and that has totally been awesome. Strip clubs are some of the friendliest and most lucrative venues around!
The first two films of the SoftRock series took part in an exhibition called A Shaded View of Fashion Film at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France.
You can contribute and help Actually on her project here:
Each contribution wins special gifts from the SoftRock films.
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