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May 26, 2004

{     Interview : Spencer Davis     }    

Spencer Davis just might have the coolest hobby in the world. It's taken him from his workshop bench to art galleries and has afforded him the opportunity to hang with some of the ginchiest guys and gals on the West Coast art scene. It's more than a hobby though, it's sculpting at its most voluptuous. Spencer's work really needs to be seen to be believed, and I guarantee that even once you've seen it you won't necessarily believe it- his Booty Babes defy not only the stereotype of feminine beauty but gravity itself.

Adam: First off, I am so glad to see someone fighting the good fight; promoting images of women that challenge the prevailing standards and focusing on what is unique, beautiful and sexy about all women- their curves. What is the typical reaction from women when encountering your work?
Spencer: The feedback that I get on-line is overwhelmingly positive. I've been surprised to find how many women buy them for their man. Many women thank me profusely for creating a doll that represents them in a sexy yet respectful way, whereas before, there were only thin dolls.

How do the waify, runway model, no-ass havin' types react?
The have-nots tend to snicker and, as would be expected, some people just don't get it.

Your wife Lili is a very beautiful woman - what does she think of your work? Is there ever any jealousy over the "Babe" you're spending your time with?
Only around meal time, when she has to tear me away from the computer�or maybe she just doesn't want my food to get cold (?) � Lili is amazingly supportive of my �work.' She says, "You're great!" whenever I unveil my latest creation. Lucky for us both, she has her own passion: nursing.

Tell me about your first Babe: I understand you started with a traditional 12" fashion doll, (maybe of the Barbie variety.) How did you get from "Barbie" to "Booty"?
It was really an exploration. I was just getting started with sculpting really when I added an oil based clay to the basic structure. Later I learned that �clay' is not the best material for finishing or polishing so I made a mold of this result and continued to refine the (resin) parts with automotive primer and wax, which can be fine tuned with dental tools. I only worked on it when I was inspired to and had the free time so it took a couple years.

How long after that were you able to mass-produce and offer them affordably?
After a couple more years of admiring what I had done (I realize that sounds conceited as hell) I came to the conclusion that I had to do something with this. I'm very critical of my own work and here I am, years later and I still like this(!) So I made a clear decision to have some produced. It was a giant leap of faith but I had my mind set that nothing would stand in my way. ABOUT ONE YEAR after that I had pieces manufactured, shipped and sitting in my home.

How important is it to you that John Q. Public be able to afford a piece of your artwork?
Art is, let's face it, a luxury. (My art anyway) doesn't serve as shelter, food, or clothing and so to justify spending two or three thousand dollars (or even two or three hundred dollars) on art you have to be pretty damn upper class. Having said that, art should be enjoyed by ALL. I find it VERY satisfying to know that the owner of a record label AND the common man can afford to own a piece of my art.

Are you still rockin' a day job, or have the Booty Babes been paying the bills?
Indeed, I am still working an "eight-to-five." I'm most concerned with getting my woman through school right now. When she graduates with a nursing degree � all bets are off (!)

You pump out some insanely detailed and extremely extravagant custom work, and are able to turn out custom pieces on a fairly regular basis. How do you find the time?
Live close to work and get the hell out of there at five.

What's the longest amount of time you've spent working on a custom, and which piece?
�Best on Venus" was the piece that took the longest. I worked on it off and on for about 18 months.

Are you a fan of the Japanese garage kit and custom figure phenomenon? If so, how did you become aware of the scene, how much of an inspiration was/is it to you, and what resources do you check out on a regular basis to stay informed?
Definitely a fan. When I first moved to L.A., interest in the garage kit scene was a pretty big deal. I'd go to the model conventions (Mad Model Party) to see what was new. There are a couple Japanese model magazines worth picking up � S.M.H. (Sensational Model & Hobby) is awesome and Hobby Japan is good too but mostly features GUNDAM kits. Amazing Figure Modeler is another good one (American.) is a very inspiring on-line resource I check out from time-to-time. And is another resource that I recently discovered.

Have you been able to make any headway into the Asian market? How is your work received overseas?
Actually, a Japanese company took a significant wholesale order, which was great news �cause that's a tough market to crack. Germany, France, and England seem to like them and we get the occasional order from Italy.

I've been really happy to see your work showing up in toy boutiques, alongside collectible vinyl and plush. I think it breathes some fresh air into that scene, and proves that there are a variety of mediums and themes to work with when it comes to collectible art. Have you faced any challenges in gaining acceptance with this crowd due to the provocative nature of your work, or has this been a pretty natural coming together of like-minded forces?
I usually have to cover up the topless version � "Free Spirit." Some shops wouldn't carry them because they were concerned about what Moms would say. Most people seem to welcome my participation in this arena though. I'm happy to be lumped with these audiences on account of the fact that my figures are honest-to-goodness artist offerings and they are considered "urban."

Do you collect toys or plush, and if so, whose work do you love?
I'm a sucker for the nostalgia and detail of good ol' 1:18th scale Star Wars figures - my first love. I have glass display cases with about 300 to date. I also love robots and was heavy into SHOGUN WARRIORS and Transformers as a kid. It's hard to keep up these days. If I'm really impressed with a design or a sculpt, I'll pick up just about anything.

I know you have some obvious influences in the lowbrow art scene. Who do you take the most inspiration from?
Robert Williams, Coop, and Kozik were the big three low brow artists that planted the seeds and fertilized my ambitions. I am bewildered by Rockin' Jellybean and it is Glenn Barr that makes me want to paint.

Your work has allowed you to rub shoulders with a lot of big names in lowbrow art. Who have you been most impressed by in person, and who have you not yet met that you'd like to?
That's true, I got to meet Ed Big Daddy Roth before he passed away. I have met Robert Williams, Kozik and Coop several times. Robert Williams is surprisingly peaceful and kind, as is his wife. Coop is witty and charming � despite what his fascination with "The Devil" might lead you to believe. Hajime Sorayama is a hilarious little man. (very animated) But hell, I'm so star-struck when I see one of my heroes, I'm just happy to shake the hands that spawned such amazing works. It would be an honor to meet Frank Frazetta, though I wouldn't call his work lowbrow.
I met Glenn Barr at the opening of his HAUNTED WORLD show in Hollywood! � Super nice guy. It occurred to me that he is a very patient man. He was happy to talk about his process with me�

Looking back a bit from the current scene, which old-school pin-up artists are your favorites? Do you find that work as inspiring as what's going on today?
George Petty, Gil Elvgren, and Robert McGinnis - These guys got it right. I like the simplicity of their work - It's in good taste and unapologetically to the point. (I like this about Coop.) -which proves that old-school pin-up goes hand-in-hand with today's work. I often reference these great oldies when designing or sculpting.

Are you motivated by music? What are you listening to right now?
I'm very inspired by music culture. In some cases, as much as the music itself. But yes, music makes the mood. I love the White Stripes. I'm also listening to the Strokes and Outkast (Andre 3000). All-time favs include The Beattles, Pink Floyd, Nirvana and Bob Marley.

You also paint and occasionally work in 2-D when not sculpting. Is that something you're hoping to do more of, or just something to break up the flow?
Yes, I plan to do more in the near future. I'll admit it, I'm slow as hell (after the initial concept sketch)�.but it's a lot faster than sculpting! I also have a PASSION for photography.

You've dealt with some pretty diverse groups when displaying and selling your work- everybody from the art gallery crowd to John Stagliano of Buttman Magazine. Am I right in assuming that the wildest bunch has to be the comic-book kids at the conventions you've attended? Do you have any good stories from the cons, and how do you feel your work has been accepted by that scene?
I can put to rest any doubt that coimc-com squids are a special lot. Between Martians and stormtroopers in full-on battle armor� I haven't yet felt the need to sucker punch any over-zealous fans for drooling on my work, as Coop once did � but this is definitely a core audience. Where there are comics there will always be girl-art. A lot of the pin-up collectors seem to dig my stuff.

I know you've got some deep roots in comics, and getting your work distributed by Diamond must have been a personal victory of sorts. How has that relationship worked out for you?
Yes, it was definitely a milestone�It served its purpose. We moved quite a few pieces with Diamond. (More than you'd expect considering that the Adult Previews �supplement' gets such poor distribution.) I hope to work with them again someday with different types of offerings.

Speaking of personal victories, you must have shat a brick when Vibe ran their piece on you! How did that come about, and how are you feeling about it?
You know, I really didn't expect a thing from that. A good fella' from Mass Appeal magazine passed my info their way. They contacted me and said that Booty Babe Art would be mentioned in a Valentine's Day, top-ten, gift idea list. I figured, "I'll believe it when I see it." Then I started getting a storm of emails and orders- before I could even get my hands on a copy. It was definitely one of the best things that ever happened to this project.

Your work inspires certain� "feelings" in people. How do you feel knowing that somewhere out there somebody is, as they say on People's Court, "taking matters into their own hands" while staring at your work?
That's flattering� I'd say that's ONE sign of a successful piece(!) One customer reported that his "Free Spirit" brought sparks to his married, love-life in the bedroom.

You've done a lot to build your brand and distinguish your work, while making it available to all comers regardless of shape or size. That idea is best expressed in your Real-Life Booty Babe Contest, and I was hoping you could tell us what inspired this, what it's all about and how to get involved.
Well, for one thing, I have always wished I could see the people (esp. the ladies!) who frequent my site. I often get emails from women who exclaim, "This describes me!" And, the absolute most frequently asked question is, "Can you make a Booty Babe doll that looks like me?" Of course I can't possibly satisfy ALL requests, but when one girl sent a picture of herself and said she wanted to be my next "inspiration" � it gave me an idea. I encourage anyone who thinks they are a Booty Babe or knows someone who is a Booty Babe (as defined in the "What's the Story" section of my site) to enter. The grand prize winner will receive a doll created in her likeness, complete with portrait sculpted likeness, skin tone, hairstyle and dress. Three other winners will win limited edition sculptures (in effect, trophies.) Should be fun for all! Check it out at: Contest!

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Very cool!!!!!

Posted by: n8w at June 9, 2004 9:16 PM

thats some curvadelic hot ass shit!!

Posted by: tom at April 15, 2006 11:47 AM

I would love my own Booty Babe!

Posted by: Traci Islands at June 24, 2006 6:20 PM

Man your stuff looks fantastic! Please keep up the great work!! I would love to have a piece comissioned !

Posted by: Rod at February 22, 2007 5:57 PM
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