Falling in love with a sadomasochistic prostitute named John

Julia Fox spent six months in Louisiana falling in and out of love with ‘John’. Her new book documents the highs and lows of their love affair

 Artist/designer Julia Fox is not afraid to show her true colours or anybody else's for that matter. Her work is all about the truth – her truth. A truth that could be defined as something that exerts influence far beyond the bounds of the ‘normal’ world most of us live in.

Following on from her last book Symptomatic of a relationship gone sour: Heartburn/Nausea, which chronicled three relationships that had a significant impact on Fox’s life, Fox tells us, “I wanted to do a follow up on the first book. I felt like the first one portrayed the more tragic aspects to love: codependency, abuse, heartbreak etc. This second one, titled PTSD, also chronicles a love story. It’s a very unconventional one but it was love nonetheless.”

The new book, out 1 May, will also be accompanied by an exhibition held at New York’s Magic Gallery. “My art show is going to centre more around my personal experience of living on the bayou in Louisiana and the book is more intimate in that it details this unrequited love story with a gay prostitute that I met while down there.”

“I just love feeling things. I usually know when something is going to end up being catastrophic but I don’t really care” – Julia Fox

Growing up in Italy before moving to New York during her teenage years, Fox is just 25, but you'd be forgiven for being under the impression that she has lived 20 lives. Some people attract certain experiences that others don’t, and, she believes, it’s a privilege to feel the things she is feeling, to see the things she is seeing, to experience the life in such an intense, thrilling and extraordinary manner. All due to letting go, being present and open to anything. She explains: “I ended up in Louisiana kind of by mistake. My car broke in Tennessee so my friend Harmony and I rented a car and drove down to Louisiana to stay at my friend Jack’s house temporarily. We thought we would stay there for two weeks at most, but those two weeks turned into six months. I met John there and I couldn't leave him. Louisiana is such a mystical land so rich with history. I made sure to explore every crevice of it. I actually almost died in doing so. I made sure to cover all of it honestly and meticulously.”

She adds, “The girl shooting up in the field was my neighbour. The image of the boy with the blood – (which) I'm not using it in the show anymore – his best friend punched him in the face because he was going to drive home drunk. We ended up driving him home but not before I got that picture!”

With her previous book, and now this one, it’s no secret that Julia uses herself and people around her as her main medium, one that is violent, sadomasochistic, but still of a very pure and beautiful manner. Literary critic and cultural theorist Sylvère Lotringer wrote (in the book Matthew Barney: Pace Car for the Hybris Pil) about the function violence assumes in sadomasochism, which is not a fictitious exercise within a private fetish realm, but a highly realistic form of social therapy – and in her case, in a way, it does come across as therapeutic. “I just love feeling things. I usually know when something is going to end up being catastrophic but I don't really care,” Fox says. “I find that the things that end up being earth shattering are the things that give me the most thrill. My mom told me that even as a toddler I wasn't afraid of anything. She thought something was wrong with me. I didn't know how to walk or swim, but that didn't stop me from crawling into the ocean and almost drowning over and over again. I'm still like that in a way. It's a mixture of curiousity and no self-discipline. It's kind of lethal, but so much fun!”