AL EINGANG

Interview by Jim Gladstone

Albo Jeavons, aka Al Eingang, is an artist, activist and cultural provocateur who shuns schmoozing and makes his mark on the world from a ramshackle 4000 square foot loft above a liquor store in downtown Philadelphia. He lives there with fellow artist Kent Latimer and provides meeting and work space for groups including ACT UP. He has made a name for himself as one of the world’s great masters of autofellatio in a series of videos and a website, www.solosuck.com, that we sat down to discuss in early spring. To reach the computer-and-puppet-strewn office space where we chatted, we wandered through an adjacent area, occupied by a gathering of Philly Jacks, a monthly men’s masturbation party.

Jim: Well, I can hardly just ignore that! What is the Jacks all about?
Al: There is a special quality to group sex when it’s just jacking off. There’s a lightness to it, and a quality of attention for the whole group. Sex parties that include cocksucking and fucking tend to offer less group interplay and movement than Jacks parties. Plus you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to do with other people. There’s much less tension and negotiation than at other sorts of sex parties. It’s simple and direct. It’s also important to me that we’re giving men a space where they can have safe communal sex, and that the money from the parties goes to support AIDS activism.
And how did you get into self-sucking?
When I was growing up in Swarthmore, outside of Philadelphia. Our neighborhood had a wonderfully egalitarian ethos. The boys and girls all played with dolls together, we all played kick-the-can together, and we all loved to get naked together. I tried everything I could think of when I was a little kid. I jerked off, played with my asshole, whatever. When I was eleven, I read a copy of the Kinsey report my mom had at home. There was a short section on autofellatio. I read it and I tried it.
And practice makes perfect…
It got easier as I got older. Who wouldn’t want to do it. It seemed like an unremarkable thing to me. I have a more intimate relationship with my body than most men do. One of the things about growing older is that I appreciate my cock more and more. Sometimes I’m standing at the toilet and I look down and think: “God, I love my cock.” The feeling has definitely gotten stronger over time.
At what point did you realize it was unusual that you could blow yourself?
When I was sixteen, I started coming into downtown Philadelphia where I discovered a tearoom at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel. That’s the hotel that later became famous for being the source of legionnaires’ disease. Anyway, the men’s room on the first floor there was such an amazing hive of sexual activity. One day, there were six guys jerking off at once, and I leaned over to lick some precum off the head of my cock. One of the other guys just loved that. He was staying in the hotel, and offered me $150 to come up and do it in his room. Not even for sex with him, just for sucking myself.
And so a business was born?
A few years later, I was doing realistic sex illustrations for Stallion, FirstHand and Honcho to make some money. I met the editor of Stallion, Jerry Douglas, who has since become a major gay porn director. He’s a maniac and he’s totally into the idea of self-sucking. He asked me to show him, so I did. Jerry thought I should build a video around it. He introduced me to Christopher Rage, who was this kinky porn author in New York, who sort of became my mentor. I made my first tape in 1988, A Young Man From Nantucket. I was the director, producer, key grip, script girl and it cost me ten bucks. I sent it to Honcho, got this worshipful review, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
You’re not the only one out there doing this sort of video. What do connoisseurs look for in this realm?
Depth and ease are the two key things. Plus there’s some undefinable panache. But everyone who’s really into it is most impressed by depth and ease. I mean, there are plenty of guys who, if they really struggled at it, could manage to flick their tongues and swipe their dickheads.
Is it lucrative?
I made six tapes over ten years, from the time I was 28 to four years ago, when I was 38. 95% of my income over the past 14 years has come from those videos.
Why haven’t you made a tape in the last four years? Especially now that you look all butch and Grizzly Adamsy with that beard?
I’ve had some back injuries, so I just can’t get the depth I used to. At my height, I could take my whole cock. Also, four years ago, I discovered that I have a variant of marfan syndrome, and I had to have open heart surgery to repair my mitral valve. Two of the typical aspects of my medical condition are heart problems and great flexibility. You’re right, by the way, there is a real market for images of beards with cum on them.
So are the videos really about making a profit?
Money is definitely a part of it, but I love having sex with myself and, also, these tapes are as much art as anything else that I’ve ever done. My father was an artist, I grew up with conceptualism and Duchampian ideas as part of my upbringing. To me, art is less about making objects than living my life as an artwork, creatively and expressively. And it’s so clear and unambiguous what I’m expressing in these videos: that I’m a lucky man and that taking pleasure in your own body in the most complete way you can is a positive thing. On my website, I ask people if they consider my stuff to be art, and I get very thoughtful responses. I mean, the videos don’t look like conventional porn at all.
That’s true. They’re very eccentric looking. It’s hardly Pizza Tony’s Hot Delivery or anything like that.
I went to art school for three years in the late ‘70s, but I dropped out because I was an anarchist. In the early ‘80s, I joined an anarchist study group here in Philadelphia, which is one of the only cities in the world with an anarchist bookstore and a thriving anarchist community. For me, anarchism is as simple as the idea that people should be able to live in a just and peaceful world without hierarchal relationships. I found the art world disgusting and I cut myself off from it for many years. With the self-suck videos, I was making what I considered to be fine art, selling it outside artworld venues and I was able to think of myself as a working artist who was actually making a living at it.
But you’re starting to get back into some other art now, right?
Lately, I’ve become more comfortable making other artwork, and even tried to sell it via the more conventional art world. I recently did a series of works, a gallery show, and a website www.disincorporated.org that examined the iconography and meaning of the business suit. I see the business suit as the ultimate symbol of dominance and submission in a world increasingly dominated by Western culture. The suit is a uniform, but it’s also the fetish-gear of the powerful in the disgusting game of non-consensual S&M that they play with the world. I’ve started to take business suits and stuff them and sew them together to create Frankensteinian multi-bodied creatures that suggest corporate beings, because, legally, a corporation is a “legal person”. The work also relates back to my early erotic experiences with men in suits in that hotel bathroom. I’m a product of our culture and powerful men are what we’re all raised to want to be.
Do you think of yourself as a powerful person?
Yeah, I’ve been told that many times. For years, though, I’ve allowed my own mistrust of power structures to cloud the positive aspects of my personal power. That’s a lot of what drove me away from the mainstream art world in the first place, but I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable and to inch my way back in. The other thing that’s kept me away is that I’m really not very good at schmoozing. I have a pretty retiring personality, and I’m happy hanging out here in my own space.
Well, considering what an amazing space you have, and that you are, quite famously, able to keep yourself amused, it’s easy to understand! What kind of tunes do you listen to when you hang out at home?
Well, Mary J. Blige is in heavy rotation right now. Also a lot of Presence, this London-based house/trip-hop outfit, and Erykah Badu. I also always play a lot of bluegrass. The other music that’s extremely important to me is Balinese gamelan music, largely because of the way this music completely permeates the Balinese culture and daily life. I’m fascinated with the whole lack of separation they have between life and art in Bali. It really resonates with me. I’m a compulsive reader, too. A lot of utopian stuff, and sci-fi. I love Samuel Delaney, Ursula LeGuin, and lately, I’ve been loving Barbara Kingsolver.
What’s your second favorite part of your body?
My nipple. The left one. It’s much more sensitive than the right.

End