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MATTHEW BENEDICT

Painter

My whole life is influenced by David and his work.

His performance, his clothing, his humor. His whole life is theater. I can’t do what David does, and David can’t do what I do. David sits and watches me paint and learns, but David can’t draw the way that I can. David can see it in his mind, and then lay out the fabric on the floor—you’ve seen this. I’ve sat with him a million times, and he can see the whole finished garment in his mind. Then, he can draw the pattern so that he can visualize it in three dimensions in his mind: ‘This piece is going to come up and wrap around the neck and fit perfectly and tuck into there. This piece is going to be the skirt.’ That is so genius to me. I cannot do that, but I’ve seen him do it, and it’s so beautiful and incomprehensible.

We’re both doing art, but we have such different minds. How he can measure every this, this, this, and then draw it flat, and then cut it all out—sometimes in one piece—it’s mind blowing. I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “Yeah, that’s the right side of the pants,” and I’m sitting looking at it, trying to figure it all out. I have no idea. It’s magical. Truly.

For me, like for David, my art is my life, so when you look at my paintings, you’re seeing me, my family, my friends. I don’t use professional models, and David has been in my life for decades, and he’s always willing to sit for me. David is the easiest model ever. He’ll just do anything, and he trusts me.

In the ancient nautical traditional ceremony of the “Crossing of the Line”—when ships went over the equator—the Queen, Amphitrite, Bride of Neptune, is played by a sailor in drag. He is also called the “Wog Queen.” At the time I painted this picture, I did not know that David, before I ever knew him, was billed as the “Hog Queen of Lip-Sync.” Funny, right?

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