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Go Color In a Bag of Dicks! (With This Totally NSFW Coloring Book) - By pkane - August 12, 2016 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Go Color In a Bag of Dicks! (With This Totally NSFW Coloring Book)

Sometimes, after a bad breakup, you just have to have sex with as many people as possible until you stop feeling like shit about yourself.

But if you’re artist Nathan Rapport, a onetime San Franciscan who now lives and works in Austin, you get in the car after meeting up with a trick and Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” and you realize that maybe that method isn’t working this time.

“I don’t want to demonize it,” Rapport says of the promiscuity route. “But it’s also worth asking questions. It didn’t make much sense to me, fucking your way through a breakup. Of course, we all do this, whether we’re gay or straight.”

Instead, he poured his feelings into his art, to make sense of the breakup and — as he put it — the “slutty phase.”

“I created a single drawing, and it felt like it was a page of a coloring book,” he says, and Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me was born.

An initial run of 20 and a Facebook post attracted the attention of an acquaintance who worked for NewNowNext, the news site for the LGBT channel Logo, and then — via Rapport’s Etsy page — attention from the Huffington Post. Suddenly, orders poured in, and the resulting boomlet of book sales was enough to alter the trajectory of Rapport’s career — slightly.

“That weekend proved financially really nice for a moment,” he says. “It was a flash in the pan: The book sales have tapered significantly. But as someone who’s worked my whole life as an artist and has never experienced a break quite like that, when that kind of money lands in your lap, it’s not enough to do anything with. You could go on a tour or just spend it. So I felt like playing poker: I won a hand and I have a huge jackpot, and pushed it right back and said, ‘All in!’ and invested in this tour.”

Rapport traveled to L.A., Portland, New York Toronto, Detroit, New Orleans, and places in-between, hosting coloring parties in bookstores, clubs, and other venues. The reaction surprised him. For one, he found that straight-identified men — the “enlightened, progressive kind” — found that his coloring book of fellatio, group anal, and captions lifted from breakup songs resonated with them.

“Maybe he anatomy isn’t correct but in tone it’s universal,” Rapport says, ventriloquizing their thought process.

Bookings led to further bookings, and while he’s held events in bars where intoxicated people failed to color in the lines, he’ll be coming back to San Francisco this weekend for something a bit cleaner. Rapport appears at Strut (470 Castro Street) this Sunday, Aug. 14, from 6:30-9 p.m. as part of its Shut Up and Draw series.

Because a reading wouldn’t exactly work, he’ll lead an hour of quiet drawing time, followed by a Q&A and a talkback, followed by a social hour (or time for more drawing).

I asked if he ever collected the finished results of people’s coloring efforts — a lot of which are works of art in their own right. Rapport does, occasionally putting them on his Instagram alongside selfies of tattooed muscle-queens wearing his “Blousy Top” shirts.

“I have a huge stack of them,” he says. “Maybe make a quilt. Some of it’s really violent or nasty or tender — or literal. But people really go for it. It’s cool to see.”

And the clothes do tend to stay on.

“When I was first booking the tour, there was talk of a few sex parties,” he says. “It didn’t really pan out. I do believe that the book belongs in a variety of places, a bookstore, a nightclub, a gallery, or a sex party, that’s what so cool about this item: It’s fine art — but it’s acceptable. Whether I never make another book again or focus on large-scale paintings, they’re interactive. I like having accessible art in my portfolio. People create art with me every time they do something with it.”