“RimWare” is a handmade, four-piece porcelain dinnerware set with inlaid drawings of gay rimjobs. On a small appetizer plate, a man washes his behind in the shower. As the meal moves on to salad, soup and dinner courses, the scene gets progressively dirtier. Assholes receive lickings. Each piece of flatware has a decorative gold mesh pattern around its lip.
Thirty years after Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party,” a gathering of thirty-nine vaginal-themed plates (on permanent display in the Brooklyn Museum of Art), over-sexed ceramics no longer seem that shocking—not that Dustin Yager’s “RimWare” needs to shock in order to be successful. Yager is after something different than sexual liberation, perhaps, even, critiquing its opposite. As gay sex practices shed their taboo associations, commemorative plates, such as the “RimWare” collection, codify the dream of domestic bliss. “Oh, what interesting china,” remarked the conservative senator’s wife in “The Birdcage,” from 1996; “it looks like young men playing leap frog.” Today, sodomy need not be reduced to ambiguous detail. As the gays love their home decorations, and home-decoration retailers know this all too well, the market for fashionable homoiserie grows with the force of a Viagra-laced boner.
I asked Yager why he makes traditional ceramic forms such as flatware, tumblers, vases and baskets and not, say, in-your-face phallic sculptures. “There’s enough to mine in conventional pottery,” he replied. He pointed out that the ceramics at Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn, with their classical flourishes or minimal contours, are expressive of individual taste, but also larger cultural patterns reflecting class identity, family relationships and economics.
At a recent showing of the “RimWare” pieces, Yager saw some middle-aged ladies posing for photographs with the plates. “You just never know what people are going to be into,” he reflected.
Published in Newcity (March 8, 2010)