What makes us love a villain the most? Is it their eccentricities? Their abhorrent nature? Their haunting glamour? Or Is it our own curiosity of what avenues it takes to become so heartless, so evil, and yet so powerful?
I preface these questions with my own story of wonderment and questioning as I finish this piece called “Birthday Wishes” which is a painting derived from the comics of Sleeping Beauty of the wickedest fairy named Maleficent. In this personal rendition of this sequential cell, Maleficent, who, sore from being snubbed by the King and Queen’s celebration of their Daughter Aurora’s birth, bestows a wicked wish with the words “The princess shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her. But… before the sun sets on her 16th birthday, she shall prick her finger, on the spindle of a spinning wheel… “. This cell shows her final words of her blessing which is: “and DIE!”. This painting both displays the campy frame of her idiosyncratic speech, as well as the encompassment of villain emotion through extreme audaciousness. This allure that brought me to this piece has a distinct history in why I would want to create such a portrait.
I found myself many years back, before working for Disney, in San Francisco painting portraits of the Disney Villains. At the time, I was working for a small fan club company for musicians I didn’t really listen to (Whitney Houston Platinum Club anyone?) in the daytime, and moonlighting as a performance artist for the radically artistic nightclub called Trannyshack in the evening. My first hosting gig which I had originally wanted to title “The Liar, The Bitch, and My Wardrobe” was converted to “Vicious Villains”, but nonetheless, the overall theme was the same. I had spent most of my time preparing these portraits of the villains to display for that night. I chose The Evil Queen from Snow White, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, and Ursula from The Little Mermaid. They were painted in day-glo colors so that they popped for the audience during our numbers. My opening number was in honor of the White Witch, Jadis, from The Chronicles of Narnia. I file these memories under the some of the best years of my life.