Here’s a list of some of the people Ken Courtney has fucked: Anna Wintour, Paul Sevigny, Casey Spooner, Zac Posen, Gisele Bundchen, and J.T. LeRoy. But unlike you, he has the T-shirt to prove it.
Two years ago, when the 33-year-old artist behind the label Ju$t Another Rich Kid whipped up his line of “I Fucked [insert famous person here]” shirts as a protest against celeb and brand-name idolatry, they were quickly embraced as ironic fashion trend. We can’t imagine the humor was lost on Courtney, who scored a Page Six mention out of the craze. (Call your label Ju$t Another Rich Kid, then charge 80 bucks for what amounts to a printed-on Hanes Beefy-T-and you know what you’re doing.)
Now Courtney’s new line, King of Rock, features T-shirts designed by himself and a ragtag crew of likeminded provocateurs who took inspiration from favorite songs or rock-show tees. Bad-boy artist Tobias Wong, famous for using $20,000 Warhol screenprints as gift-wrapping paper, designed a custom Ralph Lauren polo, influenced by Bjork’s song “Headphones.” Edgy menswear line Yoko Devereaux references the Siouxsie and the Banshees song “Trophy.” Spoon-bending paranormalist Uri Geller name-checks the Rolling Stone’s “Wild Horses.” And then there is J.T. LeRoy, clearly assailing his critics with a T-shirt that quotes both Othello and Morrissey’s “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful.”
Like Courtney’s previous work, King of Rock addresses the seduction of fame and celebrity as product. This time, however, Courtney looks to the commodification of rock bands and hip-hop icons, by playing on popular song lyrics and the creation of fake concert tees from the likes of the Clash and a “Biggie vs. Tupac” performance. A shirt by controversial Brit artist Stuart Semple, for instance, entitled “Smells Like Teen Spirit” features a drawing not of Kurt Cobain, but of an equally mythologized artist who died too young: Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Says Courtney: “The Starfucker series was more straightforward and really highlighted the bold-face names that we read about and see everyday. The King of Rock collection and collaboration take this idea one step further by looking more closely at brands that have evolved and stuck with us over the years.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 22, 2005