Didn’t get into Pratt? Work on Wall Street but secretly long for a gallery show? Local illustrator Molly Crabapple wants you! Using burlesque performers, roller derby girls, and hunky topless men as models, she hosts Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School on alternating Saturday afternoons. For three hours, you can wield the implement of your choice to immortalize these bodacious beauties. Want to draw a feather-laden, half-naked girl hunched over a toilet? No problem for the tipsy curiosity seekers who pack the Lucky Cat saloon with their sketchbooks. Expect to find snarling clowns, glitter, pasties, swords, hula hoops, and more to inspire your next masterpiece.
How’d you get the idea for Dr. Sketchy’s? Two years of twisting my back for 15 bucks an hour as an artist’s model convinced me that modern sketch classes weren’t nearly as sexy as they were cracked up to be. Where was the romanticism? The booze-and-hot-chicks fantasy so many of us went to art school for? I wanted a sketch class that jived with my daydreams and rewarded models for their talent. I plotted with my friend A.V. Phibes, hired Dottie Lux to model, and Dr. Sketchy’s was born.
How are the sessions set up? At Dr. Sketchy’s, you draw scantily costumed models and compete in art contests. My models wear G-strings and pasties because the law says no naked chicks and alcohol in the same room. Why contests? ‘Cause they’re fun! Especially the drinking contest, invented by my wino friend Leavitt, where the “winner” downs a double shot of chartreuse to the sounds of ecstatically whooping art monkeys. Leavitt’s as sadistic as Gawker.
What kinds of people come to Dr. Sketchy’s? Are newbies welcome? Everyone from retired art teachers to undercover burlesque babes has stopped by Dr. Sketchy’s. While we’ve had some established, amazing artists—like East Village Inky writer Ayun Halliday—we’ve had many more enthusiastic amateurs. I don’t care how good you are.
How does holding it in a bar spice up the atmosphere? Drunk people take themselves less seriously! Having it in a bar subverts the grim sterility of standard life classes.
How has your experience as an art model affected the way you run Dr. Sketchy’s? Two things annoyed me about art modeling: the low pay and the anonymity. Our models get paid top rates, plus tips. On a busy day, they can earn enough to make the average cubicle-jockey jealous. Plus, they’re treated like stars. We make CDs based on their style, cheer after poses, and plaster posters with their faces all over Williamsburg.
How do you pick the models, and what makes for a good model? Most of my models pick me! I look for beautiful, fascinating men and women with distinct looks, strong ideas, and good costumes. My favorite model, Amber Ray, is a veritable chameleon, coming in as topless Madame de Pompadour one day and an anime kitty the next. I’ve had a ton of burlesque dancers; now I’m looking for contortionists, snake charmers, tattooed ladies, and bodybuilders
Dr. Sketchy’s is moving beyond the confines of New York to Portland, Phoenix, Denmark, and Australia. Does the flavor of it change when you’re not there? What do you hope to see from the burgeoning Dr. Sketchy’s empire? The Norfolk Sketchy’s is a paragon of chastity. In Denmark, venues demanded topless models. Dr. Sketchy’s varies depending on where it’s held. But it always has contests, mayhem, and hot, costumed models getting treated like the stars they are. What do I expect? Well, illustrators don’t attract the hot groupie action you might imagine. Maybe I’ll get it running sketch classes.