The wild résumé of East Village artist Flloyd: Drag, domination and pop art

Flloyd with self portraits in East Village studio
Flloyd in his studio with two self portraits on the computer screens
Photo by Bob Krasner

It’s been a long road for the East Village artist known as Flloyd since he left Atlanta behind — along with his given name — and came to New York City in 1983.

The move made sense for an artist who “dressed in drag every day and took acid every other day” while living with his roommates RuPaul and Lady Bunny in that southern metropolis. Of his beginnings in his new home, Flloyd recalls that “Ru and I were homeless, we slept in parks a lot. My first real apartment wasn’t until 1985, in Spanish Harlem.”

He’s been in the East Village for many decades now, making art and doing what he needed to do to survive while becoming a central figure in the local scene.

“I’ve been fired from every job I’ve ever had,” he admits. That resume of failures is quite impressive: comic book inker, facility manager at Kickstarter, food delivery, beverage manager, and gigs at Temptu and the Gap Design Center, among others.

Along the way, he has “always made art.” That art has manifested itself in many mediums; he’s performed onstage at Wigstock and with Blacklips, go-go danced with the Butthole Surfers, done standup comedy, made videos and films, sculpture, electronic music and explored painting as well, which will shortly be on display at the Howl! Happening gallery.

Back in the early days, he recalls finding pieces of marble cast off from construction sites and using “a high heel clog and a screwdriver” to shape his pieces.

Flloyd painting
Flloyd with a work in progressPhoto by Bob Krasner
Flloyd at Howl ! , contemplating an addition to the showPhoto by Bob Krasner

In 1998, he reached a turning point facilitated by a visit to the NY Bondage Club.

“I was broke, suicidal, unemployed and I hadn’t paid my rent in a year,” he admits. After a liaison with a wealthy hookup, where he found himself playing the “master” role, the man informed Flloyd that he was “the best he’d ever had” and said that he’d “be a fool if he didn’t start charging for it.”

So he cashed in some bonds, bought a cell phone and found himself with up to three clients a day.

“Sex saved my life,” he states. “At first I had to fake it,” he said of his new role in the S+M world. “I would say in my standup act that I used to pretend that I was a woman and now I was pretending to be a man.”

His clients ran the gamut from famous athletes to Academy Award winners to a member of the mafia, whose bodyguard would be listening at the door: “I had to explain the concept of safe words to the guard, so he would know if he needed to come in.”

In 2010, Flloyd created a somewhat different business — an eco-conscious apartment cleaning service called Sister Green Cleaning — but didn’t stray too far from his other job, as his first gig was cleaning a brothel.

A service that promises vegan, all-green cleaning products, he makes sure that each client is happy with the smell of the cleaning products, which Flloyd makes himself.

“I’m hoping to have an art career that will make allow me to not scrub toilets anymore,” he says. “Although before it’s over I may have to write a book called ‘Toilets of the Rich and Famous.’”

Flloyd swinging
Still swinging ! Flloyd taking a break at his studioPhoto by Bob Krasner
Please pay attention to the man behind the curtain…..Flloyd with Marlene DietrichPhoto by Bob Krasner

He has taken a step in the right direction with his show at Howl. Entitled “D*cks and Divas,” the work is a mix of mediums with subject matter that veers from iconographic to pornographic, with the potentially offensive male body parts (including some self-portraits) hidden behind a curtain. The Divas portion of the show varies in sizes from snapshot to murals, while the painstakingly painted dots that make up each image are created with a variety of materials.

Each piece begins with an image that Flloyd manipulates on his phone and then projects onto paper, canvas or wood using one or more of the following: oil paint, sharpie, spray paint, pencil, gesso, printer’s ink, acrylic, gouache.

His subjects can be as famous as Diana Ross or one of the unsung heroes that he admires, such as Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton on the classic TV series “The Waltons,” if you’re wondering).

Flloyd with a last minute addition to the Diva wall. His mom is the centerpiecePhoto by Bob Krasner
Flloyd with Diana Ross, as seen in MahoganyPhoto by Bob Krasner
Flloyd at Howl !Photo by Bob Krasner

“Making this art is very cathartic,” Flloyd explains. “I actually really enjoy what I’m doing. I want people to have an experience with the image and then have an experience with the painting. When you get up close and see the shapes …. I try to make them sensual and curvy, with no straight lines. I’m hoping that people on acid will like my paintings!”

“When you get up close,” he continues, “you can see my handiwork. That’s where the Flloyd comes out. You can’t slack off when you’re doing this, it’s not possible. I put love into every dot.”

Flloyd’s ‘Dicks and Divas’ opened at Howl! Happening at 6 East 1st St. on Sept. 9. There will be film screenings and performances throughout the run. For more information, visit howlarts.org/event/flloyd-dicks-and-divas.

You can follow Flloyd on instagram at @flloydshouse and @flloyd666 and get info on his cleaning services at @sistergreennyc.