There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Food from PornBurger’s Mathew Ramsey qualified as food porn Saturday night, but the dishes didn’t get a rise out of the evening’s nude model Tyler Kelly. The Lemon Bowl event, dubbed “Forkplay: An evening of nude drawing and sexy eats,” was far more serious than silly thanks to guidance of Martin Swift—a painter and illustrator who also bartends at Left Door. That’s not to say our class of seven didn’t invent a drinking game for anytime a sexual innuendo slipped out.
The evening could have been racier. “One of Mathew’s original names for the event was ‘stroke and poke,’ but we thought we should reign it in a little,” says Holley Simmons, one of the founders of The Lemon Bowl, a newly formed artist cooperative in Park View. There was also a plan to project retro German softcore porn on the walls, but a missing cord cockblocked attendees from background moans. Ramsey, who birthed the idea for the event with Swift, is a self-professed “food pervert” who has always fancied the alliance between food and sex. “Food can be very sexual in its sensory indulgence,” he says.
Kelly, the nude model, was a striking, 25-year-old angular ginger with a belly button ring. He disrobed confidently and took a seated pose that only revealed the goods to half of the class thanks to careful knee placement. As soon as he was perched, Ramsey served a salt-roasted golden beet carpaccio with smoked goat cheese, shallots, and fried capers. It was hard not to think the shade of the golden beets complimented Kelly’s complexion.
While noshing, Swift explained that we would first try our hands at gestural drawing. “That’s when you are very loose with your lines, you get the essence of the form and you look at the movement instead of the shape,” he explained. The class continued like this—a food interlude, followed by a flip of the page and a fresh sketch testing new skills.
As novice figure drawers, we didn’t know all of the rules, and the rum cocktail Swift served got us gabbing. We asked Kelly what kind of art he practices and learned it is taboo to engage a model in conversation. “If I start to speak, I’ll start gesturing and the next thing you know I’ll be running around the room. It’s a slippery slope,” he said.
Ramsey prepared dishes like lobster brandade, steak tartare with anchovy aioli, and crispy sunchokes dressed in chimichurri. Several were recipes from his forthcoming cookbook, PORNBURGER: Hot Buns and Juicy Beefcakes, set to debut in May. When not tending to the toaster oven (his chief tool for the evening), Ramsey was responsible for keeping baby making music cranking from a Macbook Pro.
The class ended with a critique of our “long-form” drawings guided by Swift. Fortunately, I wasn’t in one of the seats with a dead on view of the goods, so at least Kelly wasn’t subjected to a sad attempt at capturing his genitals on paper. One of my classmates got kudos for correcting her original drawing that depicted the penis and the right foot as equal in size.
There may be a second Forkplay in the works, but the class is just one example of the many quirky workshops offered at The Lemon Bowl. Three artists, Simmons, Kathryn Zaremba, and Linny Giffin, use the space both as studio and as a place to bring in outside talent to run classes ranging from botanical perfume blending and tarot card reading to “How to talk about wine like you know your sh*t” on March 24.
Photo by Laura Hayes