I live in San Francisco, land of art, sexual experimentation, and entrepreneurial spirit. Since I’ve moved here I’ve explored the boundaries between public and private sex in multiple ways – in the back of a pickup truck on Twin Peaks, in the woods by the Sutro Baths, with a bike-powered sex machine in the middle of Folsom Street Fair, in a coffin in SOMA for Arse Elektronika. What can I say? I like to experiment. Novelty is, for me, particularly sexy.
When I started to hear stories about a Hook-Up Truck that would travel to you, provide a secret discreet space to fool around, and even film it for you through a little peephole if you gave consent, I had to know more. I was fascinated by the 30 minute time limit (strictly enforced) and curious about the impetus that led to its creation. When I discovered that I was friends with the artist involved (we met at a life-sized MouseTrap game), I knew I had to interview her.
And so, I sat down with Spy Emerson, creator of the Hook-Up Truck, to ask her about her inspiration, her artistic vision, and why her project is blowing up all over the internet.
Kitty Stryker: What inspired you to create this Hook-Up Truck project? Too many roommates in a Bay Area apartment? I know the housing situation is dire, and walls can be pretty thin.
Spy Emerson: It’s funny you mention housing, because that was the focus of my last project, Dystopic Horizons Realty. I sold cardboard box “homes” to people through a fake “Real Estate company.” Much like The Hook-Up Truck, both projects are social commentaries, presented as businesses.
With the Hook-Up Truck, I recognized an opportunity when hearing stories of people having public sex. I thought about making a mobile hotel room. The intention was a participatory performance art project with an intrinsic statement regarding the commodification of, attitudes toward, and media representation of SEX. I imagined capitalizing on the growing trend of geosocial networking applications geared towards location based sexual connections while promoting safe sex and self expression. I never ever expected I would gain a worldwide following!
I’ve read about the Hook-Up Truck in all sorts of places: Blazenfluff, Glamour, TIME, the Bold Italic, San Francisco Chronicle, even Medical Daily! Why do you think your idea has taken off so expansively and in so many different areas of media?
Well, I think there are several reasons for the massive interest. Sex is super unifying. It physically brings two people together, but it also is something that every single human person shares. At first conception, and again in adult coupling, sex profoundly affects each of our individual lives, and is innately connecting us all. So, sex as a subject is always going to gain interest … and sex sells. Media featuring a story on sex will gain interest from the public!
But something else in the great successes of this project, I was inspired by a friend who reminds me, “Spy, life is disappointingly simple.” This great insight has influenced my work over the last two years, and I think the Hook-Up Truck is so simple that it is brilliant. Smart people get it, and are very excited about what I’m doing.
Medical Daily focused on the safer sex and consent aspects of the project, which I think is pretty cool. I can understand why you provide safer sex barriers, but talk to me a bit more about the decision to not let people who are “aggressive, loud, rude or intoxicated.”
I just think people should be kinder to each other, and more respectful to the world we live in. I am happy to create an environment for this social experiment that is underscored by love, and if someone is rude, they are not invited to play. Privileged people can not buy their way in with anything other than mutual respect. Being friendly is a currency. I’m all about it!! I was born and raised in East Coast cities, I am a New York Italian. For years I was fighting and angry, and then I came to California and over years of self discovery I figured out how to love more and hate less. I turned off my TV in the 90’s, I don’t look at newspapers or magazines, and I only started using the internet regularly in December. I have avoided the conditioning to hate and instead encourage people to love each other. I can’t require kindness in the rules to the Hook-Up Truck, but I can turn anyone away.
A lot of media has been attracted to the fact that this is a truck for sexyfuntimes. I think it’s interesting that there’s a camera-ready option- sort of a exploration of privacy and surveillance, public sex versus private sex and where they intersect. Talk to me about your artist statement — am I on the right path?
Yes! This is a game for adults to play with their mind and body, it’s meant to be fun. The room being decontextualized, in a truck, on the street is very thrilling in addition to the pleasure of the sex. Using a camera is just another step for the daring (and consenting!) to make as much of the experience as possible. It really is whatever you want it to be.
I’m also totally fascinated by your statement on your about page that the Hook-Up Truck facilitates discussions about “biased notions of germs and sluts.” I’ve been doing a lot of writing against AB 1576, a bill mandating condoms for porn performers, that I think speaks to similar biases and fears. Please talk more on this!
Some of the articles written about The Hook-Up Truck, and many of the comments from people, are exclamations of disgust regarding their concerns over the cleanliness of the room, or slut shaming me. Why do these people think sex is dirty, and bold women are sluts? Because misconceptions are cultivated to control people. Sadly, people are so worried about how clean our meeting room is, yet no one is talking about how clean the gas station toilets are! Never mind the REAL news issues, like the child labor that made our sneakers, or the animal torture of factory farming, or the global environmental crisis that should be eclipsing every other concern. But no. The hater-nation is stuck in their petty misconceptions.
Well, not terribly surprising, considering a lot of our media is a diversion from actual issues, right? SIGH. Anyway, my last question is that 30 minutes seems like a particularly specific amount of time. It’s not quite a quickie, but also not quite a full on sex session. What made you settle on a half an hour?
The time was specified to allow for the environmental adjustments one might need to get comfortable, and then a good wham-bam thank you ma’am!! Really, 30 minutes is just perfect in a room that feels like a cross between a childhood fort, and a strip club.
I have not yet gotten a chance to try out the Hook-Up Truck yet, but they’re taking bookings for the summer and you can bet I’ll be giving it a go. I may have lined up two hot dates already … not that I’m eager or anything! Maybe this will be the the nudge I need to try out Tinder – having a neutral spot for a sexytimes test run is kind of amazing. Then I can decide if I want them to know where I live, depending on their, erm, “performance”…
Spy is also seeking sponsors for the Hook-Up Truck so she can make it even more incredible, with trucks in several major cities. Will there be more art inside? Different furniture, perhaps? I can’t wait to find out. Potential sponsors and art patrons can contact Spy via [email protected]!