KAT TORONTO, AKA MISS MEATFACE, IS A MULTIDISCIPLINARY ARTIST FROM SAN FRANCISCO. HER ART FOCUSES ON PHOTOGRAPHY COMBINED WITH A NEW, EXTREME NOTION OF FEMININITY, SEXUALITY AND FETISHISM. AMIDST TEA CUPS, CAKES AND 50S-INSPIRED LOCATIONS, SHE TALKED ABOUT HERSELF AND HER PATH, SELECTING A FEW OF HER SHOTS FOR REDMILK.
Who is Miss Meatface?
Miss Meatface is a photographic persona of mine that was created around mid-2014. Since then I have used her as an artistic catalyst to explore my own sexuality while playing with the concepts of gender stereotypes in society.
I read that you decided to start the project after a difficult time. What happened?
In 2013 at the age of 32 I underwent a full hysterectomy after being diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer. At the same time my first marriage was coming to a very sad conclusion. I started using photography – self portraiture in particular – as a way to explore concepts of female beauty and sexuality. Since undergoing the hysterectomy I’d felt confused and conflicted about where it left me as a woman: was I still considered a woman even though I no longer possessed the vital biological organs that classified me as one? Miss Meatface allowed me to explore a lot of complicated emotions I hadn’t had a chance to delve into up until that point in my life.
How would you explain your art to viewers with a little elasticity?
I usually describe my work to those not familiar with the fetish or masked aesthetic as “surreal photographic self portraiture”.
How do you dress to go grocery shopping?
When grocery shopping I prefer to wear a suitably tight fitting pencil skirt with silk blouse, string of pearls, Wolford Neon 40’s, black kid leather gloves and patent leather high heels.
What is fetish for you?
For me fetish is based particularly in textures, sensations, smells, and memories. I love the second skin feeling of latex on my body as well as it’s gorgeous, slick shine. I love the smell of vintage kid leather gloves and how if you wear them for a while they begin to mould to the lines and folds of your hands and fingers. I love the smell of old perfume on doilies. I’ve found that I fetishize items, smells, textures, etc because they make me feel safe or I like the way they feel or look on my body.
What is sex?
I believe sex can be anything, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an actual physical act. Sex can be a dress, a book, a photo, a pair of shoes, a rose in a vase…
How do you take care of your body?
I am an advocate of daily stretching and cardio when you can fit it in. I’ve also found that walking in ballet boots on a weekly basis is a wonderful workout and it also helps with one’s balance!
Your sets are designed very well: how do you conceive them and where do you take inspiration?
Usually I am inspired by a place: a room; a hotel; my grandmother’s house. I then create a narrative around that particular place and fill in the story line with specially chosen props and wardrobe that I find while shopping at local charity shops and through sourcing unique items from designer friends of mine.
What kind of camera do you use?
For my Polaroid film work I use a vintage Polaroid Impulse camera and a Polaroid Spectra camera. For my digital work I use an older Panasonic Lumix GF1 that was handed down to me.
The line between eroticism and porn is very subtle. Which of the two universes you feel the most affinity to?
I definitely feel more of an affinity towards eroticism, but I can also see a bit of the raunchiness of porn in my work as well with my use of garish bright colors and lighting. Perhaps I like to think of Miss Meatface as straddling the best of both worlds – or universes.
Arouse intellectually or physically: what is the goal of your performances?
With my performances I would like to entertain people in both a humorous and intellectually stimulating way. I want people to watch and hopefully start asking questions within themselves about their own sexuality and gender roles in society as a whole.
Besides latex, what is the most intriguing material for you and why?
I adore pantyhose and stockings for very similar reasons to latex: their luscious second skin quality.
What kind of relationship do you have with your parents? What do they think of your performances?
I have a wonderful relationship with both of my parents. My father is a photographer and author and my mother is a textile artist, so I suppose that it was only natural that I ended up as an artist as well! They are both incredibly supportive of my work so I am extremely lucky in that sense. I happily share my Miss Meatface work with them and they have even been known to help me out on photo shoots on occasion!
Are you in love?
I am very much in love. Last year I married my muse, collaborator, lover, and best friend. He’s actually featured in quite a few Miss Meatface photographs. We have a lot of fun working together.
What are the essential objects for your performances?
My latex hoods, gloves, pearls, wig, pantyhose, and red lipstick.
Can you tell something about your private life, like your childhood memories? What did you want to be when growing up?
I spent a lot of time with my grandmother when I was a child so I have quite a few fond memories from that era that pop up in Miss Meatface shoots: doilies; stale perfume; knitting; 1970’s furniture; polyester clothing.
From about the age of 10 onward I was obsessed with period costume so for a long time I wanted to be a costume designer – but I really only wanted to design the undergarments! I constructed my first Victorian reproduction corset at the age of 13. My obsession with the fetishized female body began at a very early age.
What advice would you give to those who cannot live their sexuality serenely?
It took a brush with cancer to make me open my eyes and realize that life is much too short to not allow yourself happiness. It sounds cliché but it’s true: you only live once so make sure you do all that you can to find happiness in this life.
If you had to take a photo for RedMilk, what location would you choose?
I would shoot Miss Meatface sitting in the driver’s seat of a gold 1973 Cadillac Eldorado in the parking lot of an old grocery store in Sacramento, California.
Are you happy today?
I am SO happy today!
Photos courtesy of Miss Meatface