Under the artist name Perró, Axel Diego has painted several notable Icelandic figures with his penis. Including presidential candidates, musician Gylfi Ægisson and the President and the First Lady of Iceland.
“I painted the presidential couple having ‘a cozy time’ on a chaise lounge,” says Axel with a grin, unwilling to go into further detail about the painting, when I ask him. Last year he painted Icelandic musician Gylfi Ægisson, who’s known for his anti-gay comments. “Yeah, that was last summer. Gylfi Ægis and cock shaped lollipops were a hot topic then,” he says sniggering.
Axel has throughout the years painted several notable Icelandic figures with his penis, for example Iceland’s former prime minister Davíð Oddsson, who is currently running for presidency, and the mayor of the Westman Islands, Elliði Vignisson. The painting of Elliði now hangs in the mayor’s office but there’s an ironic twist since it was painted shortly after Elliði became one of the most unpopular man in the Icelandic art scene for publicly announcing that he wanted to cut funds to artists. “A circus I’m a member of was doing a show in the Westman Islands and the audience wanted me to paint Elliði with my penis. It was a close call between him and Árni Johnsen,” says Axel, referring to another politician.
The circus Axel is a member of, Sirkus Ísland, is Iceland’s only circus and that’s where his unique combo of art and stripping was born. “On time when we were brainstorming someone came up with the idea of having a battle between the sexes. The idea basically was that I would paint a painting with my penis and my female colleague would paint one with her boobs during a show. The audience would choose what we should paint and at the end of the show we would have an auction. The painter who managed to earn the most money would win,” explains Axel and adds that when it actually came to it he did not win at the auction with his painting of a sexy hamster. That was three years ago and that particular act at the circus has been done over 30 times.
“The circus was doing a show in the Westman Islands and the audience wanted me to paint Elliði with my penis. It was a close call between him and Árni Johnsen.”
Axel graduated from the Iceland Academy of Arts in 2011 and tried his hand (pun intended) in various artistic fields. “I was lost in the art world and didn’t know what I should be doing. So I tried painting pictures with my penis and ejaculating over a canvas and those sort of things. Granted, those works were more drip painting than anything else.”
Now Axel mostly does paintings with his penis but also uses the traditional tool, a brush, from time to time. “But I must admit that I’ve never sold a painting that I painted with my hands,” he says with a huge grin on his face.
Axel usually paints painting in person and on location but he recently laid the finishing touches on his first commission work these days. “It’s the first time that people just wanted the painting
but not to see how it is made,” says Axel, who makes most of his living stripping and painting at hen dos and parties. “It’s a sexy painting sequence. And if no one is laughing in the group then I know I’m doing something wrong. It’s shockingly entertaining. Or entertainingly shocking. Which ever sounds better.”
Strip painting is a bit …, well out of the ordinary. Are people ever weirded out about your choice of art form? “Yes. Sometimes I’m asked to come rather late to a hen do and it has happened that someone has been binge drinking the whole day and just explodes when she sees the last penis of the day. But that only happens if the women are drunk out of their minds. Then some of them get a little bit too excited.”
Are Icelandic girls frisky? “Icelandic women are very polite. They usually ask first if they can spank me,” says Axel. Does he let them? “Sometimes,” he says with a laugh. “It depends on the mood.”
But is Axel selling his body or his art? “I look at it this way: I’m selling my art and entertainment,” he says and adds that he gets inspiration for his striptease on the dance floor of various clubs. “I love finding the most slutty dancers on the dance floor and having a dance off with them. That’s how I learn my sexy dance moves. I haven’t found a good video of sexy dancing for men. Except ‘The Full Monty. That’s sort of my style. I’m more ‘Full Monty’ than ‘Magic Mike’ sexy,” he says and tells me that in his act he wears a thong a la Chippendales. “It’s red and shiny. I’m looking for a seamstress now that can modify some pants so I can pull them off. It’s not possibly to take off pants in a sexy way, so I completely understand why stripper pants are a thing. Is there anyone out there that can help me?”
Axel has a girlfriend that not only is also a part of the circus but does her fair share of painting with her body, more specifically her breasts.
“She does paint with her breasts at our show with the circus but she’s not really into doing the bachelor party thing when it comes to painting with her breasts. It’s mainly because the setup at bachelor parties for stripping girls is much different from mine at hen dos.
“I look at it this way: I’m selling my art and entertainment.”
However if the atmosphere and the context is to her liking she would love to perform her act outside the circus.
But maybe we should do a double team act. That’s actually a good idea. I think I’ll go home and suggest it later,” says Axel and adds that his girlfriend has no problem with him stripping and showing his valuables to women with deep enough pockets to pay him. “She’s actually accompanied me to some gigs as a professional audience member,” he says and laughs. “She then gives me some constructive criticism.”
And his parents? Do they approve of this line of work? “They don’t really mention it much. They think it’s pleasant that I’ve found a way for my art even though it’s not what they envisioned. But I only paint paintings for them with my hands.”
After talking lengthily about his penis painting, stripping act I have to ask a pivotal question: Does Axels’s penis have to be erect while painting? “No, I haven’t mastered that yet. I haven’t actually tried it but I’ve thought about it. But adding the stress factor and the fact that the paint is cold then I doubt it’s going to happen. It does how ever happen when I’m painting in the bedroom but that’s a different story.”
Besides, with the technique Axel uses, which entails hip jerks and swings, he says its harder to paint with an erection. “I don’t hold my penis while I paint but I hold the canvas and move that. It’s fun to fuck the canvas in a way. If I would hold my jewels it would be more dirty sexual I think, sort of like I was jerking off on the canvas. But it’s a workout. It’s a mix of yoga, push ups and canvas fucking. It offers a lot of possibilities but I usually sweat buckets while performing. One downfall is that I’m limited with just the one size ‘brush’. If I used traditional brushes I could switch from smaller to bigger.”
But, he notes, he’s quite happy with his penis. “It’s not the biggest but it works very well. I do however have quite big balls. I would like smaller ones. In some positions they sort of get in the way but I’ve learnt to work with them. They’re good for shading.”
As our conversation comes to an end I wonder if in twenty years Axel, or rather Perró, will still be going strong, stripping for fun and phallus painting for drunk, soon to be brides. “I’m always trying to expand my comfort zone. I haven’t really thought about it if I will still be showing off my assets when I’m sixty. I guess the only thing I aspire to do is to be independent and free. I used to envision myself not living in Iceland but right now it’s the best and most exciting place for me to be. Who knows where I’ll be in five years,” says Alex and emphasizes that he would like to do more international commission work.
For those interested in his art can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via his Facebook page: Perró limalist.
Main photo: Jeaneen Lund.