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Arts & Culture

It’s not what you know but who you know

Photo by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

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Part 5

Education Assessment was, as I suspected, fairly straight forward, although the spelling errors in the test paper were palpable. I passed with level two English and Maths, and was asked to choose what I would like to study. The options were fairly limited, and I chose Media studies, and Peer Mentoring. The most common options were Barbering, English and Maths. Within a couple of days I received a slip through the door to advise that I would be starting the peer mentoring course the following Monday.

Meanwhile, I had a new cell-mate. Wayne was a mixed race guy, very funny, and what one might term a career criminal. He had been in and out of prison for his entire life, and most recently been arrested for art theft. He stopped short of claiming innocence, but quickly asserted that the Police had no evidence! He was also friends with, or knew a number of people in the same social circle as me, particularly those within the fashion and media industries. We spent a good few hours exchanging stories about the different ones we both knew.

Within half a day of his arrival, he had disappeared and arrived half and hour later sporting a three foot long piece of wire, which he managed to jam into the aerial socket on the wall,and connect to the points on the television, giving us the full compliment of 8 TV channels. This was luxury compared to what I had coped with so far, and very soon we were comparing ideas over the current political situation with David Cameron’s negotiation with the EU in order to get a better deal for Britain. He was a staunch labour supporter and we had many a heated discussion from opposing sides of the fence. At least it made the time go a little quicker!

He also knew his way around the prison so could advise me on where everything was, and how to get access to the things I needed, which was huge help because to date the staff had been less than forthcoming about anything at all. They seemed to think you just automatically knew about everything, but this was completely new to me, and I was literally like a fish out of water! He took me out to the Exercise yard, which was just an area about the size of two tennis courts, with a path around the outside of it, and a cluster of steel outdoor exercise bars in one corner. Frankly it was as boring as being stuck inside the cell, and colder, with no option but to walk aimlessly around and around the track in an anticlockwise direction, like ants on a pavement crack. There was also a gym, somewhere hidden amongst the bowels of the buildings, but I had yet to work out how to organise the induction necessary to access it.

Back in our cell, and talk turned to ‘Jubilee wing’. Wayne was adamant he was going to get a transfer there, so it looked like we would be going together. A couple of days earlier, A young woman from Phoenix Futures had come to visit me, to discuss my drug addiction issues and talk about how they could help me. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t have any drug addiction issues, but I had since learned that Jubilee Wing was a special wing specifically for those who did, so fuck it, if they were telling me I had addiction issues, and it meant getting better quality accommodation and preferential treatment because of it, I would bloody well accept that I had drug addiction issues,and take whatever I could get. She also suggested I should fill out some work sheets on various drug related issues, intimating that it would help my case if I had done them before I went to court. Lets face it, I didn’t have anything better to do, so I agreed and had spent the past few days working through them all. In return she said that she could see that I was serious about addressing my addiction problems, and would make sure I got priority on the list to be transferred to the sainted Jubilee Wing.

Apparently, according to Wayne, we would be unlocked for most of the day, and would have access to a kitchen where we could cook our own food, and in return all we had to do was submit to a piss test every now and then, and attend chat sessions about our drug problems. What, I asked, were his addiction problems? ‘Oh, I don’t have any, but I know one of the guards over there, We went to High School together,and he’s said he can get me over there. He’s coming to get me in the next couple of days.’ It seemed it was not what you knew, but who you knew in prison too!

Double Bubble

Double Bubble is the third book in The Chemsex Trilogy — a series of books written by Cameron Yorke about his experience with Chemsex, addiction, and imprisonment in the UK.

We are serialising Double Bubble on Mainly Male. This is the fifth instalment in the serialisation.

A cautionary tale about Chemsex

The Chemsex Trilogy

Visit Cameron Yorke’s website

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Artists

“In a fictional universe I would wield magic”

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Artwork by Stefano Junior (image supplied)
Artwork by Stefano Junior (image supplied)

I caught up with artist Stefano Junior to talk art, illustration, and super-powers.

When did you start to explore your passion for illustration and art?

I’ve been drawing as far back as I can remember. According to my parents, I drew a very convincing female figure from my imagination at about three or four years old. From then on, when I wasn’t at school, watching cartoons, or voraciously reading comic books, I’d be drawing. My parents eventually enrolled me in a fine arts weekend program at a local college — I studied there for several years while going through grammar and middle school.

What is it about superheroes that appeals to you?

In hindsight, apart from the obvious colourful allure of superhero adventures, it was the transformative nature that is the basis of most superhero narratives. As a child, in suburban 80s America, with my penchant for the arts, girls toys, and a foreign name, I was bullied extensively — superheroes provided a means to escape, I could imagine that I might one day extricate myself from that oppression.

Books like Chris Claremont’s X-Men, which were ripe with soap-opera-like drama, reassured me that my ‘latent’ powers weren’t things to be ashamed of. Roger Stern’s run on Superman affirmed my beliefs that though people could be cruel and misguided, it didn’t mean that I should have to sacrifice my ethics and sense of what’s right. George Pérez’s Wonder Woman — that she was an immigrant appealed to me as a first-generation Italian, and she never lost her compassion for even her greatest foes.

Growing up with older sisters and a strong Italian matriarch may have influenced me gravitating to female heroes. But there was also the allure of the outrageous 80s feminine glamour of heroes like She-Ra, or the many fantastic mutant women of the X-universe who all played such pivotal roles in the series while donning fantastic costumes created by amazing artists like Paul Smith, Arthur Adams, and Marc Silvestri.

I love your drawings of Sorceror Stefano — is that an alter ego?

I’ve been developing an illustrated version of myself over the years. I’m currently studying cartooning at the School of Visual Arts — comic legend Phil Jimenez was one of my instructors my sophomore year. Our mid-term assignment was to create a fictionalised life drawing of ourselves in a turnaround. So I photographed myself, and further developed the design of my Sorcerer self. As an artist, the process of creation feels like sorcery, so were I to exist in a fictional universe, I would definitely wield magic. I’d also like to be physically invulnerable.

Who are some of your art heroes or inspirations?

My inspirations are pretty vast. From the art world it includes Bernini, Gabriel Rosetti, and Waterhouse. From comics it includes Esteban Maroto, Garcia Lopez, Marc Silvestri, Brian Bolland, George Perez, Phil Jimenez, Adam Hughes, Colleen Doran, Art Adams, and especially Alan Davis — both for the aesthetic beauty and elegance of his art, and as a draughtsman and storyteller.

If you could do a life drawing of a male super-hero, who would you choose?

Henry Cavill as Superman.

Your moustache game is pretty strong — what does your moustache say about you?

At its most base, it’s a homage to the machismo of the 1980s — particularly my hero, Tom Selleck as Magnum PI. He’s the epitome of masculine idealisation.

I grow it and shave it constantly — it’s spawned its own cartoon of my creation. You can follow the exploits of me and my moustache — Mr. Mustardo — on Instagram. It’s absolutely vain, but it allows for me to be humorous in a single panel cartoon form that deviates from the more representative work and superhero storytelling that I’ve primarily been focused on.

What are some of your goals and ambitions for the months ahead?

I hope to further develop an original comic that I started in the Fall, that centres around a complex heroine and a magical discovery. Plus there’s some newer humorous cartoons that Id like to serialise online somehow — one that follows the exploits of a majordomo in an early 20th century hotel, another that follows a boy through multiple mediums and circumstances that end badly.

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