What little boy/girl doesn’t want to grow up to be just like her dolls? WOWlebrity, and face of World of Wonder’s QwerrrkOut, Mx Qwerrrk has become the latest craze in the New York fashion and nightlife scenes…and now she’s been forever immortalized as a Pidgin Doll by former fashion illustrator, now doll maker Joshua David McKenney. The New York-based artist recently gained mega attention when one of his dolls that he did for Doe Deere (CEO of Lime Crime) ended up in the middle of an art world scandal. Famed photographer Richard Prince decided to use an Instagram pic (below) of Deere and her doll for his own exhibition at the Frieze New York Art Fair without consent from Deere or McKenney. And if that wasn’t enough, he actually decided to charge upwards of $90,000 for the co-opted works.
McKenney considers his creations a way of communicating the parts of him that are feminine, gentile and magical…so, it was no surprise that he chose Mx Qwerrrk as his next muse. And she’s in great company! McKenney has collaborated with other fab ladies like Grace Jones, Mariah Carey, Brooke Candy, Dita Von Teese, Candy Darling, and even Taylor Swift! Mx Q sat down for tea with Joshua recently and here’s what went down. (Mx Qwerrrk pics by Santiago Felipe)
Mx Qwerrrk: What made you wanna become a doll maker?
McKenney: It wasn’t a planned thing. It was just kind of something I fell into. I was working as a professional illustrator and I just had the urge to start making dolls. I took a few ceramic and mold-making classes and the more I explored sculpting, painting, and photographing dolls, the more it just felt right. To me it’s the ultimate expression.
Mx Q: How long does it take you to make a doll?
McKenney: My current wait time is 4-6 weeks. It really depends on the doll.
Mx Q: For me, you did sculpted hair. Is that a more complicated process?
McKenney: Usually, I adapt existing synthetic fiber wigs to the style I want, but sometimes I make them using natural fibers, like mohair or alpaca. Hand-sculpted wigs, like yours, do take a little more time, but they are best when you have a short or set hairstyle. I’ve just started 3D printing “snap-on” wigs. They are still in a development phase, but the potential is really exciting.
Mx Q: What was your reaction when you heard that Richard Prince had used one of your dolls in his photo exhibition without your knowledge?
McKenney: At first I was just surprised, but I didn’t know anyone would really see it. But then I was getting called by my friends at the Frieze Art Fair, and being tagged all over Instagram. That image, in particular, was all over TV and media like CNN, Fortune Magazine, The Today Show, and I was all of the sudden being asked to speak on internationally broadcast news shows….I realized it was kinda an oddly big moment. It lasted about two weeks and I’m just glad that I have enough of a presence and voice on social media that I was able to speak out and get credit because he had totally erased my name from the image.
Mx Q: Would you say that some good came from it, since it gave you more exposure?
McKenney: For sure!
Mx Q: What kind of people buy Pidgin dolls?
McKenney: I’m an artist and my medium is dolls. The people that buy Pidgin are the kind of people that understand that they are buying art from an artist. Before dolls were massed produced in factories, they were hand-made luxury items, heirlooms to be cherished…..this is the kind of doll Pidgin is.
Mx Q: What kind of doll are you?
McKenney: Actually, I consider myself more of a puppeteer than anything. I use dolls as a way to express things I otherwise wouldn’t be able to express by just being myself. Pidgin doesn’t ‘talk’, but she communicates a lot for me.
Mx Q: We’re about the same height and equally pretty… Would you have an issue with dating a pig like me?
Mc Kenney: Absolutely!!! I’ve always had a thing for glamorous pigs!