Rhogit-Rhogit, Zhdrick & Tiimky, The Male Dolls
"Tough and Beautiful. So tough they’ll break your heart! Yet so handsome, so intelligent, and so spiritual, you, like Mdvanii, won’t be able to resist them. Rhogit-Rhogit and Zhdrick, his close buddy, are the two men in Mdvanii’s life" (Rhogit-Rhogit and Zhdrick's Catalogue,1992)
The resin Rhogit-Rhogit, introduced as Mdvanii’s lover set a precedent in the world of both dolls and contemporary art. First of all, he was not a "boyfriend". BillyBoy* was never partial to the word. He doesn’t like the expressions “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” very much, and particularly for his own work as he feels that in this context he finds it juvenile and that adult people refer to their mates or lovers with these words are “sexlessly quaint, kitsch nineteen fifties leftovers and, cloying heterosexual catch-phrases”. Zhdrick, who was presented as Dheei’s brother, was simultaneously launched in Winter 1992-1993. Like the resin Mdvanii, they were articulated at the arms, legs and head in the same exact way. They were slightly taller than Mdvanii, but much bigger, and just like her, were anatomically defined, with a somehow less stylized definition with rather realistic that is to say, sexual attributes (identical to both men).
Prior to his launching of the male dolls, prototype heads of Rhogit-Rhogit and Zhdrick were created which had more accentuated features. Very few of these prototypes heads were actually mounted on dolls. The final resin Rhogit-Rhogit had a highly-defined face, with a sort of dreamy expression and a pale pink coloured skin. The final Zhdrick had identical definition but of course totally different features. The fingers of their hands were separated and not joined like their later porcelain version. Their bodies were naturally muscular but did not have a worked-out musculature. Like all BillyBoy* dolls they also had a right and left foot and were marked in the back with an oval metal tag, reading “BillyBoy*-Surreal Bijoux”.
Rhogit-Rhogit & Zhdrick had their own blue label for clothes with both names in logo form on it plus a place for the numeration of the garments. There was also Tiimky, who is the twin brother of Rhogit-Rhogit. He lives in a wooden house in Sweden and is an ecologist and social activist. Usually blond with blue eyes, he has the same mould face than his brother. It is interesting to notice that in spite of the fact that Rhogit-Rhogit and Tiimky share the exact same head mould, once painted, they are really different! This is particularily obvious in BillyBoy*’s artistic black and white portraits of the dolls which capture the essence of what seems like an inner soul.
Rhogit-Rhogit was presented as a sailor (he eventually was dressed in a navy outfit years later in the porcelain one-of-a-kind and limited editions of "Sailor Pizza Party", along with Zhdrick and Tiimky). He is a loner at heart, but equally an adventure-loving artist. His real social status was not very clear, unlike Mdvanii’s (who is often called a spy and or British secret agent, working for herself, like Mata-Hari and Modesty Blaise). The first three male dolls could be seen wearing an alluring tuxedo and evening cape at some grand opening ("Formal Dude"), a real suede jacket and basic jeans with leather boots or shoes ("Basic Stud"), stay for hours in his messy artist attic room, under the roofs of Paris, mooning over Mdvanii’s acrylic painting portrait, as well as modeling clothes from famous couturiers including Givenchy, Louis Féraud, Pierre Balmain and other renowned Paris & European designers: Sonia Rykiel, Michel Klein, Claude Montana, José Levy, Francesco Smalto, Oswald Boeteng, Walter Van Beirendonck, Paul Smith, Stephane Plassier, and David Zanola amongst many others. Rhogit-Rhogit could be seen wearing controversial leather gear (including crop and hand cuffs) showing off his tattoos, some designed by famous or underground artists; Bruno de Paris, Antoine Giacomoni, and the late Fabrice Janosik as well as sporting ultra-tasteful tweed suits, hats, and loden capes, like the ultimate gentleman farmer! Mdvanii’s world is made of enigmas and her lover is certainly a part of it!
The same is true for Zhdrick, presented as refined, introspective and a poet. He is well versed in science, art, music, and philosophy. He has a fabulous sense of humor and is sometimes can be mischievous but still debonair. He devours French literature and is perhaps, the most sophisticated sensual and provocative doll ever made. He and Rhogit-Rhogit are inseparable! He wears superb tailored suits and exotic oriental traditional clothes. This is certainly obvious with the later porcelain Zhdrick "Laurence d’Arabie", in a stunning oriental outfit, with white cotton oriental pants (called seroual) and shirt, a vest in rare 18th-century fabric, ethnic jewellery, suede boots and an amazing hand-made leather horse. This edition also came with a series of beautiful hand-woven silk prayer carpets. Zhdrick was once dressed as a boxer, by designer Josephus Timister for the House of Balenciaga, in which he appears wearing nothing but Balenciaga briefs and a huge, floor length black chinchilla fur coat! Visibly he really enjoys the company of the stunning porcelain Mdvanii in a black cocktail dress made from Chantilly lace (the real thing, from Chantilly and made by hand!) and a real somalia leopard skin fur coat, equally by Timister, a real knock out! (Collection Fondation TANAGRA).
A significant aspect of the two male dolls characteristics and personality, which was quite a precedent concerning adult-looking fashion dolls, was the fact that they were anatomically-defined (meaning NOT sexless) and that implicit allusion to their bisexuality was naturally expressed. Some photographs by BillyBoy* show them both in more than implicit poses, without being overtly aggressive. However, this aspect of the dolls profile, unique to BillyBoy*’s artistic doll creations has never been their focal point. Incidentally, years later, a commercially-made doll claiming to be the first “out and proud gay doll” was launched under the most unappropriate name “Friends of Billy”. Contrary to Rhogit-Rhogit - which these vinyl dolls were undoubtly inspired by - the sexual aspect was put forward in every sense of the word, since the doll was granted with a huge cartoon-like penis. The result was altogether obscene-looking and overtly solicitious, expressing in several clichés a rather crude and reduced, if not insulting image of an “out and proud“ gay male. This was certainly not diminished by the fact that the dolls had an outrageously stupid expression on their faces.This one-time-joke doll disappeared as quickly as it came.
The first limited series of resin male doll included a variation of Rhogit-Rhogit, Zhdrick and Tiimky. The dolls came in an assortment of hairstyles of various lengths and shades of real human hair. They also had brown or black flocked hair, including one in bright yellow. These hairstyles are extremely rare since flocked hair were only used shortly for the male dolls, as well as real hair, also used for a relatively brief time. They both eventually were abandoned for sculpted-on hairstyles which are infinitely more varied and specific to the numerous unique clothing and fashion costumes. The dolls wore beautifully-made and realistic suede jackets, jeans, leather shoes, leather belts and came with a knit sweater, a scarf, tattoos and a condom. A very limited series of vinyl balmoral Beatle-boot was made with the name and BillyBoy* Paris on the sole was also made.
Also in Porcelain
The Porcelain Rhogit-Rhogit and Zhdrick had the same body than the resin ones but with the improvements of porcelain seen on Mdvanii: a finer texture and definition, beautiful modeling of the hands, smoother features. The porcelain was in a matt-white shade which was deliberately varied series by series. The doll also had one pierced ear. They mostly had sculpted-on hairdos, usually brown or black but also silver, copper and blue.
The Porcelain Rhogit-Rhogit was launched in Spring, 1995 with a limited edition of 25 dolls and also many one-of-a-kind dolls. Amongst these one-of-a-kind series some one which stands out is the stunning set called Jazz, a musician Rhogit-Rhogit. This incarnation had orange human hair and a brown goatee, in a tweed suit and large beaten-up nineteen forties-style hat and he has a real trendy, neo-beatnik look, something between a modern-day Jack Kerouac and Chet Baker! The Rhogit-Rhogit came with a doll-size metal trumpet, a guitar, an ashtray with cigarette and a forties cup of black coffee complete with a spoon on the side of the saucer. Other significant dolls such as Marché à Trouville ("Market in Trouville”), named after the famous resort in Normandy linked up as a sister town to Deauville, where BillyBoy* and Lala settled down for a few years, in a house on the beach, after leaving Paris in 1993. This simple outfit (shorts, sandals and white socks, white shirt and red sports jacket) came with a camera and brown paper bag with (hand-sculpted in ceramic) “groceries” such as leeks and scallions. These themes, such as the ever-mysterious lonely man, in a quaint country town shopping for himself, were exploring other aspects of Rhogit-Rhogit’s personality and activities.
The blond-haired Tiimky was also represented in Weekend à Trouville (a knit sailor-like ensemble, coming with a basket of sea shells and a French baguette) or in La main verte (“The Green Hand”), a leisure gardening outfit with gardening tools and real miniature packets of real seeds.
Safe Sex and a condom
Male dolls presented in their luxurious hand-made boxes always came along with a symbolic life-size condom. Some dolls limited series referred more specifically to safe sex, which was THE big issue at the time notably in the gay community. It still is today more than ever, but the context has radically changed and not for the best.
One of the most curious series ever created by BillyBoy* was certainly the "Safe Sex" limited edition featuring the dolls marching in the streets for AIDS awareness and prevention, with picket signs reading “Act Up”, “Action=Vie”, ”Love”, “Gay Pride” and “Safe Sex”. The outfit was a curious two-tone body hugging suede jumpsuit laced up in the front with matching boots, a strap satchel bag with fringe and a matching cap, definitely the most enigmatic ensemble ever designed by BillyBoy* and certainly suitable for a costumed Gay Pride parade! It is interesting to note that Lala's brother, Didier Lestrade, is the founder of the French branch of the well-known activist association ACT-UP France and was directing it at the same period in Paris with courage and determination.
Some more recent limited edition series featured Rhogit-Rhogit, Zhdrick and Tiimky as sailors in the French navy and these were called humorously Sailor Pizza Party. They came with pizzas and drinks and a French flag (probably for welcoming them in the Toulon harbour).
The Porcelain Zhdrick was launched in 1996 and was made in a rare series of dark brown porcelain, identical to porcelain Dheei and Tzulli. He was later also made in a lighter shade of brown.
Design by Lefty© Fondation Tanagra