I’m so excited for the guest in the bed today because I totally love her works: ladies and gentleman and everyone in between and beyond: BunnyRaunch.
Who’s – and why – “BunnyRaunch”?
Hi, I’m Bunny! The Bunny is me, metaphorically speaking. I prefer drawing animals, demons, and other fantastical beasties over humans. Humans are well enough represented in art as it is. I draw humans for practice, so that I can imagine anatomy better. And since I have always wished to crawl out of and away from my human skin, this representation feels good. Bunnies are fun to draw. They are soft and adorable. Their ears are expressive. They are vulnerable and relatively submissive. I can perfectly convey the emotions I want through my Bunny.
I came up with BunnyRaunch as a play on words; there is an infamous legal brothel in Nevada called The Bunny Ranch, and I love puns, so it just worked.
How many techniques do you explore for your art?
Most of my work is just a trusty pencil and a bit of pink colored pencil, but I have also used charcoal, oil paints, watercolors and gold leafing. I’m currently making a needle-felted wool Bunny doll so she can be in the 3D world! I even made little accessories for her: a fancy necklace, a collar and leash, leather wrist cuffs, nipple rings, even a little blindfold. But primarily, it’s just mechanical pencil, and I love to work on a variety of paper from cheap sketch pads made for kids to the fancy sheets you have to get from the big, intimidating sets of drawers at the art store. Velour paper is a favorite but it’s tricky to work on… no mistakes allowed!
Since when have you been drawing?
Since I could pick up a crayon! But I only began making BunnyRaunch in early 2018. Before that, I was putting a ton of effort into learning to draw realistically, taking workshops with my favorite contemporary artists and going to a lot of life drawing sessions. Prior to that, I was drawing cartoon stuff about 90% of the time.
Are there any artists you’re inspired from?
Of course! Hieronymus Bosch, Alphonse Mucha, Frida Kahlo, Francis Bacon and Rembrandt are old-time favorites. From the contemporary art world, I love James Jean, Kevin Llewellyn, Che Smith, Ozabu, Chris Berens and Soeymilk.I am a huge fan of cartoons as well: Looney Tunes, Disney, Bill Watterson, Berkely Breathed. I love Instagram so much for discovering art and artists.
You bring the definition of “Bunny” in BDSM to a new level with your illustration, so well done and intense. How did it start?
Thank you! Oh gosh, let me preface this by saying my parents are wonderful and are fully supportive of my work now. BUT DAMN, when I was 11 or 12 I got a heartbreaking reaction from my mom over a drawing I did while we were on a family vacation. I had no idea what I was drawing, I just knew I liked it, it was a product of those first little hormones bubbling up.
The offending drawing was 2 bunnies: a goofy-looking boy bunny with buck teeth, a little boner, and a tall, voluptuous girl bunny with sexy eyes and big boobs. In the drawing she was suspended by her ankles and wrists in a spread-eagle position with a very shocked look on her face, and the boy bunny was underneath her, licking her pussy, with a mischievous, almost evil look on his face.
Looking back, I can totally understand why my mom was shocked and concerned because I was SUCH a “sweet little girl” as a kid. Unfortunately, her reaction was to totally shut down on me. She wouldn’t talk to me at all. We had a pretty great relationship and suddenly I felt like I had betrayed her at her deepest level, that I had done something so abhorrent and filthy and disgusting that I had destroyed some of the love there and she no longer trusted me. She didn’t realize how deeply it affected me, because I shut down too.
For years and years I halted my sexual development and curiosity. Anytime I felt any sexual feelings I would hide them. Sex was fine for absolutely everyone except me. I didn’t have sex until I was 22. I went through abusive relationships, I had no boundaries, I was the most pathetic people pleaser….it was awful. After a particularly abusive and life-threatening relationship, I forced myself to be asexual for 12 years.
Finally one day I was talking to a friend who is sex worker, and for some reason, I felt ok to tell him about this most embarrassing, eternally damning moment of my life. His response? “Well, you should draw it again! I bet with all your artistic experience and knowledge and skill, it would be amazing!” I laughed bitterly thinking he was crazy. I had just told him a secret that had ruined my life, that I was going to take to my grave, and his advice was to do it AGAIN!? Absolutely fucking not.
But… he was right, it would be a better drawing now. And maybe I just need some closure. So I lit up a joint, and decided to draw one filthy bunny. Just once. Then I would burn it, like I should have with that first one. I did a small watercolor painting. When I finished it, I didn’t want to burn it, I wanted to frame it. I saw it through adult eyes and it was beautiful and perfectly within my rights to create…as it actually always was. I wish I still had that original drawing! Suddenly I thought “Ohhh, this is gonna be something.”
Your bunnies are so truly kinky that bring in light an honest erotica without just playboy-ish heteronormativity, which is so original. Choosing this narrative was a coincidence during the work or did you have the need for different representations?
Thank you, YES it was very intentional to do something different. I love drawing flesh spilling through grabbing fingers, the curves of heavy boobs, bellies and butts, also I like drawing alien body parts, tentacles, and demons because there’s nothing to really “get right” about them, and I love making her look soft and beautiful while engaged in something downright depraved. I love the “Ooh/Eww” paradox.
Someone made a comment at an art show i was in, like “how can something be so beautiful and so disgusting at the same time!?” They were visibly uncomfortable with their feelings about it, and I love to see that. Feel weird about it, about yourself… that’s how I feel most of the time. That kind of art is so impactful for me. I think a lot of times art is expected to be beautiful OR ugly but I like to try to find a balance between the two. I like being confronted by art.
In your instagram account you always combine words of your thoughts and it’s often very intimate and clear. Does this bring closer to the public and give a sort therapeutic safe place?
Definitely. I started my Instagram account almost as soon as I started making drawings, and it was completely anonymous and divorced from the entire rest of my life. It HAD to be, I worked with kids and was a professional massage therapist: both completely sexless endeavors. For a while, I didn’t even tell any of my friends I was doing this. It was just a way to scream into the void, and I assumed my account would be shut down almost immediately, so I wasn’t attached to it.
At that point I couldn’t even SAY the words “my pussy” without cringing in shame. It had to be anonymous so I could be honest with myself without feeling squeamish. For a long time, I even refused to admit my gender. Many people assumed I was a male artist because of the subject matter. That was annoying but also felt really good. The art world is still a bit of a “boy’s club” so it felt like I had removed an obstacle by letting everyone assume. Now this dirty little secret that brought me so much shame and grief was a dirty little secret I absolutely LOVED.
If you have something you need to explore but feel weird about, I HIGHLY recommend making an anonymous social media account to do it. It was so mind-blowing to see all these wonderfully supportive comments from so many people when I was sharing something I thought I would be ostracized for…there was a whole community of people who were very welcoming and appreciative for tapping into something they could relate to in such a unique way.
BDSM is centered in your work. That way you work not only as an artist, but also as a taboo smasher. What’s the story behind that? (if may I ask)
Generally speaking, it’s because I fucking HATE “normal“. It makes my blood boil when I hear someone condemning something for not being “normal.”
I was drawn to BDSM shortly before I started drawing BunnyRaunch. It appealed to me in a therapeutic sense. I thought if I could be “forced” to confront my sexuality I could re-frame it and potentially enjoy it. To this end, I sought the services of a professional Dominant. Talk about smashing taboos! It’s still fairly unheard of for women to be the client of a sex worker (at least here in the US).
My experience was absolutely fucking incredible, and instead of being what I thought was a last-ditch effort, it turned out to be the door into a whole beautiful new world filled with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Sex work between consenting adults should be fully decriminalized. I realize it’s not a replacement for therapy…but I got more out of that first BDSM session than I did out of all my attempts at talk therapy combined.
BDSM is also a great visual analogy for emotions. Being physically restrained forces me to stop being emotionally restrained. Being consensually spanked or flogged got me to stop putting up with REAL abuse. And even though it can look like pure fantasy, it sets the stage for some of the most real and raw human experiences I’ve ever had. By pretending and playing, I can be completely and utterly honest about the deepest parts of myrself. Of course, it’s also super hot and a great time with the right person (or people).
The pandemic forced me to stop exploring just as I began to get comfortable meeting people, but I look forward to a time when I can engage with a new erotic community and allow myself to just enjoy it for what it is.
How does the public react up to now?
I was floored by the reaction. People love it! I’ve only gotten a few negative comments but the reaction has been consistently and overwhelmingly positive. I have shown and sold my work in galleries in L.A. and other major cities, my work sold at the Dirty Show in Detroit, a huge international erotic art show. The most interesting thing is that my most filthy and depraved work sells the best. I’m like “where are you gonna hang this drawing of a monster with a huge, weird dick eating out an upside-down bunny on her period? (in the dining room I hope!)” . Typical pretty Playboy bunny pose…those don’t sell. People who love “weird” stuff want to keep pushing that envelope. Bless them ALL!
Now that the pandemic seems to go decreasing, is there any new project of Bunny Raunch in the horizon?
My artwork has suffered during the pandemic, a LOT. I ran out of interpersonal inspiration and motivation. It felt kind of inappropriate and irresponsibly frivolous to keep bringing attention to this personal journey of sexual discovery with SO much suffering suddenly laid bare in the world; not just the pandemic, but all the issues of horrific injustice, racism, sexism etc. Suddenly drawing myself in bondage with tears streaming down my cheeks felt really fucking weird juxtaposed against the societal shift to focusing on the horrible history of slavery and patriarchy that continues to play out in my country. Suddenly it didn’t feel as playful.
It was no longer cathartic and it felt like part of a problem. (It’s NOT, I know. But also, it kind of is.) I’m still struggling with these themes. I’m still working out if I am ever going to fuck anyone ever again. I’m angry, and I don’t really enjoy art that is purely one emotion. Anger AND hope. Sadness AND love. Fear AND admiration. I’m missing the positive part at the moment. I also moved from San Diego, CA to my hometown of Portland, and it is proving difficult to find an active network of erotic art lovers up here. But I think and hope that’s mainly due to the toll the pandemic and social unrest has taken on the city.
I am also intensely introverted, so it’s difficult for me to be in new social even in the best of times. A local art studio is beginning life drawing sessions in July and I am so excited; I will be there every week.
Everything is temporary. I’m confident this is a very bumpy patch in the road. I never could’ve predicted how all this has come together, so I’m going to let the future be a complete surprise as well.
For now, I am working on a LARGE pile of unfinished work, pieces I love and have all worked out in my head that just need time and skill to finish. The emotional aspect is already clear and present so my current shitty attitude can’t get in the way… sometimes you have to outsmart yourself. By the time I am done, hopefully I will have some more love and hope in my heart.
I am submitting work to the Seattle Erotic Art Festival as I write this, so wish me luck that they accept some work this year!
I’ve also been wanting to make a zine; that seems like a great way to offer people an accessible collection of work.
In the meantime, I have original work and stickers listed for sale at bunnyraunch.bigcartel.com, and I also take commissions, as long as I feel I can do the idea justice. So if you have an amazing, filthy, beautiful idea and some money to spend, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me through Instagram! I will have prints available someday soon (I’ve been saying that for 3 years though, so…).