Josh Meyer didn’t grow up with the goal of making erotic drawings. In fact, the 40-year-old Kansas native has a background in experimental theater.
After meeting collaborator Matt Hislope in a University of Kansas theater production, he and Hislope moved to Austin, Texas, in 2001, where they founded Rubber Repertory. For ten years the duo staged innovative conceptual theater, work that earned them multiple Austin Chronicle cover stories, including one issue that showed them naked, wrapped in rope, beside an agility tunnel outfitted with human arms.
Rubber Repertory’s productions were sexual, experimental, controversial, and helped “Keep Austin Weird,” as the slogan goes. After leaving Austin in 2013 and founding an artist residency in Lawrence, Kansas, Meyer headed to Los Angeles. He landed a few choice roles in No Country for Old Men, Dope, and Suburbicon, before the hustle started to wear thin.
“Even when your acting career is going really well, it still feels so disempowering,” he tells Penthouse. “I started making art to feel like I had control over something. Something that felt more tangible. I probably also did it so I could have an identity beyond just being an actor. Pretty sure that one out of every four dating-app profiles in L.A. says, ‘No actors,’ so it felt good to be able to hide behind something else.”
Meyer tells us about the time he was in college, when he had a job working at a radio station for the blind. Every Sunday morning, an “alluring woman” would come in to read, and would describe the latest issue of Penthouse for the station’s listeners.
“I’m pretty sure they played it as part of the late-night programming,” he remembers. “Anyways, 20-year-old me was fascinated by her, but I was way too shy to actually initiate a conversation. I do remember smelling the recording booth after she left, though. She wore the headiest scent.”
Meyer’s drawings are freaky, oddball depictions of naked bodies in erotic positions. They also have a trippy Ralph Steadman-like quality when he plays with color, which makes the art seem like it was fueled by PCP.
“I like it when the [body’s] forms become characters or landscapes,” Meyer says. “I like seeing what kinds of strange and kinky stories emerge when body parts from sexual imagery are isolated, layered, and distorted.”
Meyer is not a trained artist. He started sketching for fun, so most of his inspiration comes from other experimental theater types, like Taylor Mac, Deborah Hay, Yoko Ono, and Miranda July. However, Instagram has enabled him to develop his art and grow a following one hashtag and like at a time.
“If we’re getting more into therapy mode, I’m sure part of why I draw erotic art is to signal to the world that I’m a sexual person,” he says. “I do sometimes get self-conscious about all the big boobs I’m drawing, so I’ll start drawing smaller boobs and maybe even some dicks, but that never lasts very long.”