Putting the Adult in Adult Coloring Books
Nathan Rapport channels heartbreak into risque gay art
By Dan Gray,
8:45AM, Fri. Feb. 12, 2016
Adult coloring books are all the rage, but Austin’s very own Nathan Rapport has taken the "adult" one step further. His latest gay, X-rated book, Last Night I Dreamed Somebody Loved Me, has been garnering national attention with promotions on both Logo and Huffington Post.
The coloring book contains NSFW scenes of sexual situations, often with more than two men, paired with plaintive breakup song lyrics from famous crooners, such as the Smiths’ "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" and Tori Amos’ “Caught a Lite Sneeze.” Though the imagery suggests a kitschy, Seventies-style of glam gay men, the pairing offers would-be colorers a surprisingly personal experience. Depicting different variations of group sex and hookups, which have almost become basic rites of passage for today’s metropolitan gay men, the coloring book manages to invoke memories of relationships and sexual experiences past and present.
Currently living on the Eastside, Rapport creates art at every opportunity. A local printer produces his coloring book, and Rapport sends out personalized thank you cards with every order. Enough buzz and success has prompted him to plan a national book tour, kicking off next month in Los Angeles, then moving up to San Francisco, both of which will act as a sort-of homecoming.
Rapport grew up outside of L.A., but moved to Detroit during his tumultuous adolescence. A self-described “goth child,” Rapport soon discovered and embraced the queer community and began to flourish within it.
After years of throwing underground “freak” dance parties in downtown Detroit with now-famous DJ Mike Servito, Rapport moved to San Francisco in 2007 and continued to grow as both a queer man and an artist. Living in the gay mecca afforded Rapport the opportunity to meet and collaborate with an impressive array of eclectic LGBTQIA artists including Peaches Christ and film director Travis Matthews, with whom Rapport still collaborates.
Inspired by queer creatives of Trannyshack, Rapport focused on his art, building prop designs and mastering stage direction, which led him to drag. With a successful run within drag communities Rapport helped bring the T-Shack here to Austin to coincide with the annual Queer Bomb festivities.
But his beloved artist/queer family began leaving San Francisco, and so did Rapport’s creativity. “San Francisco was changing very rapidly, culturally,” explains Rapport, referring to the tech influx that has been slowly consuming the Bay Area. “It was a potent change. I had been living there for just short of eight years, and I felt the need for a change of scenery, especially since the ‘creatives’ were moving away. Certain circumstances occurred that allowed me to move.”
That circumstance came during 2012's Gay Pride. Rapport walked out in an intersection and was hit by a city bus. The impact “hit me like a bowling pin,” says Rapport, knocking him back several feet and, fortunately, only breaking his elbow. However, the injury left him with a nice little settlement package from the City of San Francisco, which provided him the opportunity and motivation to move on to his next phase. Knowing that the San Francisco “renaissance” was over, he packed up and headed for Texas.
Rapport quickly immersed himself in Austin’s growing queer art scene. “I knew [local artist] Paul Soileau, and he had always been an encouraging force in Austin,” explains Rapport. “When I arrived Paul helped me out and introduced me to other creatives.”
Then another bus hit him – this time a metaphorical one, in the form of a breakup. The ending of his relationship sent Rapport downward spiraling. He considered a change of scenery, another move, but instead decided to stick it out in Austin and channel his strife into his art. He began to pour himself into his new idea – a hardcore adult coloring book, complete with heart-wrenching song lyrics.
After working day and night to complete it, Rapport premiered his creations at Austin’s queer Stargayzer Festival last year. Though he only sold seven copies, afterwards, he posted the book to his Etsy site and soon it was getting national attention. Logo online jumped at the chance to feature a queer coloring book and soon after, Huff Po’s Gay Voice editor contacted Rapport for an in-depth interview about the coloring book. Sales skyrocketed and he began shipping his art internationally.
Now Rapport is turning his attention to his upcoming book tour, which he's organizing himself. “I contacted all my creatives, many who are quite successful in their fields now, and asked them how I do a book release/party?” says Rapport. ”Many replied back and we started setting it up. I’m doing a three-leg book tour: starting on the Pacific Coast first, then I’ll come back to Austin for a rest before the other two legs.” Rapport has shown work at Austin’s Art Erotica and maintains his Etsy site for the sale of his art.
“Being associated as a freak is part of my story,” sums up Rapport about his erotic art. “But I’ve always been and wanted to be an artist. I was always drawing. My mom had me enrolled in oil painting classes when I was seven years old. Now I’m an ex-drag queen who can paint.”
To see Rapport’s work, and get information on his book tours and other shows here (NSFW).