BC: I see connections to Banksy and iamamiwhoami and the photography of Tyler Shields and styling of musical artist Simon Curtis. Are any inspirations taken from those names? Who IS Black Spark inspired by? (The famous ass-spread shot reminded me of Mapplethorpe's shot with the bullwhip.)
BS: None of the people you cited have been an inspiration. I’ve never seen Tyler Shields's work so that wasn’t an inspiration. I had to Google him.
Michael Jackson is an inspiration...he had a lot to do with Black Spark.
Not surprisingly, dudes named "Black Spark" aren't always Mary Sunshine
BC: The Black Spark is a contradictory character—he "comes from a place of love" but is not above snapping at people who question any aspect of his work. Is the negativity that sets you off the kind of totally dismissive or even troll-like stuff, or is any kind of criticism, however constructive, destructive toward this project?
BS: I have fun with it. I’m an ass sometimes. Some things are taken out of context. I'm really entertaining myself with this stuff, though. People should relax a little.
BC: Some of your fans seem to be behaving like religious followers in the intensity of their reactions, and you're not discouraging that with comments like "when they cut me, I bleed you guys." Is there a deliberate messianic theme to this character?
BS: No. I’m not the messiah, but I adore the fans and I think they want to support something positive and beautiful.
BC: Fans were disappointed to see most of the videos disappear. Were they pulled due to music-licensing issues or other reasons? Is there any way to get them back in their original forms, or would they have to be re-edited with new music?
BS: No the films are in their original form and they will stay that way. They’ll be back.
BC: Is the feature-length project going to be professionally scored with music whose rights are secured?
BC: How is the music that's used selected?
BS: The song is selected before anything is filmed. What you see is usually filmed based around the song and I create a narrative from it.
Have a little SundayFaith
BC: Have any of the films so far stood out to you as the most important or meaningful?
BS: SundayFaith is probably the most meaningful because it’s as real as it gets. A look into a great morning.
All of Black Spark's films have satisfying climaxes
BC: You've insisted you're not making porn, but sex features prominently in all of your films. Isn't it fair to consider your work at least porn-adjacent if real sex is a requirement?
BS: Nope. I just consider myself a sex addict and an honest guy. The work is honest. My life is full of sex. I’m trying to inspire more than a sexual desire. You are intended to open your mind and heart to the possibilities.
BC: Stepping out of the artistic aspect and into practical matters: Was there ever any thought given to using condoms? Any thoughts on the debate that showing bareback sex—even among committed couples—encourages people to be less safe in real life?
BS: No. You’re seeing my love life. Do people really need me to tell them what to do? I don’t think so. I’m not telling anyone to do anything I’m doing. Just showing my life as it is.
BC: What about when you have sex with people other than your lover, like the fan ("I fucked a fan last night") or people who submit their info to your site to appear in the films? Is anyone being screened for STDs?
BS: I did fuck a fan. I had a condom on, but that’s my personal life. It was safe and consensual and fantastic. I don’t run a porn company, though.
BC: On anonymity, is there any way possible to create a wholly anonymous character in this way without identities eventually being guessed? Was that ever the goal, to remain anonymous forever?
BS: That’s the goal if it is at all possible. Lord knows they definitely have me confused but that’s ok. I suspect they’ll keep talking which works for me.
A superhero of sexy-time
BC: You've implied that your need for anonymity stems from needing to keep your work from your family and/or to keep it from hindering outside, presumably more mainstream, professional interests. Can you clarify that at all? Is this a situation where your family has no idea you're bisexual or where they'd be upset about the graphic nature of your work? What kinds (in general) of mainstream projects are you pursuing?
BS: I can’t clarify that. It is as it is. Like with most other superheroes, Black Spark wants his family left out of things. There are other film projects that don’t relate to Black Spark.
BC: How far along is the feature-length film, and in what venues do you see it appearing? (Online, DVD, arthouses?)
BS: It’s about half done, but I meet new people and I get inspired by new characters. It’s extremely organic. I don’t know what I’ll keep and what I’ll cut.
BC: Why are some of the people masked and some unmasked? Is that a strictly creative decision, a strictly practical one that is then addressed creatively? Do participants get to choose?
BS: They’re all masked. Whether you see it or not they’re all wearing a mask. I see it. Others see it.
The man behind the mask...or the men?
BC: Is Black Spark always in the same color bandana or mask, and are other characters also always garbed the same, or should viewers be on the look-out for changes in costume?
BS: Oh, they should definitely be on the lookout. The next video will show a new mask. He’s evolving and the mask evolves with him. You can’t expect things to stay as they are. He’s intriguing and his power is most definitely real.
Shockingly, lots of people are volunteering to tangle with this
BC: What kinds of people are volunteering to appear in the films? Any women? If you're mainly filming real sex, does that mean you would not accept anyone you aren't attracted to? I'm wondering if any diversity will appear in future works (something a fan of a film series might expect and hope for, but not something anyone would expect or hope for in a friend's sex life!)?
BS: Many types of people are volunteering. There’s something very cool at play here...the people who write to us aren’t just one-dimensional. They tell us about themselves, show us their heart, and really let us in. My fans are incredible. As far as diversity is concerned, I love all races. I’m attracted to all races. Men and women alike. That’s real talk. I have no preferences. People shouldn't assume.
A chip off the old Spark
BC: The story revolves around Black Spark and there are other Sparks, but is there a mythology yet to be revealed that will tie all of this together? Are there other Sparks?
BS: Certainly. There are definitely more Sparks and there is a story that will tie the randomness together. People have to stay tuned because it’s a wild ride.
BC: You've said no one has guessed correctly. Does that mean, definitively, that the person who appears to be Black Spark in the videos is NOT the same person known as "Josh Stark" of CollegeDudes.com?
BS: I don’t know who that is, but I have Google...
BC: Black Spark has denied having done "porn" in the past. If you or anyone involved had been involved in traditional porn, what impact, if any, would that have on how your fans receive your work? Would it matter? Should it?
BS: I haven’t denied doing porn. I said if I had only Ray Charles could see it. I know what the the talk around town is. I see everything.
BC: There was some momentary controversy when brothers were mentioned on Black Spark's page, the implication being that perhaps you have a brother. Some have suggested that "Josh Stark" is a brother to Black Spark. Is that also completely not true?
BS: Yes. I do have a brother but we share one heart.
He will be your brother figure
BC: On the specific-guesses front, an anonymous but knowledgeable-sounding commenter at MaybeNow! has claimed to ID Black Spark and several other people involved with the project. Any truth to any of that?
BS: There’s truth to everything, isn’t there? I’m not understanding what makes them sound knowledgeable. “We” are a very small team. There are no outsiders.
We are all replaceable...
BC: Can complete exposure stop the Black Spark Project? Can anything?
BS: No. The Black Spark is completely replaceable. He can and may be replaced. He’s already been different people...he’s an idea...ideas change..
BS: Yes. People are incredible and I am grateful.
BC: Are you still doing private videos to raise money? How costly are they and what do patrons get?
BS: I haven’t but I’m still somewhat willing to if I feel like it. I’m focused on the bigger picture. Money isn’t a motivator. What it costs and what they get is kept private. Although, would you like one, Matthew?
[Editor's note: There goes my 401(k) plan. This is like when the go-go dancer singles you out and you don't know what to do with your hands. Or like when you meet the famous sex symbol and can't think of anything else to say but, "Yer...yer...hot!" Yes, BS, I of course I want one. I'm dirty and old. I mean, I am an art lover.]
BC: Finally, what can fans expect from the upcoming Web site? Will it have paid membership? Merchandise?
BS: No merchandise has been planned. People can expect a deeper look into the story. They can expect to know more about the project and become involved on a community level.
BC: Anything else you'd want fans to know?
BS: People should know that we're organized and have a plan and they can't circumvent what we're doing. Trying to bypass my filters won't work. The people around me are around me for a reason and they should respect that. I want my fans to know that nothing is going to stop this project because it’s bigger than The Black Spark. There’s so much more. Join us now. No need to be a hater. To all the people who are putting up negative comments...Save yourself some embarrassment...you know you love it...you fucking love it.