Hold my beer

Model: Avalon Von Sturm (insta: @avalonvonsturm)

Several years ago, I had purchased an amount of climb in balloons from a supplier in Europe with the intent to make some goofy artwork. One such project included a friend, Avalon Von Sturm (her burlesque stage name) standing in a clear balloon and painting the inside surface with acrylics, so a reverse of the image would be visible. Such a project didn’t materialize for several years due to a multitude of events outside of our control, but in April of 2018, the dust had mostly settled and Avalon and I put our project in motion. She painted a purple butterfly inside of this bubble with me taking pictures and time lapse video. It was a huge success although she exited the balloon smeared with purple acrylic paint which seems permanently adhered to parts of my bathroom 2 years later.

Several more of these paintings were created and posted to various social media platforms. Though the art always changed, the questions remained the same. “How does she get in there?” and “How does she breathe?” To answer here, the neck of the balloon stretches enough for her to get in with dry lube. Breathing comes down to the volume of the balloon, about 3300 liters, give or take, and with the average human lung capacity, we calculated she had 45 minutes to an hour of breathable air, if her lungs were indeed functioning at 100% efficiency, which they most certainly were not. Each painting only took about 20-25 minutes, and with periodic checks, breathing never became an issue. The entry question persisted in comments from friends, so we resolved to make a video of her getting into a balloon to stem the tide of questions.

(Also, who doesn’t want to see someone with vibrantly colored hair in a state of undress, climbing into a large latex bubble?)

I selected a balloon at random, settling on a green one as we didn't want to use up one of our few remaining clear ones. We set up the camera in the corner and began filling the balloon. We periodically thumped it a few times, watching it bounce and because drumming on it makes a cool noise. Once full, Avalon placed a go-pro on her head to get a 2 shot perspective and quickly climbed inside. Then came the only exchange between myself and her that ever merited concern while she was inside a balloon.

“Oh no! I forgot something!”

“Are you okay? What is it?”

“My beer.”

Sure enough, a lonesome can of high life sat on my desk. She maneuvered the balloon opening off the floor and onto one side. A hand popped out of the opening, grasping a few times. I placated the hand with the beer, which was quickly drawn back inside. I picked the leaf blower back up and refilled the air that had been lost during what I am now referring to as the Beer-loon Sacrifice of ’18. She held the opening closed as I went to put the leaf blower down. Shattering the silence, came a raucous belch from inside the balloon, quickly followed up with a very soft and meek, “Pardon.” As I began to laugh, the balloon spoke again in a sing song voice, “Delicate flowerrrrrr!”

We sat and talked for a while, demonstrating the amount of air available to her on video, before we decided to show her getting out. The hand once more issued forth from the bubble, offering up the now empty beer can. I took it and Avalon popped her head out. I removed the go-pro off her head and saw her hair’s contrast against the latex looked pretty neat and grabbed my camera to take a picture. I had recently shot a performance art piece the night before, and had left the camera set so that colors would be quite pronounced. I snapped the picture and stared at it for a minute because it looked really, really cool. I showed Avalon the image and she agreed, we definitely needed to ditch the video and take pictures of her posing partway inside of a balloon. We took several hundred and slowly edited them down until we had ones we liked. These photos eventually got hung in a dungeon here in Chicago during a private art show, but at the time, it was just a couple of latex nerds goofing off. Avalon and I still have quite a few latex based projects on the books. Some are weird, some are sexy, but that sums up most of the events in my adult life anyway.

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