This is definitely one of the most exciting Curious Interviews for me to publish so far, not only because Los Angeles based Kevin Stea is exquisitely eloquent and thoughtful in his answers about his curiosity and creativity, but because this incredible dancer, choreographer and performing artist is someone I grew up watching in the groundbreaking documentary "Truth or Dare" (or as I knew it in the UK, "In Bed with Madonna"). Kevin was one of Madonna's 7 dancers in some of her most iconic performances and videos and of course the record breaking Blonde Ambition tour.
It is truly hard to name someone Kevin has not worked with; Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Beyonce, Prince, the list of icons goes on and on but maybe the biggest, most life changing job of all was with Madonna. The tour & film were the cultural phenomenon of the 1990's celebrating freedom, sexuality, self expression and promoted Gay Rights and AIDS Awareness.
25 years later Dutch filmmakers, Ester Gould and Reijer Swan re-visited the 6 surviving dancers, who had become catapulted by the experience and exposure into gay role models and celebrities. The resulting documentary, "Strike A Pose"reveals the true behind-the-scenes story for each of them, then and now. It is both moving and beautiful and is travelling the world with it's powerful story of overcoming shame and the courage involved in claiming who you are. Kevin often travels with the film to help promote it and participate in the Q&A's with the audiences for whom "Truth or Dare" changed lives and broadened perspectives.
The Curious Interview with Kevin Stea (& Slinky)
What are you most curious about?
I'm most curious about what lies beyond ourselves. In many ways I could identify as a solipsist, which is why I’m so drawn to express myself and to understand others. I’m constantly searching to connect. Performing has brought fleeting moments where I’ve disappeared into a piece and has given me glimpses of something else moving through me.. which delights me and makes me even more curious about the nature of reality and our place in it. I’m also very curious about the future - what’s coming?!
How does your curiosity serve your creativity?
I think creativity is the answer and direct response to my curiosity. The curiosity turns the spigot. My creativity doesn't live in loud confrontational screams, but exists in a more contemplative exploration, which is driven by wonder even in its darkest moments. The moment we are no longer curious is the moment we’ve drawn the curtains closed on the vast beautiful unknown.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by little things and little moments, the sigh of my dog breathing. The idea of inspiration is deceptive though, the truth is that we ourselves create the inspiration and it can come from anywhere.
Finding inspiration is simply a matter of looking with an inspired mind. Sure, some things are easily inspiring to many, like music or art, or love or compassion, but it's all declarative and originates within. I say “this inspires me”, and it does. The challenge is opening the door to declare that. It's so easy to think we rest uninspired, waiting for something exceptional to change that resting state - 'Come on universe! Bring it on!' But the party is already happening, we just have to open our eyes to join it.
How would you describe your style?
I think my style is a balanced experimental emotional adventure. I look for clothes that scare me 30-40% so I can challenge my own sensibilities and force myself to evolve both in my style and as a person.
I have a rack of 60% scary that I know I’ll embrace eventually. From working as an entertainer I’ve become thousands of characters and stepping into each expands who I am as a person so I often approach style as a game rather than a statement.
I’m drawn to clothes viscerally, there have been times I can’t leave the house for hours because I’m emotionally compelled to wear a very specific piece but cannot figure out how to make it work, but when it finally works there’s so much satisfaction!
I cross decades and continents, high end and thrift stores, avoid anything with a visible branding, always favor color over neutrals, aspire to love big patterns and have a real problem with buying too many shoes. No matter how bold I go with what I wear, somehow it always ends up grounded, so perhaps being 'understood’ is important to me. I am a libra after all.
What do you particularly like about Wool & Water?
What's not to love! The handiwork, the attention to detail and texture! The matching Bow Ties for the love of my life, Slinky!
Wool & Water gets that dressing is more than stuff you put on. Everything has a story, an intention, a life if you let it. The very fact that these interviews exist, asking about curiosity and inspiration, attests to the artistically awake mind and hands behind these wonderful pieces.