The Culture Trip was lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with Thomas Knights, the artist and founder of the exhibitions about the launch of his new work. Thomas has kept the same curation techniques from the first calendars to continue the bright, vibrant explosions of orange splattering on every page. Sinking into his cosy sofa at his home, Thomas revealed his exuberance over the upcoming launch.
What are you looking to achieve with this new launch?
I hope that we can establish the girl’s side of the brand through the calendars. It’s hard to judge because who buys girls calendars? Teenage boys and car mechanics? Truckers? So I don’t know what will happen. We all know you can get hot ginger girls so it’s more interesting, more universal. Girls would constantly come up to us around the world and say, ‘well we’ve suffered too, are you going to do anything for us girls?’ I don’t think it’s groundbreaking in terms with the concept, like the boys version was. I don’t think it’s about that. I think it’s about empowering people to be proud of their difference. I thought we had to up our game in the calendar world, so the new one for 2015 is very sexy.
How does the charity aspect help the development of the project?
Because it holds a charity at the heart, you feel it ought to represent all types of people to showcase that side, but it’s called RED HOT. It makes me feel awful because it’s basically saying ‘if you’re hot you’re in’, which is a really elitist, bullying concept for a charity based project. But it has worked and had knock on effects to the people involved with the charities and we’ve raised a lot of money for them. If I didn’t choose the the hot guys I wouldn’t have got all of the good press and it just wouldn’t have worked as a concept.
When we brought out our first RED HOT calendar it was really nice, it sold well but they only had portrait head shots. Put this next to everything else that exists, take away the fact that it’s about gingers, it wouldn’t have sold nearly as well. The market for calendars relies heavily on sexiness, so I thought we have to up our game for the male 2015 calendar and we started showing more flesh. But I still thought it doesn’t really compete with other calendars, so the latest calendar along with the girls launch could give us more presence. My ultimate aim is to turn this into a brand, a ginger brand. I don’t want to give all my secrets away but cool haircare and skincare products for redheads could be very cool and exclusive and that’s also why I wanted to include women.”
How is it different shooting women?
It’s bizarre because you have hot girls with really sexy bodies that are really body conscious, but then other girls prefer it to wearing clothes! The calendars are definitely more hard hitting and sexy, especially RED HOT GIRLS, because they drive the money to keep the project going so we can give something back to the charities and keep things rolling.
With the new calendar I thought 12 months 12 girls, how hard can it be? But actually we shot double the amount and then it comes back to the same issue I always have of cutting 25 girls down to 12, which ultimately leaves girls out.
How are the exhibitions received around the world?
It’s interesting because around Europe and Asia it’s very popular, New York there were queues out of the door, but South America absolutely LOVE it! Whenever we post something on our Facebook page we get about 80% interaction with South America, it’s ridiculous. It’s mad. They have an absolute genuine passion for red hair. Although it is rare over there red hair does exist, we have a couple of Brazilian guys in our exhibitions. However the difference is in the UK it’s rare but we have this cultural barrier against gingers, and yet in South America they think ‘Oh my God you’re so unique, you’re so beautiful because you have red hair.’ They can’t even comprehend that we would find it unattractive. They almost see it as Godlike.
So I know that maybe in a year or so I want to do an exhibition in Rio, maybe 2016. Although it wouldn’t be used for social change like it is in most countries we go to where there’s a conversation that needs to be had, it would just be a real showcase piece.
The calendar launched on Thursday 23th July, and we were lucky enough to be there.
RED HOT GIRLS got off to a sizzling start with its official launch at the Cuckoo Club in Piccadilly Circus. Fire breathers, strip teases and dance routines were creating pockets of explosion around the dance floor and it was hard to miss the raunchy girls pouring pricy champagne through their red hair and over their exposed bodies on the bar.
The RED HOT boys and girls were all there showing off their fiery looks and displaying their steaming bodies, and it was hard to miss their crimson hair amongst the crowds. Calendars were being bought left, right and centre throughout the night and the mini exhibition on display gathered more attention than the bar.
The event started just before midnight and finished late into the morning with free vodka flowing from every table and heavy beats were dropping under the command of two red-haired DJs. Artist and founder of RED HOT GIRLS Thomas Knights was there to push the brand’s new calendar and it was fascinating to chat to the models involved in the projects.
The whole evening produced a serious statement about the influence that RED HOT projects have generated in recent years and it certainly showed the heart of London another ground-breaking concept.
By Shay Waterworth