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Sun, Sep 25, 2005 - Page 12 News List

US artist profits by feeding his audience's darkest fantasies

Brock Enright offers customers packages such as the `executive abduction,' where one can experience first-hand the terror of being kidnapped -- and demand is high.


Want a thrill? Want to throw a special party or settle a grudge? Want your dishes washed?

"Anything you want to have happen, we will try our best to make it happen," says Brock Enright, a 29-year-old New York artist and proprietor of Video and Adventure Services.

Enright is notorious in the US as the man who performs "bespoke executive kidnappings" for US$1,500 a time. He's persona non grata with the NYPD, fantasy salesman to the stars, and now he's opened his first London exhibition with a performance-art extravaganza starring his own mother and the Easter bunny.

"In what I do," Enright says, "there is a lot of smoke and mirrors."

He works at the edge of truth and fiction, and after an hour's conversation with him, I am losing sight of which one is which. We meet at the Vilma Gold gallery in east London, where Enright and sidekick Felix Paus are unloading packing cases full of Darth Vader masks, copies of Playboy, a giant rabbit suit and lots of cardboard knives. Art, in other words.

Enright is hard-pushed to explain his show, which will feature the detritus left over from a chaotic piece of art-performance in front of a private audience in the gallery. He doesn't, he says, use his art to make a point.

"I just like to make as much of a mess as possible, and comb through it later," he says.

Video and Adventure Services started as an art project, too, and that's how Enright still sees it. One day, he claims, it'll be finished, catalogued and the results displayed. But, for now, he admits, "it's turned into a kind of Frankenstein's monster. I created the demand for it, then the demand went out of control, and the project was misunderstood by the public. But I knew that that was going to happen."

While kidnapping dominates perceptions of his company, Enright is keen to establish that VAS offers a host of "customized reality adventures," or real-life video games.

"Some people are lonely and want to make friends," Enright says.

"There was a woman who wanted to lose weight," Paus says. (VAS incarcerated her in a basement for four weeks, with only an exercise bike for company.) Some people want to be stalked, others want "to feel like they're slowly going crazy."

After drawing up legal contracts detailing what they can and can't get away with, Enright and Paus bring these fantasies to life, with the help of hired actors and locations. (The usual request of their celebrity clients, they say, is "to go to a place where no one knows them." Naturally, these clients insist on confidentiality.)

It's hard to tell if Enright and Paus are artists, hucksters, pranksters or all three. They're certainly diligent. Their encounter with customers begins with a rigorous psychological examination.

Their kidnap package promises "maximum terror," tailored to the phobias of each "victim." I spoke to a client of theirs in the US named Margo Lawless, who describes Enright and Paus as "very good at figuring out your personality: what your fears are, what your desires are, what your sexual attractions are. Then they figure out a scenario which will best fit that. It can get weird. But I've always had a dark side, and for me that's kind of a sexual turn-on."

Lawless's latest "game" has been running for months, and is now indistinguishable from her life. This week it brings her to London -- although she doesn't know why.

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