Scratching off that silver layer on a lottery card used to be such an innocent pursuit. Seeing if you'd won millions, so you could finally escape the rat race.
Now artist (and rapper) Mr Bingo has ruined it for all of us. On an annual basis, we must wait in anticipation for his festive advent calendar – a cheeky 'scratch and reveal' practical artwork that allows you to remove (i.e. scratch off) clothes from different humans on every day of December. Lovely.
Each person is numbered 1 to 25, and their clothes are printed with a rub removable opaque gold ink (or in layman's terms – that stuff you get on scratch cards). Why the obsession with nudity? Is Mr Bingo just a pervert? "I’d say my level of perversion is about average," Bingo tells Creative Boom. "I find naked bodies fascinating, interesting and thrilling, but I’m pretty sure everybody does, right?"
The idea began in 2016 when he started doing the advent calendar. "I decided I wanted to do something with scratch-off ink, or rub-removable ink as it's professionally known. I spent a while trying to think of the best thing to reveal if we were to scratch a layer off, and in the end, I decided that naked bodies were the perfect solution.
"I sometimes look at people and wonder what they’d look like with no clothes on. This calendar allows you to view a whole bunch of people and then decide if you’d like to scratch off the clothes and see what’s underneath, or not. It’s not trying to make a point or be a pretentious art piece; it's just meant to be silly, harmless fun."
In the past, we've endured naked discos and people in the pub. What's the theme for 2019? Bingo reveals that it's "a kind of old fashioned industrial style block of flats, and we’re viewing it straight on, so we can have a good ole' voyeuristic look into all the windows and see what people are getting up to."
What's really fascinating about this annual project is that people volunteer to get naked in front of Bingo. Over 600 people applied for 2019 and Bingo picked 24. "Actually it’s more than 24 people because some of them are a group or a couple who count as one number. The 25th person is me," he adds.
As always, we like to ask Bingo if there are any particular stories he can share. "One of the ladies, Josephine, who is 9th December, is an amputee so she has one leg. She has a prosthetic leg but I decided it would be more visually interesting and striking if she posed without her spare leg so we could see the 'stump'.
"She calls it 'Tim', or 'Tim the residual limb'. I also wanted her to be standing, looking through binoculars. There was no reason for this. What I hadn't considered before the shoot, is how difficult it would be to balance on one leg, holding binoculars with no arms free to balance and without normal vision. So I gave her a really tough job, but she really went for it and occasionally wobbled and almost fell a few times, bonking into the nearest wall and then bouncing back into position. A true professional! That was one of the funniest shoots."
Aside from Josephine, who else can he tell us about? "There was a guy called Grant (aka Kid Milk) who's a skater I shot in Manchester. Although he did have both legs, he also had the fairly tough job of doing an ollie naked, which is slightly dangerous, plus the grip tape on the board really cut your feet up.
"We shot it in a cellar of a pub he worked in and the entire shoot was captured on CCTV! So I have this really weird grainy video on my phone of a naked man jumping up and down on a skateboard in a small room surrounded by gas canisters, it's so cool and odd."
And what about Bingo himself? "I’m tied to a chair as a hostage this year, and I photographed Lizzie (who's shooting me in the head) separately. To get it exactly right, I measured the exact height of my head sitting on a chair and then bought a helium balloon and placed it on the floor at exactly the right height so she had to aim for the balloon and imagine it was my head."
Anyone else we should know about? "Maddie (22nd December), who's the oldest person in it was really fun. She invited me to shoot her in her home in Norwich. When she picked me up from the station, she was waiting with a big hand-drawn Mr Bingo sign (like a taxi driver at an airport).
"I photographed her knitting naked in her kitchen, then her husband made us all a quiche which we washed down with some local ales. Meeting different people and getting a little snapshot of their lives is one of the best things about this project."
Grab yourself Mr Bingo's 2019 Advent Calendar via shop.mr.bingo. Merry Christmas!