Interview #2
Interview Subject: Jack Stratton
Object in Question: Tie Rack

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Welcome to the second interview of The 500 Hammers Project, a weekly interview and creation process designed to highlight how useful, specific objects and tools can influence and improve our daily lives.

This week we talked to Jack Stratton. I asked Jack tonight how he’d like us to describe him in this interview.

“I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head with a characteristic half-smile. “In glowing terms?”

“As in, you’re glowing?”

“Well, there was that one time….” When you speak to Jack, you will notice that he can laugh and then become immediately serious, with no transition at all. “Well, you know, suave, debonaire…man about town sort.”

I laughed. “That works.”

On his blog, full of delicious erotica often featuring girls in knee socks, Jack self-identifies as a writer, kinkster,┬áNew Yorker & bon vivant. On his Twitter stream, he sums it up more succinctly: “Simply put, I’m terribly demanding and most of my demands are simply terrible.”

When we thought of Jack for this project, both Zac and I immediately thought of tie racks. For Jack Stratton, ladies’ man, man’s man, man about town, is rarely seen without one of his (increasingly vast) collection of ties. Once he showed up at a social engagement in a Batman t-shirt and the whole island of Manhattan shook.

Jack is also a graphic designer, which means that as soon as we invited him onto the project my email started filling with sketches; first of a clever finger knife, then of elaborate scissors, then finally of a tie rack (a conclusion he arrived at completely independently of us, because life is weird that way.)

He spoke about his design work in our written interview as well. Without further ado:

What’s your relationship with tools? Any specific tools or very useful objects that you use on a day to day basis?

I have a very strong connection to the tools in my life, but most of my tools are virtual, being a somewhat technical sort of man these days in a very technical field. My razor, in the morning, is certainly a tool for grooming. My French press. At work I use computers, I’m a graphic designer. I also use x-actos and various fine razors for cutting up papers and making mockups of things.

I can’t even begin to tell you the painstaking way I set up, maintain and diagnose my computers at work and at home. The way I set up the icons on my screen, the way I design data backup protocols, everything is as meticulous as time allows. It all makes me very happy.

As well when I was learning design I was fascinated and in love with lead type, rulers, printing presses, etc. I am still drawn to the tools of printing past.

When we asked you to be a part of this project, you immediately jumped to either a knife or a tie rack. (Funny thing, we were thinking of a tie rack too.) Why those two things in particular?

Well, I’ve been looking for a tie rack for a while now and none of them have really caught my eye. Right now I’m keeping my many (30someodd) ties in a drawer and this is not ideal in any way. My ties mean a lot to me and I’d love to have them displayed not only so I can see them and select the one that fits my mood that day, but so they become a design element of my bedroom.

The knife or knifelike thing I have dreamed up is something that’s fascinated me for a while now. Something beautiful and unique that I could use both to cut things when I design at home and maybe in some more kinky ways. Knives are sexy and can bring together the somewhat divergent emotions of smooth sultry eroticism and blood chilling fear. I have been thinking about playing with that more.

The perspective I have on you is that ties are very much a deliberate element of your gender presentation and identity. Can you speak to that?

For a long time I dressed very plainly. I never really had a strong male role-model in my life and so I was a bit unsure of how to “act like a man,” so to speak. In my late twenties I really started examining my gender and how I presented myself to the world in many ways. I made a conscious choice to dress better, wear suits more, wear ties almost all the time and I soon became fixated on all the little affectations of that certain genre of masculinity.

Ties, cufflinks, collar stays, fancy dress shirts, suits, all of these things became things that both helped me manicure the way I looked to fit how I felt inside and give me a bevy of little accoutrements to obsess over.

Ties out of all of these things have been my hallmark and my fetish.

Do you practice any personal rituals? Any relevant you could share with us?

I suppose dressing in the morning is a bit ritualistic. Showering, shaving, cologne, picking what to wear. I’ve become more conscious of the whole routine and I enjoy it a lot more now.

Certainly sexually there are certain things that have become ritual. The way a BDSM scene can sometimes be measured and paced and follow an order that I’d thought about in advance. Certainly the tying and untying of someone and the way I treat my rope is the closest I get to meditation at times. Kinbaku, the Japanese art of bondage, is a very prescribed and ritualistic act in many ways. I’m drawn to that.

Anything to add?

Not really. Maybe just that most of the tools I find useful in life are electronic and/or virtual and it would be nice to connect with something mechanical/physical.

Then, a few days later when Zac and I started in on planning the tie rack, I asked him for design ideas. Maybe I should have known better, from a graphic designer? Here’s what we got:

Well Jack…that I think we can do for you.

Thanks for reading, all! We’ll be back on Sunday with Jack’s Rack.

P.S. I could have posted a picture of Jack’s face, but then I realized that the file name of this image (his Twitter icon) is “badass.jpg.” And that, my friends, is awesome.