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With leather pants, knee-high stiletto boots and scraps and pieces gathered from his trips in central Asia, Gustav Wallas appearance is one of a kind. Most of the time, he is found in a bar in central Paris, making drawings or networking on his computer.
The bar seems to work as his living room and he says that his current apartment is a temporary solution. He is waiting for money that belongs to him but they seem to be stuck in bureaucratic maze of old court cases and social systems. It all connects to his past, but even when you search way back in Gustavs life it is not easy to find the beginning of the labyrinth.
– What you are looking at now died three times, he says.
Heavy words are randomly falling out of Gustavs mouth when he tries to explain the darkest part of his life. Heroin had killed his best friend and was slowly taking the life of his girlfriend. She was out of reason and suspicious to everyone. He says that he wanted to save her and that he took the drugs in a vain attempt to gain her trust.
She survived and went on to become famous. Gustav explains with tears in his eyes that his one and only love, was in fact “Bambou”, who left him to go live with Serge Gainsbourg.
“Wolf love is real love”
– The only love I know is with a wolf.
There are many stories in Gustavs life that wants to be told. About when he met Mick Jagger, became friend with the king of Nepal or when he died twice on a high altitude in the mountains of Tibet. The trips to Asia started off since his mother died and are still playing a central part of his life. When his two wolfs died, he went to Nepal to spread their ashes in the mountains.
-Wolf love is the only real love, he claims.
He says that he used to be beautiful. From an early age he had a masculine face and from sailing he had good physic. Today he hates the way he looks and says that he wants money for a surgery.
Not too unexpected he has an even more striking story to tell. It is about why he changed his name, turned his life over and started dressing to his own image of what hard rock is. All in a likely match with his idea of himself as “a hard rocker and roller”. But the change of clothes and identity has a dramatic background. The scars in his face are a bare witness of the fate he is running from.
“I changed to save my life”
Brought up with racing sailboats and marine life, Gustav found a career in nautical drawing. Things were going well and he was in love. Hermés was selling scarfs with his drawings on them and he had his art displayed on the world’s fastest sailboat. But it didn’t last very long. A famous nightclub owner was provoked by his lifestyle and all the people hanging out at his place on the same address as the club. The beautiful flat on Champs Elysses had become a central spot for his social life. The best parties were thrown there and if you needed a place to sleep you could always knock on the door.
According to Gustav he was attacked after having let in an infiltrated guest. They stole his art, destroyed his apartment and cut his face to scare him off. He was helpless in a corrupt system of police, lawyers and politicians connected to the nightclub. Soon he had lost it all. The apartment, his career and his friends, all was gone.
– I changed to save my life, he says.
On a quest for realness
Today Gustav considers himself as a musician. During night time and mornings he is practising the guitar, getting ready to play live.
After the assault, he took a definitive refuge in this new identity. Partly out of fear of the people he believed cause the attack, and partly to get away from the life he felt was over. The choice of style may seem a bit contradictive if you are trying to hide, but to Gustav it works as a camouflage.
-To be free.
What is striking talking to Gustav, is that he seems to be on a quest for realness. He is pointing it out in everything he says. With his music he wants to leave something inside its audience. Something real.
Paris truly has a world of unknown artists. Listening to Gustav Wallas makes one realize that life itself can be a work of art.
– My real job is to race sailboats, he says.