John Camp's whimsical U Street loft

By Sean Bugg
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on August 26, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

When we say "loft" we mean "LOFT." Don't miss this high-ceilinged jewel in the heart of the vibrant U Street scene, with an enormous living area, funky artist's studio, and a view to the world.

"I don't like to be boring," says John Camp, more often known by alternate appellation, GoGo. That attitude permeates the U Street loft of this eclectic artist/ actor/ model/ designer. He's created a home where a whimsical construction crane demarcates the thin line between art and life, and the ceiling keeps visitors looking to the stars.

John: I've lived here for seven years. This is not the first loft space I've lived in. My first apartment when I was 21 was a loft space designed specifically for artists in Charlottesville, Va. I was one of the first residents there, which was really cool and really fun.

For a long time I drove by this place thinking, "That would be a really cool place to live." Then one day I saw an ad for a "New York style loft" -- I walked in here and I knew this was going to be my home.

[At the windows] It's fun to just lean out the window and watch the world go by, especially on a Saturday or Sunday. It's actually kind of hypnotic. It's sort of like Sesame Street. You see all sorts of people in this neighborhood: black, white, Latino, Asian, gay, straight, young, old, rich, poor. Everybody's here just doing their thing. So it's a vibrant neighborhood and it's gone through some change in the past few years.

The biggest issue that you have here is on the weekends, with the club traffic and drunk people screaming, partying and carrying on. That's the biggest problem about living here -- the noise, the trucks, the buses, the fire engines, the police cars, but that's just a part of living in downtown. You get used to it. The strangest thing is when it gets really quiet -- you figure that something's wrong.

[In the living room] The sleeping space is interesting. It's a 36-inch space above the kitchen and you have to climb up the ladder to get to it. It's like having an adult bunk bed -- a gay man's giant bunk bed. If you want to stretch out, you just go up there and watch TV. It's warm and cozy in the wintertime. It's a little on the hot side in the summer, that's why I keep a fan up there.

As far as the whimsical nature of the place, I do this to entertain myself. It's colorful, it's silly, it's me. And I don't feel like growing up yet. This is really cool -- it's a truck toolbox I got recently. It's great because you can use it as a cocktail table. You can use it for extra seating. There's extra storage in there. You can stand on it. And it really works with the space.

I've had parties here. I don't party as much as I used to but it's great for entertaining. I like entertaining in the space because people walk in and it's dazzling. There's something to look at in every corner of the room. You come into this place and you won't be bored. There's something to be seen in every nook, cranny and corner.

[In the studio] There's a line that I'm standing on right here. When I cross this line, I'm in my little artist's world. The other side is home. And it's convenient because I can take all the typical clutter of day-to-day living and shove it into the art studio where clutter is part of the process. Even though this is one huge room, it's two distinctly different areas.

I'm a very big Star Wars fan. I love space, I love astronomy. I remember being mesmerized as a kid by Star Wars movies, and being able to go out in the back yard, look up into the sky and see the stars. That's why there are stars hanging from the ceiling of the living room. Being in the city you don't get to enjoy that as much.

I've collected globes for about ten years. I have about 15 of them, and some are even lighted. Collecting them just sort of evolved. There are so many things you would like to be but you can't be all of them. I would love to go back to school and study astronomy. And I love physics and science fiction -- globes are just a part of that. It turns out that they end up being nice little decorative things, too.

The drill press is for making jewelry. Because it serves as an art studio, this place gets pretty industrial here sometimes. Sometimes a little messy. [The noise would only be a problem] when I decide to do odd things at four in the morning, but I try to be courteous to my neighbors.

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