As you may remember, a couple months ago I posted an interview with one of my favorite photographers, Nick Haymes. The interview concerned his most recent book, Gabe, which is a five-year documentation of the life of Gabe Nevins, the young star of Gus Van Sant’s film Paranoid Park. Haymes is a man inspired by his muses, well known for following his subjects– often skaters and teenage misfits–for years at a time, building a catalogue of photographs that are at once intimate and voyeuristic, and sort of obsessive, but like, in a good way.
Well… Haymes recently opened a gallery in San Francisco called Little Big Man, and the first exhibition,”Past Tense—Future,” is a solo show from one of Japan’s most infamous art photographers, Nobuyoshi Araki. I’ve posted Araki’s photos on my blog many times before, as a lot of them are S&M related, and obvs I’m into that. And although in the West Araki is known mainly for his visions of erotica—nubile beauties in bondage, provocative nudes—he’s in fact one of the most prolific photographers of all time, as this exhibition attests, with works spanning more than three decades.
To accompany the opening of “Past Tense—Future,” Little Big Man is releasing To the Past, a limited edition book of Nobuyoshi’s photographs. The book is entirely black and white photography, and is printed chronologically as a photo diary, spanning more than 30 years of Araki’s life and work. The book is a testament to the immense range of his art, from his photos of S&M, to tender images of everyday life, to vivid still lifes, to the documentation of his wife’s death from cancer, and ending in photographs of the great Japanese earthquake in March, 2011.
“To the Past is a very honest book,” Haymes told me. “Araki, now in his 70s, is reflecting on his life, documenting emotional times and times of exuberance. Yet throughout the book there is a constant uncertainty of what the future may hold—images of Hiroshima, Araki battling with an illness, and finally the earthquake. It’s a book that teeters and treads nervously into an uncertain future.”
“Past Tense—Future” will run through Sept. 8. If you’re in San Fransisco, you should definitely go! I’ve posted some photos from the book/show below. Upcoming releases from Little Big Man publishing include photo books by Rona Yefman and Keizo Kitajima.
1. Stacey Mark
I have a total girl crush on the NYC photographer Stacey Mark, which you may have already gathered from my frequent use of her photographs in recent posts. What I love about Stacey’s images is that they’re incredibly sexy, but at the same time remain so subtle and pure and feminine. They’re like photos from a 70s issue of Playboy, except dreamier and more cinematic. And she makes girls with all sorts of body types look fucking amazing! And Stacey is cool in person too: she has a really monotone, Daria-style voice, super long brown hair, and has mastered the comfy-chic tomboy thing that Charlotte Gainsbourg and Juliette Lewis do so well and I always wish I could do better. Sometimes Stacey and I hang out and chain smoke and talk about how stupid boys are, and the whole scene makes me feel like I’m the star of an alt teen movie in 1997.
Stacey shoots for mags like Purple, Oyster, Vice, Self Service, and Jacques. She actually took some pics of me for Purple, some of which you can see below, and we also made a video together.
2. Girl Crisis
If you’re hungover or on a comedown, or if you’re going through a breakup or your cat just died or if you failed a test, or if you’re just casually feeling suicidal, don’t worry, I have the perfect thing to cheer you up! Girl Crisis is an all-girl, indie supergroup from New York who perform covers of famous songs in alt living rooms and film it with a Super 8 camera. In the past they’ve covered artists like Nirvana, Leonard Cohen and (yes!) Ace of Base. I swear, these Girl Crisis videos are a saving grace whenever I’m feeling blue. They perfectly satisfy that whole nostalgic, teenage, Virgin Suicides, oh-it’s-so-hard-being-a-girl thing that sometimes you just need to give in and indulge, especially if you’re having a particularly angsty period week. Girls in the band include members of Chairlift, Au Revoir Simone, Class Actress and Apache Beat. Wistful sigh…
Hey! So I realize I have not been posting as often as usual this past month or so. I suppose I have been “busy”, although I hate it when people say that, it’s so obnoxious. Anyway, to update you, I was recently in LA and Mexico shooting a short film for UK Channel 4, and you can see some photos from the trip below. I don’t want to give too much of the storyline away as of yet, but I will say that at one point I kissed a 9 year old in a Mexican strip club (#casual). I will post the film later this summer. I also went on tour with Blood Orange for a week, on his American tour supporting Florence and the Machine. I imagined being on tour would be very “cool” and “rock n’ roll”, however it actually just involves sitting in a car for millions of hours at a time, listening to talk radio with guys who haven’t showered in weeks, and eating food out of foil bags from truck stops. Unglamorous. Although we did go to a strip club in Vegas, which I suppose made it all worth it. Some pics from the trip are posted below too. I’m also making a tour diary video which I will post once I get around to editing it. Editing it hard for me because my laptop is vintage and can’t even handle opening Microsoft Word without flashing up that nightmarish rainbow pinwheel from hell for at least three minutes. I wish I was rich. I know people say that money can’t buy you happiness, but I feel like surely it at least removes the sadness that comes from not having it. Right? I wouldn’t know.
I hate everything. My phone can’t go on the internet.
Here are some photos of my life, carefully curated to make it seem more exciting and carefree than it actually is.
As the long-standing manager of the Ramones, Danny Fields was a legend of the New York punk scene. He was also the man responsible for signing the Stooges, MC5, and Nico, editor of the iconic 16 magazine, and the journalist who caused global hysteria when he quoted John Lennon saying he was “more famous than Jesus.” In the 90s, Fields catalogued the glory days with the release of Please Kill Me: an Oral History of Punk, but he’s yet to address his other passion from the era.
In the 1970s Danny Fields started making pornography. Production was straightforward: bringing back groups of boys to his apartment and giving scant direction, he captured whatever ensued on a simple Polaroid camera. Forty years later, his collection of images now reaches into the thousands. He keeps them in his closet, tucked safely away in a gigantic storage container, roomy enough to sleep two grown men with minimal discomfort.
“They were all prostitutes,” says Fields of the boys in the pictures. “Well, prostitutes sounds too glamorous; they were hustlers. I’d pick then up in the street or at prostitute bars, and then one always seemed to bring the others. You’d pay them forty dollars or something, and they’d pretty much do whatever you told them to. This was before AIDS and the internet, so people weren’t so paranoid. A lot of them are dead now, and a lot of them—I never even knew their names.”
Fields is less interested in the actual act of penetration and more interested in everything else—enemas, dildos, stretching, kissing, piss, etc. “You can see fucking in movies,” he explains, “so it’s not that exciting. I’d rather watch them play doctor.” As he reminiscences through a photo album, Fields points out a photo of two Native American boys sitting naked on a couch. “These two were brothers,” he says. “Well, one day they were brothers and then the next day they’d say, ‘Actually we’re not brothers, we’re just from the same tribe.’ And then the next day they’d be back to being brothers again. What was I supposed to do, give them a blood test? Either way, they made a great couple.”
When asked if he was ever in love with any of the boys in the pictures, Fields looks mildly disgusted. “I was never in love with any of these boys. Sure, I liked some of them more than others, but I’ve never been in love with anyone in my entire life. I believe that love exists—my God, I’ve read 800 pages of Proust on what it’s like to be in love—but I’ve never gotten there. I tried having a boyfriend once, but then he always wanted to talk when I was trying to read. It didn’t work out.”
Fields asserts that the photos are a testament to his belief that the best sex is the kind you pay for. “I just think it’s best to fuck whores,” he says. “I’ve never been in a situation where being emotionally involved with a person has made the sex better. While I’m fucking someone I care about them, and that’s enough for me—that’s where it means something. I want sex to be so intense that I’m not thinking about anything else. The loving part is distracting: who’s going to pay the rent, who didn’t clean the bathroom, that kind of stuff.” He shrugs, “After I cum I just want a trap door to open and whoever I’m with to fall through the floor.”
Hey, so remember how a couple weeks ago I published that sexy/dark short story by my friend Paul Kwiatkowski? And I said he took some pics of me burning the fuck out of a Barbie that I would post soon? Well, here they are. The pics were recently featured in Nasty Magazine. This is was Paul had to say about the pics:
“The photos are based on a group of girls who were on my high school swim team. That liked to steal my disposable cameras and take photos of one another in the locker room and at their homes. I never knew they had done it until I developed that first disposable camera, and then almost passed out. I lost most of the real photos, except for one, and wanted to recreate the images. This happened back in the early 90s. Two of them claimed to like Pantera and Ministry, but I knew they still had New Kids posters and collected My Little Pony, which made their photos infinitely hotter.”
In 2000, Natacha Merritt became an instant girlpower sex icon with the release of her debut photo book, Digital Diaries. The book documented Merritt’s sexual history through intimate portraits of herself and her friends having sex. So basically think bondage, blow-jobs, self portraits of Merritt masturbating in the shower, and a peak into her involvement in San Francisco’s BDSM scene. Hot! Digital Diaries was the first book of entirely digital photography ever published, and went on to become a best seller. Next, Merritt proceeded to do what every rising photography star does after her first book: she went back to college to study science.
Now ten years later, after taking a time-out to become a biologist, Merritt is releasing her second book, Sexual Selection. The book contrasts the sexual intricacies of plants and insects with images of people (again, herself and her friends) fucking. The juxtaposition of the images is incredible; it makes you view the human body in a totally different light. Like, you know how when you’re having sex while you’re tripping, and you look down and see yours and your lover’s sex organs colliding and everything suddenly becomes a bit too real, and you’re like, “Wait… eww” but you’re also like, “Wow, the world is pretty amazing”? Well Sexual Selection is kind of like that.
The book’s introduction is written by Richard Prince. According to Merritt, when she contacted Prince about writing the intro, his reaction to her work was, “Oh my god, I love it, I want to hang the book on my cock and walk around with it like an appendage!” I had a similar response.
VICE: Was science something you were interested in while you were making Digital Diaries?
Natacha Merritt: It wasn’t. Digital Diaries happened because I just had a great sex life, and I wanted to document it. I was taking photos of strippers and dancers in the San Francisco S&M, slut-sex scenes, and having a great time, but there was nothing intellectual behind it. I was a wild child, like, “I just like to shoot sex and I don’t know why!” But now, having studied biology, I understand that sex is actually the most interesting thing we do as a species, so my photographs have more of a context. What turns me on now is more complicated, and often more twisted.
What was your involvement in the San Francisco S&M scene?
Mainly photography, and then within my relationship there was some cock and ball bondage and mild dominatrix stuff. So I wasn’t fully in the scene, per se, but I was definitely inspired by my environment.
Why did you decide to put your sex photography on hold to study biology?
Well, I found that over and over I was asking myself questions like, “Why does this turn me on?” and “Why do I find fetish so interesting?” and I found the answers in biology. I took my sexual investigation all the way down to the genetic level. And then it clicked: all of our fetishes and perversions are justifiable, and we’re not even close to as kinky as so many other species, and evolution is the ultimate art form!
It’s cool that science can teach us why we’re sluts.
It is! And the science of sex is becoming more interesting, because scientists are starting to look like us. Girls, gays, minorities—all of these people are coming to science with new questions. The stereotype of the straight male scientist is gone. The lab is full of crazy people now! It’s really exciting, and the artistic potential of the sciences is really cool.
What was the genesis of the idea behind Sexual Selection? What were you trying to get across by combining the photographs of insects, plants, and people?
It was as organic as Digital Diaries. I was studying biology and I began photographing insect genitals, mainly—I made what’s called a taxonomic key in order to identify spiders local to San Francisco based on their penises. And also during this time I was meeting up with other students for study groups, and by the end of the semester I was asking the girls, “Hey, should we do some erotic photography together?” Ninety percent of the time they said yes. And then I started putting the images together, and I realized I could make all of these amazing connections.
After reading Sexual Selection I presumed you were a lesbian because most of your subjects, and most the people you are with in the photos, are women.
That’s funny. Well, if it weren’t for my husband, I would definitely be a lesbian. I have ongoing relationships with other girls now, and that’s fine with him. On a purely sexual level I think lesbian sex is better, because men haven’t really understood the clitoris yet.
Why don’t they get it? I know a lot of girls who identify as straight, but who cum easier when having sex with a woman.
Exactly, because women understand the female body. I think that porn has just really gotten in the way of our orgasms. Like sometimes I’ll watch my husband’s porn with him or his friends, and it’s all wrong! It’s all a lie—none of those girls are actually enjoying themselves—and so this lie is perpetuated. And incomplete sex-ed is also a problem.
In your studies, did you ever figure out why most girls are open to fucking both girls and boys, while guys tend to be more regimented and say either “I’m gay” or “I’m straight”?
I think that’s more of a social stigma than a biological question. I read an interesting article recently about a girl in San Francisco who did a casual study of all her male friends, and she found that most had at least kissed another guy, and some had even had sex with another man, but still identified as straight. So I think that’s changing.
Yeah. Also there are more sexually fluid male icons now, like James Franco, for example.
That’s true. Also, there are roughly 30 species now that biologists have identified as behaving in this way, like for example two female birds will “adopt” an offspring and raise it. So we’re finding examples of this everywhere, and I think it’s really natural, it’s just taken science a long time to ask these questions.
Did you ever have any apprehension about photographing yourself having sex, since many people have difficulty making the distinction between art and porn?
Well, it is an issue, but the world that can legally fire you for showing your pussy with a cock in it is bullshit! I don’t want to be a part of that world. I realize that not all people are in a financial or cultural position to fight this, but if you are a privileged Western person and you don’t fight it, then I think that’s just weakness. I see it as a big “fuck you!” Also, I’ve been doing this for 15 years now, so I have had a huge stack of model releases from people I’ve photographed, and as the years pass many of them have asked me to retract their release, but I never give in. I wonder what it is that makes people become more conservative as they get older. It’s really creepy, like society is pulling everybody down.
Earlier you said that many other species are way more kinky than we are. Do you have a favorite example of this?
There is a bit in my book about cannibalistic spiders that I really like. In the spider world, the females are huge and the males are tiny. There are very few females, given that it takes a lot of resources to become so big, and there are lots of males who die young, so if a male finds a female he goes above and beyond to try and mate with her. Often the males become a meal, often while trying to escape. But in the genus Latrodectus the male will literally get on top of the female, and after he fucks her he will put his upper chest into her mouth and she will eat him, slowly. And if she pushes him off, or it doesn’t work out, he will literally do a somersault and come back and try again. At first scientists couldn’t understand why he would want to be eaten, but then they discovered that the females who have that meal will be much healthier and have more of his offspring. It’s Sexual Selection at its greatest—the male is sacrificing himself for what he believes is the ultimate use of his body. I think that’s so romantic!
Remember the video I made with Stacey Mark for Purple TV back in March? The one where I fucked a magazine? Well, here it is again if you forgot. So… I thought you might like to see some behind the scenes pics from the shoot, to give you a glimpse of the “movie magic”. #lol
And this I randomly found on Tumblr! So funny! Thanks http://amorsexus.tumblr.com/ !!
Woo! The new Slutever film in my series for Purple TV is now up. Watch it HERE! It was directed by my friend, the amazing Robert Semmer, and stars Caleb Addison and myself. The music was done by Devonte “Blood Orange” Hynes.
I borrowed the name of the film from a short story I really love by Tao Lin. If you’ve ever been in a long term relationship, I really suggest you read it. I guarantee you will find eerie similarities between yourself and the characters that will make you feel simultaneously depressed and at one with the human race.
Here’s some behind-the-scenes pics from the shoot! Movie magic!Very special thanks to Billy Voermann, Demetrious Argyropoulos and Benjamin Pagel!