Given all of the recent and tragic events that have affected the LGBT community (in Orlando, for example), I have a question about the political importance of your photography.
Basically, do you feel as though photography and art have the ability to change people’s minds and help the cause for improving the lives of LGBT people?
Well I know I receive a lot of mail about my photography and/or my film having helped some young gay men feel less ashamed of their sexuality and that they felt less alone. Gay men and especially gay artists often write me that I set them free. This scares me really. I did not intend to have any influence on anyones opinion or sexual identity…. other than upgrading male nude photography and erotica. I have never wanted to be anyones first time…its too awesome a responsibility.
I was very naïve I think. I simply did not understand what was sinful about appreciating something beautiful that God created …like a sunset or a flower…or a beautiful boy or handsome man….or lovely woman. I always figured if God did not want us to appreciate and celebrate physical beauty …we would all look like Leaf-nosed bats or Naked Mole rats. The same with enjoying sex…why would she/he/it make sex feel so wonderful. Fire burns and is very painful….even extreme cold burns too and so we are disinclined to get too close to either which I would venture to guess was Gods intention. If mankind were not intended to enjoy sex…. beyond procreation….why can we? And I know this is a silly old question …but if nudity were so sinful… why were we not born with cloths on. Is whatever God all that limited?
And I think discussing God is very important in answering all of these questions. I do not believe in those Gods that most of my fellow man believe in. I do not consider mankind evolved enough to even begin to grasp what life and our universe or all that we discover each day is really about. I for one can not even think about infinity with out getting butterflies in my belly. It is so incomprehensible.. it gives me nervous stomach. But I do not need to know any more than I think God or whatever energy expects me to know. Certain truths were made very evident…as I mentioned above fire burns and cold freezes….we need to keep hydrated and to ingest nourishing food to exist. There is no debate about these facts.
And I refuse to reduce God to the pettinesses of mankind. I only believe in what I think is obvious….if we are all created by God…than doing anything to harm and not encourage all God creations to thrive would seem to me an act against God. So I have tried in my own way to make how beautiful a man or boy is as evident to others as their beauty was to me.
And I hate killing anything …even roaches. And yes I am a vegetarian.
Basically I think art can only nudge people in the right or wrong direction. Maybe a century or more ago… one book or magazine article might have had some influence… but no single painting or film or photograph or any law or edict or expose’ on 60 Minutes makes much of any difference anymore. I hate to be so cynical… but it is the great God money…. a great deal of money ….that is the only determining factor regarding what if any healthy progress is accomplished. Tobacco is a very good example. It is comforting to think cigarettes became the vulgarity they currently are because so many people were dying of lung disease and other related illnesses …but it was really the increasing Medicare costs and the amount Health insurers were paying out that brought about this change for the better. And every extension of that change …smoking areas…no smoking in bars….that has occurred since has been based on profits…not humanity. If someone or something more powerful than tobacco concerns were not losing more money than the tobacco firms were bringing in….we would all still be dying looking like Bette Davis.
And that leads us to Orlando and the gun lobby and how corrupt our legislatures are.. I don’t think anyone exactly understands when or how the world went so completely insane …I do not remember everyone falling down a rabbit hole and its really not fair to expect us or Alice to grasp or accept the rules or absence of any rules in Wonderland that easily. Hopefully like Alice we will all wake up one day and exit this bizarre existence…where ignorance is a beloved sort of blessing and progress is frowned upon and anything right is most often wrong. Actually I think Trump might even be considered over the top for Wonderland! No…on second thought Trump is at various times several of the characters from Wonderland and certainly the convention was every bit as nonsensical as the Mad Tea Party.
But the gun lobby is a plague of mental derangement that we have been trying to eradicate for a very long time. There are other current lunacies that are even more baffling….such as charging ahead with the Olympics being held in Rio despite the corrupt politicians broken promises regarding the clean up of their sewage problems and the very contaminated bodies of water waiting to poison all those boating and swimming competitors …and an insufficient police presence where the threat from the hometown criminal element to those attending is formidable enough …but added to that… what a swell party this is for Isis to take advantage of ….not to mention the Zika virus already being spread around the world. Do I think art or anything …even a God… might have any healing effect on a force as unbalanced as mankind of late……I only hope the contractors obligated to build the viewing stands for these olympic events are not as unethical as the rest …and using Elmer’s glue and foam tape to hold it all up.
I am sorry Robert…I am usually able to be slightly more amusing than this but it is Orlando and all the rest of the very depressing craziness going on that is at fault…its becoming more and more difficult to see humor where none exists. Much as I might want to have cried out … “Perhaps I should have worn other shoes” as I went tumbling off the cliff…. I do not think I would have. It gets more and more difficult to be objective.
I am interested in what kind of reactions you are hoping for when people look at your art?
Are you hoping they will be fascinated by the mythology, blown away by the beautiful photography, lustful for the models, or something else?Personally, I have had all of those reactions when looking at your photography and I am curious if I am on the right track!
I don’t know that I think about anyones response most of the time…not at first…I see an image in my mind that I react to and then I try to make that fleeting bit of ethereal vapor a reality and something I can share so others can enjoy it… whatever they see…which can often be other than what I intended.To some folks they are important and touch something in their psyche…. others may just need a photo that echos a color in their drapes or toss pillows!
But motivations change and they should over time and the reasons I began taking photos and the reasons I am still interested now are I think very different ….outside of my basic motivation……that I have to be involved in something creative or I can not breath and that I like to make pretty things. But honestly the grimmest… the filthiest… the most unkempt old building ruin or weathered face is ultimately as beautiful as any flower really…I just do not have the knack to photograph these occurrences with any special insight. I am not very good at coming across something interesting and capturing it ….most of my work comes from my mind and the images I see there …or involves a distortion of some amazing image I come across doing research.
Are there any projects that you are currently working on, or do you have any unrealized dreams for future projects?
If not, are there are any projects that you had wanted to accomplish in the past that you didn’t have the chance to?
The answer to both of these questions is that I have a dozen or more good ideas a day…the page is never blank…in fact I have very often been told… I have too many good ideas. If I were a wealthy man…I would be one of the most prolific artists existent..I could turn out photos and other pretty things as fast as James Patterson writes mystery novels.
I have at least a hundred unrealized photos and wonderfully complicated pop-ups and clothing designs …that I have wanted to do or complete for forever and many of the these are even very close to being finished….but I need a crew…I have only one helper for a few hours a week. I have even written a musical…for which I am trying to get the songs notated…I have the sheet music for five of the numbers so far.
“And the one thing that gets me through is the slim hope… dreams do come true.
And if not tomorrow, than how long must I wait?
Someday may just be too late!
Will I still be on my own
And still… oh
So all alone…tomorrow?”
(part of a song “Maybe Tomorrow” from the musical…THE ALMOST MAGNIFICENT SEVEN…)