Here is an interview about my work on Body of Art.
Here is an interview about my work on Body of Art.
When I started going off piste and stopped testing with bricks and mortar glamour agencies but instead first with strippers then girls from the internet, it was then I started gradually encountering what is broadly known as the sex industry, which seems to range from kiss-a-grams to prostitution. This is one episode.
In about 1999, I was photographing a club night for a vodka company that were sponsoring it. Towards the end of the evening I photographed a girl who pulled up her skirt to show a devil tattoo on her buttock. She seemed game enough and always on the look out for suitable models, I asked her if she would pose for me. She told me she was an assistant manager at Pret-a-Manger (a chain of sandwich shops here in Britain), but worked some evenings at a gentleman’s club and it would be better for her to take them there. She said it had differently themed rooms and handed me a card. My vision of a gentleman’s club was of the traditional ones, established in the Victorian era with old gentlemen in wing-back leather chairs, that I had seen on TV. I guessed by the subtle tone in which she said it, that it was not quite like that, especially if they engaged girls who would show their arses at the drop of a hat. I had the feeling it might be be a lap dancing club or something. Anyway, it sounded well appointed and I imagined it would be an interesting place with nice decor.
I always like to see a location before a shoot if I get the chance and phoned to make an appointment to see the place the following Saturday. The place was a big double fronted house in Ilford, on the outskirts of London, next to Ilford County Court. I met the owner, a genial enough middle aged guy, who showed me around the place. It turned out the place was being used a brothel. I thought that pretty audacious as the grounds of magistrates court started from the end of the back garden. It was not, however the well appointed place I had imagined and the decor ran between kitsch and tacky. The themed rooms each had a painting on the door and decorated in a rather homemade way. It was on two or three floors with a sunbed in the basement and a pool table on an upper floor. It had enough interest though for me to decide to shoot in there.
The owner told me, to my surprise, that he had previously run it as a children’s home but after its second fire decided to try something else. He reckoned that the lad who raised the alarm both times was the one who had set it alight so he could be a hero. He did not mention his suspicions to the authorities because if it had been him then the place would not have been insured for that. Maybe the children of children’s homes are always are always trying to burn them down.
On the appointed evening I turned up early and got there before my model. I met the madam, a woman in her mid to late thirties, who was not exactly hard faced but did look like she would give you short shrift if the occasion demanded it. I met two or three other girls. One I remember was a model/stroke lap dancer and another was a petite, good looking Indian girl, who apparently worked in an office by day and whored the occasional few evenings a week. I asked them all to pose for me but they refused. Things seemed pretty slow. No punters turned up while I was there and there were hardly any phone calls. This did not seem to be the kind of place you needed to be a gentleman to join, nor required membership in any case.
When my model did finally arrived, to my astonishment, she told me she did not want to take her clothes off. I had to regroup and formulate a plan B. We talked while I prepared to take the pictures. I asked what an assistant manageress was doing in a place like this and she told me she was inspired by a biography of an escort (years later I met another such girl). The nights she worked depended on her other engagements. She also had a boyfriend who knew nothing about her other life. By the time I had packed up and left there still were no customers.
Four years later I was listening to London radio and it announced that a couple who ran a brothel next to next to Ilford County court were being sentenced.
It just occurred to me to do a quick search and this is what I found.
Woman used as coffee table
My video about making art out of leaves is now uploaded. See it here.
I was once commissioned by a commercial interiors magazine, FX, to take a picture to illustrate bad office lighting. I went away and got on with it.
When I developed the neg I found a vertical scratch running all the way through it. This was in the days when photomanipulation machines still cost £100,000 and only used in advertising and I was not that good with a razor blade and spotting brush, which was the main solution at the time, so it was no easy fix. I shot it again but preferred the first version.
I then dropped the original neg on my dirty floor and stamped on it, dusted it off and put it in the enlarger. It was the ideal solution.
When I showed it to the art director she laughed and was both amazed and disconcerted by it. I was amazed that she was amazed because I had not expected that reaction. Anyway, they used it.
This year I thought I would use it for a Halloween T-shirt.
Halloween Serial Killer T-Shirt
I am showing a rather timely and seasonal film on creating art from leaves, twigs and mirrors at the Bernadinian Online Emporium. It is called Like Leaves in Autumn. Nudity is involved so some of you may have to look through your fingers.
It will 23rd October.
There will be a 3D walk through gallery and themed posters etc.
If you missed the last one it is here:
It’s iPhone season again and my collection of iPhone, iPad and Galaxy S4 accessories are launching Wednesday 9th October 2013.
The Bernadinian Online Emporium opens this week.The variety of designs tips into double figures and while the unwashed masses have to take what they can get, my friends, subscribers and Facebook fans, get the VIP treatment.
For a short period, I will personally upload your favourite image of mine (if it is not too rude and somebody will print it) for you to order and will probably delete it straight after your order is despatched. Who knows you might end up with a one-off, at least for the time being.
Over the next week, you can check the website or scour your mind for one, or attempt to describe it to me if it is no longer on the site, and let me know, on or shortly after, Wednesday. I’ll post the link then.
All different themes, all conversation pieces. Show how cool you are when you pull out your laptop and the skin matches the sleeve, or at a party when you pull out your phone and it matches your T-shirt.
I would be lying to you if I didn’t say you will become a prince amongst your peers and more attractive to the opposite sex by owning one, or better still, several of my products. You’ll be beating them off with a shitty stick!
Taken long before the days of the computer, when people still said the camera never lies.
Another dissatisfied customer.