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.
Taken long before the days of the computer, when people still said the camera never lies.
I have 6 pages in The Mammoth Book of Erotic Photography vol. 4, publication date is August 15th in the UK and late September in the USA. It features more than 440 erotic photographs by 74 photographers. Apart from me, other contributors include, Charles Gatewood, Chas Ray Krider, Natacha Merritt, Craig Morey, Dave Naz, George Pitts and many others.
For this edition, each photographer was asked to choose a favourite models to create this compelling portfolio of muses. I don’t really have muses but I chose a girl I have worked with several times over the last few years, Tessa Kuragi, a girl who once claimed I had serial killer potential and I am not sure whether she was joking either (see the video Interview with a Serial Killer at the bottom of the page).
She is Jamaican and I first met her in 2006 while she was still a student. She emailed me some amateur snaps and asked if she could model for me. Since then she has gone on to work with many fine photographers. Below are the 7 images used in the book.
Tessa Kuragi Retrospective
Here are some of the other images I have taken of her over the years.
Here she is just about to leave my flat. I could hardly believe she had worn that T-shirt on the Underground.
She told me she was off to see her mum. If you have the balls or perhaps the pudenda to wear one, get it here.
A fresh-faced Tessa amongst the flowers, 2007
Butterfly Collector video – Tessa and Gestalta get needled.
Before settling on acupuncture needles, I tried piercing needles. Here is Tessa painfully piercing herself.
Tessa accuses me of having serial killer potential.
This is the second instalment in my project. The first can be seen here. I thought of what the streets might look like if inappropriate content could be seen in an urban enviroment and at the same time treat it as an ad campaign.
My first trip to take background images was to the West End of London. I had not been there for some years and discovered that some buildings had huge posters on their sides and others being renovated had posters and hoardings sometimes up to the height of two floors. I visited several parts of London and photographed billboards and posters and composited erotic and surreal pornographic images into them. After that it occurred to me to concentrate on London museums and art galleries photographing and videoing their frontages and interiors, such as the Tate Modern, Hayward, Whitechapel and private commercial galleries such as Saatchi, Gagosian, Lisson etc.
I have made a video depicting some of the images in and on well known London art galleries. It is explicit and strictly NSFW.