Tapping the Raw Sensual Intensity

I think there is a raw sensuality at the core of all of us. It doesn’t matter if we are 20 or 60, everyone has it. It’s just a matter of seeing and recognizing within our selves and others. Most often it is not apparent on the surface and remains hidden. For some, I as a photographer, can access it more readily than others; but photographers by design are supposed to reveal things that are hidden. I somehow seem to do better at it than others, perhaps because I am searching deep in others to find the truths within myself. When I meet someone there is an instant connection, sometimes even with strangers across a room. In theater I studied Stanislavski’s method of acting: he said, “The eyes are the windows to our souls.” I believe this is true and it is though the eyes the first connection is made. Volumes are spoken about a person within that first few moments, without words ever being uttered. Being gay seemed to make this easier, because when I was younger and the world not so open to your lifestyle, we had to be able to read each other. Many called this gaydar, which always makes me laugh. So many gay men say I don’t have it, I can’t tell if he’s gay or not, may answer is you just don’t pay attention. Gay men seem to have a connection to each other and are drawn like magnets, so it’s simple once the connection is realized. From working in the entertainment industry it is this magnetism that I also recognize in actors great. They have an intensity that immediately connects us to them and draws us in, gay straight, male, female. For me this is the root of that raw sensuality. This is what I try to draw out of my subjects as I meet them and work with them. Others see it in me and are willing to go out on the limb. I am honest and upfront and put meaning into every action and this gains trust.

Many years ago, I was working as a bartender in a popular gay club off DuPont Circle in Washington DC. I had a roommate who was a porn star. I felt like I had gained celebrity status and was recognized and known though out the DC circuit. One night I got caught in a bad neighborhood in a bad part of town. I had been visiting some friends during the afternoon and it got dark and needed to get home. This was such a bad neighborhood that the cabs would not even come into it to pick anyone up. The only place to catch a cab was four streets down on a street better known as prostitution row, lined with hundreds of them. Suddenly one approaches me, a very young woman, our eyes lock and I see the desperation of her soul. She is like a magnate pulling me into her darkness. I wanted to turn away, fearing she may consume me, but remained locked into that stare, fascinated and bewildered. She sees in me the history of who I am, realizes I am gay, have no money to spend on her, turns away and moves on to someone else with the same intensity she approached me. This is probably one of the most intense connections I have ever had with another human being. The exchange lasted but a moment, few words where exchanged but we instantly knew the entire history of each other. That moment has haunted me most of my life. I saw the intensity within myself and it has helped me in dealing with others. It is this intensity I begin to the photo session and the connection you see in my subjects. I always tell models to connect personally with what they are doing, the viewer of the image needs to see your thoughts, connect to them and recognize something within themselves the make the image powerful. If you are thinking of mindless grocery lists, the view doesn’t care and the image becomes void of any context. Not to go on about porn again, but this has become the way of that industry, no one seems to connect with what they are doing. How do they expect me to get excited about it if they are not excited about what they are doing? I think this is why the amateur stuff is becoming so exciting and popular, it’s real again. It is with this intensity that I connect to my own sensuality, realize it in my work, and strive to bring out in others.