Join photographer Efrain John Gonzalez for a presentation of 30 years of his photography, a slideshow of his photographs of the golden era of the Meat Packing District’s gay and fetish scenes. The presentation draws from an incredible collection of images from the Hellfire Press archives. Come and relive a hidden past.
Efrain John Gonzalez is a photographer who’s talents with a camera bend to the unusual, the erotic, the unique, the wild and slightly crazy, from the world of body modifications to the universe of radical S&M, from sensual beauty of the flesh, to raw sexual desires. An internationally published photographer who for the past 30 years has been seeking real life images that tell a story of people finding the path to their souls, finding their bliss, with piercing, branding, cuttings, tattoos, latex, implants, leather, and a whole lot of radical sex and sexuality. He has traveled from coast to coast to find images of people exploring their limits, discovering and living with their own self-defined cultural tribes of beauty, pleasure, joy, and self-realization. People who take the forbidden, and turn it into an empowering statement of their own. People who see their bodies as a blank canvas, and allow their imaginations and dreams to come to life upon a living canvas. Whether that canvas be painted with ink, pierced and molded by blade, or covered in latex and leather of colors that would put the peacock to shame
Much of his photographic imagery was taken at events such as Living in leather (Portland, Chicago), The Fetish Factor (East Village), the SMACK parties, Wigstock (Tompkins Square), The Eulenspiegel Society (New York City), Mayday (Seattle), The Black Rose (Washington D.C). The Power Exchange, and The Fetish Fantasy Flea market (Boston). Some of his work has been compared to that of other famous photographers, such as Robert Mapplethorpe, and Helmut Newton, but he prefers to see his work more in the light of such photographers as Weegee, W. Eugene Smith, and Erich Salomon. Their dedication and artistry allowed them to use the camera to capture the living core of human experiences.
What the artist tries to tell us through his lens is the idea that these forms of radical play and alternate cultures are not the symptom of some bizarre mental illness, not anti-social behavior, or a sign of society disintegrating into degeneracy that it has so long been perceived to be by those who fail or refuse to understand or accept it, but that these cultures are a natural outreach of the curious and an exploration of the self by those chosen few who’s inner voices dare them to walk down forbidden paths to seek an inner truth.
Photograph: Efrain John Gonzalez. Beautiful Francis working the old West Side Highway. Circa 1986. Photo from the Hellfire Press Archive.