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Photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia's best shot


This Polaroid was a test shot for a series I did in the 1990s called Hustlers, about male sex workers looking for business on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles.When I picked each location, I didn't know, at that point, who would be the subject. For this one, I chose as a background the famous Capitol Records building, which looks like a stack of LPs. lorca

I set up the tripod and lights, then left my assistant waiting while I got in a car and approached one of the men standing around. I had a thing I would say: "I'm not interested in sex, but I will pay you the same amount of money as you would get for the lowest common denominator sex act to take your picture." And that's how I met this guy.

Male sex workers tend to assume one of the Village People roles, but this guy was different. He looked like a rocker, wearing a leather jacket with that symbol in studs on the back. In this shot, you are not given any of the usual gratifications that photography offers, the normal hints to character that seeing a face brings. That's what I like about it: he is summed up by the jacket.

One reason I did the project is because Hollywood is all about false fronts and role-playing. This seemed the perfect analogy: a male sex worker pretending to be a punk rocker.

When you go on to the street, you bring an element of unpredictability and chaos to the situation. I try to control it, with light and framing; but after that, things happen that are either a blessing or a curse. I like that.

The Guardian

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