Efrain John Gonzalez

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  • Phone 718-496-6583
  • Email gonzalezfirst@erols.com
  • Website http://www.hellfirepress.com/
  • You know you are in the company of an iconic New York photographer when the pillar of the New York erotic scene, Michele Capozzi, is at the show. By show, I mean the exhibit of Efrain John Gonzalez's black and white photographs of transgendered sex workers along the old West Side highway. Unless you are over 40, the west side highway is no more than the hip meat-packing district to you, lined with expensive hotels and restaurants. Before this gentrification, however, existed the gritty side of New York. Gonzalez's images are from 1975-90šs when sex for sale thrived along these streets. With nothing more than his hand-held night photography with TRI_X film, Gonzalez explained that he would drive his cab along the west side highway and take photographs of transgendered sex workers trying to survive in this "industrial wasteland". The images are haunting and beautiful at the same time. The eyes simultaneously reveal deep sorrow and hope for survival. That Gonzalez can show the humanity of these subjects attests to his talents as a photographer. Gonzalez describes this exhibit as an "incredible photographic documentary of the people and street life in a time long gone." Funny how we native New Yorkers embraced a cleaner, safer New York, but now yearn for a time when "anything goes" was the daily code of conduct.

    This yearning for freedom of self-expression appears in other works of Gonzalez. I spoked with him recently at Paddles, the BDSM club (see our review of Paddles in the Sex Clubs/Parties section). I missed his earlier presentation, so he spent some time showing me his photographs from the Black Archives, a collection of images taken during the 80's and 90's from private parties and sex clubs that celebrated the gay, bi, transgendered, and leather culture in New York. The BDSM images are in black and white, showing people with piercings, branding, cuttings, tattoos, latex, implants, and leather. The images are extraordinarily brutal and deeply sexual.

    Collectors of erotic photography undoubtedly know Gonzalez's work, but if you're starting to create your collection of photographs that both threaten you calm and excite your soul, then Gonzalez's works should be the cornerstone of your collection.

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