Visual AIDS Visual AIDS Visual AIDS 15h Annual Postcards From the Edge, January 25-27, 2013 The Body
Visual AIDS
Visual AIDS
  curator's statement september 2010 selection
      Visual AIDS

Rick Castro
s i d a
c u r a t o r :  r i c k  c a s t r o

Born and raised in LA, I have lived and worked in Los Angeles my entire life. I have traveled all over the world, and even lived in NYC for a short time during the mid-80s, on 14th Street and 10th Avenue, directly across from the infamous VAULT and J's. What was once a bastion of male sex is now a designer label fashion ghetto.

Those were the days ... Life was exciting, sex was fun & kinky, the nightlife was incredible, and anything seemed possible ... I remember when the bomb hit.

Originally and cruelly called, "GAY CANCER" (GRID), the plague swept like wildfire, engulfing everyone in its path and leaving behind devastation and wailing loved ones. AIDS changed everything. I lost so many friends and lovers in a very short time span. I remember being in my early 20s, but going to more funerals than my 60-something parents. One day I expressed to my mother that I didn't know how to deal with all my friends dying. She didn't know how to respond. What was there to say? What could anyone say? It was so overwhelming. Those years seemed hopeless with nothing to look forward to. Eulogy after eulogy. For a while sex did equal death. I was forced into becoming a "goth."

Eventually my generation refused to accept the situation. We fought back. We stood up for ourselves and turned our grief into activism. Perhaps we were the second wave of the gay rights movement, with Stonewall and the Black Cat, (Silver Lake, CA, 1967 -- two years before Stonewall) being the first.

This photographic selection illustrates these feelings. From the carefree days of Studio 54, The Anvil, The NYC Bondage Club, S&M, lust and underground sex encounters, to the impact of illness, sadness, fear, death, melancholy, acceptance, some enlightenment...

I am a 52 year old gay man in America. I am HIV negative. I'm not stating this to impose superiority, but to state for the record that I'm a survivor of an era when anything was possible, but many did not make it. I am a witness to my long gone lovers and friends. I pay tribute to them by surviving as their memory and voice. During the 70s and 80s, I witnessed heaven, hell and redemption. In the 90s anger and inspiration. The 21st century will bring me peace, warm friends and a nice cuppa tea.

b i o g r a p h y

Rick Castro is a filmmaker, photographer and curator living in Los Angeles.

Rick's work explores the world of fetish and fringes of sex culture. His work has been published in artist editions, exhibitions and institutions worldwide.

At the age of 18, Rick was approached by designer Marlene Stewart, (Madonna, Oliver Stone) to style her collection for the California Apparel News. Soon, Rick was working with photographers who became the mainstays of the industry. Rick did wardrobe styling for photographers as diverse as Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritts, Joel Peter Witkin and George Hurrell. It was through hands-on experience that he learned photography, watching variations of lighting and composition techniques from each photographer, then adapting them to his sensibility. In 1986, his "underground" career as a photographer began. As a reaction against fashion and the restrictions the industry demands, his photographic style was severe. A combination of hard documentary, fetish and nudes. "Always nudes, I didn't want to deal with wardrobe ever again."

In 1988, Rick began photographing hustlers on Santa Monica Boulevard. This documentation lead to his collaboration with filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, marking Rick's foray into directing and writing. During the summer of 1995, Rick, Bruce and a small crew shot Hustler White, on the streets of Santa Monica Boulevard.

The script was based on Rick's interviews with hustlers, using them as stars, and model Tony Ward as the lead character. Hustler White premiered at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, receiving both high praises and scorn from industry critics.

Because of Hustler White, Rick was approached by World of Wonder to be the casting director of their documentary 101 Rent Boys. Rick cast his favorite hustlers to be interviewed about their personal experiences with the oldest profession in the world. 101 Rent Boys aired on Showtime in the summer of 2000.

Rick then began another project that was even beyond his preconceptions of alternative reality, the world of people who identify as "furries." Introduced to the furry lifestyle by a furry person, Rick spent 3 years researching the furry fandom. Shot on digital video, the result became a 30-minute documentary called Plushies & Furries. Plushies aired on MTV in January 2002 and scored number 2 in the ratings. Furries are now part of mainstream culture.

Rick's fetish photography, films and videos are in the permanent collections of The Alfred Kinsey Institute, The Tom Of Finland Foundation, and The Chicago Leather museum. His books and zines are archived at the UCLA library and his film is archived with the Legacy Project of UCLA. Rick has lectured at NYU, UCLA, USBC. 18th Street Arts Complex, Santa Monica, and The Erotic Museum, Hollywood.

Rick has photographed portraits of the Dalai Lama, Gore Vidal, Peter Berlin, Alan Poul, Kenneth Anger and his long time muse -- Tony Ward.

During 2001 to present, Rick re-entered the mainstream with fashion photography spreads for Flaunt, Attitude UK, DNA and Tetu magazines. Rick also collaborated with designer Rick Owens by photographing his collections during 2006. In turn, Rick Owens presented Rick Castro's photographic exhibition at the TRANOI Homme, 2007 at Palais de la Bourse, Paris. Rick was the west coast editor for Studio Magazines, publishers of Blue, B&W, Sex and Deep Blue, from 2001 thru 2006. In 2004, Rick's second book, 13 Years of Bondage: The Photography of Rick Castro, reached #2 at A Different Light Bookstore's top 10 new releases, and was nominated for a Lambda Award.

The ground-breaking group exhibition "REVEALED: The Tradition of Male Homoerotic Art" debuted in 2010. This historic exhibition featured major gay artists creating homoerotic images for the last 100 years, including Wilhelm Von Gloden, George Platt Lynes, Host P. Horst, Paul Cadmus, Tom of Finland, Bruce of LA, James Bidgood, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, Herb Ritts and Rick Castro. In 2005, Rick opened ANTEBELLUM gallery. This groundbreaking gallery is considered the only fetish art galley in America, and perhaps the world.

"I consider myself a folk artist, because my work is made for and created with a kindred group. I find my subjects fascinating and become obsessed with wanting to know all about them, be it through photos, film, video, or writing. I'm fascinated with the process of original ideas, and the course it takes to becoming common place. I'm fully aware that whatever is initially considered bizarre will be the standard of the future." -- Rick Castro, Hollywood, 2010

Rick Castro photographing Gore Vidal at his Hollywood Hills Home -- 2004
Rick Castro photographing Gore Vidal at his Hollywood Hills Home -- 2004


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