ph. Jack Pierson
People let you take these intimate pictures of all that madness without any worries?
Everyone was actually really into it. I think it’s also because we were so fucked up on drugs every single day that the photographs were like the evidence of what happened. I feel like there was a good three years in my life where I don’t think that I had any touches with reality or anything like that. But the photographs were great because it was this evidence of what happened. So I would develop my rolls and then get them back and be like, “Oh my god!” I was just constantly running around doing illegal activities all day long.
How did you come across the concept of only shooting naked people?
When I first started making photographs I would shoot people nude occasionally and I was always just really into it and super fascinated by it. Just the idea of someone taking off their clothes is really exciting and also just watching the human body and studying it with a camera is just something that makes me smile and I think it’s really beautiful. All I know is that when I am shooting people nude it takes me to this other place. I am just so fascinated by the body.
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Ryan by David Needleman / An untitled work by Ryan McGinley
McGinley moved to New York City to attend art school and soon befriended a gorgeous dominatrix/prostitute who lived upstairs from him. They hooked up a few times, but McGinley was hesitant to have sex with her. “She said, ‘If you don’t want to fuck me, you’re fucking gay,’ ” he remembers. “I was like Maybe. I don’t know.
“That night, we ended up at this after-hours,” he says, “And there was this really cute guy, Harry. She talked to him and we ended up back at hers. She said ‘I’m going to kiss Harry and you’re going to kiss me and then you’re going to kiss Harry.’ I was so nervous my mouth was bone dry and I started making out with him and that was it. This made sense! I never hooked up with a girl again.”
One day, when my parents were out of town, I came home from working at the pool and there was a bottle of red wine spilled all over the carpet and all these empty pill bottles everywhere and my brother was passed out on the floor. I called the ambulance, but to tell you the truth, now I wish I hadn’t because after that he really went downhill. I should have just let him die peacefully then. He got so sick that we couldn’t take care of him anymore and he had to go to the AIDS hospital. I would go visit him there every day after school, and we would just watch The Wizard Of Oz over and over and over again. That was his favourite movie. That was what he was watching when he died.
Ryan McGinley, when asked “How did he die?
“ in reference to his older brother who was diagnosed with HIV when he was 13. (via fuckyeahryanmcginley
When you have people with cameras pointed at a bunch of naked people, that’s pretty much the first thing that people think you’re doing. But then they see that people aren’t fucking. People are, like, flying through the air. So they quickly realize it’s not porn. Or at least not very good porn.
Ryan McGinley, on being asked if he is shooting porn