As an artist, I originally took photographs as source material for my paintings (photo-realistic watercolors), but eventually abandoned painting altogether for photography.
I have photographed subjects as diverse as architectural details in Italy, Dachau Concentration Camp, the ritual sacrifice of sheep in Morocco, graveyards in New Orleans and transgender/nightlife personalities in NYC.
I’ve always been interested in art history and particularly came to admire the work of Edward Hopper, Eugene Atget, and Diane Arbus. Aside from taking pictures, I also produced and directed award-winning documentary films about people living on the fringe of society. From 2011-2014 I produced Gotham Burlesque, an off-Broadway burlesque/variety show. According to Time Out New York, Gotham Burlesque was one of the top nightlife shows in NYC.
How does one go from photography to documentary films to producing a burlesque show and then back to photography? I believe that each phase organically lead to the next. I feel that producing the films and the show made me look at photography differently. It made the work more theatrical and cinematic.
NYC transgender/nightlife personality Mona Marlowe is far along in the process of transformation. Like her idol Marilyn Monroe, she is very complex, striking and vulnerable. When photographing her in her single occupancy room located in Manhattan’s Theater District, it became evident how her entire existence is shaped by her need to express the woman she had always felt she was born to be. Great financial sacrifices and physical pain were and are being made to change genders. The photos were taken over several months.
I am also including Mona’s friends in this ongoing series. Early Ross and Miss Vee, like Mona are NYC nightlife personalities, but unlike Mona (who is now a woman 24/7) they are like a blank canvas and use elaborate makeup and costumes to transform themselves.