A Bar With a View

Slava Mogutin’s new book of photography captures the exotic nightlife of New York City go-go boys.

BY Charlotte Abbott

July 02 2008 12:00 AM ET

Raunchy,
spontaneous, and chaotic, Slava Mogutin’s new photo
collection documenting New York City’s
underground club scene is not your father’s
book of gay nudes. Dusted with feathers, streaked with
glistening paint, trussed up in garbage-bag thongs,
and peeling away gauzy underwear, these boys are
caught partying in real life, in real time. Mogutin, who
emigrated to New York in 1995 and claims to be the first
Russian granted asylum by the U.S. due to homophobic
persecution, has an aesthetic reminiscent of Arthur
Tress’s gritty work set on New York’s West
Side piers in the pregentrification ’70s, but
his shots are rarely studied or posed. Instead,
he’s established a remarkably high level of trust
with his subjects on their own turf, allowing the
viewer to enter scenes that are lewd, genuinely
erotic, and full of tease, from a very short distance.
In many dramatically cropped shots, shoulders and tats, or
skinny calves and dirty sneakers, are as much the focus as
cinched balls, smooth bellies, and hairy butts,
building drama as they lead up to full-frontal shots
deeper into the book. The result brings the raw
realism of the ’zine Straight to Hell to
Manhattan’s club scene, further enhancing
Mogutin’s reputation as an enfant terrible of
the international art world.

NYC Go-Go by Slava Mogutin, with an
introductory essay by Bruce Benderson (Powerhouse, $35, 184
pages)

Tags: Photography

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