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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)