Michael Alago, a gay Puerto Rican author and photographer, and a former music executive, has not taken the global pandemic lying down. Alago has explored life under lockdown in a provocative new art project.
In October he spoke with The Advocate about his new autobiography, I Am Michael Alago: Breathing Music, Signing Metallica, Beating Death. It was his fourth book, with the previous three being collections of his photographs. In I Am Michael Alago, he discusses everything from snorting coke off a restaurant table with Robert Maplethorpe to beating HIV when it was still considered a death sentence by most. He is also the subject of the documentary Who the F**k is That Guy? The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago, which traces his journey from record executive and producer to photographer and activist, and is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
His ongoing photographic project Art in the Time of Coronavirus came about as a means to escape the pandemic-induced cabin fever of his Chelsea apartment and propel him into the streets of New York City to pursue his passion for portrait photography. His efforts have resulted in a diverse collection of faces and lives, a mix of queer and straight, of rockers and artists, and a melting pot of ethnicities, occupations, and identities.
“Thirty years ago, people 'socially distanced' themselves from those who had been diagnosed with HIV, so afraid of infection that they would not hug or even shake hands with someone who was positive,” Alago said in a statement. “And though it is absolutely not the same, here we are again, though this time around, I am heartened to see far more compassion from my fellow New Yorkers.”
Selected images from the project are below.