Thought Catalog
November 24, 2010

The B-Boys of the San Fernando Valley

Report This Article
What is the issue?

I started taking photographs about eight or nine years ago. That many years later, and I still don’t know how to use my camera. Go figure. For me, writing has always been easier than everything else, so I experience low motivation levels when it comes to learning something new. I mean, why learn how to X? You’re always going to be better at Y.

I took this photo on the set of a bukkake movie. If you’re not familiar with the term, it basically means a bunch of guys stand around and masturbate onto a woman. They turned this activity into a type of movie, first in Japan, and then in America. When I heard the word for the first time, it intrigued me. Bukkake is a good metaphor for pretty much everything American. We want it all, all the time. Until we are drowning.

A lot of the shots I took that day in 2001 are of the woman. She was the center of the action, as it were. But I took some of the guys, too. They were not a pretty lot. I mean, take any 100 average American guys and strip them down to their underpants, and it’s not going to be like you’re at a George Clooney convention. (Sorry, guys.) I once tried to explain this to my shrink, that women’s bodies are a lot easier to photograph because women naked are a lot more beautiful than men naked, but he wasn’t buying it. I think any woman who’s been to a hot yoga class will agree with me.

Every so often, I go back and look at these photos. I don’t know why. They’re so weird. Who are these men? Why did this one guy think it would be a good idea to wear a wig and a fake mustache? To hide his identity from the camera, sure, but why the Parisian waiter ‘stache? And what about the other guy? He looks like his name is Robert, and maybe he lives in Sunland, and he overheard two guys talking about this at Lowe’s, and he knew he had to be there, that he couldn’t live the rest of his life knowing about this but not having done this, and his wife, Doris, is playing bridge with her friend, so what does she care?

Sometimes people ask me what I write about, and at this point I want to throw up my hands and holler, “I don’t know!” That seems like the most honest answer. I figure when I’m, like, 60, I’ll know. Or maybe 90. Or maybe you have to live to be 100 to figure it all out. Truth be told, I think I write about men. These aliens with which we share the planet. The kind of animals that jerk off on chicks for kicks and $50 while we stuff TV dinners down our gullets and pray they won’t leave us until the mortgage gets paid off. That’s just how it is. TC mark

Read This