Updated: Sep 15, 2019
I remember seeing a video of Dolly Parton dramatizing her first steps off the bus arriving in Nashville thinking what it must have felt like getting closer to her dreams by finally being in Nashville. I remember what it was like for me when I got to leave Livingston and follow my dream of getting to New Orleans, a place that I knew that once I got there, I would be safe and something about that felt like home.
I came to the city naive and green as far as street smarts were concerned but I learned fast. Thank goodness my mother and brother instilled "common sense"as well as my own intuition of good judgement.
New Orleans had many wonderful things in store for me - careers, connections, and people who understood the artist and person I was and wanted to become. It wasn't easy, yet it never felt like a struggle and there was something about it that was nurturing. New Orleans will eat you alive if you‘re not careful. Somedays you feel like caving in and somedays you have to step into the light and leave the darkness behind.
I came out to a gay scene right before AiIDS hit New Orleans and I saw the end of the sexual hey day. The older gays wanted to feast on the flesh of my youth and I didn't acquiesce. The power that youth holds is wasted on the youth.
Knowing these things now, there is a passage of puberty into adulthood that is holy and innocent but yet hauntingly sexy.
”Pretty Baby" could not be made today. Brooke Shield's twelve year old breast could not be exposed in a movie made about a man's obsession with her during New Orlean's Storyville days. We are still a puritanical state that no matter what history states it is taboo. I was aghast thinking how could a mother let her child‘s body be exposed for the world to see.
The first time I photographed Antonio, I kept asking to see their ID, because I couldn't believe that they were of age. I couldn't believe that I was photographing something so holy as their rite of passage of purity into their adult sexual prowess .
Robin, their doppelgänger/ride or die sister, is amazing in their own rite. Photographing them and watching their transition into young adulthood on Instagram and revisiting our work, I can't help but be reminded of those two crazy kids who moved from Jersey to New York City and changed the world with their art.
They made their lives into art and shared it with the world!