Thursday, April 26, 2012
'In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.'
There was a time celebrity meant something. My father idolized John Wayne, I never saw his appeal myself, but with close to 250 movies under his western belt buckle, celebrity, is a title he earned. Although there are thousands of actors working today, only a small percentage of them have been able to actually sustain decent careers from decade to decade. Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandan, Robert De Nero are some of the actors who have been able to consistently obtain decent parts in the last three decades I have been going to the movies.
Sadly however, I cannot really remember the last time any of the celebrities on the list above were on the cover a magazine. Warhol, whose celebrity status was itself questionable, was truly ahead of his time with his fifteen minutes of fame prediction. In the future I am sure Americans will look back and question how stupid we all were worshiping the 'celebrities' currently gracing the covers of most national magazines. The fact that reality 'stars' Heidi Montag and the Kardashian's capture the attention and interest of the masses is a depressing commentary on not just celebrity, but of society in general.
Reality television began as an interesting concept, early incarnations of most reality shows had an interesting mix of real people. Rudy and Sue from the first Survivor are great examples of what the genre was capable of. Warhol's quote sadly again proved too true, as reality shows became auditions for the needy, the mentally unstable and the desperate to be famous. With Kate Gosslin considered a celebrity, any pride, worth or magic associated with the title has all but disappeared.
Artist Robert J Guttke has had his own brush with celebrity. Although he has not photographed movie or tv personalities, as a writer, he has interviewed a few. Unlike celebrities, whose physical appearance is key to fame and livelihood, for Robert, the most interesting people to work with and photograph, are those who just HAPPEN to be good looking subjects by default, meanwhile getting on with their professional lives as fire fighters, policemen and teachers. Some of the most dynamic faces and figures he has captured were found not in Hollywood, but closer to home in Minnesota.
'I've never clambered after or been interested in celebrity. When I wrote my Beauty & the Beast episode back in the eighties, I did not take up the invitation to watch it being filmed. I like to enjoy the magic. The people behind the magic, I have discovered, aren't all that interesting. So it is usually best to worship from afar.'
Robert J. Guttke
Most images of celebrities are rooted in the promotion of that celebrity, a concrete representation of who they are trying to sell to the public. With someone not motivated by capturing or maintaining their fifteen minutes, the image can be more pure, more powerful and simply more real.
'Aaron worked at a bar, starting the night at the front door. I hate bars, but stopped to drop off some photographs. At this early hour there was no big crowd (I am creeped out by crowds) and the bouncy bouncy music was low (I hate bouncy bouncy music). We were chatting when some 'older gentleman' came over and handed Aaron a business card. "I would really like to photograph you sometime," he said. I was behind Aaron, doubled over in silent laughter since I had done this sort of thing in the men's locker room at the gym many years before. The guy went away. Aaron and I continued to talk. A few minutes later some bar-back came over and asked Aaron something, then when he turned to leave, Aaron held out the preoffered business card. "Hey this guy came over to me with is," Aaron began, "and he wanted me to give it to you since he wants to do pictures of you." The bar-back glowed, thrilled.'
Robert describes Aaron as a character, a true individual. Aaron was also human, one with flaws, and he pretty much struggled at every job he had. Aaron finally ended up joining the Marine Corp and currently is working in the military and as a photographer himself.
Before the Marine Corp, during the time they worked together, a mere fifteen Minutes was of little interest to Aaron, his ambitions were more about getting the most out of the here and now. He was funny and quick. One of Aaron's many jobs was teaching scuba diving during the summer. A girl came over and pointed at his Speedo, saying, "Is that a roll of pennies in there?" Aaron immediately answered with, "Ya, do you want me to knock some cents into you?"
The first image in this piece, with Aaron sitting on the chair, is one of my favorite photographs from Robert. I love the pose, the placement of both of Aaron's hands and his facial expression. Robert says that the image has appealed to many in the past, and is a favorite of more than a few collectors. When I asked Robert about the image, his response was that of a true artist, not really responding directly to my query, but instead commenting that he should have painted the legs on the chair gray.
Something few celebrities are really able to do is truly trust. Many around them have ambiguous motives. For Robert, earning the trust of his subjects is essential. Aaron had absolute trust in the artist capturing him. He gave his body over completely to the art and to the process without setting any limits. With celebrities, limits often drive artistic endeavors. Aaron's validation came not from the results of a shoot, and any bit of fame he might obtain from it. Aaron valued the experience of being a muse, and how the relationship played itself out in the creation of the work.
Fine Art Figure Photography by Robert J. Guttke
Robert J Guttke on FH
'The audience will see how I take pictures but mostly they will be there to see a naked man who can hang from drapes.'
If you happen to be in or around Minneapolis this weekend, Robert J. Guttke will be part of QUE(E)RIES, an evening of performances by queer artists from around the Twin Cities at Patrick's Cabaret on Friday April 27th & Saturday the 28th. Robert says his performance will be enigmatic, include music from his collection, and take the audience behind the scenes of a photo shoot with model and aerialist Jerome. Check out the official Patrick's Cabaret Website for more details and a full list of performers.
I never watched Joe Millionaire, Fox has had so many bottom of the bucket reality shows (The Swan, Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire, Temptation Island) and the ones involving romance always disturb me the most. I did however take notice of all the incredible modeling shots of the first Joe Millionaire, Evan Marriott, which made the rounds when the show was on the air.
Evan returned to Fox last week to participate in the network's 25th Anniversary Special. His appearance got a lot of people yakking but I really am not sure what all the fuss and criticism is all about. Aging is a natural part of life and Millionaire was on the air almost 10 years ago. I thought Evan looked pretty hot for 38 and his soul patch aside, is still a great looking guy with killer smile. I also loved Evan's openness about what a douche he was at the time and talked about the reality show for what it really was, and the type of people reality television attracts.
There is so much self loathing in the world today about age, weight and appearance, it is sort of a sad that being a cute, normal looking 38 year old is cause for criticism. Of course Evan is not the Adonis he was in 2003, in order to keep that up you need to make it a full time job, no one can sustain that forever. I am not yet 38 but I am old enough to know that as each year goes by it takes more work to stay fit and maintain the energy I want to have. With so many idiots out there ready to post trash about how one looks and ages, all the former Chippendales best stay locked in their homes. Kudos to Evan for providing many fantasy's over the years and for coming back to share his thoughts on his time as a reality heartthrob.