'My Lover's bones are lost at Sea, but his soul shall ever be with me.'
Last week I went to friends wedding. The wedding was in a small country church and was lightening fast. Got to love Anglican's, I think we were in an out of the church in under 15 minutes. The reception on the other hand, went on much longer, and I am thankful for it. It was located in a huge old mansion, now an inn. Although the inn has bedrooms, they are not rented out for people on vacation, or a weekend away, they are rented only for guests on the nights they hold receptions, functions and murder mystery nights.
I didn't spend the night, but did stay late, late enough to be one of the last few people to leave. The owner, instead of wanting to hurry us out, took the quite of the late hour to offer us a tour. I was taken by the many staircases and the tall windows that looked out at the ocean in the distance. It was too dark to see from inside, but was able to see, and hear it, on the last stop on our tour.
After visiting many rooms, and many floors, we entered a small room, almost like a closet on the 5th floor. There was nothing in the room but a spiral staircase leading up to the roof. The stairs led to a Window's walk, or widow's watch, a small circular balcony on the roof of the home. I think I heard stories of brides waiting for their husbands tor return from war, staring out at the ocean in the hopes of seeing lights from a boat coming home. I don't think I ever thought about the way I did last weekend as the tour guide told stories about the widow who occupied the house so many decades ago.
I am not sure how much was fact, or how much was 'show' for the mansions many murder mystery nights, but I couldn't help but think about all the young men who never returned home. Lost at sea, killed in battle, terrified, ultimately alone. What really struck me is how forgotten these men now are. Before computers, before even a time when not everyone had a phone, sometimes it was months between a husband's death, and a wife being told. So many bodies never returned home, and most of the those who died, no longer have living relatives who remember, and can pass on their stories.
Humans are frequently described as being damaged. The word is usually used to describe someone who struggles to cope with day to day life due to a past occurrence or trauma. Truth is, we're all damaged in one way or another and to varying degree's. It's nearly impossible for most people to live a full live and enter their 20's or 30's unscathed. We all have experienced fear and pain and darkness especially, insists on imprinting itself in our thoughts and in our nightmares.
There are degree's of damage however. The imprint of any damage producing event is always permanent. Smaller events however, imprint with less durability, penetrating hard at first, but depending on our level of reliance, don't have the stamina to maintain their power.
Most of us remember the first time we were truly terrified by movie. A film, or scene that shakes us to the core and refuses to let go. I'll never forget the night in the late 80's when I first saw Carrie. I was about 11 or 12 and spending the night at a friends house and it was Carrie, that we slid in the VCR. I don't think I'd ever see a horror movie before and the movie's last scene, with Carrie's hand rising from the grave haunted me for years.
That scene in Carrie is still imprinted in my psyche. There were many nights of terror when my defences were down, that it replayed in my dreams. Over time, I was able to put in it's place and regained control over how much I let the scene impact me. I bought a copy of both the Stephen King book and the movie, and now enjoy watching it, and laughing at how the scene used to have such a hold on me. The scene almost looks a bit silly by today's standards. Having experienced much greater horror, both reel, in and real life, this minor damage may continues to have a place, it no longer has the power it once did.
To be damaged, means it's possible to be repaired. Not fixed, never back to how we were before, but repaired enough to keep going on. Sort of like that plate handed down from your grandmother. Even though it was smashed into dozens of pieces, it remains, now glued together, standing up in the china cabinet. It's kept for sentimental reasons, not because there is any actual use left. Damage is actually the end result of ruin. Being ruined is the actual downfall, decay and destruction that actually causes the damage. Sometimes it happens in in an instant, in one powerful blow. Other times it happens in stages, with consistent and prolonged exposure to fear or pain.
I can't think of a more powerful and descriptive word than ruined to describe an artist's work. Although BAD JOHNPAUL gives his viewers a bit of a warning, it doesn't fully prepare you for what is lying ahead. I love imagery that gives me a shake, and leaves a bit of a mark. If we think of the marks that we have acquired over time, the damage caused is usually inflicted by extreme experiences in two specific areas. Themes of sex and violence are risky subjects to weave together, but they the form core of the vibrant, colorful and remarkable work of BAD JOHNPAUL.
Rural areas in Texas often act as the setting for damage inducing horror. Along with chainsaw wielding psychopaths, small Texas towns have also birthed talented artists whose mothers name them after famous Pope's. This particular John Paul had a word other that Pope, in front of his name, when 'bad' was added to describe John Paul's behaviour while he was growing up. You can only imagine that someone with 'bad' as a main descriptor would soon tire of small town life, and so it was that at 18, BAD JOHNPAUL headed 100 miles north to Austin.
'For a good hot minute, BJP forgot why he'd moved to Austin in the first place and became an optician, working for various eye docs around town. In fact, devoted most of his sexy 20's working the "nine to five" life with another destiny awaiting him! And so, after 6 years of the medical field, BJP was restless... he needed a hobby and he needed one soon! Thankfully for us, in 2009 he bought his first digital camera from a street thug and he slowly evolved into the hot mess we know and love today!'
In 2012, BAD JOHNPAUL left his day job to focus full time on his art. One might think that in order to become successful, art must first be seen, but for BAD JOHNPAUL, his start, was to get heard. It was radio appearances that helped him become one of the most talked about photographers in Texas. BAD JOHNPAUL became well known for his radio appearances and a persona that helped provide the exposure he needed. Through these appearances, people were intrigued to see wild and incredibly sexual work they were hearing being talked about. The radio appearances provided just enough tantalization for listeners to want to become viewers of the imagery being described.
Without consent, or control, sex and violence are not subjects I generally like joined together. I abhor cruelty and the diminishing of one human by another. But, due to BAD JOHNPAUL's creative intention, his images and visuals both memorable and mesmerising. The men and women BJP shoots are participants in the process, wearing their 'Ruined by BAD JOHNPAUL' label a bit like a right of passage. BJP's images bring presence to the primal, permitting his bad boys and girls to inhabit a place so many fear. But by doing so, they take control of the process, channeling the damage into power and art.
I have been hoping to featured BJP's work for awhile now, because of his powerful imagery, but also to explore the fascinating theme of 'ruined'. Having worked on FH for a decade now, I am fully aware the theme is one that has been far too real for some artists and models, especially those who work exposes. I have gotten more than few e-mails from models asking that images, images they consented to, posed for and paid for, be removed from the site. Their main fear is that the images are somehow going ruin a new relationship or ruin a new opportunity or job prospect.
Truth is, this rarely actually happens. I remove the images, of course, but usually still see them on one site or another. Then, a year later, the model is either married, or working in the job they were seeking. That doesn't mean their fear wasn't real, but permanent damage is more likely to occur when something happens to you, especially when you have little to no control over it's impact. It is interesting that some of these same models, come around to again embracing the images that at one time, caused them so much stress. This is especially true as we get older, like my reaction to that scene from 'Carrie', we become better equipped to no not only deal, but utilize the fear of ruin to take control.
Although BJP shoots both men and women, his tumblr, Bad Boys of BJP, showcases some of his favorite bad boys. BJP new book, SEX n VIOLENCE, is due out,soon, and he is also going to be doing an edition dedicated to the many BAD BOYS that he has captured. Not only is BJP giving sneak peeks on his tumblr, but also offering a rough draft copy to buyers to go through and help him choose the perfect BAD BOY to be on the book's cover. If you want to look at the many BAD BOYS ruined by the artistry of BAD JOHNPAUL, check out his tumblr HERE: