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Women During Sex

CK: Can you tell us something about your erotica?

Brian Moss: It was sort of a progression.

I started with what people might call artistic nudes, which is a term that makes me cringe. Or glamour nudes. There's all these funny names for shooting nudes. I started with that and then during the one shoot, it went beyond that and I started interacting with the girl...a girl that I was dating, and I kept shooting. I never put the camera down basically.

I remember quite clearly there was one frame where I was behind her and my hand was on the small of her back and I photographed my hand. Sounds like nothing, but it's quite strange for a photographer to be in his own picture. It was unsettling to me. I didn't think twice about it. I buried it because I almost felt exposed. I didn't know what to make of it.

But then as I continued to shoot this kind of artistic nudes it started to bore me because they felt so Hallmark-y, like greeting cards. They felt two dimensional. They might be pretty, you might like them but they didn't seem to have a voice or tell a story. And when I looked at this happy accident, those seemed much more compelling to me, and in keeping with everything else I was shooting: reportage, real life, just shooting and trying to find interesting moments as opposed to taking a girl and placing her on a bed and just shooting these happy shots. It sort of took off in that direction. Visually and artistically, I needed those shots to make me happy. When I showed them to people, they said, "wow! I've never seen sex or orgasm shot that way."

And as I wanted to continue on that body of work, I realized that if I only relegated it to my own sex life, it would be a long project. How am I going to find enough women that I'm dating that are okay? So, how can I not always have myself involved and it would be much easier to have women masturbate to orgasm rather than be involved in that process. When it happened, that's cool. But, I needed to open up the font a little more.

And that's when I came up with the idea that even when I am shooting point of view it's not about me, it's about the orgasm. I needed to focus on the woman's orgasm. I don't need to be a part of that for masturbation. I can just go back to being a voyeur—setting it up and letting it go. That's how it grew. It opened up a gene pool for me to find people that are okay with me photographing those really private moments as well as those that can't do that. Not every woman can cum being watched like that...if we are to believe that the women I am shooting are cumming which of course, would always be a mystery.

CK: Where do you find the women in your photographs? Are they art models, porn stars or prostitutes which, in America, are now more euphemistically referred to as "escorts"?

Brian Moss: Actually, I have shot all of the above. They could be just anybody for whom this is a cool project. I've shot "escorts" or "working girls" as they would call themselves.

CK: Have you any particular preference?

Brian Moss:
				
				
				
				
				
				 Women During Sex
Brian Moss: Women During Sex

Brian Moss: I tend to prefer non-professionals, meaning "working girls" and models are professionals. I like to shoot girls that don't think they are models because then you don't get the knee-jerk "toss of the hair" which always feels "pornish" to me. They're always concerned that they are not a model. That's okay. I'm good with non-models. I've had girls do their very first naked shoots with me, and gotten thank yous. "Like wow! I'm so glad you were my first", so to speak. I'm really easy to be around and to do that with as they learn more and shoot with other people. So, I like non-professionals probably. They haven't learned artifice which I hate. Even non professionals will give you that but that's because they're used to being girls in America which means they cock their head, they toss their hair, things that they would do in the bar. I try to defuse that in the beginning by saying, "let's try not to do that." But, invariably they are unaware of it until they are called on it. ! "You're cocking your head again". They don't know. It's cultural because it gets a reaction from men in their real world. So, that's what women do, but it looks totally set up. The shoot is set up but I want as little artifice as possible.... I try to erase all of that and get to the really good stuff.

CK: What do you consider the good stuff?

Brian Moss: When they lose all of the above. You can throw away the first two or three rolls. That's just saying "Hi, how are you doing?". Trying to get them into a groove. Once they start focusing on themselves or pleasure, all bets are off, and then it's okay...especially if your eyes are closed.

CK: A French writer once qualified pornography as images of bodies the viewer wanted to posess whereas erotica idealizes.


Brian Moss: I've actually written down that quote...not because I am conflicted over what I do. I always want to intellectualize what I do because I need to be prepared to say: "Oh it's this, oh it's that and so I have read books about the history of pornography. It's still a really complicated issue. I think "artistic nudes" by that term "artistic" tend to idealize the nude and I think that's a safe place for people...even the photographer never having shot a naked woman. "Oh it's black and white"...I love black and white" You can feel safer because black and white idealizes, whereas colour realizes the nude. And if you were to look at colour work versus black and white work I think it's more eroticized because you can now see the colour of flesh. You can see the colour of an aureola. So, it's a tough one: what is pornography? I don't know. The Supreme Court doesn't know. For me, I fear nothing when I shoot it—meaning I don't think about those things when I shoot. All I do when I! edit, I say, "do I like that shot?" then it passes my test...whatever test that is. You might call it pornography but I don't care.

CK: Would you comment on a few of these photographs for us?

Brian Moss: This pregnant woman was amazing. I had never even seen a naked pregnant girl prior to shooting her, so it was an experience for me. I don't have a child. I have never dated a pregnant woman. I don't fetishize pregnancy. I don't have videos of pregnant women lactating, yet I was struck by her beauty and her fearlessness about her pregnancy. It was an amazing shoot. These pictures actually ran in a gallery on nerve.com and you might go there for comments by viewers. Women were actually commenting about how thrilled they were that finally pregnancy had been portrayed honestly and sexually, because they claimed that, as pregnant women, they were sexual. And again this was news for me. But when nerve.com interviewed me for the little piece that accompanied the gallery, they asked if I was afraid that people would fetishize it because pregnancy and lactating women are fetishes. I basically replied, once you take a photograph, like a child, you send it into the world. You have to let them go. You can't worry about what people are going to attach to it. I might take a picture of a garbage can and somebody could fetishize it. I can't worry about it. One that was amazing and published in Stern was of a woman licking her hand as she cums. That was a great experience for me.

Brian Moss:
				
				
				
				
				
				 Women During Sex
Brian Moss: Women During Sex


This one is of a "working girl". This one is of an adult model. Here is a lesbian dominatrix. This is one of my girl friend, Here we have a porn star or porn actress that I met off site during an assignment who, incidentally, is a computer programmer by day. This is an interesting series because the more you shoot the more you realize that there is a common thread with masturbation. You would think that I posed these women. I said nothing to them. It's interesting to see how they ended up—almost identical. Different women, months apart, same bed, yet there seems to be something universal. Here is an aberration with women that need to be on their stomach. It was fascinating that as I edited I started to see universal themes and some very individual themes. We spoke about the democratization of bodybuilding. The women I've photographed for this project are Black, Asian, Latina and Caucasian. I have made an effort to represent various body types because I am interested in showing the democracy of the orgasm. Although it's achieved in many different ways, with many different visible results, there is an element of universality to sexual climax. Whether we are black, white, gay, straight, from America or China, we are pretty similar at that moment which is pretty wonderful.

CK: Why did you choose orgasm?

Brian Moss:
				
				
				
				
				
				 Women During Sex
Brian Moss: Women During Sex

Brian Moss: You cut to the chase. You are looking at nudes. Why are they there? Are they meant to arouse? Ultimately, don't all roads lead to orgasm? It's this great uncontrolled moment. It's finally when the person that I am photographing can maybe seperate themselves from being photographed because they are focused on self-pleasure or pleasure—where you are not thinking of anything else. Other than that they can become a little self-absorbed in front of the camera. You can see that there is not a whole lot of that going on. It doesn't seem that way when you look at the pictures. There is a calmness. They're disarmed. The way that I have broken it up, as I was putting together the dummy book and editing, I was trying to figure out what's the story. And it turned out that it was before, during and after, thus the name During Sex. There's clearly moments before, clearly moments during and you have these wonderful moments of repose after. It sounds cliché, but it's not. In highlighting how these experiences have patterns and how they diverge from one another, I hope my photos get closer to showing a version of beauty that is not cosmetic and not socially prescribed.

CK: Was there something in particular about the lesbian dominatrix that intrigued you?

Brian Moss: She was the only woman to use erotic photographs to get her going. She brought her favourite book of erotic photography and looked at that as a sort of primer. I've never had that done before. It's sort of man-like.... Clearly this is a woman that is visual. This is a whole series of her cumming. When people hear about it, they're thinking, "Oh yeah, it's about orgasms, pussy shots, whatever. I am not afraid of that. Here she's cumming and I am not anywhere near her pussy. Here's the story. It's not pussy-centric." The other comment I would like to make is that I have tried to seek out every different archetype of female body. It would be silly to pick only strippers which often have these unobtainable, surgically enhanced bodies.

CK: In the manner of Irving Penn?


Brian Moss: Right, with that dancer friend of his—pictures of interesting full-bodied women. I've done the same. It's not easy to find women willing to do that. Maybe they're not feeling as good for whatever reason to be naked in from of a camera. I think that's why people tend to shoot barbie doll women because they love being naked.

CK: Isn't the Internet already full of reality porn pics of ordinary people?

Brian Moss:Yes, reality / amateur. That can be fascinating. I have never liked polished porn. When I was growing up, I liked Hustler's girl next door. That was fascinating for me. I wanted to know what the girl next door looked like naked, not the star because the star is unobtainable to me. I want to see something that maybe could happen. So, I think it makes sense that my images are also interested in that.

CK: And the carnival, circus and Elvis Presley shots?

Brian Moss: Killer Clown
Brian Moss: Killer Clown

Brian Moss: These are concept shoots, where I dream up some concept and then I cast it using people from my world, whether it's Elvis or Frankenstein, or a killer clown. It's a fun way to look at things that we have looked at before. I tend to make a distinction in my photography between taking pictures and making pictures. This is making pictures. Backstage with the bodybuilders I am taking pictures.... I like living on the edge, having to find it. You can't stop real life. Here, with the concept shots, I could have taken two hours. It's pretty safe. If you've done your homework, set it all up, styled it, how can you not get the shot. But when you are back stage, you might not get the shot. I like that energy. I have a few pictures which are a little of both: a beautiful female boxer, a girl from Survivor, hot rod and kids, sports people, tatooed people, a national stripper convention in Vegas with two hundred of the top strippers in the country.

. CK: And how did you get the stripper convention commission?

Brian Moss: I pitched it to Penthouse and they wanted it.

CK: And these?


Brian Moss: These are several series devoted to extreme sports, wrestling and prison workouts where I got to shoot guys under lock and key....pretty intense.

CK: Could you be more specific?

Brian Moss: They were just really needy. They were craving attention, more than anybody I've every worked with. And this was compounded by the numbers. It was a really intense couple of hours. But again, because I owned a gym, andI know everything about training, it was just the right combination of my knowledge of what they were doing and photographing them. Where if you were just a photographer you might have been stepped on by those guys. Here, I could clearly say what I wanted each guy to be doing and knew if they were doing it what wasn't working. So, it worked quite well. I love those shots.

CK: And this series?

Brian Moss:
				
				
				
				
				
				 Penthouse series
Brian Moss: Feet Up

Brian Moss: This was just a narrative I created for Penthouse, but I think it went over their heads to be honest with you. It never ran. It was beautifully styled. Just because a girl is getting naked doesn't mean that she can't start with amazing clothing. Just beautiful even though it was shot in this wonderful, sleazy, no tell motel. It's all the details: astro glide and condom wrappers.

CK: What's next?

Brian Moss: Shemuscle.com.

CK: Can you tell us something about that?


Brian Moss: It is a continuum of female body types. From fitness and figure right up to bodybuilding. The common thread is that they're athletic, fit and they have muscle. What seperates them is the amount of muscle. The web site will respect that difference. One with less muscle or one with a lot of muscle. I think more men like a lot of muscle than care to admit.

CK: Can you be more specific about why men like a lot of muscle? Do men want to be dominated by muscular women?

Brian Moss: Not necessarily. It's within the realm, but it's too broad a stroke. Dominatrix tend not to be muscular. With exceptions, they tend to be more about mental, financial and physical..

CK: But why do you think men are attracted to very muscular women?

Brian Moss: If you remember the female wrestler China of the WWE was on the cover of Playboy and it was considered one of the most succesful men's magazine covers ever.

CK: Will shemuscle.com be a pay site and when?

Brian Moss:Yes, and we launch in 4 - 6 weeks.

CK: Are the women similar in background to those in your Women During Sex series?


Brian Moss: Everything from a local amateur to a professional bodybuilder.

CK: Any "escorts" or "working girls" ?

Brian Moss: Yes, one to my knowledge.

CK: What is muscle worship?

Brian Moss:
				
				
				
				
				
				 She Muscle
Brian Moss:Shemuscle

Brian Moss: When men, typically, hire a woman with a lot of muscle, to worship her muscle. The women will pose and the men will worship her.

CK: Does it involve sexual interaction?

Brian Moss: It's sexual but it isn't really about sex. I suspect these men have sex with their girlfriends and their wives. .

CK: And what do they do with their chosen muscle goddess?


Brian Moss: It's a function of what the woman will allow—anything if at all. I would imagine he masturbates.

CK: And this sort of site doesn't exist on the Net already?

Brian Moss: Yes, but not with my photography.

CK: Will these images be for sale? .


Brian Moss: Yes.

CK: How and where do you like muscle?

Brian Moss: Muscle always intrigues me, whatever the arena. I am known more for muscle in the arena, and backstage, but I believe it is equally fascinating in the bedroom.



Antoine du Rocher is a French cultural journalist and writer based in New York. He is also a member of the editorial board of Culturekiosque.com.

All images copyright © 2003 Brian Moss. Used with permission.

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