Houston Center for Photography

Jan Rattia : 2017 Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship Recipient

Friday, May. 12, 2017 – Friday, May. 12, 2017

05:30 PM – 08:00 PM


On view: May 12-July 2, 2017
Opening reception: Friday, May 12 5:30-8:00pm
Artist talks begin at 6:00pm


On and off since 2011, I've been traveling around the US to photograph members of a singular and largely misunderstood fraternity: male strippers. In my images, I try to go beyond what most people would expect and/or know of men in the profession. While I've created images when the dancers are on stage, I've been more focused in making photographs backstage along with at-home portraits, creating a richer depiction about the guys and their stories.

I was interested in the tension and contradictions between their work lives—usually straight yet performing nude for other men—and their personal lives: married, putting themselves through school, with a day job or career. Avoiding a documentary mode, I creatively explored the way the notion of desire and mythic beauty are constructed, and presented it in a mostly cinematic style. I informed my investigation by the many artists who have depicted and eroticized male beauty, from Caravaggio to Bruce of LA.

Each of the strippers has a story, in many cases mundane and generally unexpected. Most are straight, even though they clearly welcome the attention of other males. They may be students, businessmen, investors and even doctors, or nothing more than what they appear.

I’ve met and interviewed many men in this field, engaged with them as photographic subjects and also befriended some. Through the process, I was welcomed into their guarded realities.


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