By Kendra Holliday | May 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm
I’m a member of the STL Alternative Models and Photography Group (AMP) on Meetup. It’s led by Teya King, one of the most fearless and brazen women in town. She’s a tireless performer, model, and activist. She runs a workout boot camp that leaves Marines in the dust.
The group is always holding theme shoots, and one in particular caused quite an uproar in the local art community. Intrigued and amused, I asked Teya about it, and here is what she had to say:
“As I always do, I wanted to have a genre-specific photography event and I thought Vintage Pulp would be a fun and exciting genre for our group. Vintage Pulp is a classic genre, used on the covers of many, many crime novels and also, of course, the main genre of the movie Pulp Fiction (from where I got the idea).
The models and photographers were instructed to stay with the theme by dressing in Vintage Pulp costumes, and to do their best to recreate Vintage Pulp scenes from books and artwork. I was VERY specific that I wanted my female models to look “beautifully fucked-up” and for my male models to look like drug-addicts, thugs, gangsters, losers or a combination of all, ha. A lot of people brought their own vintage weapons, including classic sub-machine guns, realistic-looking plastic knives and guns and swords and syringes – you name it. The models were FANTASTIC. There was a lot of simulated violence, sexually suggestive scenes, blood and gore. It was GREAT! Here are some examples from the shoot:
Teya continues: “I really pushed to get the type of look and feel that Neil Krug (one of my all-time favorite photographer/artists) created in his classic Pulp series. The shoot was a fantastic success, with twenty+ models and more than thirty photographers. I’ve never seen a group of people work so hard, and so well together. They sweated their collective asses off, and had a great time. If you look at the really bloody fight scenes (which were all choreographed, picture by picture), in many of them the FEMALE models (’cause it was only the females involved the fight-scenes. yes, that’s right. The ‘bitches’ brought it!) are laughing hysterically between-takes.
I usually have a couple of people a YEAR leave the group, due to moving, not being able to make events, etc. After the Pulp shoot, I had about ten people leave the group. One of them left because he ‘didn’t like seeing the shots of violence.’ Another woman left after saying the group was obviously ‘leaning towards violence.’ Really? ONE photo shoot in SEVEN years that deals with simulated scenes of violence and that’s where the group is going?
Teya wrote a letter to those who protested, and gave me permission to share it:
Although we as a group have always been a little edgy when it came to our photographic events (and for that I am extremely grateful, as portrait work would bore the bejezus outta me), I have taken a lot of flak for hosting our Vintage Pulp Shoot. I wanted to take the time to apologize sincerely to all that were offended by our ‘violent’ images and to say, without hesitation:
Get Over It.
Vintage Pulp, like any other genre, runs with a specific theme and every one of our models and photographers knew that. No one was injured in the shoot, the blood was FAKE, the violence was FAKE, and most of our models VOLUNTEERED to take part. The Pulp Shoot was ONE shoot, done very well, and we had a LOT of fun. So much fun, in fact, that we decided to create a very tongue-in-cheek musical out of the theme, which many of you know is in production, now.
In our musical, the gals play the ‘bad guys’ and get to torment our boys, so Karma, indeed, proves to be a sexy bitch.
As for the people that have left the group because of the ‘violence,’ I say, Oh Well. I refuse to censor our photography albums when we are within our legal rights and within the group’s rules to post them. Vintage Pulp is hard-hitting stuff, but it IS art. And a lot of art, for whatever reasons, can be controversial.
Yeah, there was implied violence in our shots. So what? A lot of our themes have dealt with controversial subject matters. Again: our violence was fake, and the photo shoot was a group effort that everyone involved seemed to enjoy – a lot. We’re all grown-ups, and if anyone in this group really thinks that violence is what we’re about, then they really are morons.
I’ll go put on my flak-jacket now. In the meantime, have a lovely day. Our next shoot is around the corner and will concentrate on butterflies and baby chipmunks.”
Yeah, those baby chipmunks better watch out…
What do you think? Do these photos portraying violence against women and men cross a line? Like BDSM, is it okay for adults to roleplay dark fantasies in this manner? Is it dangerous to combine sex and violence? Personally, I think a woman leading an edgy group like this is feminist and badass.
In the meantime, you can go check out the group in action at their musical “Pulp Friction” on May 31 at The Crack Fox and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.