Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't let nobody get you down

I took this photo, Mr. Nobody, in 2001 on the set of a bukkake movie that ended up being deemed obscene by the US government.

This is one of what is referred to as the "bukkake boys." The director, Jim Powers, found the guys by putting an ad in the local weekly with the number of a "bukkake hotline" where they would leave a message saying they were planning on attending. For their troubles, they were paid $35; although, I think eventually that went up to $50.

Usually, there was somewhere between 50 and 100 guys there. The shoot took place on a ratty sound stage in a quiet, suburban neighborhood in North Hollywood. NoHo is the epitome of the Other Hollywood and kind of a dump. The stage had cement floors, exposed ceilings, apricot-colored walls. Before it was about to begin, cars would start coming down the street and pull into the parking lot of the neighborhood park across the street.

A big black guy stood guard at the door. The men were funneled into the front holding room, where they formed two lines to show the two Latino women working behind a desk their paperwork. They were handed a black garbage bag and told to strip. Then they waited in their underpants, shoes and socks, bandanas tied over their faces and their hats pulled down low to hide their faces from the cameras.

Eventually, Jim would let all the guys on the stage, the girl would appear, and the bukkake would begin.

The men came from all walks of life. Jim would make jokes about how they had just gotten out of prison, which in some cases was true. There was a "real" filmmaker from Hollywood in a ski mask, a mentally-disabled redhead they called Corn who turned away from the action to focus on a dirty magazine balanced on a barrel, a guy who told me he was there because he didn't have a girlfriend.

I wandered around the periphery while the cameras rolled. After a while, the PA with one hand waved for me to come over, and I headed into the middle of the action. I stood behind Jim, looking over his shoulder. I squatted in front of the girl. The floor was a mess.

Years later, I had all these photos on a CD, and the disc stopped working. With a few exceptions, it appeared, all the photos were gone. I dug it up again this weekend, and lo' and behold, it worked. There they were again.

About 10 focus on the guys. A long-haired, shirtless guy in jeans coming onto the stage around a corner. An Asian guy in Groucho Marx glasses standing over the girl. A middle-aged guy with a potbelly looking lost in striped boxers.

This guy has always stuck in my head. I held up my camera like I was asking if I could take his picture, and he moved his head in such a way that indicated I could. Judging by his tattoos, he appears to have been affiliated at some point with an "SFV," aka San Fernando Valley, gang. (SFV Skins?) His tattoo reads: "Don't Let Nobody Get You Down."