“Fetish is ritual; a faith, the spirit of individual personality” – Interviewwith Rick Castro, American photographer/videographer. Exclusive outtake of PNPPL zine 03 .
What was the defining moment that led to your career in photography?
Back in the 80s- i was working as a wardrobe designer/ fashion stylist. i was very immersed in the “hollywood industry.” my career was my life 24-7. Although successful, i didn’t know who i was. there was never time for me to explore my personal desires. After working for other well- known photographers/directors for 15 years creating their dreams/vision, i decided to pick up a camera and create my own world from start to finish.
What’s your creative process like? What gets your creative juices flowing?
Everything really. I’m a voyeur-I like to watch. I’m an observer of the times; from the most obvious, like world news, to the most mundane, like a leaf browning in a crack on the sidewalk. I also get inspired with a nice cuppa tea!
Your work is beautifully dark as it transports us to a different time and space. How would you classify your style beyond being just fetish?
Fetish sums it perfectly, if you accept the definition of fetish-an obsession, wanting continuous desire and gratification from something obscure. fetish is ritual; a faith, the spirit of individual personality. fetish is also an object, (objectified) believed or empowered to have supernatural power. Fetishism is the attribution of inherent powers to a desired item/object/person. Fetish is life lived as one cultivates who you are and what you want. So it’s a much broader term than is credited.
Before and during a session, what’s your relationship like with the models you chose to photograph?
Back in the 90s, perhaps the most prolific era of creating my work, I chose street hustlers. I didn’t want to know the person, only the fantasy they were “selling.” It’s too complicated to know people. you always hear models complain they’re treated like a non-person. They are. They’re objectified. The artist uses the model as object to achieve what they want to project. When i’ve created portraits-I have a much deeper rapport with the subject. I may be in awe or them, obsessed or both. More recently, at the very least I have to feel an attraction to who i photograph. they become friends… or more.
Who have been some of your favorite people to work with over the years?
Obviously I’ve enjoyed shooting tony ward for many years. I think this has now run its course. I like creating images for Rick Owens. We understand each other.
Your photos have challenged many subjects such as ageism; what other social constructs do you try to tackle with your photography?
I want to fuck it all up. I’m the one who wants to eliminate complacency.
Has the current political climate in the U.S. influenced your work at all?
Most definitely. It’s all consuming. in fact when i had my gallery, I changed the trajectory of the exhibitions from fetish to political. This confused my audience and was detrimental to business. They were like- “where’s all the dick?”
You’ve said at some point that your photography is “time-bound to the 80s and 90s.” Why this time period? Where are you now and what do you see for your work in the future?
I began shooting in the late 80’s. the 90’s is when I was most productive, creating photographs featuring male hustlers in bondage, creating videos, films, books/zines. So this era is well documented by me. At the moment i’m in the process of exhibiting the vast collection of my work. I don’t produce as much right now, but that can change. much of my past work hasn’t been seen. Iwant to present exhibitions throughout europe-a traveling kinky retrospective. I want to write a book about each of the photos i’ve created, called- RICK CASTRO- THE BACK STORY: WHO SLAM DUNKED WHOM.
Leather or rubber?
DUDE, IT’S ALL ABOUT LEATHER!
What inspired ‘The Path Inward’ series?
I’ve been creating fetish/BDSM imagery since 1987. The path inward series was shot during the period of 2015- 2017 at my gallery space in Hollywood. To a non-fetish aware person, perhaps they look like more of the same, but they are vastly different. Within the darkness is movement, lightness and exploration thru sexual healing. Restraint and pleasure allows one to go inward to discover self.