Sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets ― Andy Warhol
Until I visited New York, where the images for this photo were taken. We were out shooting in Central Park on a horribly cold and windy day in February and, for some reason I don’t remember, pulled out my phone. The model giggled. I thought she was laughing at my geekiness. She then explained that, at the time, flip phones were a favorite of local pimps and drug dealers. While there were probably hundreds of thousands of people running around Manhattan with similar phones, the stereotype was prevalent enough that pulling one out while standing on a street corner was likely to get the unwanted attention of NYPD.
I was careful about where and how I used my phone after that conversation. Placing it in these photos, with the same model, was our inside joke. Nothing said pimp quite like a flip phone on a woman’s naked chest. We convinced ourselves that it was the duty of art to make fun of such social idiosyncracies and that even if we were the only ones who understood the meaning behind what we were doing that the message was still valid. One thinks such things in New York when the snow is falling. Realities of the world are somehow altered and art was as good a justification as any for being naked and playing with phones.
The evolution of phones over the past fifteen years has been nothing short of amazing. They have completely transformed our lives and our expectations for communication. It really wasn’t that long ago that we were all tied to land lines. If someone wasn’t home or at their place of employment, they couldn’t be reached. Now, if someone doesn’t respond to their phone, either voice, text, or social media, in a matter of minutes, we are immediately concerned about their health and safety, or upset that they might be ignoring us. There is no escape. Phones have now made us available to everyone all the time. Even in bed.
With the exposure of the recent Ashley Madison hack, I have to wonder how often people used their phones, rather than a computer, to make that connection. Rather than being an object that identifies a pimp, the phone has become the pimp, selling out our information, our lives, our souls, and maybe even our bodies to the highest bidder. They track everything we do, report back to the NSA when we connect with certain people or go to certain places or use a certain vocabulary. Thinking along those terms, I look at today’s image and laugh even harder. Phone. Pimp. Damn straight.