Sexual Scenes: The Erotic Photographs of Adrian Buckmaster
I met Adrian Buckmaster at a One Leg Up party. He and his friend stood out in a room full of bland corporate types. He was wearing a floor-length linen skirt and an interesting mustache; his friend was performing gravity-defying stunts on the stripper pole. I decided I had to introduce myself and invite him to attend one of my sexy soirees. That was years ago. Since then Adrian has become a fixture at all of Manhattan's most exclusive sextravaganzas, photographing bondage enthusiasts, erotic entertainers and other nocturnal denizens. His work is not, however, limited to nightlife. He has mastered the art of portraiture, captured waifish fashion models in flowing gowns, frozen performers in moments of reflection. He creates a complete mise-en-scène, painting elaborate backdrops, arranging props, and, eventually, utilizes computer wizardry, if necessary, to provide wings or additional appendages. I spoke with him recently about how he began his career and how he balances his passions with his paychecks.
CarnalNation: Tell us a little bit about your background.
Adrian Buckmaster: Well, I was born in London in 1955 to a rather creative and eccentric family. My dad was an actor, albeit out of work, and my mum was a pianist. She was a war bride; she and my dad met when the allies invaded Italy. My brother and sister are musicians.
CN: Do you have a formal arts education?
AB: No, unfortunately, my scholastic years were very lacking in the arts, although compared to today's schools it was quite a lot, but I also did not take advantage of what was available to me.
CN: How did your career in photography begin?
AB: I found a little box camera when I was around nine, and that started me off; I went to the library and took out all the "how-to" books on photography and by the time I was thirteen I knew all about developing film and printing, even though I did not have any "hands-on" experience. When I was about nineteen, a close friend became involved in photography and it re-ignited my interest to the degree that I quit college and became a photographer.
CN: How do you balance your nightlife and more risqué work with the more buttoned-up stuff?
AB: I don't think there's a need to balance, on my part. Although most people would like to label me as this type or that type of a photographer, I really try to resist being pigeon-holed or labeled. I would hope that I have a viewpoint that I can bring to bear on a variety of subjects. Some people are offended easily, some are very open, so it depends on who I'm with as to what images I show. A lot of my more conventional clients are very fascinated by some of my night projects. I think any imbalance comes from outside, meaning the societal opinion in most countries regarding sex is very confused, and when people are scared—and sex is scary for far too many—they inflict their insecurities on others.
CN: How did you become interested—and involved—in nightlife photography?
AB: The two really go hand in hand; it would be hard not to photograph nightlife, it would require active avoidance and a great deal of religious intolerance not to shoot. I'm very fortunate that it;s a part of my life, but I have so many other rewarding areas. I think that I might be treading in footsteps that have gone before, it's very exciting.
CN: What are the difficulties in shooting at a fetish or sex party?
AB: Trust, disturbing people, lighting, directing, getting into the right position without tripping over someone!. Pretending not to notice something going awry [laughter].
CN: Yes, certainly trust must play a major role in a sexually charged environment. Is there a trust issue with fashion photography as well?
AB: I think so, though it's not so apparent. But if the subject trusts the photographer, they are going to feel more comfortable in adding their own experience. That then feeds everyone, and is returned. Essentially, I don't think of fashion [by itself] anymore; each picture has a purpose and labeling anything can be counter-productive.