Photographer Sarah Piantadosi‘s latest project is a zine centred around corrupt LA cop Milk Jagger, the moonlighting alter-ego of Michael B. Wallace, drummer for Viet Cong and Women, when performing with his side project LA COPS.
“Milk Jagger is a corrupt LA cop. Beautiful yet vague his sexuality is ambiguous. Both alluring and repulsive, he can and will abuse his power. He is a dominator. He is a fantasy”
Piantadosi combines Wallace’s fantasy character with an aesthetic inspired equally by Lethal Weapon‘s inherent male machismo and A.A. Bronson’s homoerotic Queer Zines, a collection of trailblazing, counterculture independent publications that challenged conventional masculinity. The resulting images realise Milk Jagger’s sleazy sensibilities juxtaposed against his ‘wholesome’ career path, forming a Jekyll and Hyde contrast.
On Tuesday 27th, for one night only, Piantadosi will be exhibiting her work at Doomed Gallery and a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered zines will be on sale. Get involved.
Alex James Taylor: So how did you first meet Michael Wallace?
Sarah Piantadosi: I met Michael years ago when I was living in Calgary, Canada. He played in a few bands my art school friends were in and I used to go to their shows.
AJT: And what made you decide to create a zine based around his character Milk Jagger?
SP: I’ve been working on a long running series of portraits. Mike was in town with his band Viet Cong and we arranged for him to stop by my studio for a picture. I asked him how he’d like to be photographed and he told me about Milk Jagger, I was immediately intrigued and very excited! What ensued was not one portrait but a series.
AJT: Did Michael already know how he wanted Milk Jagger to look and behave, or did you discuss it together?
SP: Michael has been acting as this character for a while in his side project LA COPS. So it was about me trying to understand the character and do my best to represent him faithfully.
AJT: Does he have more of a back story at all?
SP: Something to do with a five day long train hopping acid trip I think.
AJT: In your own words the zine takes inspiration from ‘Lethal Weapon and A.A. Bronson’s ‘Queer Zines’. What are you hoping to portray through your work?
SP: The relationship between gender and sexuality is incredibly interesting and mysterious to me. I remember seeing Steven Meisel’s CK One ads when i was little and being blown away and quite attracted to these androgynous characters. Growing up in Winnipeg, Canada I had never seen anything like it. I’ve always found male pride and machismo grossly unattractive, and as much as this version of masculinity is shoved down your throat growing up, I never cared for it.
Throughout my teens I became excited by male gender rebellion. To see men challenge notions of masculinity is so fresh and exciting (I feel the same way about women challenging femininity as well). Through my own personal rejection of “maleness” a kinship with male queer culture developed and I think this shows in the representations of men in my work.
AJT: On a technical level, how did you shoot the images?
SP: I shot the images in my studio in Bethnal Green on a digital Canon camera. The lighting is uncomplicated, I wanted the subject to be the story here.
Milk Jagger will be exhibited on 27th October at Doomed Gallery, E8 2NP