About photobooks – old and new.
Gary Lee Boas
New York Sex – 1979-1985
Published by Editions Kamel Mennour in 2003
8vo, hardcover photographically illustrated, no dust jacket, 235 pages
Gary Lee Boas is know for his first book “Starstruck”, which had been selected by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger in their second volume about the history of photobooks. A book that integrated a series of portraits of famous people who Gary would chase, mainly in NYC, to get an autograph and a picture.
“New York Sex – 1979-1985” reveals Boas’ personal fascination for the industry of sex and pleasure, in particular for gay men. The book integrates portraits of porn film stars, hustlers, some of Boas partners, and stip and sex clubs. These color photos are very well in line with the flamboyant style of the 1980s. This is also an era of love and sex freedom, with a growing and less secluded gay community in NYC. This were in fact very promiscuous times, before AIDS become known and Giuliani became mayor.
Boas’ ambition was to document and preserve a memory of all these individuals who worked in the sex industry. His idea was to collect enough material through photos, videos, interviews, and magazines, which could be integrated in a porn and sex library, on par with a Hollywood and mainstream film industry.
Boas appears in several occasions throughout these photos, in particular, in three chapters dedicated to three of his partners. These sex industry professionals were in part his friends, at least a world that Boas knew relatively well, and to some extent this is also a personal story. His approach could be part of a type of photography that privileges an intimate perspective, similar to Nan Goldin’s work.