Michael Alago: The GayPornBlog Interview
I absolutely adored Michael Alago’s 2005 photobook “Rough Gods”: it tapped into a certain aesthetic that was the closest I’ve ever seen to encapsulating my type in one book. Flipping through the pages was like looking at a collection of some of my biggest real-world crushes (with the occasional back room trick thrown in to boot). While Alago’s work features lots of familiar faces from gay porn, his lens humanizes them in a way not too common in gay porn glamor photography. Rough, but tender: its Jean Genet in living color. I was fortunate enough to chat with Alago about his newest book, Brutal Truth, which came out last month. Also, if you’re in San Francisco, Alago will be doing a book signing at the Nob Hill Theater on May 21.
Where did your obsession with the “rough god” type of man begin?
I always knew from a very young age that I was gay and attracted to big brawny types. I always was attracted to the football player on TV. Loved their uniforms! The Latino bodybuilder a cousin of mine was dating. That physical type always turned me on so naturally when I decided to focus on photography and make it my life’s work — in part two of my life — I started shooting men I was attracted to.
How has your work evolved since you published “Rough Gods”?
I feel like I have grown as an artist and my images have become more focused more confident and I feel that shows because the images and the connections I make with the subjects have gotten more intense and personal so the pictures have become that much more erotic and handsome and I feel there is always a bit of vulnerability in the images and that’s what attracts the audience and I love that.
Who are your photographic influences?
Robert Mapplethorpe, Jack Pierson, Roy Dean, Bruce Weber, George Dureau, Slava Mogutin, Gary Lee Boas, Danny Lyon to name a few.
Have you ever considered working in video?
I love the idea of working in film and video and down the road I would like to produce/direct a feature. Right now I make these one minute moving video portraits when I shoot a session and those are pretty damn sexy.
What stars you’d kill to photograph?
I would love to photograph Sean Penn and Brad Pitt and Christian Bale and my idol, Patti Smith.
I recognize a lot of your subjects from here in San Francisco. Do you spend a lot of time here ? Is there a difference between SF and NY men? What other cities do you find a lot of your inspiration (and models) in?
I am the quintessential New Yorker and to me that means I eat and adsorb and love and dream everything that New York has to offer, from the variety of people to all the art and restaurants and museums and galleries. I am a sponge and New York has the best of everything. That gives me the energy and the passion to go to my favorite cities like San Francisco and Paris and Montreal and Provincetown and be inspired and shoot men in wherever I may roam.