New Photo Book Proves New York Still Outfabs Moscow
In a fortuitous bit of a timing following the recent inaugural 2011 Gay Pride Parade in Moscow, which, even though both gay and anti-gay activists were arrested in the ensuing protests, still smacked of State-sanctioned discrimination, a flamboyant new photo book titled Russian Girl at the Gay Parade After Party has accomplished the rarest of feats: combining decadent fun with poignant social commentary.
Former downtown New York nightlife-PR-guru-turned-photographer Garvey Rich’s original plan was to photograph model Olena Ierega on the backstreets of the West Village one night last summer. But the pair stumbled upon the street parties in the aftermath of the 2010 Gay Pride Parade–and the rest is history.
“My grandparents escaped the Russian Pogroms in the early 1900’s,” Rich explains, “so I’ve always thought about exploring my roots by photographing sexy first generation Russian girls in New York City. The book happened coincidentally.”
Rich’s vivid, provocatively glamorous photos, as much or more than any that have come before, wildly convey the sexual and sartorial freedoms associated with New York as a bastion of tolerance in the post-Stonewall decades, which have come to be most vividly realized at the annual NYC parade–taking place this year on Sunday, June 26.
And while the photo captions are lighthearted and humorous, the accompanying text gives the images a more serious context. Rich writes about growing up in the West Village and watching with fascination as the gay rights movement was first taking shape; and Ierega laments how systematic and widespread the homophobia remains back in the Ukraine and Russia.
The book will also be available as an app (gayparadeafterparty.com). Rich is hoping it will actually generate sales–and perhaps even controversy–over in the Motherland, especially as the text will also be offered in Russian.
“I think the pictures look just as good on the iPhone or iPad screen as they do printed,” he reckons. “For a fraction of the price of the printed book, somebody in Russia can download it and read it just as easily as somebody in New York. The app also enables the book to be more interactive.”
Proceeds from Russian Girl at the Gay Parade After Party will go to charities that shelter gay youth who have been shunned by their families.