Rise of the Weirdos
Enter Day’s hypnotic universe of wide-eyed comic book fatales--some drenched in Cup Noodles while posing naked next to a giant cockroach, others painted head-to-toe while sporting a house for a mask. We’re talking John Waters meets Cirque du Soleil, seasoned with some Antichrist surrealism. Shocking and mesmerizing all at once, Day’s photography is exceptionally fusing the weird shit in life with the can’t-take-your-eyes-off awe of beauty.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I'm a photographer in LA shooting fabulous freaks both found in nature and conjured up and costumed for my camera. How would you describe your style of photos? Garish, loud, seething.
How did you discover your signature style of photography?
When I started nearly 4 years ago I knew I wanted to forge a style that was mine so I dug deep into what I was attracted to and what I had to offer, and worked at creating the photography that I wanted to see but wasn't seeing anywhere else. I was sick of pretty, dreamy photos, sick of slick, Photoshopped fantasies, sick of quiet, moody photos and models with a stale air of disinterested cool. What I've always loved is the loudness of comic book characters, the lurid beauty of old silver-screen star magazines and glamour shots, and the lost and found satisfaction of once discarded snapshots.
Why film over digital photos?
It feels more real.
How do you choose your subjects?
I find virtually all of them on Instagram and look for people that pique my curiosity. That's really it. There's no formula. People are always like "you should shoot this person or that person" and very rarely do I agree. It's like, why are you attracted to who you're attracted to? Who knows! It's unreasonable.
Who have been some of your most memorable models so far?
In terms of the experience of shooting with them, The Abhora is wonderful. First she got tarred and feathered naked in my living room and then we did a faux RUSH poppers ad and both got pretty twisted off the fumes. And my bud for life, Molly Milk, is a delight and a treasure. I hardly even need to direct her, she's a living cartoon with a silly putty face. My favorite collaboration with her was a video I directed for Nvdes' "On My Magic" where she plays a cheese ball munching, tabloid-reading, giant cockroach smoochin' shut-in who is inspired to step out into the world by a strange man who lives in her closet and helps dress her in a fanciful party frock.
If you could shoot with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Really I just want to shoot with Riff Raff.
What’s it like being a photographer in the age of Instagram?
Ping pong-ing back and forth between liberation and oppression. On the one hand, it allows weirdos to rise to prominence and make a living out of nowhere which is phenomenal! But then on the other, psychologically it can be very challenging as I feel this pressure to crank out work for the ever-hungry content machine. And there's a lot of pressure to build your brand and stay on brand and pander to the likes which is not conducive to good art making.
What do you do when you’re in the need of some inspiration?
Meditate and google what interests me, fall down the rabbit holes I find.
What inspires you in terms of styling and makeup?
I like things to be slightly off. No immaculate blending or flawless contour for me, no ma'am. When I'm thrifting for wardrobe to add to my costuming collection, I'm always looking for color, texture, and pattern. I'm maniacally fast flipping through racks and racks of clothes. My motto is, "if you've never seen anything like it before, buy it!"
I need to add more movies to my watch list. Any recommendations?
I really enjoyed Lars von Trier's latest, The House that Jack Built. It's not everyone's cup of blood though. Two of my all time favorite movies are both black and white though, Down by Law and The Night of the Hunter. I can watch those again and again.
What are some of the recurring themes in your work?
Identity creation and expression. Performance for others/the camera. And I strive to achieve tension between attraction/repulsion and beauty/ugliness. How would you define beauty? That which gives you a feeling of awe. The appreciation of beauty can be very pure or it can give rise to a desire to possess. Beauty isn't something static and objective, it's all a game of perception. Culturally we can agree that this is beautiful or that is beautiful, and agree that we have the same response to the same thing, but these perceptions can shift over time.
What role does beauty play in your work?
Beauty is love. I love what I create and find my subjects and the characters we create together to be very beautiful. Yes, there's aspects of "ugliness" in them too, but that's what makes them human.
What’s on the horizon for Parker Day?
I just directed a video that I'm very proud of for The Venus in Scorpio's song "Retrograde." I'm looking to do a lot more music video work in the future where I can bring the characters in my head to life and give them a storyline to expand in.