Review: Sante D’Orazio: Barely Private

Look closely at the cover of Barely Private (Taschen)… that’s Brooke Shields in Cherokee headdress and stilettos, about to mount a hog. A fetish shoot or just image-retrofitting? Like a zigzag neon arrow, a shapely leg points to the entrance, dares us to have a peek.

And, of course, we do.

It’s been ten years since the publication of Santo D Orazio’s hot A Private View, and the shutterbug-Saint is back with another collaged scrapbook, packed with artful Eros. From Spain to Italy to the cliffs of Montauk, here are inspired grab shots, boozy, behind-the-about-to-beobscenes shots, outtakes and take-offs, complete with handwritten notes and painted scrawls and sketches. Religious iconography rubs shoulders with naked fashionistas, shedding sin.

Amazing what this photographer can do with a digicam and  lousy light,

The point, of course, isn’t tack sharp studio perfection, but the spirit of movement… the rustle of sheets and hustling on the dance floor. Personality must be laid bare, revealed and peeled. This book is what a saint sees between blinks on a speeding train.

The layout reminds me of the notebooks William S. Burroughs kept—self-conscious, certainly, but always teetering on the edge of visual revelation. Mirrored images captured in shattered shards which have been exquisitely resurrected, painted and arranged. A jetset jigsaw. Poetry and graffiti punctuated by tattooed flesh and handguns. Even a crucifix or two, to remind us somebody died for ours sins, if not our fashions.

Unlike the Burroughs diaries, you won’t find any beatniks loitering in Barely Private, unless you count Mickey Rourke or Peter Beard—admittedly first class misfits. Instead, we’re treated to high fashion models (Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, et al.) with cameo appearances by Pam Anderson and Christina Aguilera. The photographer uncovers a bevy of  covergirls from Elle, and superstars like the mouth-watering Angelina Jolie. The women are seen letting their manes down…tripping, stripping, and dripping in hotels, bars, on beaches and in hotel rooms. Kiss-kiss, wave at the camera, bounce on the bed. It’s a par-tay like there was no tomorrow, only there was…and it’s here. This, then, is a gift of captured fragments…burst à la mode … brazen, pouty, and slightly mad. Turn the pages and experience a quickie between the shoots.

Gotta love it. After all, in a culture that feeds on Facebook and Twitter, we are all voyeurs…so why not enjoy the face time without makeup. Besides, Soho is only a few blocks from Vogue now. (BTW, Ed Ruscha wrote the foreword.)

Sante D Orazio is, indeed, a saint. How else to explain how he managed to keep the camera at eye-level in the middle of a hurricane. Barely Private is one of the sexiest, wind-blown books of the year.

Order it  on Amazon.

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