On Both Sides of the Camera

During the first two decades of my adult life, I went full circle from being frequently in front of cameras, to being behind a camera, to being in front of cameras again.

In March 1978, my fancy Bachelor of Science degree in Printing Technology and Management from Rochester Institute of Technology brought me to New York City. I had decided on a career in publication production management. However, being in New York City during the late 1970s through the 1980s provided lots of exciting outlets for miscellaneous debauchery, which cried out to be prioritized over ordinary jobs in the publishing and graphic arts field, because of my hedonistic tendencies. I ended up in front of cameras as adult movie actor Alan Adrian a.k.a. Spike, during the latter part of an era of the adult entertainment industry that is now known as the golden age of porn. My involvement with the adult entertainment industry opened up a much more interesting social world than could have ever resulted from getting my degree.

I owe a lot to the late bondage model and conceptual artist Lisa Baumgardner, whom I met on a photo shoot for a fetish magazine, soon after my arrival in New York City. She introduced me to a social world consisting of New York's coolest underground creative people, including musicians, artists, performance artists, photographers, authors, poets, small press publishers, independent record producers, night club managers, and more. She let me know when to "be there or be square", inviting me to book parties, poetry readings, night club events, and cool private parties. Many of the people whom I met through Lisa are friends to this day. They are people you will likely find on the public web because of their creative works.

Starting in the mid 1980s, I merged my long standing interest in comic books, my expertise in print production, and my involvement with the adult entertainment industry, by publishing Weird Smut Comics, under the label JAM Press. Publishing Weird Smut Comics opened up opportunities to hobnob with my favorite underground cartoonists, lowbrow artists, and underground comics publishers and distributors. It didn't have a very good business model, but that didn't matter. As a labor of love, publishing Weird Smut Comics enriched my life in much more important ways than making a profit could have.

However, up to and throughout the first half of the 1980s decade, I wasn't shooting very many photos myself to capture my life. When I did so, it was only with a cheap Kodak Instamatic camera. Finally, in November 1985, I got my first 35mm film camera, a Nikon One Touch. I started photographing my social world, primarily in New York City. As of late 1989, I was primarily based in Los Angeles, trying to be bicoastal. I continued photographing my social world, at that point in both New York City and Los Angeles. You will notice that it is common for people to be drinking in my photos, because of the type of events that I typically photographed. In fact, my approach to photography was to purposely be a little tipsy myself, in order to be totally uninhibited about quickly photographing people, before they had time to pose, whenever possible.

Meanwhile, I wanted to be naked, and I was not satisfied with being naked among nudists. In fact, I found nudist communities to be relatively boring. I wanted the best of both worlds, being naked, while socializing among interesting people of my choice. During the mid 1990s in Los Angeles, I found a subculture of creative people that enabled me to accomplish this goal. I was able to feel integrated as the only naked person among these clothed creative friends, primarily at private parties. I became known as Naked John. I decided it was better not to be separated from everyone by a camera, and therefore I usually left my camera at home. A couple of photographers conceptualized projects to photograph me as Naked John. It was time for me to be primarily in front of cameras again.

This website is focused on the period that I was behind a camera during the first two decades of my adult life, from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s. It is a highly documentary oriented presentation of my photos from that period, with associated ephemera to help document time and places when possible, and detailed captions. Whether or not the times that I captured were all that wild is relative, of course.

John A. Mozzer, 2016

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