THERE IS NOTHING MORE SCARY THAN THE REALITY. WEREWOLVES, VAMPIRES, ZOMBIES…. THEY MIGHT DO GOOD BUSINESS ON TV AND IN CINEMA'S, BUT WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO REAL CREAPS, THEY ARE LEFT FAR BEHIND TO THE ONE WE ALL CAME TO KNOW AS A GOOFY, FUNNY CHARACTER WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, BUT SOMEWHERE ON THE WAY TO ADULTHOOD FOR MANY CHANGED IN THE ULTIMATE FREAK. THE CLOWN. IS IT HIS BIG RED SMILE? THE BRIGHT COLORED CLOTHES? OR SIMPLY THE FACT HE IS HIDING HIS REAL PERSONALITY BEHIND A THICK LAYER OF MAKE UP? WHATEVER IT IS, CLOWNS ARE BY FAR THE MOST HORRIFIC MONSTERS.
It is no secret that each year when Halloween is nearing photographer Michael Craft finds inspiration in the American horror story themes. Already last year we were exposed to his Beautiful Nightmares and this year Michal takes us a bit further on the road of horror and fantasies. This year Michael takes us on a dazzling trip through nightmarish scenes that he rightfully names Freak Show.
Who didn't grow up with circus. Beautiful horses with feather plumes on their heads, athletic acrobats and trapeze workers. But circus wasn't always that innocent. Back in the 16th century a circus was more a freak show than a place of family amusement. The exhibitions of biological rarities – freaks of nature – became a popular pastime in England. Deformities began to be treated as objects of interest and entertainment, and the crowds flocked to see them exhibited. A famous early modern example was the exhibition at the court of Charles I of Lazarus and Joannes Baptista Colloredo, two conjoined brothers born in Genoa, Italy. And finally in the 19th century freak shows reached maturity as successful commercial enterprises, displaying creatures such as the Feejee mermaid – half monkey and half fish, dwarfs and giants, women with beards, balloon headed babies and even a woman who bit of the heads of living rats. Freak shows and freaks of nature have entertained us throughout history and eventually found their way to the big screen.
American horror stories such as Nightmare on Elmstreet, Poltergeist and Stephen King's IT have given life to real time freaks. Creatures we can imagine to be real. For this years Halloween celebration Michael Craft has smartly mixed all those ingredients and created his own Freak Show. "I started off by painting my studio wall red and white stripes, an idea I got from a fan made ad for a freak show show", Michael comments on his work. "I also did some videos of the process and of the shoots, which can be found on my tumblr. I had worked with a few models in the beginning of the year, whom I really liked and thought would be great in this theme and were really into it. By working with them, others began asking to do a shoot or my being able to go to them and asking to pose. I also found some models on Instagram, which I've had quite a bit of luck on finding models to pose. Unfortunately time started to get away from me and I had to wrap things up, but have thought about continuing on shooting more of this project after a short break."
Obviously Michael Craft found his niche when working on his Freak Show. Apparently the visions and hallucinations he comes up with are limitless and Michael is not planning to stop anytime soon. But he didn't do it all by himself. "As always I feel that as a photographer these shoots are group efforts from models, to assistants to make up artists. I couldn't have gotten this project done without the help of Maggie Leung...who assisted me with a couple of shoots, did make-up and got to see her fair share of the boys running around naked. Rob Kovacs, who always is my second set of eyes. Aracelis Rodriguez for the great devils make up and her father, my partner, Jose Rodriguez, who spent many a night alone so I could finish these photos and assisted me on the last shoot. The models: Boy Timmy, Steph Anthony, Lorenzo Ashkenazi, Tomas Cardenas, Bryan Feiss, Nico Grana, Stephen Land, Tiger Marks, Scotty Marx, Mike Milan, Erington Moore, Adam Neal, Chad Sapp, Dominick Stisi & Svetlana Stoli...without them, I definitely would not have a had such great shots."
Michael Craft's Freak Show has given a whole new meaning to the old concept. By working only with men and adding a good dose of eroticism to the shots, he created not only images that seem to have escaped from your nightmares, they also are horrific seductive. Michael Craft has invited us to visit his freak Show vision and we are not disappointed. A real trick or treat for this years' Halloween. –BM-
MICHAEL CRAFT | BEAUTIFULMAG