Fetish interview
M. Mendelson

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How did you get involved in photography?
I was a jewelry student in Italy, taking a photo elective and got stuck in a Communist party rally with 5 rolls of film and my camera. That day I experienced an adrenaline rush so intense and riveting that jewelry making was not ever a factor in my life again.

Do you see yourself as a participant or a voyeur?
I am not a voyeur because I am in the room and my presence changes peoples behavior. That makes me a participant.

What genre of photography do you enjoy the most?
Documentary, because I can be free to capture something spontaneous and invite people to look at it though my eye. Fetish documentary photography is most intriguing because of the unconventional roles people play.

You do a lot of event photography and we have selected a few of the photographs from a Dark Garden Corset show in San Francisco. What about that night made it special?
There was an element of chaos in the small dressing room crammed with a lot of people with lots to do. They were not self-conscious; there were really no attitudes. I was amazed at the quality of the people and the remarkable transformation each attained.

Is there anything different about shooting FETISH events?
Men and women are doing each other’s roles. Men being dressed in corsets showing that they are free dressing anyway they want being free to express themselves. And women dominating where in the outside world the role would be definitely different. My experience in the Goth community showed me the power of transforming myself and my work documents that as it happens with others.

What happens backstage that you don’t see out front?
Backstage you see people in costume and makeup and yet they are still “themselves”. When they go out on stage they become something else. That transition is not obvious unless you can see both sides and that is what these photographs are about, showing you the backside of life.

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