Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Documenting Gentlemen's Clubs - Path to the Paradise

The story BTS!

   I have been working on this project for more than a year. Traveling, driving, shooting and sneaking around in daytime to find what emerges only at night - 'gentlemen's clubs'.  I documented places in New York, New Jersey, Arizona and Maryland so far with the aim of exploring more and more locations around the States where each place brings another asset to the American cultural landscape and urban architecture.  

   People often ask me how and where I find these clubs. First, I do my online research and google map the locations. Then, I group them according to the areas of the town or suburbs they are at and therefore, I could estimate the distances and organize my trip in terms of time and travel.

   Once I get to a certain city to look for gentlemen’s clubs, it seems like there is always one particular area that is populated with strip clubs. For instance, in Syracuse, NY this area is 'Little Italy". In Baltimore, the strip clubs are located on the Baltimore Street block, right in the Downtown of Baltimore. Surprisingly, in both places the clubs are situated right across the police stations. In Phoenix, most of the clubs are located in the southwest part of the city in quite low-income neighborhoods and near the airport, the same in Elisabeth, NJ. Sometimes, one can encounter more than one strip club on the same block. Usually, they are placed near motels, hotels, auto shops, car dealers, industrial areas, airports, factories, hidden between warehouses or in specific working class neighborhoods.

Google Map of Phoenix, AZ gentlemen's clubs, 2010

Some Stories on The Road:
   During the day most of the bars are closed, but there are some that are open from 12pm -2pm for 'FREE LUNCH'. I start making my images around noon and while I focus on shooting positioning myself in front of a strip club that is open, sometimes from inside comes a big guy asking me? 'Why do you take these pictures?' or 'what do you take pictures of?' 'Where are you going to show these pictures?’ 'You can't take any pictures (after I have already taken 20 shots), you have to ask the owner.’ So, I ask the owner or the manager and I continue doing my work.

   Once an owner of a strip club asked me these questions and I told him that I will show the pictures in a gallery and I will let him know when. First he said, ‘In general I don't let people take pictures of my club, but you go ahead.’ And then he said to me: ' yes, send me a note in my mail' (very sarcastically).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Titles and the Reviews

   I believe that the most interesting thing about the strip clubs is their titles. The titles capture the imaginary character of the gentlemen’s clubs. The title is the first thing that pops up into your eyes and brain as a passer-by. Then, right away you connect the title to a particular experience. For instance, ‘Haven’s Place’ associates to something extremely beautiful- a positive experience, a place where only good people with no sins have the right to be there. However, the place in itself comes out as absolutely ordinary with a decent façade you see on the outside ( read the reviews bellow). During the day the line between illusion and reality falls down and all the dreams about the world inside are destroyed.

   Another place with controversial title is ‘Crazy Russian’ and as an Eastern European woman I felt personally attached to it more when I first saw it. Wondering why someone will call a strip club with that name? Stereotypes are used for titles to help associate a place with a series of sexual fantasies and juicy titles are used for better advertising. Russian girls are very often stereotyped as very sexual and feminine women and maybe a little 'crazy’ perhaps. ‘Crazy’ meaning funny, entertaining and seductive dancer…
But here is what people wrote about 'Crazy Russian ' bar that was announced for thе best strip bar in town for 2008:

From  www.tuscl.net, unlisted
February 14, 2010
Visited on: Saturday Evening
Dancers on Shift: 6-10

Physical Club: 9
Dancer Quality: 10
$ Value: 5

Overall : 8.00

'This is not your average strip club. Don't visit with nude women in mind. It's a pasties club. This place is an experience. Gorgeous women.'

Online review by piledriver1206
'I stayed next to this place in july.....and dreadfully regret not having any extra cash to go inside and drink some beer+look at some of the most georgous women in the world!DAM!I'll be back baby!'

  'Crazy Russian',  Baltimore, MD 2010

   'The Players Club', Baltimore, MD 2010

   'Tony's Show Bar', Baltimore, MD 2010

   'Haven Place', Baltimore, MD, 2010

Online Review From 'www.tuscl.net'
November 28, 2006

Visited on: Unknown 

Dancers on Shift: Unknown
Physical Club: 6
Dancer Quality: 6
$ Value: 6
Overall : 6.00

'This place is friendly and low pressure--not like the block bars. As far as I can tell there are no private dances'

   'Baltimore's Flamingo Lounge', Baltimore, MD 2010

    'Norma Jean's', Baltimore, MD 2010

Online Review from www.rateitall.com
4 stars- GOOD
'Great location, and one of the only decent clubs left on the block. Great music, nice VIP area, attended parking available, hot girls!'

Online Review from www.tuscl.net
August 10, 2010
Visited on: Friday Evening
Dancers on Shift: 6-10
Physical Club: 8
Dancer Quality: 7
$ Value: 8
Overall : 7.67
'Lots of sistas. Alot seems to happen for laps dances. Don't sit at the bar unless you want to tip constantly...'

Sunday, October 10, 2010

'Poverty Sucks and the psychic house'

The statement about curiosity, belief, money and culture

Psychic places are part of the American cultural landscape. Indeed, we pass by psychics' shops everyday and we don't even notice them. We can see psychic reading at almost every corner on a busy neighborhood in New York City. We walk down the street and we see a woman staring at us from a window. She looks like a part of the window display.   A medium store looks like a room off the street. It has a very specific aesthetic and interior design. The stranger  is waving at us to come inside. She has something very important to tell. But then we see the price list with the services she offers. Psychic places, like strip clubs, invite you in but at the same time they keep you out.

However,  when we notice a psychic advisor, we are tempted to understand what she would tell us about our career, love, future, health and etc. Sometimes, when we have some difficulties in life we might think that they could help us. We are afraid to know the 'truth' or it's hard for us to believe that what she is saying might be just general thoughts. I always wonder who goes there, but I am sure people visit those places since there are so many on the same block. In some neighborhoods, you can see more psychic parlors than places to eat.

Why are there so many psychics in America? How do we really know if they can palm read, read tarot cards and tell us the truth? Or is it partly an autosuggestion after we listen to what they tell us, we connect the sequences in our life based on their words. Besides that, why do we usually think that a psychic is a woman and why the stereotype for a psychic is a woman, not a man? Are women more interested in other people's lives? Do women visit psychic advisors more than men? Is it easier to believe a woman? What's hiding behind their mystical visions?

The story
An year ago, I experienced emotional instability. I went to visit a friend of mine for first time, who I had known for many years. Surprisingly, on the facade of his two family house I saw a sign, 'Psychic Reading'. At that time, on the first floor there was a medium living there with her family. After talking to my friend I became curious about how this psychic looked and what she would say. I decided to go  see her downstairs. For fifteen dollars she only did a palm reading, and at the end she gave me fifteen percent off my next visit.

I have been a little bit skeptical regarding psychic reading. So, I didn't want to take her too seriously. But, I wanted to believe her because what she said seemed true.  From the other side,  I do have some attraction to mystical readings caused by what I could find out.  Of course, we always want to know more about ourselves. Sometimes instead of looking at ourselves, it's easier to listen and believe what a total stranger can tells us.

She talked to me very quickly:

There are two men in your life, however one is from the past and he is your soulmate , the other one you know him recently, but you have developed a very good friendship with him, but there is another woman. You do something with pictures,  something creative, you will go to school and you will finish very successfully. In the next three years you will be very successful. You will merry once only, no divorces. Beware of other women, they are very jealous of you. Be careful what you are sharing with them and what you are telling them...

She talked so fast this is all I could remember. Overall, the experience was provocative and refreshing, which led me to new ideas and questions. Primarily questions concerning the psychological and the sociological existence of psychics in contemporary society.

After a year, I wanted to go and see her again. Apparently, It seems that she couldn't predict her own future. The landlord evicted her and her family from their apartment. Both she and the landlord were hurt by the recession. The owner of the house plans to destroy it in the next few months.  He plans to sell it to developers. Now the door is unlocked, the apartment is full of derelict furniture, and it is impressed with the ghosts of the psychic's family. A Big poster is hung on the wall between the two windows in the living room.Its headlines reads 'Poverty Sucks' and a well dressed girl poses with an expensive car in front of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Helping others and telling them how they should protect themselves, doesn't mean that she could do this for herself.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ovation TV | Close Up: Gregory Crewdson

 Gregory Crewdson' work has influenced many young artists and photography students.  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Film Stills and 'Frankie'

'Frankie': a short story about a watch repair man who discovers a time travel device and attempts to use it to his advantage- to essentially cheat time. The film tone and aesthetic are similar to the original 'Twilight Zone' and Film Noir of the 40s and 50s. 

 Director  Mike Pappa
 Ean Sheehy as Frankie
Assistant Director Kate Pappa 
Producers Nick Basile and Elias Ganster
Director of Photography  Anthony DeRose
Hair/Makeup/Wardrobe Photography Donna Marie DeLia
Script Supervisor Brian Ronaghan
Still Photographer Stanislava Georgieva

     When Kate Pappa e-mailed me if I am available to shoot the stills for the short film 'Frankie' I was more than trilled by the offer. Movies have always been my inspiration. My personal work is completely  influenced by the way stories are told and captured in motion picture.
As a visual artist my  intend is to capture  a moment as an outsider of the specific situation.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Retrospective solo show represented by WIN-Initiative

Stanislava Georgieva is represented by the botique stock agency WIN-Initiative. The age
ncy promotes new talents every month through giving them the opportunity to exhibit work at the agency gallery space in Soho, New York. Stanislava is curating the show herself. The show is retrospective of her work that she has been producing in the last two years. The show includes work from 3 projects that involve mostly the subject of sex and the way sex as a gender plays its role in everyday life. Mainly she puts a lot of attention on the everyday life of the 'immigrant', the one with unknown identity. The titles of the projects are 'Nomads', 'My Unfamiliar Face To You' and 'Theaters of Prey: strip clubs in America'.      www.win-initiative.com

Friday, June 25, 2010

Still lIfe or Nature Morte - inspirations...history...art...everyday life...

     Nature Morte is a subject that I have been interested since an early age. I would say since, I was a child and I had an art class and the teacher gave us an assignment to paint and draw a vase of flowers or an apple.  Then, in my adultness I had to apply to a high school with art. the exam was drawing and painting nature morte (still life )-geometrical objects, fruits and other objects that are considered part of the genre of still life.  After high school I attended an art school , of course the exam to get admitted was a nature morte again...... I got so much attached to this still life subject that when I started making photographs one of the first things that I photographed and apparently very well was a still life. 
       From ancient Egypt to nowadays, the nature morte is a genre that depicts objects from our daily environment , objects that symbolize our existence and our needs. Subconsciously, we connect ourselves when we look at paintings or photographs that portrayed nature morte. 
These images were inspired by my early childhood, by academic education and by the objective mundane. 

Recently , one of the main exhibitions of the New York Photo Fest  2010 was dedicated to still life in the name of the contemporary photographer who recently passed away Irving Penn. 'Object Lesson' curated by Vince Aletti  was a great example of a nature morte that contemporary artists depict through the media of photography.  ... 
From the NYPH 2010: 
The history of photography is that of the still life, a staple of artwork throughout the modern era that has been reinvented with the introduction of photography. From the beginning, virtually every important photographer has contributed to the genre, and their names evoke an immense range of images and approaches: Henry Fox-Talbot, Paul Strand, Edward Steichen, Josef Sudek, László Moholy-Nagy, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Man Ray, Walker Evans, Robert Mapplethorpe and Wolgfang Tillmans, among others.
With this long tradition in mind, Vince Aletti has taken the occasion of the New York Photo Festival to reexamine the still life today. Object Lesson, according to Aletti, “pays homage to one of its masters, Irving Penn, whose work sets a standard few can match.” http://www.nyphotofestival.com/?page_id=8218

Jeff Bark as one of the participating artists in Object Lesson inspired me .. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

They could be fake or real.. , but they are all RED....!!

                         My home. My rose. Can feel the rain, but the sun.  I am cold, but hot.  I am at home.
                         The roses are beautiful and precious, it's hard to resist them, but they can also hurt you.

Something very old from old times 'Mimic the Master'- Robert Mapplethorpe!

Monday, May 31, 2010

To Be the First

'To Be The First' was the first photography project I made when  I started my education in photography. The work was inspired by a teenagers gymnastic team in New Jersey in 2005. It was a time when I was still discovering the tool of photography.  It was a project that I really enjoyed it and from which  i gained a lot of experience with working with children who I didn't know and I had to intrude in their privacy. They were happy and it was very easy to work with them at the end. With this body of work I was selected to participate in the International Photography Salon in Varna , Bulgaria in the summer of 2006. That was my first exposure as an artist in  gallery space. The work was exhibited in the Varna Gallery of Art. However , because the prints were original silver gelatin print they got damaged with mildew from the moisture from the walls since the gallery wasn't air-conditioned. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Winner of the NY Photo Award 2010 in the student categories for Best Personal Project


I am very proud to say that this contest I won by the submission of my work 'Nomads' that explores Bulgarian single men, living by themselves and working mostly in the financial sector of NYC. The work explores their  duality identity - living between Bulgaria and America and a life as a single man.  The images are existential and psychological approach of the subject.

Work from the 'Mentors' show on Daily Candy


'Mentors' show curated by Stephan Frailey, School of Visual Arts at the Visual Arts Gallery

School of Visual Arts

School of Visual Arts

My updated website - 2 weeks after my graduation from the School of Visual Arts :)