Rick Castro is an invaluable figure in the history and tradition of LA’s bewitching underground. At every encounter I have had I felt like a child asking their parent for a bedtime story, only mine were questions of how fucked up everyone was, what they were wearing, and what seedy places they inhabited that are no longer there. His prolific work of the ’80s and ’90s is still a template for the sexual expression we so widely aestheticize in today’s hyper tech culture, though what is remarkable is the lack of pretense and self-awareness that has built the digital ages parameters for how far we can actually push the envelope. His fixation on the physique and body of leather was a natural extension of the spirit of Tom of Finland.

Reviewing Castro’s early work, his vision spoke of a specific era, a time when clothing were grungy and minimal(ist) along with stories of grit and glamour that only came with living in ’90’s Hollywood. All this seems so reserve in the way we approach the digital sexual revolution of PrEP and sex positivity YouTube land, a triumph that seems radical as displayed in an era of high AIDS related deaths and the closet scene of gay men. It is with this signature style that it has come time for the photographer to present a retrospective at the Tom of Finland Foundation, curated by Rubén Esparza, which showcases his work at its most pure, sexual, sleek and unapologetic. I jumped at the chance to speak to the photographer to learn about what would birth his creative exploration into fashion, LA, and the euphoria of fetishism.



The Story of Rick Castro, the Photographer and “King of Fetish”

RICK CASTRO Fetish King: Seminal Photographs 1986 – 2019 | Opens 6th April

We speak with the fetish photographer, whose work is being celebrated at a new exhibition at the Tom of Finland Foundation, opening this weekend.

For Rick Castro, fetish is the ultimate manifestation of self; the very notion of perfection, if you will. The journey began one day in 1970, when the photographer – who has shot and interviewed Ron AtheyAlice Bag and Tony Ward for AnotherManmag.com – discovered a copy of A Clockwork Orange in his aunt’s secondhand bookstore when he was 12.

“It shocked me and made my young wheels turn,” Castro says from his Los Angeles home. “I was trying to put it all into context. The idea of glamourised violence and scary dystopia – it seemed to ring true. I started to see that is going to be the future – and it was. We’ve surpassed it.”

And in doing so, we have embraced fetish in a broader sense. Castro explains, “For me it’s all-encompassing. The 21st century is all about fetish. On the positive side, it is the appreciation on a larger scale of things that would not have gotten a lot of respect in the past, but on the negative side it’s that cult of personality that I think is a waste of time and lead to the banality of America if not the world.”