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.