Erotic Avenue: Mark I. Chester's 'Street Sex Photos'

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Tuesday September 21, 2021
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from Mark I. Chester's 'Street Sex Photos'
from Mark I. Chester's 'Street Sex Photos'

For anyone who misses having sex in a back alley, parking lot, or atop a bulldozer, the new hardcover book of photos by veteran photographer Mark I. Chester makes a perfect gift for Folsom time.

Ninety silky black pages with photos, and inspired text by Chester, Nick Wafel (the new Drummer Editor) and art historian Alison Swindell, contextualize the themes of South of Market glory days before pricey condos and gentrification.

Once upon a time, gay men owned the streets of South of Market at night, with a whole vibrant culture of its own. Part of that culture was sex and the search for sex on the streets of South of Market, in the alleyways and the shadows.

Using only available light and capturing quickly set-up moments nonetheless makes for a series of balanced, measured erotic portraits. Chester describes his new series as a "dream of the past and a hope for the future."'

Balancing haunting and erotic settings, men, alone, in pairs or trios, pose formally, or mid-sex. A man stands erect in a truck bed. Another grips a fence as he's rimmed. Others in full leather imply as much with a mere glance.

In his own essay, Chester discusses his technique of guerilla set-ups, the use of available light from streetlights, and the thrill of the risky photo shoots in a heavily built-up neighborhood that once welcomed cruising, leather and kink.

He's also had printers refuse to publish his third book; not an uncommon experience in erotica, but in 2021? But this isn't art lost in nostalgia, as much as yesteryears inspire.

"Mark and his subjects aren't rehashing the past nor are they chasing ghosts," writes Wafel in his essay. "They are making a stand for who they are in all their grimy, horny, cruisy glory."

Books may be purchased directly from Chester. They are $75 including sales tax and shipping. You can text Mark at 415-613-0369 or email him at [email protected].
Follow Mark I. Chester at

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