WHEN YOU’RE BEHIND THE LENS, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? I’m looking, searching — almost as if I could reach through the lens and pull it out, some version of honesty. I want to feel something. I’m very selfish as a photographer. You research somebody and talk to them, like an Amy Purdy, and you ask the hard questions like, “Amy, you’re a double-amputee, tell me about your life, tell me how this happened to you . . . would you be willing to let me build you some spiked legs and build this fantasy?” I’m able to look at a beautiful, full-bloom rose in my driveway and look right next to it and see a withered dead one — and I see them the same. I photograph them both and say, “Look how beautiful the decay is.” Because that’s actually a representation of what we all have to face. People tell me I’m a dark one. Actually, I’m a light one; I’m very light-minded.
IT MAKES SENSE TO PROVIDE A MUSICAL SOUNDTRACK WITH SIXX: A.M., BUT DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT BECAUSE THAT’S HOW FANS KNOW YOU BEST, AND YOU’RE USING IT AS SOME SORT OF CRUTCH? Right. I can see that. It’s funny because I wasn’t interested in naming the project. My manager played the music for some radio programmers and people inside the industry and they’re going, “This is some of the greatest music we’ve heard in the last decade.” And then it blew up and we had such a great experience with it.
HOW SURPRISING IS THAT FOR YOU THAT IT DID TAKE OFF? It’s really great in the sense that you don’t want to do things and have people hate it. I know that it’s human nature to do something and like it when people enjoy it. But you don’t do it just to get feedback, because that’s narcissism. You have to do it as an artist and let go of the expectations. So when it comes back positive, that’s nice, but if it comes back negative, that’s okay too.
I base everything on personal experience. They say that what happens to you as a teenager you carry throughout your life, and you try to recover from it. You still listen to the same music; you still like a lot of the same things that you liked. And as a teenager, growing up in the ’70s — New York Dolls, Slade, Mott the Hoople, the Stooges. I had crazy hair and wore make-up and wore fingernail polish and would tailor my own thrift store suits in a dirt-bag version of what Bowie was doing around Young Americans. I always had a black eye, I was always in a fist fight, and I always stood up for the music I believed in. I was looked down upon and laughed at and made fun of — my own mother asked me, “What’s wrong with you?”
You give that kid a couple million dollars and a few hundred thousands cc’s of every drug he wants? You’ve got a definite recipe for crashing and burning. When I came out from the other side of that, I wanted to know why I felt so bad when my life was so good. I really didn’t understand. I still liked the same things I liked, but everyone was telling me, “You’re hot. You’re sexy. You’re intelligent. You’re a genius. You’re a legend.” And I’m like, “Fuck you! You’re the same people that told me I was a fucking faggot, a fuckin’ weirdo, that I’m a talentless scum.”