NSFW: Jimmy DeSana Scandalizes the Suburbs
Almost 25 years since the death of punk photographer Jimmy DeSana comes a revival of his vibrant body of work — but this time, in print. Known for his erotic imagery, DeSana captured the livelihoods of icons like Laurie Anderson, Debbie Harry, Billy Idol and Yoko Ono. However, this project only uses the naked human body and the cozy scenery of the American suburbs. For the first time, this vibrant collection of luminous images will be released in a photo book. Quite fittingly titled Suburban, the book features a foreword by his friend and former roommate Laurie Simmons, the artist that, to most millennials, is simply known as Lena Dunham’s mom.
DeSana, like many other artists of his time, suffered from the AIDS epidemic and eventually lost his life to the disease. But fortunately, he confided in close friend Simmons, who can relay us his powerful message. The late photo genius told her, “I don’t really think of that work as erotic, I think of the body almost as an object. I attempted to use the body but without the eroticism that some photographers use frequently. I think I de-eroticized a lot of it … but that is the way the suburbs are in a sense.”
Somehow DeSana manages to mystify the suburban landscape and transform them from a place of normalcy into a scandalous backdrop of a surreal horror film. Furthermore, despite the vintage feel of his imagery, his photography remains pressingly relevant and timeless. And while DeSana may no longer be alive, his work lives on and continues to make us wish the suburbs were as glamorous as he once envisioned them to be.