“Don’t you just love this long hair, it’s better than mine” said the twenty two year old model imported from Moscow. Their conversation drifts into Russian and they faded further into the the G5’s cabin, now almost entirely filled in a haze of western Canada’s finest. I am certainly not partaking as the emails and obligations were far from finished, and the second we touch down I know all too well that nothing from New York would translate properly until my delirious return. We left out of Teterboro at 12:07pm and I was immediately poured a glass of Krug, the first in a never ending faucet of debauchery. I am one of only three males on the plane, the pilot and the owner share the distinction. With fourteen females on board the capacity level was beyond FAA recommendation…but my host graciously pointed out “the true beauty of traveling with models is that technically they count as one person weight-wise.”
My final pieces of work concluded with ninety-two pounds of cheekbone and leg draped across my lap, licking my face. “You and I are going to have the fun at Basel, yes?” my penchant for broken english kicks in as I stand up to join the sky high dance party. Surveying the scene I notice many of the women changing into their beachwear with no regard for American puritanical nudity norms. Out the window the miles and miles of beach are visible and the luxury air vehicle dives below my feet. Surfing the decent surrounded by beauty I can’t help but note how appropriate the Spank Rock song “Baby” was for the situation. “I’d sell my soul but the devil don’t want it, baby.”
Spin of the limousine wheels, seated gyration, playful interrogations, extended goodbyes, road cocktail…
Arrival at the hotel began in a rush of disorganization caused in equal parts by incompetence and a mass influx of aggro New Yorkers. The suite is sufficiently sprawling, if not a touch too “Miami”. Just as I begin to settle in the first of my co-conspirators burst in like Joe Walsh ready to knock down the walls. Mojito like concoctions in hand he explains the absurdities of the situation surrounding the first iPhone victim of Basel. The fury of the arrival was only matched by that of our departure.
The depth of beautiful talent on all fronts begins to sink in as we use our devil charms to acquire a prime table at Le Carte Blanche. The delectability of the meal was high, yet our nervous energy pulls at our collars. Outside we sprint to upstream those less agile and after a near miss in the middle of the street we find ourselves in a cab heading north at a testosterone injected pace.
The Villa Vecchio is a veritable fortress of opulence, complete with placement on the intercoastal and views of neon for miles. The abundance of scandinavian barbies desperately distracts us from the task at hand. Despite the gorgeous flock I start shooting what is playing out to be a eyes wide shut reenactment with a performance art tie in. The Hole gallery New York sponsored by Playboy provides for a thoroughly satisfying dive into the the sensual pleasures of nudity and barrels of acrylic paint. The bell has rung and the worlds well heeled pile into the ballroom fit for Versailles.
Hulton stands at the center looking like a nerdy Picasso knock off complete with striped t-shirt. I kept imagining he was actually Woody Allen chosen to play the enigmatic Pablo. In front of him lay a cross like quadrant of boards surrounding his “canvas”. Fortunately his mixed raced/leaning towards asian assistant provides aesthetic console until the show gets underway. The little man begins pouring thousands of dollars of art store standard in simple circular forms layered on top of each other. Needless to say this is no modern master, but one can’t deny how visually arresting it is watching an entire section of blick be poured in under two hours.
With our interest waning, cocktails emptied, and the whiny painter started to strain our nerves too far…the nubile nude model steps out into the spotlight to thunderous applause and refreshed glasses. Photographically the image is pure sticky lust and results in a piece fit for the front entrance of a gaudy mcmansion. The bystanders slowly thinned out and beyond their masses we spotted dashing crew teaming youthful artistic energy .
The Black and Ivory gallery team is an absolute breath of electricity among the Basel regulars. We quickly acquire bottles of champagne and board a vessel resembling a frigate supposedly intended for our usage. Sheik turbans adorned with horn, 1980’s Hermes power ties, Crazy horse haircuts, striking mustaches, and a cornucopia of foreign accents were among the most memorable accessorizes as we climbed on. The slow amble down the waterway begins with bottle pops and TV On The Radios “Second Song” blaring as we float ominously away from the shore… “And when the night comes fiending like a pyro”
The glittering prize at the end of the ride is an inescapable desire for bacchanal. The gift began at Electric Room’s southern outpost, where nefarious eyes and all evil things translate easily into Floridian “culture”. The beats rage on as Nur oversees his court of the pretty things on loan from New York. My vision has converted to FPS lens mode and the shutter is incessant, drawing crowds of the fame hungry. Flute in my left hand, camera in my right. I respond to the pleads of a particularly voluptuous subject with flashes of glory in parallel with her suggestive poses. “I met a gin-soaked bar room queen in Memphis”
Upon exiting the momentum shifts heavily and the nights events become freeze frame images accompanied with social media like captions. Delano Pool fully dressed. Jeans don’t dry quickly. Trippy bug golf carts. “I like your collar bones”. “It’s Hermes”. “weren’t you just making out with her?” Silencio is soooo french. Fade to black.
The sun’s wrath beats down with a vengeance as the evenings unpaid bill cashes itself. A seemingly endless number of cell phones are ringing without a breath and my only goal is a large body of water. My messiah is a luke-warm bottle of perrier. The walk to the convention center to grab our credentials is broken up by a pit stop at the Dorchester for a bloody mariah and a casual interview with a hyper talented technical photographer. Her Infrared surrealist photography soothes the previous nights demons and entices my visual senses back into alignment.
Our white credit card size passes contain surprisingly attractive pictures of ourselves just above the three most important letters of the weekend “CNN”. The manilla walls act as a repellant and we flee the center swiftly. We are stranded without transport to Scope, until our human binoculars spot a fleet of inanimate Audi A8Ls. The purpose of the automobiles it to transport VIP’s, and as representatives of the worlds preeminent news source we feel entitled to such luxuries. After a lengthy introduction to the greatest chair of all time (an over-designed carbon fiber masterpiece) we indulge in the land boats sumptuous leather. Crossing the bridge I switch the Satellite radio to a Hair Metal station and appropriately Guns N’ Roses “It’s So Easy” rings through while the sun sets before us.
Scope is the brilliant ADHD child of Art Basel and it’s art justifies the lack of focus with an unbridled complexity and beauty. Among the notable are Gromquist’s weaponized taxidermy and the imported chinese “dragon horse” chairs…a new life essential. the Ivory and Black team jovially greet us as we successfully seek out Dionysus’s liquid. Fully back on the merry-go-round transport back to south beach is attained, but almost results in a full blown civil war. Almost being the key word.
As our meal at The Dutch concludes our energy level rise ferociously. Our lovely female guests depart to refresh and we are left to our own self destructive devices. Obviously we head to a Metro Zu/Superchief soiree where we begin to graffiti a Lamborghini under the influence of russian water. Images are made, pictures are taken, italian exotics are defiled. With a heavy growl of the engines it ends leaving us in a post coital sweat.
Walking south on Collins I spot a nubian princess of amazonian proportions dressed as scantily as is legal in the US. Confused by our appearance she strikes up conversation.
"Where are you crazy boys headed"
"The Dream. How about you darling? You should come"
"Oh honey that sounds nice, but I’m working"
"Really? What do you….OHHHHHHH."
After a quick pop in at Electric we jump directly to the Shore Club and are greeted by the girls from dinner. The neon bedouin themed rear courtyard morphs into our haven of revelry and tequila becomes a prominent force in our veins. The ladies want to head to Soho House, I become their de-facto escort. Coupled up and exiting I pause as a troop of familiar feminine voices scream my name. I turn and see my favorite partners in crime, who like me are on leave from Manhattan, and decide to stay. I close the door to the cab with the unlucky kitty inside, paw on the glass as it drives away.
Once back behind the hotel we head for the Westway popup inside the red room. My flowing locks combined with a fetching female foursome, parts the sea of never getting ins. One lovely grabs the camera off my arm and disappears into the fray. My head sways in rhythm, only to pause for the inevitable photo opportunity. My pink tie, three piece suit sans blazer, and denim jacket combination develops both interested stares and splendid visuals in the viewfinder. The dance floor flows in waves of aggression and the sweat builds until the eventual tipping point is reached.
The exterior scene reveals itself to be more tranquil as we cosy into a sea of pillows pleasantly situated under low hanging branches. The intoxicants are delivered now causing the seated ladies to monkey into the branches to perform an impromptu striptease. Hazily observing the scene my two male colleagues have disappeared into shadows and I find myself on the beach with both a blond and brunette. Both stunning. Both getting naked. Both in the ocean. Admiring the neon skyline into star filled oblivion, I disrobe and join them…Tom Sawyer ships, hard nips, sensual fingertips. “A new sensation”
The damp sand massages our feet as nude yoga is executed under the moon. The fair haired angel is cut from the scene as a rolling-sand-makeout-montage is filmed and quickly becomes too heated for PG-13 viewers. Mojito and salty skin play off each other as a delectable sweet and savory dish. The nights mischief comes to a close as natures light switch slowly slides up. Naked, soaking wet, and thoroughly sanded I begin the journey to my temporary home, smiling from ear to ear. “She got jumper cable lips. She got sunset on her breath. I inhaled just a little bit, now I’ve got no fear of death.”