I first met Gerrie Lim in 2007 when we were both assigned by August Man magazine to collaborate on a feature about Geylang, Singapore's famous red-light district.
I had long been fascinated by the existence of Geylang. The juxtaposition of this sanctioned red-light district in the heart of a city state well-known for its conservative views on sex and pornography intrigues me. I presented the idea of shooting a photo-driven feature in Geylang to the Managing Editor at August Man, and he liked it.
He introduced me to Singaporean author Gerrie Lim, renowned for penning reportage about the porn industry and the sex trade, and together we set out to create the article for the magazine.
"Geylang Confidential" was published in the February 2008 issue of August Man and "The Forgotten Hours", a showcase of my Geylang photography, exhibited not long afterwards. Gerrie and I have been friends ever since.
Gerrie is the author of numerous non-fiction paperbacks, and his most recent book -- titled Singapore Rebel: Searching for Annabel Chong -- was released with a launch and book reading at a Singapore bookstore this
past week end. From the book's prologue: "Annabel Chong: her name rings a bell, even as it resonates like a bolt of lightning from the heavens. Paul Theroux, the novelist and travel writer, describes her as 'an amazing woman, a demon goddess out of a Chinese folk tale -- the woman who dared to convert all her desires into reality -- a fantasy to most men, and a sort of heroine to a lot of women, though they would probably not dare to admit it.' And why would they not dare admit it? Because Annabel Chong remains the only famous pornstar from Singapore, a young woman who had put her home country on the map back in 1995 when she allowed herself to be filmed having sexual intercourse with a large group of men, each one waiting his turn, all done in the space of ten hours and for the posterity of home video."
As Gerrie goes on to explain, Annabel Chong and "The World's Greatest Gangbang" (as it would be come to be known) hold a unique place in the Singapore psyche, occupying a space somewhere between legend and myth.
Anyway, what does all this have to do with photography? I shot some portraits of Gerrie Lim a few years ago as part of a feature I was shooting for the UK edition of GQ magazine. The photograph I made of Gerrie --
standing in the dining room of his Holland Village apartment, and surrounded by his vast collection of music, books and other fragments of popular culture -- appeared in the magazine a short time later. Gerrie loved the portrait, and asked me recently if he could use it as his bio picture on the inside cover of Singapore Rebel.
What are friends for?
See more of my portrait photography on my website.