Steve Marino

On the occasion of Remembrance Day, Bego Solís remembers a chance meeting with an American veteran

Steve Marino

I met Steve in August of 2013. I was in Rockland, for a personal project, taking pictures at the Maine Lobster Festival.

On a Saturday afternoon, after photographing all morning, I decided to go for a walk around the area. I started in the direction of Rockport, a town about two-and-a-half miles away. Somewhere along the way I came across a house surrounded by flags — American flags, POW/MIA flags, flags I didn’t recognise — as well as badges, slogans and statues. There was a sculpture of a dachshund, a pistol hanging from a tree next to a WWII military uniform and several signs displaying the word LOTUS.

I wasn’t clear what it all meant, but I saw a friendly sign outside the house inviting anyone to enter, so I walked up to it.


Someone was inside the house, and after seeing me through the window he came out. I greeted him and he went back inside, leaving the door open so I could see he was looking for something. He came out again, this time carrying a camera. He introduced himself — he said his name was Steve Marino — and we started talking.

Steve invited me inside to talk more, but I made my excuses. The truth is I’m usually courageous, but I couldn’t trust a man who had a gun hanging from a tree, gnome statues in his garden and a disfigured face. I told him that I had to go to work, but we made a plan to meet up again the next day after a military parade he was going to attend.

I returned the next day at 4pm, as we had agreed. There was no one at home, just a note on the door saying “Rubby Begonya Radio.” The Mazda that had been parked in his backyard the day before was gone. I assumed he was still at the parade and so I started taking pictures of the garden — a chair, plants, grapefruit pulp everywhere. And all those references to Japan in the shape of plants and trees. Soon enough, Steve came back.


Steve Marino loved plants. He told me that he had planted a lotus near the house and it had taken over the forest behind his garden. I don’t know much about plants, just that lotuses prefer muddy waters — but Steve said it wasn’t easy to do. He was laughing as he spoke about it; seemingly amused by the lotus invasion in the Maine woods.

Steve was missing half of his jaw and there was a hole under his nose. That day he covered it with a band aid. He told me the wounds never healed. He always held a handkerchief in his hand, others hung in the garden and there was a small pile of them in his house, neatly folded and ironed. He explained he needed them to keep himself clean, because the hole in his face kept him constantly drooling.

The house was full of radio sets, and as we moved around he turned them on and cranked up the volume — each one playing songs from the 50s. I followed behind, trying furtively to turn the volume down because it was difficult to hear him, but he kept on raising it. I gave up when I realised that Steve was not deaf, he just didn’t like silence.


He told me that he was a Marine, and that he had been in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. It was in the latter where he lost a piece of his jaw. He showed me a stone he carried in his purse; I couldn’t quite understand if it was a stone from the beach where he was bombed, from a landing spot or simply a souvenir from some of the places where he had survived.

Steve Marino spoke constantly about fortune. He had many amulets about the house. I asked him how old he was, but he just laughed — he didn’t want to reveal it.

According to Steve, his years in Japan were the happiest in his life. He told me that even though the Americans were the enemies of the Japanese, he was always treated very well. He spoke fondly of the country and described those years as “good times”.

He invited me to come into his room. Next to his bed there was a picture of John F Kennedy and a Kennedy half-dollar struck in 1976 that was attached to a piece of wood — another reference to luck. He took out another Kennedy half-dollar from a closet,  gave it to me and said that I always should keep it so it would bring me luck.


He showed me memories from Japan: several kimonos, his military uniform. It was dark by this point and through the bedroom window I could see that the expansion of lotus was bigger than I thought. On his wall was a collage made up of pictures, clippings and notes. He told me that it was the story of his life, including all the most important moments. He didn’t appear in any of the photographs — it was a collection of scraps, press clippings, book photos and some original pictures of unidentified people.

We went back to the living room and Steve offered me some chocolate and cookies to eat. I wasn’t hungry, but it seemed wrong to refuse his invitation so I told him I liked beer. He got some Budweiser bottles and finally we both relaxed. He served the beer in a German jar as he showed me a collection of candles piled up on top of the fridge. He explained that every night he lit a candle for his mother and another for Buddha; Steve was a Buddhist.

We had a couple of beers in the garden and toasted for life, because “Steve Marino,” he told me (he always spoke about himself in the third person), “was a lucky man.” From time to time he shouted, “Steve Marino go, go, goooo!”

He laughed at my tattoos and showed me one of his, the latters NAM on his arm. He said he had some more, but he couldn’t show them to me.


Over a year later, a friend helped me find some details about Steve. We found an online obituary under his real name, Stephen R Sircom, that revealed he was 85 years old and had committed suicide just a month after our meeting.

Stephen was never war wounded, or at least his face wound didn’t occur in any battle. Stephen had already attempted suicide at “a bad time” years ago. A reflex reaction made him turn his face at the very last moment. He had saved his life but his face was disfigured forever after.

Despite having served his country for years, veteran health benefits did not cover facial reconstruction. Psychologically-induced injuries are not considered war injuries. Stephen could not afford to pay for it either.

I’m glad I met Stephen when I did and I will be thinking of him this Remembrance Day.


Alternative Miss World

A fancy dress contest inspired by Crufts (a British dog show), established by Andrew Logan in 1972



In the early 1970s, Andrew Logan — the artist who adorns one of Accent’s AW16 covers  — had an idea for a party. It would not be about beauty, it would be about transformation. The Alternative Miss World would allow anyone to enter: men and women on equal footing: racial parity in a pre-cosmopolitan London; sexuality set free in a million guises. And everyone would be judged on the same criteria as the dogs at Crufts: poise, personality and originality.

Since the first event in Andrew’s flat in Hackney, in 1972, the Alternative Miss World has set the stage for some of the world’s most creative spirits to gather — with past guests, hosts and competitors including everyone from Derek Jarman, David Hockney and Zandra Rhodes to Grayson Perry, Divine, Leigh Bowery and the stars of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Issue two pays tribute to this long-running celebration of self-expression by unearthing some gems from the photo archive. Here we feature some of the highlights through the years.


Kinky Gerlinky Cabaret, AMW Imperial Fantasy/Royal Imperial, 1991 
Robyn Beeche


Miss Holland Park Walk (Eric Roberts), the winner in 1973
JD Matthews


Divine, a host in 1978


Fat Gill and Leigh Bowery, AMW Earth, 1986
Robyn Beeche


Andrew as host in 1991. The theme was Air
Robyn Beeche


Miss Yorkshire, the very first winner of the competition in 1972
JD Matthews


David Hockney and Celia Birtwell on the judging panel, AMW Wild, 1975


Miss Frozen Assets, AMW Imperial Fantasy/Royal Imperial, 1981
Robyn Beeche


Miss Aldershot (Michael Haynes), winner of AMW Imperial Fantasy/Royal Imperial, 1981
Robyn Beeche


Luciana Martinez de la Rosa, AMW Circus, 1978
Robyn Beeche

Buy the issue here

Detroit Unbroken Down

Portraits of life in America’s great Motor City, after a great fall. By Dave Jordano


Detroit is my hometown, but I’ve been gone for over three decades. My father, who worked all his life for General Motors, used to joke that our family had motor oil running in our veins. Even after all these years away, I still believe there is some small truth in what he said.

These photographs are my reaction to all the negative press that Detroit has had to endure over the past several years. I was initially drawn to the same subjects other photographers were interested in; the crumbling factory interiors, the empty lots and burned-out houses that consume a third of the city, the massive abandoned commercial infrastructure. It took me a week of shooting this kind of subject matter to realise I was contributing nothing to a subject most people already knew a lot about.

I began looking at the various neighbourhoods within the city and all the people who live in them. Despite the harsh reality of living in a post-industrial city that has fallen on the hardest of times, the human condition does thrive. Notwithstanding the recent press about Detroit’s efforts to rebound from its recent bankruptcy, which is in all ways promising, my focus continues to rest on the current conditions that affect many of those who have fallen through the cracks. The lives of these forgotten and marginalised poor people will only minimally be improved by the recent redevelopment of the city.

I’ve found that most Detroiters wear their pride for the city much like an honoured badge of courage. If you can survive here, you can survive just about anywhere. My hope is that this work will convey that Detroit is a city made up of many small communities, all building a way of life through perseverance, hope, and sheer determination. It is a city clinging to the vanished ideals of an urban oasis that once hailed itself as one of the most beautiful and prosperous cities in America, and has now fallen from grace. This project is not about what’s been destroyed, but about what’s been left behind.


Sara and Shad, Goldengate Street, 2013

Goldengate Street is a unique community of outsiders who choose to live self-sufficiently and off-grid. Abandoned houses that once dotted the street have been taken over by a group who call themselves ‘Fireweed Universe City’. Collectively, everyone lives and works as a group; repairing houses, cooking communal meals, gardening and raising chickens together. They have involved themselves with the local community by establishing a bicycle repair shop where kids in the area can learn to build and maintain a bike for free. They also founded a community centre that provides movie nights, open mic events, and self-defence training.

The street has also become a popular destination for couch surfers who come from all over the world. Visitors can stay for free so long as they volunteer to help out the community. Their efforts are a positive change for one of the most decimated and blighted areas in Detroit.

Shad and Sara were new arrivals to Goldengate Street in 2013. Sara has stayed but Shad comes and goes.


Mary with family and friend, Goldengate Street, 2012

Mary and her daughter Claire live full-time on Goldengate in a house that she is squatting in but the owner lets her stay there. It’s better than letting the house sit empty and be subject to scrappers and vandals.


Diane sleeping, 2013

Diane was homeless and had nowhere to stay so a friend had agreed to take her in for a few days. I chose to photograph her sleeping because when you sleep your mind is at peace and your problems don’t exist. The next time I stopped by to check on her she had moved on.

glemieGlemie, 2011

Glemie, a retired truck driver and fifty-year resident of Detroit, is an accomplished blues singer, but he’s also known for his small game hunting skills. Every fall he hunts an average of 150 raccoons, which he skins, dresses, and sells as food to clients. This extra income supplements his meagre retirement benefits. Born in southern Arkansas and the son of a sharecropper, Glemie was often required to pick 100 pounds of cotton a day as a child and raccoon was often the staple family meal of the day.


Charlie with his bike, 2012

Charlie has had every car he’s ever owned stolen so he bought himself a bike and then personalized it to celebrate his theft-free life.


Algernon with Babe, 2010

Algernon has lived in this house for the past 42 years. After raising four children he now lives alone as a widower and only occupies the first floor of the house. Upkeep has been minimal at best, but the house still maintains elements of its original grandeur. Structures such as this begin to take on a life of their own, gracing themselves with symbolic undertones, such as longevity, memory, and perseverance.


Rogue signage, 2011

This sign was made by Andre Ventura, a resident who lives on the street, after several gun shots were fired while children were playing in the corner park. He said you could hear the bullets flying overhead. The sign (not the gunfire) garnered the attention of several TV and radio stations that covered the story of Andre’s vigilante antics. Andre has made over 250 hand-painted signs that he has placed throughout the city to create awareness about crime, social issues, and political corruption in the city.


Kat in her new house, 2014

Kat (Kathina) took over an abandoned city corner lot next to her house and transformed it into a neighbourhood park complete with lighting, sculpture and flower and vegetable gardens. Her initiative was the first visible improvement to the street in over 30 years.

Kat also takes in homeless people who need shelter and provides them with basic essentials like clothing, blankets and food. All her efforts are supported through the generous donations of friends, and her unyielding faith.

She recently moved into this abandoned house just around the corner from her current residence. She’s in the process of trying to purchase it in order to continue her ongoing mission to improve the neighborhood. I’ve known Kat now for three years and I’ve never met someone who is as devoted to others as she is.


Semira sleeping in Kat’s house, 2012

The child of a homeless mother sleeps in Kat’s bedroom. There are often as many as eight people staying in her small two-bedroom house.


Calvin with his pit bull, 2011

Calvin does maintenance work for local Burger King restaurants. He was cleaning out his work truck when one of his pit bulls came running out of the house. He owns three in total and they’re all well-trained, friendly dogs. He says there are no bad pit bulls, only bad owners.


Mo, birdman of Detroit, 2012

Mo loves pigeons and has been raising them ever since he was a young boy living in Iraq. In the past 50 years he has raised more than 2,000 of them. He has built several makeshift pigeon coops that are either attached to his modest house or around his yard, and at any one time there could be over one hundred birds living on his property. His neighbourhood is notorious for prostitution and his tenant Lori, a local hooker who has been living with him for the past two years, helps share the living expenses of the household. Mo prefers not to know what Lori does and he will not let her bring customers into the house, but through the shared arrangement they have each found companionship and mutual support.


Angela and Aya, North Corktown, 2010

Angela is one of a growing number of young, urban agra-farmers who have moved back into the city and taken over abandoned city lots to farm on. Detroit has been designated a food desert meaning that there’s not one national chain grocery store within the city limits. Residents instead have to rely on their own initiative if they want to have fresh produce that is readily available, and literally hundreds of community gardens have sprung up all over the city to counter the shortage.


Brad, 2010

Brad will scrap this abandoned factory site for the next year, digging in the ground and taking from it about 1,000 pounds of recyclable metal a day. He will make on average $110 for a day’s work. He’s been unable to find employment, but took it upon himself to find a way to earn some money and to do something positive about his situation.


Charles, Eastside, 2015

Charles has been squatting in this abandoned house for the last six months. The crane company he worked for went out of business after they lost all of their automotive contracts to foreign competition. Recently divorced and unable to find work and his unemployment benefits depleted, he’s trying to fix up this abandoned house by salvaging materials from other abandoned buildings. His house was recently ransacked by thieves that broke in and stole what little valuables he had.


Caprice with her nieces in the Polka Dot Garden, Eastside, 2014

Robert, an 85-year-old retired interior decorator was afraid that an empty lot behind his house was going to be filled with trash so he began creating his imaginary ‘Polka Dot Garden’ to protect the property. It’s a place filled with fanciful sculpture and flowering plants that the neighborhood children can enjoy.


Patricia, 2012

Patricia in her new house on Goldengate Street with her cigarette ration


Andrew harvesting his garden, 2012

Andrew and his wife Kinga live almost entirely off of what their garden produces throughout the year. They live on a street where many of the residents trade and barter with each other.


Hakeem, 2012

Broke, divorced, and after losing his business, Hakeem found his salvation through his Muslim faith. He scraped up $500 to purchase a run-down house on the north side of town and now repairs cars from an abandoned two-car garage across the alley from his house. Turning a small room of his house into a place for meditation and reflection, he continually writes original phrases of wisdom, inspirational quotes, and factual titbits on his walls that guide his moral and spiritual life. Always positive of mind, he doesn’t see himself as a victim anymore, but someone who accepts adversity as a metaphor to building one’s character.


Lynn Guyton, 2010

Lynn is the brother of Tyree Guyton, founder of the famed Heidelberg Project, Detroit’s most well-known and visited social arts project that addresses urban blight issues plaguing the city.


Marcus and Bey-Bey, 2012

Two brothers who have tattoos on their chests memoralizing the death of their mother who died from an asthma attack at the age of 34.


Miss Louise, Brightmoor, 2013

Miss Louise is a 42-year resident of the Brightmoor area, one of Detroit’s most blighted neighbourhoods. She said she still likes the area and she’ll stay until the day she dies because, as she puts it, “where else am I going to go?”. She always has a positive attitude about everything in spite of the constant crime and slowly watching her neighborhood completely empty out.


Migo, 2011

Migo’s house has been broken into over twenty times so as a political statement he placed worthless items in his front yard so the “junkies could take the junk”. His house is flanked by two gated parking lots and a new apartment housing complex. The neighbours are not amused, but he doesn’t care anymore.


Los with his toy gun, 2014

The only kind of weapon he believes people should be allowed to carry in Detroit, or anywhere for that matter.


Tom’s house, 2011

After living on the street for several years, Tom took over a small patch of abandoned industrial property perched along the Detroit River. He has spent the last twelve years at this location and has built three small structures there, all of them made from discarded materials he finds in construction dumpsters. The first was a small 4 x 5 x 4 foot hut that he built on top of a 15-foot high abandoned rail line. He lived in this structure for seven years. He then built a 7 x 10 foot cabin tall enough for him to stand up in. He replaced his first structure with a slightly larger one that he made with walls that had six inches of insulation. He uses that structure to live in during the winter and heats it with candles.


Tom digging his new foundations, 2014

Currently Tom is in the process of building a 16 X 16 foot structure that will have two floors. He has completed the foundation which he dug out by hand and predicts it will take him two years to build, having few tools. Extremely resourceful, introspective, and independent, Tom has lived these past several years without heat, electricity, or running water.

Detroit Unbroken Down is published by PowerHouse Books


Reflections from an ‘in-betweeny’ on a double life lived at the weekend. With photographs by Jack Davison


LONDON — I used to work in an office. One day I was expecting a visitor. Somewhat bewilderingly, when he got to my floor he asked for ‘Julie’. “He’s only Julie at the weekends”, declared a female colleague, so that everyone could hear. I had not divulged to, and had deliberately kept hidden from, anyone at the office, that I was, indeed, (not Julie) ‘Andie’ at the weekends, and my colleague’s joke was, therefore, pregnant with hidden irony, or, possibly, my cover had already been blown: the hair long enough to be en chignon, the mascara not having been completely erased by Monday morning?

But yes, she was right: I am ‘Andie’ at the weekends (a ‘genuine’ girl’s name in France and America). A very part-time tranny, dancing Saturday nights away at the Way Out Club in Aldgate, or sometimes Wednesdays at the Shadow Lounge in Soho: two popular transgender venues. People of all ages, all backgrounds, all races, dressed and made-up magnificently differently. Many are part-time, like me; some have undergone anatomical and chemical change to move more convincingly into the realm of the feminine: boys, girls and in-betweenies. Some of the more convincingly and biologically transformed can look askance at we ‘in-betweenies’: we’re not the real thing, we’re merely playing at it. I heard one such belle of the ball — rather spoiling the graces lent by her most admirable physical beauty — complain about the smell of testosterone in the Ladies, because, she animadverted, of all the trannies there.

Such girls could never undergo the purported ignominy of being ‘read’. Me, I don’t mind that much if I am taken for a man in a dress or a rather ragged or bizarre form of female in a dress. Being a ‘man in a dress’ — because of the artificiality of the ‘disguise’ — tends, ironically, to afford you more attention, even admiration: having one’s photograph taken by strangers in the street, questions about where you got your shoes or costume, advice from girls on make-up, etc. On the negative side, this artificiality is occasionally an invitation for aggression: I was hit on the head on the night bus home by a man who evidently found my appearance offensive. Some young men, full of their own self-importance and booze, can evidence a strident reluctance to include me easily within their heretofore imagined view of the world, suddenly and rudely interrupted.

“I think it’s great to have two selves, to run two wardrobes, two persons, and be a citizen known completely differently. It’s boring being Andrew all the time”

I can’t get very worked up about being ‘read’. God has distributed his gifts unevenly; and I am disinclined to get political on the subject of men in bras generally, as perhaps we are invited to do when embraced, mostly unwittingly, by the LGBTQ community. Given that we are fighting against Nature, against the incredulity of family or friends, we necessarily find ourselves out on a limb. From this state of affairs it is but a short step, I think, to find oneself putting up a finger to society at large, in however vague or disorientated and meaningless a manner: we find ourselves manoeuvred into the position of rebels. Which is curious, really, when all we’re doing is wearing a skirt. You wouldn’t think people would be so sensitive: the fact that they are makes rather attractive, to me, an outcome which is more than just frivolity.

It is suggested that of all the deviations, transvestism is the most philosophic or aesthetic — as against being purely sexual in motivation; even that our primeval or ancestral gods and progenitors were androgynous and possessed of a wisdom that the subsequent human declension into male and female has vitiated. According to this view, your humble tranny reclaims and becomes the inheritor of a divine authority: a shaman, a priest-like sorcerer, a visionary! Try telling that to the man on the night bus back! (Or any of the girls at the clubs, come to that.)

Is one more in touch with one’s feminine side? It’s suggested that dressing-up can be an amelioration of the demands of an over-harsh super ego, instilled by a male-dominated society. When I look around me at the clubs, I’m intrigued to think that almost everyone there is actually a man. Although the male ego is never far below the surface, I think there is a certain softening of the personality: if only a more genuine sensitivity to the aesthetic. Which, in fact, is rather academic because the clubs are a carnival, showtime, bravura, and being someone different for a while — a place where everyone is a star.

I think it’s great to have two selves, to run two wardrobes, two persons, and be a citizen known completely differently. It’s boring being Andrew all the time.

And anyway, think of the health benefits: all that dancing! Plus, there’s no way one is going start putting on weight, if one is still to get into those size 10 dresses. And finally, why should women have all the fun of the many transformative and deceptive possibilities afforded by make-up and dress? A ‘star’: repeatedly burnt to incandescence and continually reliving its genesis—at the weekend.


Accent SS16

Issue one features the famous faces of 80s punk London, a young vogueing superstar from the House of Labeija in NYC, the street kids of Mexico City’s Alameda Central park and a yuppie-hating bachelor from Philadelphia who spent 30 years as a photographer’s muse.

Click here to order your copy now.






Accent AW16

Andrew Logan and Lucia Lucas

Accent’s AW16 issue features two very special cover stars: Andrew Logan — the English eccentric and artist who founded the legendary dress-up pageant Alternative Miss World — and Lucia Lucas, a transgender opera diva and one of the world’s only female baritones. Elsewhere in the issue is an interview with the Game Changers, a young band of urban cowboys in New Orleans, a dance craze invented by fashionable youth in the townships of South Africa and Harrod Blank’s archive of wild and wacky art cars from across the United States.

Get your copy in the shop.


A modern-day Huck Finn hunting for treasure along the beaches, forest trails and sidewalks of the Pacific Northwest. By Jenny Riffle


My boyfriend Riley is the subject of my series Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting. We met ten years ago through my brother, who was managing a restaurant where Riley was working at the time. Riley always impressed me with his excellent sense of adventure. One of the first times we hung out, we hiked up to some hot springs with a group of friends in the middle of the night. Riley led us up a mountain with no trail and found the hot springs in the dark.

I was lucky to spend a lot of my childhood in a cabin in the woods with no running water or electricity; it was a childhood full of make-believe. I was always playing in the forest or running through the meadow fighting imaginary battles. I recognised a similar sense of adventure in Riley. I fell for him immediately and we have been together ever since.

Riley has been a treasure hunter his whole life. He grew up in rural parts of Utah, Idaho and Washington, where he spent afternoons digging through dumps and wandering the country roads looking for old beer cans. He got his first metal detector when he was eleven and started looking for rare coins, gold, silver and anything else he could find.

Riley has to work because he doesn’t make a living off his scavenging, but he spends all his free time treasure hunting and it does earn him some extra cash. One of his most valuable finds was an 18 karat gold ring worth $500 that he found just a couple years ago. His favourite find was also one of his first; a quarter from 1899 that he dug up in his backyard when he was in kindergarten. Some of his finds are monetarily worthless but have a historic or mythological value.

I started working with Riley on the Scavenger series in 2009. I think I am nearing the end of the project, although it is hard to stop taking photos of him. As a photographer I am always searching for the next photograph, much like Riley is searching for treasure. On some level, I think we are all drawn to the thrill of the hunt.

These are the stories behind some of the photos.


High Tide
Two books that inspired Riley as a child were Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In this image, I think he embodies the character of Huck Finn with the water at his side like the Mississippi River and the hat he is wearing reminiscent of Huck Finn’s own.


The Treasure Hunter
This portrait was taken at a place called Dead Horse Bay, commonly known as Bottle Beach, in the winter of 2010 when Riley and I were living in Brooklyn. The bay is the site of horse processing plants from the time of horse-drawn carriages in the late 1800s. In around 1920, after cars had been invented and horses were used less and less, it became a landfill that New York City used for several decades. The area is now a park, and many items are exposed by the water and left on the beach to be scavenged. Riley would go out there at least once a week to look for gold and other precious metals, coins, and anything else that interested him. In this image he is holding a digging tool that he used to scrape through the sand and dirt to find treasure.


Tom Sawyer’s Gang
The objects Riley collects on his treasure hunts are like relics from a different world. This old rusted gun and handful of marbles were found on Bottle Beach. Looking at the objects together, you can weave a childlike story of excitement and adventure. Is it a real gun? Was it buried in the dump after some crime committed long ago? It reminds me of Tom Sawyer’s gang of children pretending to be robbers or pirates and the marbles they carried around in their pockets that they used like money to trade with each other.


Sorting Change
In this picture Riley is looking through a pile of coins, checking for rare and older coins that are pure copper. He used to go and get pennies from the bank and look through them for hours. As soon as I saw the light in the room I wanted to take this photo, but Riley was annoyed that I needed him to stop and hold his pose. He came up with a compromise: he would only let me take the photo if he could smoke a cigar inside our apartment. I agreed.


These objects all came from Bottle Beach and are a small part of Riley’s collection of silver that he has amassed over the years. The silver objects are both monetarily valuable and historically interesting. I love seeing what he finds and wondering about the lives these treasures had 100 years before.


The Find
In Riley’s hand is an object he found with his metal detector in a backyard in Brooklyn. The object is very rusty, and it is not quite clear what it is yet. Riley finds little monetary reward for treasure hunting since most of his day is spent digging up worthless pull-tabs and random scraps of metal, but the thrill of the hunt is all he needs to keep going. It is moments like this, right as he is pulling the object out of the ground, that are exciting. He does not yet know what he has discovered.


I Got Revenge
One of the many places Riley displays his collected objects is on his clothes. He attaches rusted jewellery from the dump along with pins and metal studs. His jacket is always changing over time as he adds new finds and removes old ones. Recently he has been adding on pull-tabs from the 70s because he came across so many of them when he was metal detecting.


Dump Dolls
This is a collection of toys and dolls that Riley found at Bottle Beach. He brought them home and glued them to the top of our TV set. The walls of our home are covered in photos and magazine clippings that he has been gathering over the years. Riley arranges narrative tableaus throughout our apartment with all of the old objects he finds – for him, these objects are an escape into mythology, into the world of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. As Riley brings long buried and forgotten objects back into the light, trash becomes treasure and acquires new meaning and value.


A Hunt on Overlook Mountain
Riley uses a metal detector and goes all over Seattle (or wherever we happen to be living or visiting), searching in parking strips – between the sidewalk and the street – or in the yards of old abandoned houses and buildings. This photo was taken when we were still living in New York and we found out about an abandoned, falling-down mountain retreat called Overlook Mountain House, in the Catskill Mountains. Riley is metal detecting after hiking up to the top of Overlook Mountain. I climbed to the top of a fire lookout to get this photo. It was windy and I was terrified and had to crawl down after, but I like the camera angle and how the scene becomes a miniature tableau with very dramatic lighting, like a stage set.


Gold Hunt, Vashon Island
We moved to Seattle in 2011 after living in Brooklyn for a couple of years while I was in school, and once we settled Riley did some research on lost treasure in the Seattle area. He discovered a tale of a wealthy logger who buried his gold on Vashon Island then died without telling anyone where it was. Legend has it, the man buried the treasure on the banks of Judd Creek, so one day we went out to Vashon Island to look for it. This is a shot of Riley with his metal detector at the creek’s edge. We didn’t find the gold, but the adventure of going to look for it is exactly what keeps Riley going.

Jenny and Riley in a motel room, Portland, 2005

Kia Labeija


NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES — Our issue one cover star is Kia Labeija, a 25-year-old vogue ballroom dance superstar, artist and HIV activist from New York City. After training in classical dance as a youth, Kia got pulled into the ball scene by chance when she was working at New York’s Webster Hall: “There was this one beautiful drag artist called Soso who would always come and see me at work and we would just kiki. She became my mother, the one who brought me into the house.” Now Kia is a self-proclaimed “voguing ballerina” who takes part in ball competitions with the legendary House of Labeija, the Harlem drag house founded by Crystal Labeija in 1967.

Born HIV-positive, and having lost her mother to AIDS-related illnesses when she was still a child, Kia uses her platform as a dancer and artist to raise awareness of the realities of living with the virus – an experience that is widespread in the ball community but seldom talked about: “I needed to talk about HIV because I felt so weird seeing the same voices and the same narratives portrayed.”

Read Kia’s full story in the print issue with an interview by Bwalya Newton and photographs by William Hacker.