It was on of his most extreme assignments. A wealthy businessman commissioned fetish photographer Matt Spike to take photos of escorts injecting chemsex drugs, while he looked on.
As Spike arrived, money, drugs and expensive fetish gear covered every surface of the luxurious penthouse suite in central London, UK.
The escorts injected crystal meth while Spike took pictures for his client, who simply sat nearby watching the tennis instead.
What exactly was his client was getting out of this, if he wasn’t even watching?
‘He just enjoys getting people high,’ Spike tells Gay Star News.
Watch the interview now:
No average job, even for a fetish photographer
This is hardly an average commission for a photographer, even one who focuses on fetish artwork like Spike.
But explaining how it came about he says:
‘Basically, a professional has come from another country and has hired one or more escorts, dressing them up in this fantasy gear. And then he’s just happy to sit there and watch them inject themselves with crystal meth. I was brought along as a photographer.’
Spike agreed to photograph the chemsex session because he was already working on his own exhibition exploring ‘high and horny’ culture. However, so far he had been staging his photos based on his own and others experiences.
‘So when I was there, I asked the guy if he wouldn’t mind me taking a photo of him injecting. Which, he said was fine so long as he didn’t have his face in it. So that’s the only real shot in my series.’
The rest of the photos explore the ups and downs of chemsex. Some symbolize loneliness, confusion, and desperation. Whereas others explore fetishes around thick ‘healthy’ veins, cruising on Grindr and masochism.
A photo series inspired by the prominence of friends using crystal meth
Matt Spike knows about the chemsex scene because he uses drugs for sex too. He describes himself as a functioning occasional experimenter with chemsex and ‘party and play’ drugs.
When we first spoke for the Gay Star News chemsex series, we spoke about the reasons he thinks gay men use drugs. The wide variety of reasons we discussed ranged from peer pressure to feelings of shame around their sexuality.
So in recent years as more gay and bi men turn to chemsex, Spike has watched this trend grow.
Which is why Spike shot a series exploring the culture. He wanted to detail the culture, so people could understand why gay and bi men were turning to drugs to change the sex they were having.
Because although he’s had good experiences with the drugs, he’s seen the ‘darker’ side the scene carries on it’s shoulders too.
‘I realized that that long come down that happens afterward is really damaging to my whole life. Not just everyday things, but my work and my looks. So I’m aware of that when I when I do use drugs – I make a conscious decision to use them very sporadically’
Defending the criticism against exhibiting his chemsex photography series all over the world
‘There are all kinds of power play involved in chems, there are people who get off on being administered and wanting to be slammed. That to me is an act of masochism or submission. I see it as similar to wanting to be tied up.’
So does this make the photo series sexy?
This is the major criticism Spike faces while exhibiting his series.
‘It’s important to capture some of the sexiness because that’s what attracts people to it. Afterall, chemsex is about chasing the ultimate sexual high. And crystal meth does make you feel really horny, and people use it to enhance sex.
‘It would be disingenuous to do a series of images that focus on coming down and the various woes that come with using the drugs. You have to have a 360-degree view of the subject so you can understand a crisis – and why people get into it in the first place.’
But Spike goes further than this in his defense. He understands his art is subjectively viewed, by those who see it.
‘I could also turn around and say, if you see my series as sexy – maybe you need to re-examine your own priorities because watching people engage in something that could be very harmful, is after all not such a sexy image.’
Read more stories, support and see the videos in our chemsex section.