The idea that there are a million people around the world looking at your body In this book, is that a turn-on?
It’s funny. I never thought of it that way. I feel like I cast myself in this book I mean, I feel comfortable with my clothes off. I look in the mirror and go, “Ugh”; I think everybody does. I find all kinds of flaws. It’s like, “Oh, God, why couldn’t I be taller? Why do I have to have this color hair?” This is what I’m stuck with. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Do you like your body now more since you’ve been working out?
It’s not that I like my body more, it’s just that I like me more. I mean, certainly, one message I hope is in the book is that people should learn to enjoy their bodies and to love your body regardless.
You bare all in the book, but there’s only one picture of full frontal male nudity.
There is? Oh, that’s in the the Gaiety [an all-male stripper club], right? Well, the only guys that would take their clothes off were the guys at the Gaiety. Most of the men that were in the pictures were very shy.
These S&M pictures of you with tattooed women are probably the photos that will upset most people. But it struck me that they’re very playful.
I think there’s a lot of humor in the book. If you miss that, you’re going to miss a lot.
What is it about bondage and interesting to you?
I don’t know, maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing. When I was growing up, there were certain things people did for penance; I know people that slept on coat hangers or kneeled on uncooked rice on the floor, and prayed for hours. And for me as a child, I think somehow things got really mixed up. There was some ecstasy involved in that.
And the whole thing of crucifixion-a lot of that, the idea of being tied up. It’s surrendering yourself to someone. I’m fascinated by it. I. mean, there’s a lot of pain-equals-pleasure in the Catholic Church. And that is also associated with bondage and S&M.
Also, just the idea of role-playing. If a person is really aggressive and in control in their everyday life, the idea of changing that role around and being tied up, being able not to be the person that’s running the show, cracking the whip. There’s something titillating about it, certainly for me.
But let me just preface all of this by saying that for me, it’s always about mutual consent, never about being forced or taking advantage of someone.
A lot of the images in this book are auto-erotic. Having sex with yourself …
I think that’s where eroticism begins, with the way that you relate with your body and how you see yourself, and how in touch you are with yourself.
Let’s talk about your music. The love songs on the “Erotica” album aren’t about love but about breaking up. There’s a certain bitterness. A lot of lyrics are about pain and being hurt and hurting.
Right. Well, like anything, the more you know, the more you grow, the deeper you go. The pain and the grief and the bitterness and all that stuff has always been there. It’s just that I wasn’t ready to deal with it. But now I am.
Would you say that the romantic side of you is more skeptical now?
Well, I wouldn’t say that. I’m still a romantic at heart, absolutely. And I still believe in the happiness and joy of love and all those things. Of course, everyone grows more cynical with experience. If you really want to see the extremes of humanity, just get really famous. All of a sudden, it’s just thrown at you, you see it every day.
Aren’t you concerned about the effect this book will have? Won’t it up the level of craziness?
There are so many psychos out there bothering me anyway, what’s five more? I just can’t think about those things when I’m doing this stuff.
Do you still talk to Warren Beatty?
No (laughs). I wish. I mean, say we’re enemies or anything like that. He’s married and has a family and I just feel like he’s in another country. But he’s a great guy. He really is, and I learned a lot from him.
You’ve always channeled things into the mainstream from the subculture, like vogueing. Do you feel you’re now bringing the sexual underground to the general public, the world of gay strip clubs and S&M dubs like The Vault?
I’m bringing what most people consider subversive ideas about sexuality into the mainstream, yes.