Artist Jeremy Kost is known for photographing buff hotties in the nude (a practice we can totally get behind), but the subjects showcased in his latest project are of the “more is more” variety. Entitled Like One of Your French Girls (extra points for the Titanic reference), the artist’s stunning new book features Polaroids of America’s most fabulous drag queens. Needless to say, we are living for it.
Kost’s fascination with drag queens came long before RuPaul took them mainstream. “I grew up fairly overweight. I was 250lbs at my heaviest when I really changed my life at 21,” he says. “These characters are a direct reference to ideas of transformation, body identity, personal presentation, façade, fragmenting, and quite substantially, the philosophical notion of becoming. They really feel like butterflies!”
While the images come from the artist’s archives (many were shot between 2009 and 2012 as part of his collage series), they’ve been updated with spontaneous swipes of oil paint; a decision that came about purely by accident. “I was working on a painting on the wall of my NYC place and took it too far. Out of frustration, I swiped a Polaroid through the oil stick on the canvas and loved the mistaken result!” he says. “With drag queens, there really is an amazing relationship between make-up and paint. In fact, queens often say that they’re ‘painting’ their faces. It also has to do with masking, concealing, revealing, color, mixing, contrast… It’s a perfect conceptual balance I think.” Kost takes this concept one step further, painting a unique oil paint “doodle” on the back of each of the 400 books.
Many of the images are dreamy and intimate – a low-key look at over the top characters – but at Kost’s book launch in the penthouse of New York’s Edition hotel, things inevitably got a little rowdy, thanks to the one and only Amanda LePore, whom Kost describes as “a beautiful soul who represents the epitome of glamour and beauty.” “Amanda Lepore stripped and jumped on the dining room table in the penthouse,” he says. “I don’t care how jaded of a New Yorker you are, that’s still super fucking cool every time you see it!”
“Like One of Your French Girls” is available to purchase via the artist’s website.