Mark I. Chester
"Diary of a Thought Criminal" 1989-95


"Leather boot and desire" 1996 by Mark I Chester


In 1996, I self-published my first monograph of fine art black and white radical sex photographs called "Diary of a Thought Criminal."  This 9"x10" high quality book was printed offset and includes 42 rich duo-tone images in 64 pages.  In addition to the images, I have written a forward that provides a personal history and Patrick Califia has written an afterword that puts my work into a sexual, social and political context.

The money behind this project came mainly from Scott O'Hara, although at the time of the printing I was unaware of his involvement as he donated the funds anonymously.  Interestingly enough, without even knowing that he was behind the donation, in the book I listed a number of my heroes, Scott being one of them.  Here is what I said about Scott:

Scott O'Hara is a porn star, publisher, performer, model and writer who strongly believes in and unequivocally supports gay sex, gay art and gay artists.  He lives his political/sexual beliefs in an upfront, unapologetic, easy going manner that disguises how unique and radical such personal integrity is.  His friendship and his heart, not mention his sexual interests, have touched innumerable lives.

The book was printed in soft cover, hard cover and a special edition of 26 books was printed with a smooth black leather cover.

Below is what I originally wrote about this body of work when I first posted it on the internet:

You probably think this is just a bunch of sex photos. But you're wrong. This is an anguished cry from the alleyways of San Francisco's mythic South of Market, where so much cum has been showered on the ground that strange flowers grow thru the broken pavement. (Ok, so I came out in the library stacks.<grin>)

To uptight moralists my work is perverted pornographic shit but to me these images are like pools at midnight reflecting waves made up of the moments of my life overflowing with unbearable quantities of love, sex and grief. A kind of dark explicit photographic diary. er.... ah... not to mention the fact that I'm obsessed by hard dicks. (blush)

But synchronicity connected this work to Sen. Jesse Helms. Helms created legislation that banned the NEA from supporting artists or institutions exploring issues around sexual art - which Helms defined as *obscene or lewd art.* For Helms, that meant any art that was explicitly sexual, homosexual or radically sexual.

And since my photographs were (and are) sexual, homosexual and radically sexual, it is the perfect example of the kind of work Helms considered so dangerous that it had to be banned by law from governmental support. Some people just have all the luck. <evil grin> But in a way it's also a compliment. Helms is right. My work is dangerous. Because the truth is *always* dangerous.