Mark I. Chester

images from Outcasts

Mark in flames #1


I know that I have an ungodly connection to fire.  I never would have thought so, but as I look back at the path of my life, I see how fire has continually ravaged me.  But while it has been destructive, like fires that cleanse only to be followed by a  rebirth, these fires have damaged me, but not destroyed me.  Someone who once looked at my chart told me I had five planets in Virgo, which is a fixed earth sign.  He joked that no wonder I continually got burnt by fire, that I was so fixed, so ďstuck,Ē that it took a fire to get me to move.  To grow.  To change my life.

And thereís been a lot of fire in my life.  From my fatherís ill fated attempts to destroy my developing homoerotic interests by burning the magazines I coveted filled with images of nude and hard dicked men.  And my tattoos - a man on my left arm and shoulder and a blooming lotus on my stomach, both in the midst of flames.  A devastating burn to my right forearm in 1980, requiring grafts which resulted in permanent scarring.  The great Folsom Street Fire of 1981 that destroyed my home and neighborhood and put the SF Police Dept., Fire Dept and Mayor Dianne Feinstein in my bedroom.  And a 1991 arson fire against the sleazy hole next door, (My Place) that damaged my flat, destroying more of my personal history and art, leaving me without a permanent home for 5 months.

And then there are the fire boys.  Hot.  Devastating.  Sensuous and sexy.  Slender boys with a firey body heat.  Itís a luxurious drug that soaks into your body and opens your heart.  Like the sailors lost to the sirens, it is a narcotic for the soul.  In the midst of that bond, all is lost.  But it is a destructive fire in its own right.  For like flame, they are spirits unto themselves.  They unlock the key to your heart.  They love you.  They burn you.  And you are marked and changed forever.

I was trying to create promotional shots for a bondage performance piece I did with Carla Wood at Studio Rhino called Dark Scars.  Theyíre self portraits and Carla helped me with the photography.  While they didnít work for Dark Scars, Iíve always liked them and thought of them as images of Mark in flames.