Since 1996 photographer Justice Howard has worked to deliver photographs with an edgy manner as few others can. Her work while mostly erotic has also delved into the noir/glam and music scenes. Howard has had her work viewed in well over twenty five countries and is attributed with having taken the last known photos of county music icon Waylon Jennings. Her work is slated to appear in the book Nudes 3 in Berlin, and her 2012 calendar Lady Ink is available now.
What have you been up to these days? What projects are you working on at the moment?
Okay, well let's first start with the fact that in the last six months my art seems to have gravitated from art galleries to museums. I have had two very successful museum exhibits in the last six months and one got first page in the art calendar section of the Miami Post with a following six page review. So that's kind of cool, the museum thing I mean.To roll up the ladder from galleries to museums is something I never thought would transpire. And then of course I have a new 2012 calendar entitled Lady Ink which is all heavily tattooed women. I've just gotten word that they want to do another one in 2013 which is great because it's being done by the calendar club which is the biggest calendar distributor on the planet so you'll be seeing my calendar in all of the Borders books Barnes & Noble's and Walmart and they do the Playboy calendars, the Maxim calendars, Olivia's calendars and many more as they have over 1000 titles in their repertoire. Then of course my first hardcover book should be out this year but I can't tell you the name otherwise everyone will steal it!
My art is little bit edgier, more progressive and more original than most of what's out there in my opinion. I started out as a fetish photographer in 1996 and back then there were only about five fetish photographers and no one really knew what fetish was. I'd like to think it was my early art gallery exhibitions that educated a lot of people as to what fetish really was. I had to field questions like,what are those corsets for, and why are those shoes so high?" and back then fetish was so new that not everyone knew what it was. Because my photos were well lit, well styled, and well shot I rose up the ranks of the fetish ladder very quickly and was published in virtually all the best fetish magazines in the US and Europe and had covers in most all of them also. Needing onew & higher mountains to climb, I pulled away from the fetish realm and started to do other things. I mean when you get to the top of something there is no further up to go. And so I went on to shoot celebrities and CD covers and other things that interested me.
What is your fondest memory from your time as an apprentice photographer?
I think it was listening to stories of Marilyn Monroe from my mentor as he had photographed her in the 1950s for a hairstyle magazine and he would tell his story of how he went to her house and shot her and he is a would tell me what she looked like, what she smelled like, what her house was like (all white apparently) and how she dressed. I do think that he fell in love with her so I think my fondest memory is sitting and listening to him tell the stories of her which because of his feelings for her were very personal so they were cool to listen to at that time.
Do you believe in the paranormal? Have you ever seen a ghost, or experienced anything you can't explain?
Affirmative. A while back I used a real autopsy room as a location and that room was very very haunted. So much so, that I have a lot of evidence of that activity floating around in the photographs. I was actually contacted by Ghost Story the TV show and they were interested in them, but yes, I have a large amount of photographs with unexplainable evidence of spirit entities. I had planned to post them all somewhere on a website, I don't know, somewhere, but I already have four websites at the present time and another would be overkill since I am my own webmaster on all of them except for one right now.
If there was one spirit that you could contact and ask just one question, who would it be and what would the question be?
Calamity Jane. I'd like to know was she gay to be dressing like a man and acting like a man or was she just a bad ass and fierce before her time. So my question to Miss Calamity would be, Yo yo Calam, are you gay? But of course I'd make sure that her guns were not loaded at the time!
What are your feelings on life after death and all that?
Well my feelings have a little bit more to do with having a personal experience on the matter. In my 20s I had a NDE commonly known as near-death experience but mine was a little more advanced because I wasn't just near dead I actually was dead when my heart stopped for four and a half minutes. So I left my body and went to the other side as I'll call it and I was like wow this is really great here, I totally want to stay here!" And the information that they gave me which was not in words so much but instead transference of thought, was you cannot stay, you cannot stay, you have more to do it is not your time etc. etc.and I was like no no I want to stay, I love it here and the next thing I knew they shoved me back into my body. I awoke in a lot of pain and with paddles on my chest and my boobs were hanging out because they cut my bra off and they cut my clothes off and there was a huge amount of pain that came from them beating on my chest to revive me. This is just a short encapsulated version of the event but I will be writing about it more extensively in my book, my biography, which I'm working on now.
Because I'm an edgy motherfucker.
Do you have any amusing stories from the shoots to share with our readers?
Well one that's comes to mind is this chick who was a little strange to begin with and she had OCD you know that obsessive compulsive disorder and she was taking medication for it but the damn medication hadn't kicked in yet . So she was standing in front of the mirror primping and looking at her ass for what seemed like hours and she screwed up our entire schedule throughout the entire day with her obsessive-compulsive primping because we could not pull her away from the mirror and at this point she even made one of my best girlfriends late for the Grammys, which was not cool at all. So she's in front of the mirror in my fabulous assistant Caroline walks up to her and saysÓ you know your ass isn't going to change in the next 5 min!" Which I thought was a riot and very appropriate for the given situation. So anyway we have this pair shoes that I call the cruel shoes. You know these shoes are not for walking in they are strictly for posing in. So Caroline puts her in these shoes and makes her walk in them. I guess it was appropriate payback for the hell she put us all through. She was so horrible that I would not allow her to come pick up her pictures in person I just told her to get them in the mail as I didn't want anything else to do with her. I think she wins the award for all time most horrible pain in the ass chick that I have ever photographed.
You recently shot an reenactment of the Black Dahlia murder scene and related shots. What brought that about?
John Gilmore and I had an art show in 2006 entitled Sharp Edges and I wanted to wrap my images around his writing so I did a total recreation of the Black Dahlia murder scene crime photo. That was done as a singular image but then we did a series that had no title but could have been entitled ' black dahlias last evening' that was geographically & timeline accurate of Elizabeth shorts last night on earth. I used Heidi Van Horne as the model and Jennifer Corona did the makeup directly off a picture of Elizabeth short so it was eerily accurate and Heidi looked remarkably similar to the Dahlia. We shot it at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and John was there to make sure everything was documented for accuracy. I only showed that series once at the Sharp Edges exhibit but there was a lot of interest at the time and there still is a lot of interest in that series. There was also a shot I did for that exhibit of Mamie Van Doren which we called "Black Stocking murder" but that was just a singular image and not a series. I tried to make sure that my art wrapped around John Gilmore's writing and so a lot of what I did for that exhibit had a 1940s "True Detective" feel to it, being very crime scene, shocking and very noir.We stuck the photos up with knives thats why the show was called SHARP EDGES, well that and also due to the content.
Number one: lighting
Number two: styling
Number three: location
In that order.
As someone who captures visual images do you think the modern society places too much value on looks and not enough on the more important aspects of what makes a person an individual?
Well I think people put too much of an emphasis on celebrities in our modern society, and I think that has gotten out of hand.
As a woman yourself what advice would you give the women of tomorrow?
Dig your high heels in and stand up for what you believe in. Follow your dreams and your passions and be persistent with them. Be resilient. Stay humble and you will remain entire.
What is the scariest horror film that you have ever seen, and if you could have starred in any horror film, what would it have been, and why?
I saw a great one just the other day called THE VIOLENT KIND, one of the best I've seen in some time as it was one of the scariest and one of the most original, it was a rockabilly vampire movie where the vampires all drove around and 49 chopped and channeled Merc's. Too damn cool! Another favorite is 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. And then of course my all-time favorite NEAR DARK and the funny thing about that movie is that the lead actress Jenny Wright was a really good friend of mine who actually stayed on my couch for some time.
Would you say you have had any subjects that were your favorite to work with?
Lately I've been shooting a lot of very heavily tattooed women for a hardcover book I have in the works. There's about eight of these heavily tattooed women that I've bonded with and I really enjoy the company of their wonderful energy. So I'd say this camp of seven or eight women as most of them are very close to me and I adore their energy and their spirit. I realized something last month that I should've spotted a long time ago but didn't, and that is that the better I like someone the better their pictures will be. Now I don't know exactly why that is but it does surely seemed to be the case. As far as celebs go well I really liked Waylon Jennings and I really liked Eric Burden. Believe it or not Kato Kaelin was fabulous and a huge amount of fun, very witty, very funny and smart. Rich Little was great too. Oh yeah and Lou Ferrigno, is a great guy and his wife is gorgeous, Carla.
Well, let me see now, I guess just if you want to see more of what I do you can rollover to www.JusticeHoward.com. I also have a brand-new art website that's worth taking a look at and you can find that at www.spattergasm.com. We do four of them a year and my pal John Gilmore is always in them and has some of his amazing writing in each one. The first artist we profiled was Anthony Ausgang, and the second was Max Grundy. The third one we will have Sarah Ray so it's really pretty cool and a small passion project of mine and talented graphics whiz Howard Griggs designs it all and Howard has also designed my book. So there's that . There's an event coming up that is basically "Comicon only cooler" which will be November 5 and sixth in the Los Angeles convention Center and I'll have a booth there so drop by and say hello as the tickets are very reasonable and I will be there with Stan Lee and Elvira. Check out the website at a www.comikazeexpo.com . Be fierce my felons.