Girls on the Side – Time Out New York – interview with Katrina del Mar by Cathay Che

Home Girls on the Side – Time Out New York – interview with Katrina del Mar by Cathay Che

Time Out New York  Feb 26-Mar 5, 1998 ©Time Out New York
Girls on the Side 

Photographer Katrina del Mar likes her subjects off the beaten path By Cathay Che

Black beauty: Katrina del Mar captures the Voluptuous Horror of Kembra Pfahler.(photo caption)

“Taking pictures of people is a cool way to sublimate my lust, now that I’m in a committed relationship. I get to express my passion without getting sloppy,” says photographer Katrina del Mar, whose sexy, confrontational badgirl images have added a much needed dimension to lesbian erotica. Compared with the landslide of male homoerotic images by and for gay men, the queer female viewpoint is seriously underrepresented. Why this dearth? “Well, first of all, lesbians are the slimmest-of-the slim percentage of society,” says Del Mar. Even the meager lezzie erotica that is out there leaves del Mar cold: “On Our Backs [the San Francisco-based lesbian porn magazine] has been around for a while, but on the whole, it never spoke to me.”

So what images do appeal to Del Mar? “For one thing, I like to see women’s tongues,” she says. “Pretty faces attract me, but more than that, I like people who transcend the everyday. Someone like Kembra Pfahler, [lead singer of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black] does that naturally. But sometimes, I help bring people out visually.”

Del Mar’s work reflects the vibrant queer culture of the East Village as seen through the eyes of a chick who digs chicks. “Girls, Trash and Rock & Roll,” a showcase of her photos, will go on display this week at the homocore home base Squeezebox at Don Hill’s. Del Mar sees her subject matter this way: “Well, first there are girls-lovers, ex-lovers, friends, babes I approach at clubs, whatever. Then there’s trash, because my life used to be so trashy, and a lot of the pictures were just my way of documenting my life. And ‘ of course, there’s rock & roll, because if I wasn’t a photographer, I’d be in a band,” she says with a laugh. “I have a not-so-secret desire to be a rockstar.”

Nightclubbing at the Pyramid and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in the late ’80s and early ’90s had a big influence on the admittedly shy yet clearly voyeuristic Del Mar, who began photographing the people around her about ten years ago. “This is where I came out and became an adult,” she explains. “I’m from New Jersey, and I’ve lived down South and in the Midwest, but I keep coming back to New York. I consider myself to be a freak, and I gravitate toward freaky people. And this is where they are.”

Del Mar’s ten-year career has included CD covers and publicity stills for underground bands, and she also shot stills for Nick Zedd’s film War Is Menstrual Envy. Once she even ventured into filmmaking herself. “I think it was the cheapest film ever made,” she recalls. “It got screened at P.S. 122 and I got paid $120 dollars, three times what it cost me to make.”

Del Mar is eager to make the jump into more commercially viable work for magazines, especially since magazines are now embracing a rawer, more naturalistic aesthetic. But she’s a bit wary. “Sometimes guy photographers will ask me to assist them, and they’ll say something like ‘I’m shooting these girls in rubber dresses, and I’m going to have to yell at them and tell them where to stand, you know what that’s about, right?’ And I’ll be like ‘No, I don’t.’ When I shoot women, I feel less like a predator and more like a participant.”

“Girls, Trash and Rock & Roll” is on view at Don Hill’s through March. Visit del Mar’s website at