Category Archives: Student Life

Bob Shell: Taking Offense

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020

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Taking Offense

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I’m somewhat jaded about most current events. I just turned 73, and won’t live long enough to see the longterm outcome of such things as global warming, which may cause the collapse of our social order from the outside, and things like the #MeToo movement that may cause that collapse of that order from the inside. We are in a state of flux right now, redefining the relationships between men and women, in a radicalized culture that confuses both men and women.

Men and women, two sexes, right? I’d like to open your minds to the concept that there are more than just two sexes of humans. In her groundbreaking book, Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about Women and Men, Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling proposed that there are at least five sexes, men, women, herms, merms, and ferms, and perhaps many more. (I don’t like those names, but I like her ideas.) The famous Greek statue of Hermaphrodite in the Louvre, displayed with its rear to museum visitors, is just one example of a being with both male and female genitals, a classic hermaphrodite like the one photographed by Nadar in Paris in the 19th century. Saying that there are only two sexes is like saying there are only two political parties and ignoring everyone else. And that’s not such a bad comparison. since sexuality has become politicized.

I’ve alienated some people by comparing the #MeToo movement to McCarthyism. The parallels are strong. Senator Joe McCarthy ruined the lives of many people by accusing them of being communists. He and his cronies made the accusations with little or no proof, but in the terror of communism that pervaded American society in the 1950s and 60s, an accusation was enough. People, men and women, lost their jobs, their careers, their homes, their families, over accusations of being “pinkos” or “red.’. It didn’t matter if they’d lived exemplary lives and accomplished much, the accusation of being a communist, or commie sympathizer was enough. The program didn’t end until McCarthy was confronted in public. “Senator McCarthy, have you no shame?” was the final question that disgraced McCarthy and showed him and his followers up for the monsters they were.

Today a person, almost always a man, can lose everything over an accusation of sexual impropriety, no proof required. Now, I’m not defending those who actually mistreated women (or men). I know there are real sexual predators out there, just as there were real communists in McCarthy’s day, some even plotting the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, but they were in the minority, just as I suspect real sexual predators are today.

But, I think we have to draw some lines.

Back in the 1990s I was in NYC with the Shutterbug magazine crew. One night several of us were sitting in the hotel lounge after hours just sipping drinks and chatting, tired from a day at the convention. A young woman who worked for us came over to the sofa where I was sitting, climbed on behind me, and began to massage my shoulders, neck, and back. Was I the victim of an inappropriate sexual advance? I didn’t think so, and enjoyed her attentions. But, what if I hadn’t? Would I have reported her for sexual harassment? Or, if our positions were reversed and I’d started massaging her, would she have taken it as an unwanted sexual advance? This was long before #MeToo, and I just don’t think people were as touchy as they are today.

I wonder if, when I’m eventually released from prison, will I even fit into this radicalized society we’ve created.

I was a victim of #MeToo long before it existed. In 2003 I was accused of sex crimes based on absolutely no evidence. The Commonwealth of Virginia has admitted now, after I’ve spent more than twelve years in prison, that those charges were baseless. They were totally false accusations, yet I lost my job, had my business and life destroyed, and only now is the truth coming out. And I’m still in prison, because I have to fight through the courts to gain my freedom. Once the system gets hold of you, it doesn’t turn loose easily. A conviction becomes a thing unto itself, and the state does not like to admit it screwed up and convicted an innocent person. But, in the last few years, more than 1,500 people have been set free when their convictions were shown to be false, most after serving years in prison. The average time to overturn a false conviction in Virginia is twelve years! That is a travesty. Overturning false convictions ought to be easy, but the prosecutors will fight tooth and nail to keep a person in prison, even when they know a conviction was false.

The job of a prosecutor is to convict the guilty, but not to convict the innocent. So few of them conduct themselves that way. Prosecutors like Mike Nifong, who prosecuted the Duke University soccer team on ridiculous ‘evidence’ seem to be the norm.

One problem is that prosecutors are generally immune from lawsuits, so they are very rarely held accountable for their false prosecutions. They have no incentive to perform properly. I see signs of that changing, and it can’t change fast enough to suit me. Prosecutors who prosecute false cases should be stripped of their immunity and held accountable for their misdeeds.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-whats-in-a-name/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, commentary, Documentary, Erotica, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Politics, Popular Culture, Women

Close Ups: 1990’s

Club Kid. Philadelphia, 1997. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

 

 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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Close Up’s: 1990’s

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During the early 1990’s, I purchased what would eventually become an indispensable piece of equipment for my portrait photography, the ring flash.  This unique flash lamp that creates shadowless light on a subjects face at close range intrigued me from the first time I saw it being employed by fashion photographers beginning in the 1960’s. My work as an editorial photographer evolved in part because I developed a style of portraiture based on my use of the ring flash that captivated the attention of various picture editors at large circulation magazines including Vibe, New York, George, Cosmopolitan, Penthouse, and Max magazine in Europe.  

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To access the complete portfolio of this body of work, click herehttps://tonyward.com/early-work/close-ups-1990s/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Documentary, Film, History, lifestyle, Light Table, Philadelphia, Popular Culture

Katie Kerl: Dating Guide 2020

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2020

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Dating Guide

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This is the first time I have really been totally single in a few years.  After much on and off with my last relationship I fully understand the saying, “I do not have to know you to know your energy.” Unfortunately, our lives led us onto completely different paths, and that is more than ok.

I know upon meeting someone what they are going to bring into my life, and I’m very rarely surprised anymore. If your partner is seeking acceptance from others they have yet to discover who they really are, or they would not care about anyone else’s opinion. This also confuses the fuck out of me. You may be nice, sweet, giving, and that is great! On the flip side though; if you spend too much time trying to be a people pleaser your light will be dimmed. I have said that a few times previously but it is IMPORTANT.

As new decade falls upon us; I wanted to feel like me again. I really started thinking about my life, friends, and family. Those who have yet to drop the ball have made me feel so full of life and appreciated. If you are having a hard time relating to people I suggest joining groups you’re interested in, expand your knowledge on human behavior, and take a few basic psychology classes, or simply try every new thing you can. This will give you basic understanding of human nature, and why we make the choices we do. We will never fully understand what the other person is going through, but you absolutely CAN TRY.

  I find that being an Empath in a world of narcissism and materialistic bullshit is basically suicide. You can be caring to a point, but when you care too much people take advantage of that. It totally depletes your efforts of maintaining a healthy relationship and lifestyle. When you see things in someone that other people do not, you end up an enemy every damn time. While relationships have come and gone through my adult life, I am very fortunate to have gained the life experience, and grown from all of them. The good, bad, and the ugly because let’s face it; something went right before it went wrong, and was not able to be communicated and worked out. Some people will never face their demons and that is ok; making peace with that maybe the hardest part. Moving on is never easy but you must keep growing.

Here are a few things I always keep in mind when bringing someone new into my life.

Top 20 for 2020:

  1. Never compromise who you are for someone else.
  2. Be kind
  3. Have shared interests, your own hobbies, and friends.
  4. Have amazing SEX & lots of it!!! After all, that is half the fun of dating.
  5. Do not try to control people they will show you exactly who they are over time; take it or leave it. A little jealousy is cute, being a stalker is scary.
  6. Be HONEST do not promise someone the world when you are not capable of giving it; no matter how good the intention is. Saying I’m sorry is something that should be eliminated, and replaced with changed behavior if you actually care about the person you hurt.
  7. Go on dates!! Stop accepting, “You want to hang out?” if you are looking for love. The person who says do you wanna hang out has 0 plan, is expecting to get laid, and has probably mass sent that text out to whomever they started talking to on a variety of dating apps. Already in a relationship? Never stop dating the person you are with; that is when the spark dies. If you have to use the phrase “we used to do this.” Things have probably gotten a little stale.
  8. Show appreciation and celebrate their accomplishments.
  9. Be present in the situation… I realize we live in a world of technology and convenience, but your partner does not want a phone in their face every time you go out with them.  If one starts off that way you can be sure it is going to end badly.
  10. Communication; IM FINE is no longer an acceptable response when you are clearly bothered by something. Not speaking on what bothers you only leads to a buildup of anxiety and emotional delusion that could have been handled when your partner asked, “WHAT’S WRONG?” to begin with.
  11. Fighting is two people disputing an issue. Understand no one is going to have the same perspective as you. They have not experienced what you have; also they may have very limited understanding of large life issues if they have not had life smack them down to size yet. Do not discount someone’s feelings based on your own. If they say they are upset, that should be enough.
  12. Have FUN and do not take yourself so seriously….. That is BORING.   There is nothing worse than someone with no quick wit, or funny charm.   
  13. Cook together! Making a meal with someone is a very attractive thing. Anyone can swipe their credit card at a restaurant. If you create a beautiful plate while listening to good music; for me there’s nothing better. Except maybe dancing off the calories after. 
  14. If you are on dating sites try to remember something; not everyone is looking for what you are. Be it friends because you just moved, or sex because you just have not the time or energy to date. If you are seeking dating or a relationship say it. The reality is; you cannot order any of these up like ramen on a snowy day.  If you choose to meet someone on line, my suggestion would be having ZERO expectations, and do not commit to a dinner. You will possibly end up awkwardly stuck for two hours with a person you’re not sure can hold a fifteen minute conversation. Start with a drink alcohol or coffee/juice bar, walk in the park, fitness class, cooking demo, art show, or a museum. This gives you a quick out if you need it, and it is different! Lastly, always tell a friend where you are going because STRANGER DANGER!!!
  15. Be understanding and accept constructive criticism, especially if you were the one asking for it. If you value the person you are with why would you not want to accept their opinions? 
  16. Wait until you find out who you are before bringing someone else into your situation. If you have not figured out how to navigate it, how can someone else?
  17. In 2020 we are not ghosting people anymore. You do not like that person, or they were not what you were expecting? Have some fucking balls and say, “I do not think our lives are on the same path.”  When did we get to be such emotional pussies we cannot convey simple interest, or dislike? It has to be all out war, or radio silence? 
  18. Stay healthy!!  Be the best version of yourself; even when life is smacking you. That shows true dignity when you are still standing when it is all going wrong. Your partner is there for support, but if you are not being honest with yourself how can they truly be there?
  19. MAKE THE TIME, give unexpected gifts, and respect that person’s life for what it is, or walk away. Unless they express they want to be different, do not push. Even if they do talk about it. There is a very large difference between talk and action. You can talk till you’re blue in the face, until you make that decision to be different on your own. It is not going to happen.
  20. Above all else; be careful with that person’s heart. You do not want to be the reason they give up on themselves, love, or dating.

There are only a few billion frogs left to kiss out in the world. Get leaping and put yourself out there. Cheers to all, hoping everyone looking for something special finds it!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here:https://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-tis-the-season-for-giving/

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, commentary, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Women

Ed Simmons: Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2020

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Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

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Chuck E Weiss. Yeah, I knew that guy. The dude from that Rickey Lee Jones tune, “Chuck E’s In Love”. I was hanging around with him back in the early 80’s at Hollywood’s Club Lingeri.  I read in the LA Weekly a few years back, that Chuck E Weiss was playing a late night set at The Piano Bar on Selma Avenue in Hollywood, so I go on down to check it out.

I bet around about now, you may be wondering how in the hell does this tie into “Dancing Girls”.  Austin was the door man at the Piano Bar that night, a Nigerian with one punch biceps, tells me that on Sundays, this spot, The Piano Bar, barbecues out back, and that I should start stopping by on a regular basis with my camera. I do and we become good friends.  As a photographer, the Sunday afternoon crowd at the Piano Bar was so interesting, so friendly and open to me, but like all slices of life in LA, this ends too before long.

Austin also informed he would be working the door at a spot in East Hollywood’s Thai Town, called Harvard and Stone, that I should start showing up there,  bring the camera, Austin, a bit of a ham…likes being photographed Hollywood ya know. This spot is sorta dark, I’ve got a pretty hot camera, I figure I can hang and see what unfolds. The location is built somewhat like a Hollywood set, lots of interesting industrial architectural treatments, a couple of bars, a smoking area in the back, a stage, live music, shoulder to shoulder people,  and very hard to move around this place, no tension though, everybody’s having fun!  

 One night, I’m  hanging by the front bar at Harvard and Stone chatting it up a bit with Yale, she’s cool, mostly says she bartends at the Hollywood Roosevelt, on this nite she was just filling in. The House Band steps onto the stage and start playing this raunchy tune with a filthy beat, then out from nowhere it seems as if dancing girls started to rain down through the rafters. They start dancing across the catwalks and bar, then down on to the stage. I was shocked, well… surprised,  I didn’t have a clue and couldn’t move. This crowd was thick, shoulder to shoulder.  Hell, no one in this mob was willing to give me an inch as I clicked away.

 The show ends, so I search out Austin as the crowd begins to thin out. He sees my look and ask’s well, did you get anything good? I’m like dude, I couldn’t even move but managed to get some great shots!

Two shows go on, Friday and Saturday nights.  I found the house always full, as I worked through a few months of making images at this venue, I found a need to pre plan. Photographing these dancing girls, week to week, nite by nite I had to pick my spot. If you are a photographer in LA its best to be friendly with door men.

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Ed Simmons photographed by Bonnie Schiffman. Copyright 1972

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Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Studio News: A Return to Teaching

A Photography Critique at Haverford College. Photo: Dan Burns

 

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

After a two year hiatus from teaching, I have accepted an invitation as visiting instructor of Fine Arts at Haverford College. On December 17th, 2019 my first meeting with photography students took place at the Jane Lutnick Fine Arts Center. My colleague Professor William Williams asked me to join him for a final critique of student work performed during the fall semester. In preparation for lecturing at Haverford I am currently reading, Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barrett. I look forward to the opportunity of teaching a color course with these bright exceptional students at Haverford beginning this month.

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About Tony Ward:

Tony Ward began his professional career in 1980 as a corporate photographer for the pharmaceutical giant, Smithkline Corporation.  After several years of working in the department of corporate communications for Smithkline, he opened the Tony Ward Studio in Philadelphia, to service a variety of Fortune 500 companies and smaller business entities.

His personal work and research during the past 25 years has been rooted in exploring the visual cross sections of fashion and erotic photography by capturing the impact the sexual revolution of the 1960’s had on advertising and in particular magazine publishing.  His first book of photography, Obsessions with forward by A.D. Coleman was his first attempt at challenging the lines drawn between Art and Obscenity by questioning social mores, existing laws, and the evolution of photographic imagery that is viewed as inappropriate in some cultures and acceptable in others. He is particularly interested in further examining the first amendment right to freedom of expression and the impact censorship has had on the evolution of photography’s history.

To access Tony Ward’s curriculum vitae, click here:https://tonyward.com/about/

 

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