NSFW Photos of the Secretive Orgies in Manchester's Hotel Rooms

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NSFW Photos of the Secretive Orgies in Manchester's Hotel Rooms

Joseph Finegan has spent the past two years documenting the sex parties arranged on Craigslist and held around the northern city.
6.9.16

Joseph Finegan is keen for everyone to know he's just a normal guy who works at a nightclub and takes photographs in his spare time. It's just that those photographs happen to be of guys having secretive sex parties, arranged through Craigslist and held in Manchester's cheap hotels.

Last year, we asked Joe to write about his experience of taking the photos, and he got back in touch recently to let us know he's releasing a book of his work. That book – Do Not Disturb – is out today, and Joe's holding a pop-up exhibition at Doomed Gallery in Dalston tonight to celebrate its launch.

Annons

To see what's changed in the year since we last heard from him, I gave him a call for a catch-up.

VICE: Hi Joseph. So you wrote about your project for us last year. Why turn it into a book now?
Joseph Finegan: I think if I didn't make a book I'd just keep doing it – there would be no end result. So I thought, 'If I make a book, maybe I can just stop. I can put it to bed.' It's something I can take a hold of and know it's done; it's been documented.

So you want to stop taking these kinds of photos?
I maybe want to take it down a different route. It's funny – I had this conversation with a friend, who was saying that, to me, it might be the end, but to a lot of other people who haven't seen my images before it is just the beginning. So maybe I should carry on a bit longer because I've spent two years basically trying to tap into a community – to find my way into a group of real people. It would probably be a waste to throw that away.

What will you take photos of instead?
Before I started, I just wanted to go down a route no one had done before. I did do cam-girls for a little while, and then I wanted to maybe get into photographing swingers or dogging. Then again, I don't really want to just make it all about sex. I might just do something really nice – take photos of flowers, or something. But to be honest it'll probably end up being predominantly sex based. It's just interesting to show something people don't see everyday.

Annons

One thing that occurred to me when looking at the photos: is it hard, or a bit awkward at least, getting your film developed?
Yeah, once I went in to pick my film up and the guy was like, "We couldn't develop this," and gave it straight back to me. I left, half-walked into Boots, and was like, 'That's not even worth a try.' Luckily there's this lovely old lady who I've been seeing for the past two years. She obviously sees the photos I do, but is still so innocent, like, "I've got them funny pictures for you!" and I'm just like, "Oh, what am I like!" Ninety-nine percent of people wouldn't develop them – she's great.

Has your method changed much since you started?
I used to just post "does anyone want their photograph taken" on Craigslist, and then turn up to people's houses – how dangerous is that? I've been doing it for two years, but when I first started I was really naive. I just wanted that one fucking crazy shot. But then I started going to a hotel instead. It's funny, because my friend worked at the hotel for a short period of time, and it's so dated – it's like going back in time. There's also loads of prostitution and there have been a couple of suicides, too, so not a very nice place to actually stay in. I wouldn't sleep over at the end of my shoot, put it that way.

What's the vibe like in the room? Are the guys not wary about you being there?
What's in the book now, that's two years of trial and error. You learn to be a certain way in that situation to get the picture right. The main thing for me is eye contact – if someone is looking back at you, it really stands out. But trying to get in for that shot; let's say it lasts for like an hour – you just have to take a back seat and wait for them to get lost in their own little world, and then step in. It's usually me just hovering around the edges of the room. The whole process took a long time to get right.

Annons

Does anything ever go wrong?
There have been a few times when I've turned up and I've ran out of film, or my camera runs out of battery, and then I just have to hang out and wait for them all to finish, literally. Or the amount of times I've booked a room and no one's turned up, or even worse when just one person's turned up. They're like, 'Is anyone else coming?' Or someone will turn up, I'll be like, "Y'alright?" and they'll just run off. But over time you get regulars. There's one lovely guy who emails me all the time, and every time he turns up he buys me a crate of beers, which is nice. But there's not many other nice experiences, really. I don't make any friends out of it.

Do you think your experiences have changed your own attitude towards sex?
Well, I'm so removed from it in the sense that I don't ever get involved. The amount of times a close friend will be like, "Have you ever just done…" and I'm like, "No!" It's not something I ever bring into my own personal life. But maybe it has changed me over the years. I guess I'm desensitised because I've seen it all. But I don't think there's a personal reason for me to do this – no personal expression of any kind. It's more of a document – something I've worked really hard towards – to show something completely unseen.

What do the people in your life think about what you do?
I remember showing my parents, who didn't really understand it – they just think it's what the young kids are all doing these days, I guess. I think I understand that it's a bit weird. Like, the last VICE headline – "Photographing Britain's Anonymous Sex Parties" – made me sound like all I do is travel around doing this. I sort of wanted it to say at the end, "By the way, he just works at a nightclub and has a couple of mates."

We'll let people know this time, Joseph. Thanks!

@josephfinegan__

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