Freedom, sex, and youth in São Paulo’s nightlife

Freedom, sex, and youth in São Paulo’s nightlife

The sand, the beach, and guys wearing Speedos might just be your favorite version of what summer should be, but it’s not the only one. In the city, a hot summer finds room in every crowded dance floor and the perky flirtation that goes with it.

For Gianfranco Briceño, a Peruvian photographer who lives in Brazil, that scenario became the new subject of what he defines as raw photography. São Paulo’s nightlife runs wild every season, but it was during summer that Gianfranco decided to capture the intense vibration that inhabits part of the gay youth reality and works as an expression of their freedom.

“São Paulo is burning,” says the slogan on a crowdfunding website: that’s how KCT Private Club, the name of his annual photo fanzine, came to life. Currently in the second issue, the project is an intimate depiction of the hypersexuality that surrounds part of the young gay community in one of the most culturally diverse cities in Brazil. The initials “KCT” work as a jokewhen pronounced, they create the sound of the word cacete, slang for dick in Portuguese.

Prior to this, he worked with a lighter version of male nude photography, called Snaps Fanzine, a five-issue publication that ended in 2015. Sold throughout countries in Europe, Snaps is still one of the few independent publications dedicated to the LGBTQ universe in Brazil. We spoke with Gianfranco about both of his fanzines, São Paulo’s city life, his creative process, and his relation to the boys he photographed:

How did the idea for Snaps first come up?

I’m a fashion photographer, and I started taking pictures of some of my friends in my spare time, trying more intimate anglesa style I became very fond of. And people would always tell me that I should do something with those photos, so in 2013 I decided to create a fanzine based on male nude photography. Back then, there were very few independent publications being published in Brazil, probably not a single one dedicated to this universe I wanted to explore with Snaps.

What was Snaps’ main concept when you released the first issue?

I had no great ambitions: I invited some guys for photo shoots and then printed a small number of copies, about 300, that I’d give to my friends or add it to my portfolio. I ended up using a crowdfunding platform since a lot of people were interested in the project, and for the following issues, I raised the number of copies, ranging from 800 to 1,000. But Snaps was basically a male nude fanzine built with a naturalistic look, instead of embodying those dramatic, conventional poses.

 

Were all models from Brazil?

Yes. At first, I had only invited people I already knew, friends who understood how things were going to work out and who trusted me enough to, well, take off their clothes. As the fanzine’s popularity started to grow, I invited other guys, sometimes from Facebook or Instagram, or people I met at parties. For KCT, the new project that followed Snaps’ five issues, my approach to these models flowed even more organically.

And why did you decide to end the fanzine and start KCT’s annual project?

I worked with Snaps for two years and it was great, but I got a bit tired of this candid, romantic image that is clearly what Snaps is all about. My interest in that perspective had come to an end. I was interested in creating something bolder, and for that, I took my main sources of inspiration: the city, the night, and the youth. I turned my eyes to São Paulo’s nightlife and realized there was an effervescent movement of young men deeply connected to their sexuality and expressing themselves a lot more freely, with no taboos. So KCT is a record of that point when youth, sex, and night come together.


Is KCT an evolution of Snaps?

It is, absolutely. And the whole experience I’ve had shooting pictures of nude people turned out to be a good background for doing something different. Now, this a project I really like, because it is daring and it allows me to portray this setting in many forms, using collages and other shapes that work well in print. I’ve always wanted the pages to have more movement, packed with different subjects and little details that almost pop out of the page. I wanted more graphic intervention. Sometimes, I cut photos by hand, picking up scissors and paper, in order to get that effectI’m able to create more in this process.

Which aspects of São Paulo’s nightlife work as a source of inspiration for your photos?

Six years ago, when I first started living here, I would go to all these different partiescollective parties, mostly, the ones that play techno in big sheds or garages with people dancing all night long. As the nightlife became more familiar to me, I realized people in these places are much looser, and night itself is inherently connected to sex. Dating apps or the expectation of having an after-party also play a role in this, of course. That’s what gave me the directions for KCT’s photos, so I just started asking myself: how do these boys like to express themselves?

Do you try to build a relationship with the models before taking pictures of them?

Usually, I put some music on and they like to drink something before we start. I try to create an environment that is pleasing to them. Some of them might be shy, so we keep talking for a while in order to create intimacy and make them more comfortable. Maybe I’m just lucky, but the boys I choose are usually okay with the idea of being naked.Most of them are very cute about all this.

For KCT, more important than considering their bodies or their looks, I go for those who seem to have more attitude. That might be useful for the moment I start taking pictures.

Is that attitude perceptible in the final result?

Oh yes. But it’s still a very natural result, and maybe that’s an aspect both of my fanzines share. I’m not a huge fan of meticulously planned things. I never tell these boys what to do or ask them to put their hands like this and act in a certain way. The best pictures are born when I don’t intervene.

Are these pictures an accurate translation of the boys’ attitudes towards sex or are they closer to your own version of this reality?

A combination of both, I guess, but I don’t follow them all the time to be sure, of course [laughs]. It’s one thing being alone with a guy in a room, free and unrestrained, but it’s quite another when someone’s there pressing the shutter button and taking pictures of you having sex. But in the end, I’m always the creator of these images, and when you photograph two guys hooking up, you create a combination of what happened and what you were able to notice. Nevertheless, these boys live in connection with their freedom and I believe today’s youth is remarkably hypersexual. Their relation with sex starts developing much earlier.


Humberto Abdo

Humberto Abdo is a culture reporter based in São Paulo city, Brazil, where he writes about film, nightlife, and gender issues for print and digital media.