James Pawlish talks to San Francisco photographer Merkley??? about his influences, nudity, Mormons and new book entitled ZZZ??? Zebras, Zeppelins & Zucchinis.
JP:Who is Merkley??? Tells us a little bit about your personal life and upbringing.
Merkley???: Hey, that’s ME! I’m Merkley??? I grew up Mormon in Utah with two step moms, two step dads and 17 siblings some of whom share DNA and others who are merely Steps a.k.a “invaders”.
I am The Heavyweight Sleep Champion of The World and I eat my own weight in mexican food every 20 minutes. Old Faithful ain’t got shit on me.
Even though I make pictures of mostly naked people, the subject of sex or eroticism still gives me the heegeebeegees.
Yes I reinvented that word to pay proper homage to The Bee Gees without whom I would be completely lost fashion wise. Blame nobody but yourselves. Blame nobody but yourselves.
BTW, I am STILL technically a Mormon. I think that’s pretty fucking cool.
I baptized people in Brazil you know, Yeah, LOTS even. I’m still good friends with my favorite missionary companion there. He is now married… to a MAN.
I think he too is still technically Mormon.
You have a pretty unique sense of style? Where do you get those three piece corduroy suits of yours? I heard you have a different color one for every day of the week.
Ha, this means I get to talk more about The Bee Gees. I have stolen most everything I am from those fine brothers and you know what? My father claims that we are RELATED to them. I know right? I can’t prove it but there certainly are a LOT of Gibbs in the bloodline. From Whales even. I don’t know if the Gibbs in the Bee Gees have welsh ancestry, I’m told they do but you can google if you want.
Anyway, yeah I actually have 31 suits all the same. There is a nice lady in Hoi An Vietnam that makes them for me. We do everything over yahoo video chat. You all can Skype as much as you want but Thuy ‘n I like to keep it old school.
I once talked with her about The Bee Gees when she was making the pattern for the first suit.
I wasn’t planning on this being so much about The Bee Gees, I swear.
A lot of your photos incorporate props and uniquely crafted installations. How would describe your creative process?
You know how when you are five years old, Mormon, upper lower class and you don’t have a lot of toys so you play with groceries, sticks, bugs, cardboard boxes, dead rodents, dead batteries, dead plants, Broken radios, Upside down TV’s, neighbors pets and stuff from your mom’s closet?
Well it’s exactly like that.
Your work has this sarcastic/fuck you attitude to it that’s hilarious. Tells us about this side of your personality.
I have no idea what “sarcastic” means.
My turn to Google. hold on.
Ok, I just read what that means and FUCK YOU for saying it.
I’m totally sincere about everything always and forever infinity.
When did you first pick up a camera. How has your style evolved over the years?
I’m guessing I probably picked on up as a baby at some point although I probably just slobbered on it and tossed it just out of reach. Then I probably crapped my pants and cried.
I don’t remember much about my infancy so lets skip ahead to the year 2000 when I bought a palm pilot attachment that let me make digital photos that were about 300