Distracted by the quotidian, we oft forget some crucial details of our past: the time we wore that brown turtleneck, or when our 12-year-old cousin sported an insane curly weed bud ponytail a la Roberto Baggio. But to defeat this miasma of forgetting and regret, along comes a funny Italian guy who can set all our worries aside and save our forgotten photos from the accidental flooding of our cellars or the spontaneous combustion of our family albums. Then he takes all those pictures and puts them up on a thing you've already seen called Sexy People, which we brought to your attention a while ago. Usually these kinds of projects dry up faster than a pet newt you forgot to water while on a three-day bender, but nope, not this one. We decided to ask him a few questions and take a dive in a pool of secretarial sex-appeal circa 1978 and adolescent despair.
Vice: Hello there Renzo Stuzzocapendo! What a name you got there! Tell us who you are.
Renzo: I'm 25, living in Rome and I'm doing nothing at all. I just got a degree in economics.
Tell me something about the birth of your hilarious blog.
Back in 2007 I started posting these portraits—I was just fucking with it, with no artistic claim whatsoever. I love posed portraits, maybe because we don't really have this big tradition in Italy—it's more of an English/American thing.
And why do you call them sexy people? Isn’t that mean?
At first the blog didn't have a name, and I would be the only one reading it, together with some close friends. Then this English dude posted a link on his blog, and the link said "sexy people." I thought it was perfect: the word "sexy" has this 80s vibe--it's ironic. All the people who appear on the blog want to look "seductive." Seduction is the purpose of it all. I think it's amazing. Yet I got emails from people that are shocked by the fact that there are babies on a blog that's called "sexy." But I think it's bullshit.
Total bullshit. Do people send you pictures all the time?
Yes! After a while I started getting pictures from photographers and from the subjects themselves—it's like a celebration of self-irony. What got me excited about these pictures is that they're pre-social network era—the most recent were taken in 1998 or so. Today, every self-portrait I look at has this kind of "fake spontaneity": everybody is trying so hard to find everyday life situations that have to look fun at all costs. I find them very fake—pure acts disguised as "real life." In some way, Sexy People's portraits are paradoxically more honest—because they're posed and studied to the finest detail and so damn serious.
Since we’re getting deep here, let’s pause for a photography nerd alert. This is similar to what August Sander was doing with his People of the 20th Century.
Oh! Yes, my dad, who is a photographer, showed me one of his books—amazing!
So photography is a family business?
No. My dad tried to get me involved with his stuff—landscapes and architecture—but he failed. I think I have some kind of natural aversion for this kind of photography.
If you had to host a Sexy People's Sexiest People contest, who would win?
No doubt about it: Deandre. He represents the essence of Sexy People: that 90s office appeal, that "glamour" look in his eyes. He's the sexiest of all the Sexy People.
Phew! It's getting hot in here. Let's change subject: your blog is very basic.
Yes, I don't want to give out too much information. I want everybody to see in it whatever the fuck they want.
But maybe today we could try and find out a little bit more about some of the people portrayed...
Sure, why not. We could email them.
When I took the picture I was in third grade. I was really into GI Joe and Transformers cartoons at the time, so I thought that background was the shit. It looked like a full-on laser war. My glasses were ridiculous. The sweater was pretty sweet though. Today I am a Help Desk technician in the DC area. I am married. I still wear glasses and I still think lasers are pretty cool.
JEFFREY AND WAYNE
This pic was shot in 1970. I was two and Wayne was four. My mother was obsessed with portraits, scheduling at least three a year until we were old enough to protest. She always went to great lengths to choose the right outfits, usually a themed reflection of what was "in." My brother sported the turtleneck for quite some time.
At that time my uncle was a photographer and had his own studio. I remember my mom and granny would piss their pants from laughing so hard, and I wonder if they were drunk when they decided that a vacuum cleaner was just what my outfit was missing. Now I'm 25 and I'm a graphic designer. And my uncle never really made it as a photographer.
A local photographer advertised a special “martial arts package” at my Tae Kwon Do school in Austin, Texas, and my parents thought it would encourage my training. But fate had other plans; my nascent kickboxing career ended a year later, and I'm now a history teacher in San Antonio, Texas.
Taken in the fall of 1989, this was one of a series of my senior pictures. A few people who have commented on this picture have said that I must have loved that cat, The truth is quite the opposite. I HATED Chuck and he hated me. The only reason I was sitting there holding his furry ass was because my mom loved that kitty AND she was the one shelling out the cash for the photographer's fee. Jump forward 20 years: I'm now living in San Francisco, married, and I have a son who just turned one (proving that at least ONE person out there thinks I'm a "Do" and not a "Don't").
My name is Christine. I'm 23 and I work in finance. I was a tomboy when I was young and I really wanted to be a boy. My mom thought that this haircut was a good compromise. I probably wanted it cut shorter than that but I honestly don't remember. I'm totally a product of the 80s.