Back to Writing / 12-20-2005

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LA fetish and Goth photographer Saryn Angel lives in and loves the shadowy underside of sexuality. Using dark props, characters, and lighting, she captures a sensual, sinister world that delicately seduces through mystery and morbidity. We spoke with her about her scotopic vision and passion for the darkness.

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Sez G: You're originally from a small town in Montana. How did you end up in LA?

Saryn Angel: When I was 12 my parents moved to LA for work. I came down with them and my younger sister. I actually hated LA when I first moved here, but after an extended visit back to my home town, I realized how much more LA suited me. I still have family and friends in Montana, so I get back every few years. LA is where my heart is, although I would like to travel and live in other cities for a time.

EZ: You're often the official photographer at LA's notorious weekly fetish event, Miss Kitty's Parlour. Tell me about these parties and your role as a voyeur AND a participant in them.

SA: I started going to Miss Kitty's Parlour several years ago. I love to dress up and be surrounded by other people who are creative and beautiful. I'm always making costumes, and the club is the perfect outlet for that aspect of my creativity.

Miss Kitty's Parlour is a great place, and the Filthy family is a lot of fun. I talked to Jamie 9 one night, and within a few weeks started photographing the shows and crowd. I still do photos for them on occasion, but have more fun being able to play and be naughty than working. They let me bring my camera to the club and I take photos for myself and my friends. It's a great deal, and I often send my shots over to Jamie 9 so he can use them on the website as well.

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I love Miss Kitty's Parlour because the people who attend are open to more than fashion or what's "in". Everyone has a good time and is encouraged to do things they would never normally do in public.

EZ: What's the favorite shoot you've done so far and why?

SA: Hmm. I don't really have a favorite shoot. Each shoot is unique and satisfying in its own way. Right now I'm fascinated by my Deadly Dolls and Pretty in Death projects. Each shoot fills me with an intense feeling of satisfaction and thrills me.

EZ: You've said you don't bring an agenda to a shoot. How much of the process is spontaneous capturing of the model and how much is your organic direction?

SA: I try to have a "theme" or a story to tell in the shoot. I've found that it makes for a more fulfilling shoot. However, I don't generally have a specific shot that I am in search of. I much prefer to collaborate with the model and take it to wherever the shoot flows. I feel that if you have a specific image that you want to capture, you end up losing the spontaneity and narrow the possibilities that the shoot has.

EZ: You started shooting photography when you were 13. What inspired you to turn your lens towards the erotic?

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SA: I always wanted to photograph people. I've done plenty of landscapes and table tops and product shoots, but I look at the images and don't feel anything towards them. I've always been attracted to the dark side of sexuality. I love to capture images that inspire emotions... and I feel that erotic photography helps to empower a woman in a way that pornography does not. Having said that, there is just a huge sense of satisfaction in capturing an image that turns someone on and at the same time make them think, "should I be turned on by this?"

EZ: You embrace many darker themes, using fire, blood, blades, black backgrounds, and Goth models. What part of you does this come from?

SA: I've always seen things from a darker point of view. I hate looking at the ordinary, or everyday sort of images. From the time I can remember I've dressed in black and loved horror movies and dark fantasy. I like to see and to show the things that you don't see everyday. It's so much more interesting.

EZ: Where do you find your models and how well do you know them?

SA: Before the internet, I would ask people on the street, at concerts and at clubs. In the last five or six years, a huge majority of the girls I've met have been through the internet. Some of the girls are my close friends... I often drag them into shoots when I'm feeling creative and spur of the moment, and many of them were my initial muses. I was very shy and intimidated by the beautiful girls I met at clubs when I first started out. As years have gone by, I've lost that insecurity and have no problems asking the beautiful and striking people I meet to model for me. Others, like Jezebelle X or Ugly Shyla, I met online, but after shooting with them, I felt such a connection that I consider them to be friends.

EZ: Good company! Do you bring your camera to Burning Man? What's your favorite story from the playa?

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SA: I do bring my camera to Burning Man, but not with the intention of creating my art. For me, Burning Man is an expression of art in every way possible. I take photos of other people's artwork and costumes to capture the moment. I use the time that I spend there to be creative in other ways. I have so many costumes that Burning Man is another kind of express-yourself outlet for me. Aside from that, when out there, time becomes immaterial. Scheduling photo shoots or even making plans while out there makes for a disappointment. Nothing ever happens the way that you expect it to.

There are so many things that happen out there... Last year we spent a day just wandering from art installation to art installation. Many were just fun, but there were a few that were intense and brought up a lot of social political issues.

One of these was the Berating Chair. It was just a chair that sat out near the perimeter fence with a set of headphones and a notebook and pen. You sit in the chair and put on headphones and listen to a man and woman tell you what a failure you are and how you will never amount to anything. While it is a horrible thing to say/experience, at the same time, it's incredible. It only took a few seconds before I was completely out of the Burning Man mindset... I had to take them off. I was offended and emotional and hurt by just listening to it, and I wrote my feelings in the notebook. I don't think it is a "good" installation, but it really made me consider myself and realize what a wonderful experience Burning Man truly is. It allows you to break away from the negativity of everyday life. Such a wonderful and healing thing.

EZ: What's next for you?

SA: Well, having recently been published in Marquis and The Mammoth Book of Illustrated Erotic Women, my immediate goal is to pursue a tabletop book. I've always wanted to, but never made the time for it. I plan to keep shooting as much as I can and keep putting more images on my website. I also plan to do more series and just enjoy myself.

To learn more about Saryn Angel, visit

Saryn Angel - by Sez G.