Beckham once said she wanted to be as famous as ‘Persil’; I sat in a Starbucks
some time ago, drinking my latte, waiting to go into Madame JoJo’s for
a burlesque shoot and Diane asked me what I really wanted to do with my
life. I sat and thought for a while and then replied to her that I wanted
to be the ‘Robbie Williams’ of photography… I still do!
famously quoted: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15
minutes" and with the advent of social networking someone quipped: "In
the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people”.
I was once
famous for the wrong reasons back in the early 90’s; I had been left in
charge of a company that sold reverse-osmosis water purifiers to the domestic
market and I was asked to demonstrate how wonderful they were to a couple
in Essex. The next day I had a whole page spread in The Guardian regarding
my underhanded and scaremongering tactics. In my opinion it was a totally
unfair review! The system really did remove shrimp, algae, bacteria, stray
metals, poisonous chemicals and carcinogens from tap water… It’s not my
fault Essex tap water probably doesn’t contain any of them to remove is
to say, when the company’s director came back from his holidays he was
less than happy.
life I’ve struggled with conformity: At school they taught me things I
didn’t want to know and failed to teach me the things I wanted to know.
Knowing Pi to ten decimal places has never once helped me in the real
world, neither has dissecting a frog. Much more useful would have been
how to really shine up a pair of shoes, how to roll a decent cigarette
or how to avoid police capture after a really good day of shoplifting.
I was too
young to be a punk in ’77. I was eleven. My parents, school and counsellor
hated my dress sense and earrings. I was continually picked up by the
police in Kings Road and Soho and taken to a local police station where
my parents were phoned and asked if they knew where I was… Of course they
didn’t! How responsible then, of the local West End constabulary, to once
put me in a holding cell with a group of late teen skinheads sniffing
glue and drinking cider… I came out of there wrecked to an interrogation
by my parents and a police accusation that maybe I was a ‘rent boy’.
growing up in Bromley surrounded by The Bromley Contingent which included
Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, Jordan and Billy Idol amongst others what
hope was there for me?
I was too
young, anonymous and on the very periphery of something un-conformist
and new… Something I loved. Punk music had a message that I understood.
Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Sex’ and Soho sold things I didn’t understand but liked
the look of… The seedy underbelly of London cried out to me.
learnt Pi and having dissected frogs and been beaten up by my German teacher
I eventually left school with a reasonable amount of ‘O’ Levels to enter
the adult world of work… My first job, as a draughtsman taught me how
nice Chinese BBQ Pork Buns were and not to try to beat up 25 year old,
rugby playing colleagues. In subsequent jobs I learnt not to take snakes
to work, not to date the claimants if you work for the dole office, how
to make a sale without the money seeing the till, how to strip down an
M16 and demolish phone books and the party wall between a gunsmiths and
a TV rental shop with a .357 Magnum.
that in a warehouse, even if you dislike your colleagues you shouldn’t
drill through their hands when putting up storage racking and I learnt
that Selfridges was a shop and not a dating agency where every girl on
the perfume counters and shop dressing department was fair game. I also
learnt from Selfridges that celebrities weren’t to be abused and that
calling Craig Charles a pervert and spending an evening taking the piss
out of Tony Blackburn’s beautifully sequined ‘bolero’ jacket will get
straw came aged 38: I had blagged my way through the building trade, from
the very bottom, to the eventual position of senior management in a building
supply company. I had the company car, the salary, the medical benefits
and the company pension. I also had regular counselling, a hundred mile
round trip to work and back on the M25 every day and an office where I
could lock the door and cry my eyes out.
after shooting the office ‘darling’ topless in a graveyard during working
hours, going to work dressed as a Chinese resplendent in my silk Kung-Fu
suit and buying my first set of studio lighting through the company and
posting the subsequent photo of my MD/CEO grinning like someone who keeps
body parts under his desk onto deviantART I was asked to leave and follow
my calling as a photographer.
us up to date… August 2009.
bout of fifteen minutes of fame: Take a while out, open a new tab and
Google ‘Andy Craddock + Church’.
million hits on my website in just over a week, 115 of a possible 195
countries have visited my site including The Vatican City. I just hope
Pope Benedict XVI is a fan! Approximately 77% of visitors add me to their
favourites, on the day the story broke I was the third most popular read
item on the BBC New Website, (more popular that day than even Michael
Jackson), over a 1300 websites and forums now link to my site, I’ve been
in 5 national papers, I was front page news in two Jerusalem papers, I’ve
been on BBC radio twice and BBC TV.
than the above; I’m in the local papers every week and apparently I should
be run out of town by the locals bearing pitch forks and burning brands.
this media attention just for shooting a couple of models naked and touching
one another on the altar of a local 13th Century Church. Whatever next?
media fail to mention is that behind the controversy is a less than serious
photographer chasing his dream. With my tongue firmly in my cheek I want
to offend a few people and the rest I want to make laugh, provoke them
into thoughtfulness or make them look beautiful.
a wedding or child photographer that St Austell residents and the Cornish
in general need fear. I am a guy that has worked with a lot of the UK’s
major burlesque talent, I have worked Gay Prides and Sex shows. I work
The Xpo and other sex trade shows. I work with Transvestites, Drag Artists
and Transsexuals. I work with burlesque designers, latex companies and
BDSM suppliers. I work with alternative models and glamour models. I also
try to work with my heroes from the 70’s and 80’s whenever I get the opportunity.
I do charity
work… In 2009 for St Luke’s Hospice in Plymouth (with the Plymouth Calendar
Girls) and the Macmillan trust (by auctioning some of the ‘Church’ work
in London through Fetishvisions in September). I spent a year working
with an autistic children’s group in London. I am fully CRB checked.
my business is a social enterprise helping to promote Cornish models.
my business is a social enterprise helping to promote the Cornish LGBT
community, the Cornish BDSM community, the Cornish alternative modelling
scene and the Cornish glamour modelling scene. To this end my studio is
a safe haven where all are welcome and a venue where I hold a party monthly
that these diverse groups can meet with one another and the locals without
is a brand name, a studio, an art gallery, a modelling agency, a mini
boutique and a party venue.
is a guy having fun, doing what he loves to do with people he loves to
work with. I have no message to preach in my work apart from maybe tolerance.
I am non conformist and here to amuse you if possible.
words of the great Robbie Williams (horribly out of order to suit my purpose!):
“I'm a burning effigy of everything I used to be, shake your arse come
over here; Let me Entertain You”.