Famed nightlife photographer Merlin Bronques, who five years ago started the popularly controversial website LastNightsParty.com, visits Louis nightclub at the Gansevoort South tonight with special guest DJ Danger to celebrate the launch of Supra’s Sky Top 2.
Bronques, whose galleries of nightlife cross from New York to Las Vegas to Amsterdam, is usually the last to leave the club and follow the action to the afterparty, where he gets more than his share of intoxicating images.
We caught up with Bronques before Friday night’s party at Louis.
What’s your secret for getting people to open up to you and the camera?
Pointing it at them… Anyone with a camera can get people to “open up”. People love to be photographed. I’m like a Mother Teresa when I’m taking photos. I think everyone is beautiful, and that they should have naked pictures taken of themselves at least once in their life.
Several of your shots are in the bathroom – is that improv or pre-set? Are your subjects shocked at that point?
That’s something that started in NYC. Most people that love New York romanticize the gritty-ness of the city and these underground parties I was going to definitely had bathrooms with that vibe. You can find beauty anywhere. My favorite bathroom in South Beach is the upstairs woman’s bathroom at SET. As soon as I saw it I knew I’d be spending a lot of time in there.
Your galleries – like most parties – end up with plenty of flashes of skin. Can you recall the first time that happened at a club or party and were you shocked, suprised, ready to make it a staple of your work?
I’m more surprised when people are being conservative or reserved at parties then when they are letting loose. I mean, come on, it’s a party and you’re supposed to do the things you wouldn’t normally do during the day. Girls especially get the short end of the stick when it comes to being free and aggressively sexual in our society, so LastNightsParty has probably become a modern version of the “burning of the bra” feminist movement for some of them.
Is there anywhere sexier to shoot than in Miami?
What I think Miami has above anywhere else is that this is really the party city where there are no rules. It’s what Las Vegas pretends to be. THIS is the place you need your secrets to not follow you home. And when it comes to afterparty culture, Miami is No. 1. There’s always someone ready for more no matter what time it is, and they’re usually really hot.
Your website celebrated 5 years this year – did you ever think when you started you could get to this mark and how long can you keep it going?
An army of nightlife photographers come out each year, and many of them are way better photographers than me, but thankfully lastnightsparty still seems to be growing. I think it might be because of it’s outlaw nature and that you never know what you’ll see next. I’ve never been interested in photographing the party that I’ve been handed, I’d rather find the debaucherous fun lingering in the sidelines and amplify that. It’s not just pictures, just like rock and roll isn’t just chords. One of the things that’s helped me a lot is that every time a celebrity walks into the room all the photographers rush to take a million pictures of them and leave me with 95% of the rest of the partyers who more often than not are WAY more interesting. While you’re taking pictures of Shaq, on the other side of the club there are some girls with their gay boyfriends who are here on vacation and have decided that TONIGHT those bodies they spend so much time and money on need to be archived for posterity. And that’s where I’d rather be.
So how can we find you on Friday at Louis if we’re ready to smile (or do more than that) for the camera?
Look for the flash.