Micheal Alago a native New Yorker, is a photographer whose monograph ROUGH GODS (Scatterbrain Press, $20) features gorgeous color images of tattooed punks, muscular bikers, and strutting leather daddies alongside equally enticing shots of lush flowers, the American flag, and vernacular signage. In the mid ’70s Alago haunted CBGB and Max’s Kansas City before beginning a two-decade career as a major-label talent scout and producer—eventually working with such rare talents as White Zombie, Michael Feinstein, and the incomparable Nina Simone.
1 You discovered Metallica! Metallica had an independent record out in 1983 called Kill ‘Em All. It sounded so fresh, like nothing in metal I’d heard before, so in the summer of ’84 I went to see them at Roseland. The next day I had them up to the office and it felt like they never left. And soon after that I had them signed to Elektra records.
2 How did you get into photo-graphy? As long as I can remember I’ve loved shooting photographs. I went to the School of Visual Arts for two years. Then I got a job in music that changed the course of my life, so I put photography on the back burner. After 22 years I decided I wanted a simpler life, so I quit the music business and have devoted myself to taking pictures ever since.
3 Where do you find your models? Online, through friends, on the street, and whenever I travel to different cities. People have been really cool about it. When they get their photo back and are happy with it, they tell their friends and I get to meet more and more handsome men . . .
4 How did Rough Gods happen? I wanted to put a book together and was searching for a publisher. I’d heard about Mike Gallagher at GALLAGHER’S ART AND FASHION (111 Fourth Avenue, 212-473-0840). So one day I went to his shop, laid out prints on the floor, and had him take a look. He liked them, we shook hands, and the next thing I know we’re printing a book in Canada.
5 Do you have any tattoos? I have one large tattoo of a muscleman on my arm. It goes from my elbow to wrist and is taken from a Tom of Finland image.
See Alago’s work at roughgods.com.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 8, 2005