Dick pics will always be gross, but they could stand to be a little funnier.
That’s the goal of New York–based photographer Soraya Doolbaz, who, starting on September 17, will be showing her collection of penis art during a two-week residency at 317 Gallery.
However, getting your collection of tastefully photographed dick pics — each penis is turned into a character via rather cute, doll-sized costumes — can be a real chore, Doolbaz tells the Voice.
“I spent many days walking around New York’s galleries with my postcard, and I would ask if anybody would like to work with me, and 317 Gallery really liked my work and wanted to give me a two-week residency,” she says of the Lower East Side gallery. (She’s hosted one-night parties featuring her phallic work, but this will be the first residency in a gallery.)
The 35-year-old Doolbaz says she created a pseudonym for the project “in case I ever do anything else with my life other than dick pics.” (The word “doolbaz” is Farsi for “plays with dicks.”) To hear her tell it, she cashed in her shares after a decade working for a tech-advertising company and has spent the last two and a half years taking dick pics, moving to New York a year ago. In that time, she’s come up with a method for getting the best out of a photo shoot.
“I only shoot couples, and the model has to bring someone — I’m going to call this person a fluffer,” she says. “Basically this person has to be very comfortable with you and very much into your penis to assist with the photo shoot, because I only take the pictures. So I need someone else to put the costumes on and to make sure he stays quite happy. You know, a limp dick doesn’t hold a jacket up.”
For the collection that will debut at the 317 Gallery (317 Grand Street), she’s adopted a dictators theme. There’ll be dicked-up versions of Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, and Adolf Hitler. Beyond the tyrants, there will also be Kanye West and Nicki Minaj dicks.
“I thought [dick pics] were really funny and I wanted to make them funnier for other people,” Doolbaz says. “When you put a hat and sunglasses on it, it kind of takes the raunchiness out of it. I want to raise the bar for dick pics. If you’re going to send one, at least make me laugh. Put some effort into it.”
Doolbaz says her husband is very supportive of the idea and dick pics in general, noting that they dated long-distance for a while. Before that, she says she received enough dick pics to give her plenty of inspiration for the project: “Oh my God, when I was single, I would get a ton of them,” she says. “And my friends would get them too and we would show them to each other.”
Not everyone gets it, though, she says. “People over 40 who have never seen a dick pic or ever even heard of the concept, they don’t understand why this would even be funny or why someone would do this. People that have sent or received dick pics will get the idea.”
After being initially “grossed out” by the idea, Doolbaz says, her mother has come to think of it as a feminist undertaking. “My dad, however, doesn’t know, and I don’t know what he would say when he found out,” she says. “My background is Iranian, and in Iran and most Middle Eastern countries, they don’t talk about sex and there’s almost like a shame and guilt around it.”
The opening party at the gallery is also a fundraiser for the Testicular Cancer Foundation, which Doolbaz contacted when she was putting the show together. They were hesitant at first, she says, but everyone on its board eventually approved the idea.
“Testicular cancer is a young man’s cancer, age 15 to 35, and these are the same guys sending dick pics,” Doolbaz says.
Jessica Karlsruher, a development executive at the Austin, Texas–based foundation, tells the Voice only that Doolbaz “is raising money for TCF through this event but we are not affiliated.”
The enterprising artist says she’ll also debut a Web app at the show.
“The app is a dick pic app where you get to take a picture of your dick,” she says. “You can add a hat, sunglasses, and a mustache on there, and you can adjust the exposure and saturation, throw an Instagram filter on it, and email it, text it, or tweet it to somebody.
“I’m providing the tools to help people take better dick pics.”
You can check out Doolbaz’s dick pics at dicturegallery.com