Gracie\'s Playground

The Artist: J.M. Darling
Thursday September 20th 2012, 7:02 pm
Filed under: Grace
J.M. Darling

J.M. Darling

He bears a tattooed quote on his inner forearm: “The Readiness is all” and he explains to me,”It’s from Hamlet. It’s about learning from your past mistakes and being ready for the future. It’s about being a man.”

Joshua Darling is the founder of Darling House. He is a photographer, theater/filmmaker and actor. He has played the title roles in Richard the 3rd in Central Park and directed Tony, Pulitzer and Oscar Winners. His photography has been seen in the NYTimes, the Washington Post, NY Post, Forbes Magazine, the Academy Award nominated film Client 9, Hustler, GQ (Italy), as well as countless websites. He is the in-house photographer for AEBN/Nica Noelle’s Candy Studios and the former staff photographer for GodsGirls. He lives between NYC and LA.

I met Joshua through the interwebs years ago with me saying something completely inappropriate on Facebook and we have been friends ever since. He is this tall, dark and handsome New Yorker with a sense of style and is a bit of a mystery. I always think of him as this rock star photographer wearing his vests with white t-shirts and GREAT hair, looking like someone that should be standing in front of the camera instead of behind it. Did I mention this guy can speak 6 languages to varying degrees and those being: Spanish, Dutch, Tagalog, some Ilongo, some Danish and English. Are you ladies drooling yet? I also heard he washes dishes and isn’t afraid of a mop. Oh yes, this man is the real deal.

Mr. Darling is quite the charmer as well and even more so after a few drinks in him. I found myself combing through the photo albums he had on Facebook, on GodsGirls and even the short films he has directed, shot and even cameo in. Hey, I like to stalk artists when I want to know more about them. He has worn many hats in the past and was not always the photographer we see today. I asked Joshua about his working past:

“Ok my many jobs (starting at age 11) have been: blacksmith’s attendant (in Denmark), strawberry picker (ate the produce till in sick slumber), carpenter (on ships as a teen), sailing coach, when I was 15 I made a decent income as a dowser in Spain (finding water with forked twigs), a curious job helping the group Hanson (yes, MMbop) with fanmail, bartender (for Donald Trump), bartending -teacher- (never partied so had in my life), dating coach (trickiest job of all) actor (ask me which soaps I slummed on in another life), director and photographer. “

Without further ado, here are my hard-hitting questions of the artist, J.M. Darling:

Is the type of photography you are doing now something you pursued or was it more serendipitous than that?

“I never consciously set out to be an erotic photographer although I do feel it was somehow always in the cards for me. My grandfather gave me my first camera when I was seven and told me that if I took pictures of girls they would like me. This was hardly a throwaway idea. My grandfather was a huge Hollywood personality in the 40’s, owned a house by Frank Lloyd Wright, and included amongst his girlfriends Betty Short, aka. the Black Dahlia. Growing up on a sailboat as I did, I was obsessed with maritime folklore, which was focused mainly on mermaids. When I was ten, my mother found a sketch of a topless mermaid I thought I had seen and told me it was beautiful. It wasn’t until about eight years ago, however, that photographing naked women in earnest came to fruition. I was still a relatively inexperienced photographer, but had had a very unique/weird job teaching wallflower guys how to talk to women. This wasn’t easy or fun. They paid a lot of money for a result I couldn’t always guarantee, but a friend of mine who knew I did that, who helped found some of the larger old-school adult pay-sites said to me, “This industry is founded on men like you. Men that are able to speak to women and get them to have ‘adventures’”. He bought me a camera and employed me to convince relatively inexperienced women to take of their clothes for the first time and have me document it. I sort of learned how to photograph on the job, so to speak.”

What was it like the first time you actually convinced a woman to take of her clothes and what did you say to her to convince her?

“Well, there’s a difference between asking a girlfriend to take off her clothes for at-home sexy time photos (which, if done right, can be really satisfying stuff) and a professional environment where you are paying a subject to get naked and model for you. The first time I worked with a hired subject in a payed scenario was a trip of an experience. I convinced a French dancer that I met at a bar that it would a good idea, but that was over a couple drinks in a romantic snowstorm. When it came time to actually shoot a couple of weeks later, I was pretty fucking nervous. I had insinuated that I had a lot more experience than I actually did. I got to the door and knocked, she answered, teary mascara running down her face saying she couldn’t do it because her boyfriend was going to break up with her if she did (thus began another long-term relationship, this one with boyfriends and husbands of adult workers, it’s own very specific challenge). We somehow still ended up shooting, and I knew instantly that I had full awareness of this environment, this genre, and what I wanted. I basically rewired my experience in directing theatre and actors to the format of sensitivity, vulnerability, and sexuality. And I even got clear exposures!”

I recall you being the only boy amongst a sea of sisters. What was that like and do you think being around that much estrogen made you a different kind of man?

“Without question. I have six sisters. One could say I grew up in a very female-centric home. For better or for worse, as a kid and now as an adult, I always feel most at ease in the company of women. I suspect I am very attuned to their emotional barometer, and my most enduring and valuable relationships have been with women. I always want the company and friendship of men, but it is with women that it comes the most easily.”

Is it a blessing or a curse to know women probably too well?

“You’re awesome. You have zeroed in on my essential daily paradox. Of course it’s a blessing, but not without a couple headdesks :)”

When you are photographing naked ladies do you ever get turned on or feel a sexual connection during the session? If so, have you ever acted upon it? Or have you been desensitized by nudity and require a different kind of arousal?

“A lot has changed in seven years. Initially, it was extremely difficult for me to focus. And sure, I would be affected by the sexuality at hand. And in the early years I had no sense or intention that I might ever become a photographer of note, so there may have been a couple occasions- maybe more than a couple- when impromptu shenanigans transpired. As time passed, I realize that I can be taken seriously but had to treat the event with integrity to earn people’s trust. I feel a different kind of excitement when shooting now, if and when it’s working well. It’s the charge of chemistry and synchronization, and when it strikes I relish it. I don’t think that I’ve been desensitized; I’ve just been able to turn it into productive, creative energy.”

Then tell me, what turns you on?

“Fuck. Can I pass on this one? While my visual sentiments are probably a little romantic, at heart and in my body I’m a fucking hedonist. I’m turned on by direct, bold connection, adventure, impulsiveness, beautiful mouths, marathon kissing sessions, perfect asses, lipstick, and vulnerability. Predictable? Maybe. But man is it true!”

What is Joshua Darling like in bed?

“I’m sure different people would have different answers, and if the point of this is to talk about sex (which is great), then I would say Mercurial. I love in equal parts the wild, unbridled, carnivorous abandon a new lover can bring as much as I love a really connected and tender kind of lovemaking with someone I feel attuned to. But sure, I’ll give in: get me in the right frame of mind or right glass/bottle of whiskey and dirty, sweaty, filthy fucking is in my top five reasons for living.”

What artist(s) do you draw inspiration from?

“Turn-of-the-century classical painters, Klimpt and Waterhouse, always inspire me in particular. I pull a lot from cinema, like Kubrick, David Lynch, Andrew Blake. My biggest influence probably comes from working with and around theater-makers from around the world. I’ve worked in the theater simultaneously for the past thirteen years finding organic, truthful, but still theatrical moments in time with a slightly romantic sensibility. It’s something I enjoy in every medium and try to instill it in my photography. I’m also really inspired by my friends and colleagues, people like Steve Prue, George Pitts, Dave Dawson, Holly Randall, Chase Lisbon, Haus of Seven and many others.”

I recall you being in a recent play, was it last summer? How was that being on stage and not behind a camera, did you feel vulnerable?

“I still try to do a piece of theatre at least once a year, either as an actor or director. This year, I’m playing the title role in Macbeth, for example. It keeps my creative muscles flexed and in touch with a world that I really love. What’s beautiful about performing on stage is that you have no choice but to be vulnerable. It’s only this way that you’re able to have a genuine, authentic connection to yourself and your audience. I think vulnerability, the ability to let your guard down and reveal something true, authentic, sometimes sexual, is a quality that’s lost in this hip and ironic time. It’s a quality that I value in people and healthy to be able to access as an artist, all while being super confident of course. That’s the trick :)”

Rumor has it you will be in a porn flick? Is this just a rumor or truth
and if it is truth can you tell me about this porn debut?

“I have no plans on being a porn star per se. I do feel like that in order to continue a dialogue about sexuality and that I constantly ask my subjects to be sexual or sensual for the camera it’s right that I experience it myself. Darling House is created a series of short films with sexual themes and content that are embedded in narrative. In addition to this adult film auteur director Nica Noelle and I (I shoot stills for her AEBN Candy Studios) are collaborating on a series of special projects that include a few dramatic scripts in which it is highly likely that I will be having sexy time on film. But they’ll be selective, special projects encased in a story. Sex is part of life and our daily drama. So, it’s something I’m open to.”


I decided to reach out to Joshua’s social circle, asked for some juicy facts about Joshua Darling and this is what they had to say…

“He’s kind, sincere, thoughtful & a true, uncompromising artist. And far more humble than he should be. #plusheshot”
Nica Noelle

“He wears pink manties!”
Damon James

“He has fabulous taste in pretty girls and men’s underwear.”
Ash Hollywood

“Hmmm. Most delicious thing. He enjoys skittles picked straight from the sidewalk in WeHo. likes risky biz.I’m sorry. I was mistaken it was M&M’s off the ground in Venice. Darling is not one to taste the rainbow.”
Veronica Ricci

“Four years later and my crush on Joshua Darling remains strong. Love him ladies. His neck smells amazing. So I have been told.” (Let me add that it was confirmed from another source that Joshua Darling’s neck does smell good.)
Rene Ross

You can stalk J.M. Darling here:
URL: The Darling House
Twitter: @jmdarling or @darling_house

Small Gallery of J.M. Darling’s Work:

9 Comments so far
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Hot. I love that JM Darling continues with his other passions, like the stage. It’s good to see other people in the erotic world that are multi-leveled. Personally inspiring.

Comment by Loveofmystery 09.20.12 @ 10:36 pm

Loveofmystery, Joshua is a fascinating individual. I could probably write a book about him.

Comment by Dark Gracie ® 09.21.12 @ 11:19 am

There is 1 person missing from this gallery: Gracie. 😉

Comment by X 09.21.12 @ 12:46 am

X, yes well those photos have not happened just yet. If I want someone to shoot nudes of me, Mr. Darling is one of them.

Comment by Dark Gracie ® 09.21.12 @ 11:19 am

Thank you for a great little interview. Enjoyed reading it.

Comment by Mina Lamieux 09.21.12 @ 4:53 am

Mina, Heh thanks. There was nothing little about this interview. It took months in the making I do believe. He is a great guy and a great sport.

Comment by Dark Gracie ® 09.21.12 @ 11:20 am

Tattoo of Hamlet. Loves Kubrick and Blake. I like this guy.

Great questions.

Comment by Buddha 10.03.12 @ 10:36 pm

Buddha, Joshua is a wonderful guy. You would love him and thank you for the compliment. I think I learned it from you and your wonderful interviewing skills. 😉

Comment by Dark Gracie ® 10.04.12 @ 12:04 am

Joshua’s work is incredible. He recently did a great photoshoot with one my favorite girls, Katie St. Ives.

Comment by Joe 10.09.12 @ 7:57 am

Say what is on your mind
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