Just living that lifestyle of the queer and fabulous.
-Freak The Mighty.
Ryan aka “Freak The Mighty” is a Bay Area based photographer. His obscene and filthy photography is an instant attention grab with chains, whips, leather, and lobster claws to say the least. We came across his work during our quest for more LGBTQ+ creators and we were obsessed with him visually. His unique look with his “Dear Diary” captions, made him an instant hit on our radar. After stalking his queer as fuck portraiture on his photography Instagram page, we knew that we wanted to know more about the person behind the “Get Your Freak On” tagline. We joined him for a joint Skype interview and talked photography, Meat Freak magazine, and how he came to be called Freak The Mighty (yes, it does involve the book).
Tell us about your art and the medium that you practice in.
R: Photography is definitely the medium that I use. As far as what I do, I photograph Freaks and Queers and people who are eccentrically putting themselves out there into the world via art. I photograph a lot of artists. And I’m just a big fan of body positivity and making sure that people are seen for exactly the way that I think they should be seen. A lot of people don’t get coverage or the comfort of working with someone that they can really be themselves in front of, so I’ve found that I can kind of provide that in the way that I see things. It really translates well and lots of people are comfortable working with me. I guess I’m just friendly or something, but it works in my favor because I get really awesome people.
That was actually my next question. You do a lot of mature content, what is that conversation like going in? Are they ever a little hesitant?
R: Some people are a little bit concerned, sometimes thinking that I don’t do normal things, but I do normal things too. I do photograph a lot of obscene, filthy things but that’s kind of like my hobby, my interests. I love filthy things. I go all over the spectrum, but they’re comfortable with me. The best part for me is that I can read if someone is uncomfortable or what they’re insecure about; then I’ll address it beforehand. A lot of times before I do a shoot, I talk to people about what they don’t like about themselves so that I don’t feature it in any way. That way, they know that I’m aware, and I won’t exploit it on accident.
What has been your favorite collaboration so far?
R: I’m working right now with one of my good friends who is a performer and their name is Meat Flap. They do drag and burlesque as Honey DewMee Melons. The two of us together are creating this magazine called Meat Freak, and it’s just going to be a massive collection of all body types, genders, and sexualities…things that usually have their own specialty magazine. When you’re flipping through it, there’s going to be something for everyone. Get a lot of people’s rocks off.
How would you say being a transgender artist and having that voice translates into your work?
R: Gender and expression are always present in my work. I do blur the lines, for sure. I identify as a male, but I would say that my connection to the world and most things is through the female gender. I lived most of my life identifying as one, so I connect more with females. I do like to represent trans people in my work a lot, but it’s not necessarily my focus. I’m kind of all over the place, but I do see that gender is a very blurred line. That idea shows in everything I do. Most times, I photograph people and I just let people kind of figure out the persons’ gender.
How did the name Freak The Mighty come about?
R: It’s actually two different, little funny stories. One started out with my best friends, who is like the sweetest guy, but he’s super small. When we were growing up, I always had him on my shoulders–like doing things to reach shit. People started calling us Freak The Mighty because of the book, Freak The Mighty. For a while, I would just use the letters like FTM photography–which ties in to being trans, of course. And then all in all, it became more about empowering the freak and also bringing a beauty to it. It’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s something to be embraced. I love being a freak.
Your art is obviously inclusive af but in the art community, which is typically seen as accepting, do you feel that there is still work to be done?
R: Absolutely. That’s never ending. You don’t see enough people of color, you don’t see enough big bodies, you don’t see enough of any of the good shit that needs to be seen. It’s frustrating because people who are like me, we aren’t going to get overly noticed for our work necessarily because it’s not classic or this fine touch. It’s not presentable in a lot of areas. I think there is always room to grow in every form of art.
On Instagram, I see a lot of your posts start with “Dear Diary.” I want you to imagine that this is your diary entry. What would you write today?
R: Today? Oh my god [laughs]. I talk to my dog too much.
Dear fucking diary,
I’m pretty fucking happy. I’ve got a bunch of shit going for me right now that I never imagined would be going for me. I’ve been meeting some really wonderful people that I never imagined would be crossing my paths. I live alone, and I have an awesome space that’s going to turn into an awesome freak shack. I listen to really awesome music all day and act like a fool, but I managed to get some shit done.
Dear fucking diary.
We’ve been asking this question all month for PRIDE. Can you share some words of wisdom for someone who is searching for what PRIDE means for them?
R: I think that it should always come back to the reason that PRIDE exists and that is because of a transgender black woman. That is the biggest thing and the reason that we are here. We need to keep remembering that shit because I’m fucking privileged as fucking shit, so I feel like PRIDE isn’t about me anymore. I’m proud to be myself. I’m proud to be surrounded by a wonderful community, but I feel like there’s so much realization that needs to happen because it’s becoming more of a privileged community. People are forgetting about a lot of the struggles that are still really real. Let’s focus less on “I’m gay and I’m proud,” and more on why we’re here and what we can keep doing to make it more of a peaceful fucking place for us.
Follow Freak The Mighty on Instagram @freakthemighty and @freakmighty
You can check out more of his photography by clicking here.