Meet the Man Behind London’s Biggest ‘Elite’ Sex Parties
Chris Reynolds Gordon is kind of like Britain’s answer to Dan Bilzerian. Only, where the latter made his name playing poker, throwing naked women off roofs, and rapidly becoming Instagram’s most-followed misogynist, Chris has managed to get where he’s at without any of the awkward social media machismo of his American counterpart.
He’s been a millionaire; he’s gone broke. He’s owned property around the world; he’s been homeless. He was a junior national 800 meters champion; he’s met with Vladimir Putin about trading rough diamonds. Now, before hitting his 30th birthday, he’s turned his and his friend Eva’s “Heaven SX” concept into one of London’s most popular “elite” sex parties.
In light of the Killing Kittens group—probably the UK’s largest sex party brand—recently inviting Heaven SX into its fold, I thought I’d catch up with Chris to find out his thoughts on how he makes his money.

VICE: Hey, Chris. So, first off, run me through what happens at a Heaven SX party.Chris Reynolds Gordon: It’s like going to any normal bar or club—you have people dressed up looking nice, chatting, laughing, getting to know each other. Then, a little bit later on—at about 12:00 or 1:00 AM, when the mood’s right—the girls will go and get changed into lingerie. It’s a bit of an awkward moment, with all the guys chatting and sitting with each other, then all these girls come in looking super hot and the atmosphere changes and people start disappearing.
Why do you call it “elite”?I went to quite a lot of parties in the past, and everyone was calling them elite. But then you’d see, like, 50- or 60-year-old people who weren’t that attractive. Not that there aren’t attractive people in their 50s and 60s, but these weren’t people you’d stereotypically think of as attractive. It’s really quite a shallow thing, though, because what is good looking? Basically, the hottest [people] we wanted to play with just got together—everyone who was a 10 on the hot chart. The average age is also quite young. There’s nothing else like it.
Continue

Meet the Man Behind London’s Biggest ‘Elite’ Sex Parties

Chris Reynolds Gordon is kind of like Britain’s answer to Dan Bilzerian. Only, where the latter made his name playing poker, throwing naked women off roofs, and rapidly becoming Instagram’s most-followed misogynist, Chris has managed to get where he’s at without any of the awkward social media machismo of his American counterpart.

He’s been a millionaire; he’s gone broke. He’s owned property around the world; he’s been homeless. He was a junior national 800 meters champion; he’s met with Vladimir Putin about trading rough diamonds. Now, before hitting his 30th birthday, he’s turned his and his friend Eva’s “Heaven SX” concept into one of London’s most popular “elite” sex parties.

In light of the Killing Kittens group—probably the UK’s largest sex party brand—recently inviting Heaven SX into its fold, I thought I’d catch up with Chris to find out his thoughts on how he makes his money.

VICE: Hey, Chris. So, first off, run me through what happens at a Heaven SX party.
Chris Reynolds Gordon: It’s like going to any normal bar or club—you have people dressed up looking nice, chatting, laughing, getting to know each other. Then, a little bit later on—at about 12:00 or 1:00 AM, when the mood’s right—the girls will go and get changed into lingerie. It’s a bit of an awkward moment, with all the guys chatting and sitting with each other, then all these girls come in looking super hot and the atmosphere changes and people start disappearing.

Why do you call it “elite”?
I went to quite a lot of parties in the past, and everyone was calling them elite. But then you’d see, like, 50- or 60-year-old people who weren’t that attractive. Not that there aren’t attractive people in their 50s and 60s, but these weren’t people you’d stereotypically think of as attractive. It’s really quite a shallow thing, though, because what is good looking? Basically, the hottest [people] we wanted to play with just got together—everyone who was a 10 on the hot chart. The average age is also quite young. There’s nothing else like it.

Continue

The Bizarre and Terrifying Propaganda Art of the Children of God 
The Children of God movement was founded in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California, by former pastor David Brandt Berg, known to his followers as Moses David, Mo, King David, Dad, and Grandpa. Essentially a communist cult founded around banding together to proselytize the word of Jesus in the streets, the group maintained an “old world” idea of Christianity, which, at least in Berg’s view, centered largely around sex. By the time the organization changed its name to The Family of Love in 1978, Berg had introduced a process called “flirty fishing,” which involved the women of the group recruiting new members by fucking them.
The use of sex within the Family did not end at the recruiting stage. When the group changed its name again, for a second time, in 1987, to simply “The Family,” numerous allegations of abduction, pedophilia, and various sexual abuses were leveled at the group, which by this time had locations in countries all over the world. In 1993, more than 70 percent of the group’s 10,000 members were under the age of 18, operating under a strict and insane set of guidelines laid out by Berg and his wife, Karen Zerby, the latter of whom still heads the organization to this day, under their current moniker, the Family International.
I have paraphrased 20 of the Family’s foundational ideas below.

1. God loves sex, because sex is love.
2. Satan hates sex, because sex is beautiful.
3. Incest is OK, because there’s no better place for a young man to learn about doing it than from his own mother.
4. Eleven-year-olds are capable of becoming pregnant, so why shouldn’t they be having sex?
5. Fucking your grandpa is awesome.
6. Everybody is married to everybody else.
7. Children should have at least an eighth grade education, provided by their parents, and if the children want more education, it is “up to the parents to see if the Home can comply.”
8. Pictures of naked congregation members, referred to as “nudie-cuties,” make good bookmarks for the Bible.
9. It is OK to lie to non-believers in order to protect God’s work.
10. Men should not be gay, but it is hot when women are gay.
Continue

The Bizarre and Terrifying Propaganda Art of the Children of God 

The Children of God movement was founded in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California, by former pastor David Brandt Berg, known to his followers as Moses David, Mo, King David, Dad, and Grandpa. Essentially a communist cult founded around banding together to proselytize the word of Jesus in the streets, the group maintained an “old world” idea of Christianity, which, at least in Berg’s view, centered largely around sex. By the time the organization changed its name to The Family of Love in 1978, Berg had introduced a process called “flirty fishing,” which involved the women of the group recruiting new members by fucking them.

The use of sex within the Family did not end at the recruiting stage. When the group changed its name again, for a second time, in 1987, to simply “The Family,” numerous allegations of abduction, pedophilia, and various sexual abuses were leveled at the group, which by this time had locations in countries all over the world. In 1993, more than 70 percent of the group’s 10,000 members were under the age of 18, operating under a strict and insane set of guidelines laid out by Berg and his wife, Karen Zerby, the latter of whom still heads the organization to this day, under their current moniker, the Family International.

I have paraphrased 20 of the Family’s foundational ideas below.

1. God loves sex, because sex is love.

2. Satan hates sex, because sex is beautiful.

3. Incest is OK, because there’s no better place for a young man to learn about doing it than from his own mother.

4. Eleven-year-olds are capable of becoming pregnant, so why shouldn’t they be having sex?

5. Fucking your grandpa is awesome.

6. Everybody is married to everybody else.

7. Children should have at least an eighth grade education, provided by their parents, and if the children want more education, it is “up to the parents to see if the Home can comply.”

8. Pictures of naked congregation members, referred to as “nudie-cuties,” make good bookmarks for the Bible.

9. It is OK to lie to non-believers in order to protect God’s work.

10. Men should not be gay, but it is hot when women are gay.

Continue

Here Are More Reasons Why Girls Should Only Have Anal Sex
After my two-year-old butt sex article went viral recently for some weird, perverted reason, I decided to look it over again. Upon review, I was absolutely horrified. Not because of what I had written, but what I’d forgotten to mention. There are so many better, more obvious reasons why girls should literally only have anal sex and nothing else. I’m sorry for being so neglectful. It was truly an irresponsible disposal on my account, focusing solely on sensory delight and passivity—in reality, there are far more relevant reasons why every female ought to be prohibited from all sexual acts excluding anal intercourse.
They are as follows:
NO PREGNANCY
Never mind the purely selfish reasons why you wouldn’t want a human larva ruining your life—let’s look at this from a socio-environmental standpoint. The human population is expected to reach 8 billion by the year 2025. We have no way to feed all of these people, and what would we do with the sewage if we could? Even now, with 7 billion people on Earth, more than 200 million tons of human waste goes untreated every year.
Think about that before you freak out over a little poop on your boyfriend’s peener. It’s a small price to pay for not living a literally shitty existence. Overpopulation is a colossal nightmare that we, as a species, can no longer physically withstand. That is exactly why anal sex is so important.
You can’t grow a baby in your ass, but you can have an orgasm if you try a little.
If girls were to engage only in anal intercourse, there would be fewer humans on Earth, and therefore less resource depletion, and perhaps a better quality of life for the rest of civilization. Only through these swollen, pulsating lips may we still find our planet hospitable. Forget those stupid solar roadways—anal sex can single-handedly lead us toward a future of sustainability and hope.
Continue

Here Are More Reasons Why Girls Should Only Have Anal Sex

After my two-year-old butt sex article went viral recently for some weird, perverted reason, I decided to look it over again. Upon review, I was absolutely horrified. Not because of what I had written, but what I’d forgotten to mention. There are so many better, more obvious reasons why girls should literally only have anal sex and nothing else. I’m sorry for being so neglectful. It was truly an irresponsible disposal on my account, focusing solely on sensory delight and passivity—in reality, there are far more relevant reasons why every female ought to be prohibited from all sexual acts excluding anal intercourse.

They are as follows:

NO PREGNANCY

Never mind the purely selfish reasons why you wouldn’t want a human larva ruining your life—let’s look at this from a socio-environmental standpoint. The human population is expected to reach 8 billion by the year 2025. We have no way to feed all of these people, and what would we do with the sewage if we could? Even now, with 7 billion people on Earth, more than 200 million tons of human waste goes untreated every year.

Think about that before you freak out over a little poop on your boyfriend’s peener. It’s a small price to pay for not living a literally shitty existence. Overpopulation is a colossal nightmare that we, as a species, can no longer physically withstand. That is exactly why anal sex is so important.

You can’t grow a baby in your ass, but you can have an orgasm if you try a little.

If girls were to engage only in anal intercourse, there would be fewer humans on Earth, and therefore less resource depletion, and perhaps a better quality of life for the rest of civilization. Only through these swollen, pulsating lips may we still find our planet hospitable. Forget those stupid solar roadways—anal sex can single-handedly lead us toward a future of sustainability and hope.

Continue

How Kohnstamm Got the Beach House – New Fiction by David Mamet
Above: Untitled (Beach), 2012, © Whitney Hubbs, Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles.
David Mamet wrote the screenplays for American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Untouchables, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Wag the Dog, among many others. We’re honored to feature his writing in this year’s Fiction Issue.
-
It was near morning. Margaret and Mel sat, alone, on the couch.
“The weekend the power went out at the Bel Air may have been the most restful of my life,” Mel said.
“As you grow old, various things fade—appetite, I find, increases; but I think this places me in one of two camps.”
“What is the other?” Margaret said.
“They grow thin, as they age,” Mel said. “But both, I believe, find a diminishment of sexuality. Perhaps the thin, though, less. I don’t know. You would know, how would you know, you’re half my age.”
“Not exactly,” Margaret said.
“Well…”
“I am ten months your junior,” she said.
Continue

How Kohnstamm Got the Beach House – New Fiction by David Mamet

Above: Untitled (Beach), 2012, © Whitney Hubbs, Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles.

David Mamet wrote the screenplays for American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Untouchables, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Wag the Dog, among many others. We’re honored to feature his writing in this year’s Fiction Issue.

-

It was near morning. Margaret and Mel sat, alone, on the couch.

“The weekend the power went out at the Bel Air may have been the most restful of my life,” Mel said.

“As you grow old, various things fade—appetite, I find, increases; but I think this places me in one of two camps.”

“What is the other?” Margaret said.

“They grow thin, as they age,” Mel said. “But both, I believe, find a diminishment of sexuality. Perhaps the thin, though, less. don’t know. You would know, how would you know, you’re half my age.”

“Not exactly,” Margaret said.

“Well…”

“I am ten months your junior,” she said.

Continue

Why are so many girls wearing cat makeup on Tinder? We explored the phenomenon.

In Defense of the Basic Bitch
A culture war is raging in America, but not the one you see being waged on Fox News and MSNBC in prime time. That neverending conflict has an unintended casualty, a victim that neither side truly wants to champion. This much-maligned minority group needs our respect and our affection. Of course, I am talking about the infamous “Basic Bitch.”
The Basic Bitch is denigrated in music videos and hip-hop lyrics. They’re defamed on Twitter merely for requesting a simple kindness:

Urban Dictionary, the final arbiter of cultural relevancy, defines the Basic Bitch in a variety of ways. The most accurate explanation is as follows:
Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.
Lacking intelligence and unable to socialize on even an elementary level.
Annoyingly frustrating because of the above.
What specifically makes one Basic? Not understanding irony or sarcasm, constantly needing to be cloying and sincere, enjoying xoJane articles, reading books about Feng Shui, checking horoscopes, French tip fingernails, gladiator sandals, John Mayer, Gleereruns, and Michael Buble are all pretty Basic.
Only recently has being Basic become such a social faux pas that videos have to be made to shame them out of existence. It wasn’t always a crime to like fast food and How I Met Your Mother. It’s become a form of gag reflex to immediately trash those brave enough to be completely and hopelessly square, but American culture is littered with Basics. Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch was a massive Basic whose sole purpose on the show was to be a fucking nag. Dinah Shore found a way to make hosting a variety show Basic. If you can believe it, there was a time when Julia Roberts was the biggest movie star in the world, and she might as well have “Basic Bitch” tattooed on her forehead (backwards, so she can read it in the mirror, of course).
Continue

In Defense of the Basic Bitch

A culture war is raging in America, but not the one you see being waged on Fox News and MSNBC in prime time. That neverending conflict has an unintended casualty, a victim that neither side truly wants to champion. This much-maligned minority group needs our respect and our affection. Of course, I am talking about the infamous “Basic Bitch.”

The Basic Bitch is denigrated in music videos and hip-hop lyrics. They’re defamed on Twitter merely for requesting a simple kindness:

Urban Dictionary, the final arbiter of cultural relevancy, defines the Basic Bitch in a variety of ways. The most accurate explanation is as follows:

  1. Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.
  2. Lacking intelligence and unable to socialize on even an elementary level.
  3. Annoyingly frustrating because of the above.

What specifically makes one Basic? Not understanding irony or sarcasm, constantly needing to be cloying and sincere, enjoying xoJane articles, reading books about Feng Shui, checking horoscopes, French tip fingernails, gladiator sandals, John Mayer, Gleereruns, and Michael Buble are all pretty Basic.

Only recently has being Basic become such a social faux pas that videos have to be made to shame them out of existence. It wasn’t always a crime to like fast food and How I Met Your Mother. It’s become a form of gag reflex to immediately trash those brave enough to be completely and hopelessly square, but American culture is littered with Basics. Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch was a massive Basic whose sole purpose on the show was to be a fucking nag. Dinah Shore found a way to make hosting a variety show Basic. If you can believe it, there was a time when Julia Roberts was the biggest movie star in the world, and she might as well have “Basic Bitch” tattooed on her forehead (backwards, so she can read it in the mirror, of course).

Continue

Talking to Girls About the Good Ol’ Number Two Taboo
The toilet taboo is a widespread Western phenomenon—especially among girls. But the fact that girls take a dump less frequently than boys do is actually a danger to their health. More than 60 percent of women suffer from stomach problems directly caused by avoiding the bowl, according to a report released last year by Swedish scientists. If these issues get too severe, you might eventually end up with rectal cancer. To highlight this, we asked some girls (and boys) how they feel about the good ol’ number-two taboo. 

American Apparel bra, American Apparel denim shorts, shoes from Vans
Sindy: I’m cool talking about my toilet habits with friends. I even talk with my boyfriend. I actually just did take a dump, and my boyfriend’s in bed just in front of the bathroom door, so he knows I’m in here. I just turn on the tap and do my thing. But the water needs to be running. If the tap doesn’t work I won’t do it. That’s my cover-up. 

Beyond Retro kimono
Amanda: I’ve realized after saying certain things that I’m more comfortable talking about poop than most people are. But I’m not so cool with taking a dump outside. I’ll pee anywhere, though. I’d probably be uncomfortable if my partner didn’t poop. My tip is to turn really loud music on while you’re at it. 

American Apparel bodysuit, Beyond Retro trousers, shoes from Eytys
Sara: The weirdest place I’ve taken a dump at is either when I’ve been at some festival in some bush with loads of tents surrounding me or, when I was younger, I liked to poop as I was hanging off that pole you tie your boat around on a pier. I grabbed the pole, put my bum out, and hung over the water. My best friend and I used to do that together, but that was a pretty long time ago. And once I sat in the lap of my boyfriend when he was doing it. I guess you can say I’m pretty open about it. 

Beyond Retro top, Hospital panties, Adidas socks
Peter: I think it’s rather abnormal for girls to pretend that they don’t do number two. But I have noticed that girls avoid doing it until much later when they’ve eventually dared to tell me. I’m the same, which is pretty silly really. Just do it!
Amanda: I’m comfortable talking about my toilet habits with my friends, but I wouldn’t talk about them with a guy unless we were in a really tight and good relationship. I don’t really have much to say about it to be honest.
Continue

Talking to Girls About the Good Ol’ Number Two Taboo

The toilet taboo is a widespread Western phenomenon—especially among girls. But the fact that girls take a dump less frequently than boys do is actually a danger to their health. More than 60 percent of women suffer from stomach problems directly caused by avoiding the bowl, according to a report released last year by Swedish scientists. If these issues get too severe, you might eventually end up with rectal cancer. To highlight this, we asked some girls (and boys) how they feel about the good ol’ number-two taboo.
 

American Apparel bra, American Apparel denim shorts, shoes from Vans

Sindy: I’m cool talking about my toilet habits with friends. I even talk with my boyfriend. I actually just did take a dump, and my boyfriend’s in bed just in front of the bathroom door, so he knows I’m in here. I just turn on the tap and do my thing. But the water needs to be running. If the tap doesn’t work I won’t do it. That’s my cover-up.
 

Beyond Retro kimono

Amanda: I’ve realized after saying certain things that I’m more comfortable talking about poop than most people are. But I’m not so cool with taking a dump outside. I’ll pee anywhere, though. I’d probably be uncomfortable if my partner didn’t poop. My tip is to turn really loud music on while you’re at it.
 

American Apparel bodysuit, Beyond Retro trousers, shoes from Eytys

Sara: The weirdest place I’ve taken a dump at is either when I’ve been at some festival in some bush with loads of tents surrounding me or, when I was younger, I liked to poop as I was hanging off that pole you tie your boat around on a pier. I grabbed the pole, put my bum out, and hung over the water. My best friend and I used to do that together, but that was a pretty long time ago. And once I sat in the lap of my boyfriend when he was doing it. I guess you can say I’m pretty open about it.
 

Beyond Retro top, Hospital panties, Adidas socks

Peter: I think it’s rather abnormal for girls to pretend that they don’t do number two. But I have noticed that girls avoid doing it until much later when they’ve eventually dared to tell me. I’m the same, which is pretty silly really. Just do it!

Amanda: I’m comfortable talking about my toilet habits with my friends, but I wouldn’t talk about them with a guy unless we were in a really tight and good relationship. I don’t really have much to say about it to be honest.

Continue

Style and Shopping as a Means of Expression and Self-Realization
by Kate Carraway
Illustration by Penelope Gazin
Girls and women (it feels so corny to consider girls and women as these separate classes of experience, right?) have, more so than guys and to our great benefit, style and shopping as a means of expression and self-realization. As problematic as it is to get super-excited about spending money toward, like, selfhood, it’s a socially and emotionally safe way to have some stripe of identity-adventure, to tell ourselves stories through our choices and things, and, more and more, to share those adventures and tell those same stories online. (This is why I don’t hate it when a tween buys a pee-quality body splash for $14 and posts about it; I know what she’s doing when she’s choosing, when she’s having, when she’s showing.)
The online show-off experience could have been about sex—some of it is, obvi—but girls tend to do the show-off parts of the internet the way they do clothes, which is mostly for themselves and for each other. This way of doing the internet, our way, converges as an inward “me gaze.” The aspects of performance and intimacy are all there, but are for us, and for an audience of us-es.
Continue

Style and Shopping as a Means of Expression and Self-Realization

by Kate Carraway

Illustration by Penelope Gazin

Girls and women (it feels so corny to consider girls and women as these separate classes of experience, right?) have, more so than guys and to our great benefit, style and shopping as a means of expression and self-realization. As problematic as it is to get super-excited about spending money toward, like, selfhood, it’s a socially and emotionally safe way to have some stripe of identity-adventure, to tell ourselves stories through our choices and things, and, more and more, to share those adventures and tell those same stories online. (This is why I don’t hate it when a tween buys a pee-quality body splash for $14 and posts about it; I know what she’s doing when she’s choosing, when she’s having, when she’s showing.)

The online show-off experience could have been about sex—some of it is, obvi—but girls tend to do the show-off parts of the internet the way they do clothes, which is mostly for themselves and for each other. This way of doing the internet, our way, converges as an inward “me gaze.” The aspects of performance and intimacy are all there, but are for us, and for an audience of us-es.

Continue

The Motorcycle Girl Gangs of Morocco 

Everyone says Copenhagen and Amsterdam are bike cities, but what about Marrakesh?
London-based Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj tapped into the bike culture of Marrakesh in his latest series of photos, Kesh Angels, on display at the Taymour Grahne Gallery in New York until March 8. Hassan’s version of Hell’s Angels comes from a personal tale: He once worked on a photo shoot in Marrakesh in the 1990s. Everything about the shoot was foreign—the photographers, the clothes, the models. Nothing was actually Moroccan. The artist’s latest shoot can be interpreted as a response to whatshould have happened back in the 1990s: A super pop North African photo shoot with everything that nods to local tradition fused with a twist – from the polka dotted abayas to the camo djellabahs. The photos here capture Moroccan girl bike gangs with smug looks, intimidating sneers, and badassness short of a rock video. They’re not “real big gangs,” of course. The girls are the artist’s friends, who usually paint henna tattoos on tourists in the main square; but you still wouldn’t want to run into them in a dark alley. These girls are tough, speak up to five languages, and are full-time moms who work ten-hour days. I spoke with Hassan about bike culture in Marrakesh and his definition of badass.

VICE: How did you come up with the idea to photograph your friends this way?Hassan Hajjaj: I’ve been working in this way for years now. I want to show something particular to Marrakesh, and to show that even though we have different cultures and religions; we share a lot in common as people. There is a group of women who work painting henna in this main square in Morocco that is popular with tourists. One I know was an inspiration for this series, Karima, she wears a veil and these really amazing textile abayas and djabellas and also rides a bike to work and back, she’s a normal woman who works eight or ten hours a day. She speaks about four or five languages, is a housewife to two kids, [and] built her own house. 

It feels like a North African fashion shoot, did you want to honor roots with style?I was working on a fashion magazine photo shoot in Marrakesh in the 1990s when I realized everything—all the models, the photographer, the clothes—were from the west and Morocco was simply the backdrop. From then I said it’d be great to present my people in their environment in their kind of way of dressing, and play with it on a fashion level.
What is the bike culture like in Marrakech? Generally speaking, do bike gangs even exist there? How big are motorbikes?Marrakech is really a bike city; everyone rides them. Women, kids, old men, families, everybody. It’s transportation; it’s really used for work. A few of the bikes in the photos are from friends of mine we borrowed, but most are their own bikes. There are no real bike gangs. 

Are your friends often dressed this way? Are these badass, colorful outfits easy to find? Moroccans have a strong sense of tradition and we are a very colorful nation. But I design the outfits: These traditional Moroccan djabellas and abayas and babouche with traditional prints and knock-off brand-name fabrics from markets in London and Marrakesh. I also build the frames for the photographs using products or objects I find in markets: cans of Fanta, tins, or boxes of chicken stock. This came from when I was growing up in Morocco as many things are recycled to be re-used, and this has somehow come into my work. I wanted to use the repetition of labels in a slightly humorous context, often directly relating to something happening in the photograph, but I also wanted to create a repeated pattern in the frame to evoke the mosaics of Morocco in a modern context.
What was the goal of this shoot and what was the best moment of shooting this series?I’m impressed with their strength and really aim to show their independence as normal. If these photos were taken in Paris or Rome I imagine I wouldn’t be asked what is so unique about women’s biker culture.
If you had a bike gang who would be in it?My gang would include women like you see in this series; women who just naturally have this strength, swagger, freedom.

More pics

The Motorcycle Girl Gangs of Morocco 

Everyone says Copenhagen and Amsterdam are bike cities, but what about Marrakesh?

London-based Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj tapped into the bike culture of Marrakesh in his latest series of photos, Kesh Angels, on display at the Taymour Grahne Gallery in New York until March 8. Hassan’s version of Hell’s Angels comes from a personal tale: He once worked on a photo shoot in Marrakesh in the 1990s. Everything about the shoot was foreign—the photographers, the clothes, the models. Nothing was actually Moroccan. The artist’s latest shoot can be interpreted as a response to whatshould have happened back in the 1990s: A super pop North African photo shoot with everything that nods to local tradition fused with a twist – from the polka dotted abayas to the camo djellabahs. The photos here capture Moroccan girl bike gangs with smug looks, intimidating sneers, and badassness short of a rock video. They’re not “real big gangs,” of course. The girls are the artist’s friends, who usually paint henna tattoos on tourists in the main square; but you still wouldn’t want to run into them in a dark alley. These girls are tough, speak up to five languages, and are full-time moms who work ten-hour days. I spoke with Hassan about bike culture in Marrakesh and his definition of badass.

VICE: How did you come up with the idea to photograph your friends this way?
Hassan Hajjaj: I’ve been working in this way for years now. I want to show something particular to Marrakesh, and to show that even though we have different cultures and religions; we share a lot in common as people. There is a group of women who work painting henna in this main square in Morocco that is popular with tourists. One I know was an inspiration for this series, Karima, she wears a veil and these really amazing textile abayas and djabellas and also rides a bike to work and back, she’s a normal woman who works eight or ten hours a day. She speaks about four or five languages, is a housewife to two kids, [and] built her own house. 

It feels like a North African fashion shoot, did you want to honor roots with style?
I was working on a fashion magazine photo shoot in Marrakesh in the 1990s when I realized everything—all the models, the photographer, the clothes—were from the west and Morocco was simply the backdrop. From then I said it’d be great to present my people in their environment in their kind of way of dressing, and play with it on a fashion level.

What is the bike culture like in Marrakech? Generally speaking, do bike gangs even exist there? How big are motorbikes?
Marrakech is really a bike city; everyone rides them. Women, kids, old men, families, everybody. It’s transportation; it’s really used for work. A few of the bikes in the photos are from friends of mine we borrowed, but most are their own bikes. There are no real bike gangs. 

Are your friends often dressed this way? Are these badass, colorful outfits easy to find? 
Moroccans have a strong sense of tradition and we are a very colorful nation. But I design the outfits: These traditional Moroccan djabellas and abayas and babouche with traditional prints and knock-off brand-name fabrics from markets in London and Marrakesh. I also build the frames for the photographs using products or objects I find in markets: cans of Fanta, tins, or boxes of chicken stock. This came from when I was growing up in Morocco as many things are recycled to be re-used, and this has somehow come into my work. I wanted to use the repetition of labels in a slightly humorous context, often directly relating to something happening in the photograph, but I also wanted to create a repeated pattern in the frame to evoke the mosaics of Morocco in a modern context.

What was the goal of this shoot and what was the best moment of shooting this series?
I’m impressed with their strength and really aim to show their independence as normal. If these photos were taken in Paris or Rome I imagine I wouldn’t be asked what is so unique about women’s biker culture.

If you had a bike gang who would be in it?
My gang would include women like you see in this series; women who just naturally have this strength, swagger, freedom.

More pics

Gender Benders
Photos by Richard Kern

Gender Benders

Photos by Richard Kern

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