IF YOU HAVE EVER BEEN TO CUBA YOU KNOW THAT EVERYTHING HERE SEEMS TO BE DIFFERENT. NOT ONLY DOES IT LOOK LIKE TIME HAS STOOD STILL FOR DECADES. ALSO THE RULES BY WHICH PEOPLE LIVE ARE DIFFERENT. IT REALLY IS A WORLD BY ITSELF.
Then fist time we went to Cuba ourselves we rented a car. There is nothing wrong with it. We do it everywhere we go. Except, in Cuba you don’t. Not if you are not familiar with the habits and rules on the island. And of course we weren’t. And so we ended up driving on the Carretera Central highway surrounded by people and cattle who were casually strolling on the road. And this was in the middle of the night.
Cuba is like no other place on Earth. The landscape is different. Havana is different. And the people are different. The island is busy and loud and it is hard to find a quite spot. Even for people like Kevin Slack, who knows Cuba inside out. Yes, even for the Cubans themselves. When Kevin was looking for a quite road to shoot a concept that he had been thinking of for quite some time already, his Cuban friends told him there wasn’t such a place. But how could that be?
“This shoot has been in my head for a while. Besides finding a sidecar we could use - a 1940 Ural sidecar from World War II - I also needed a quiet street. So we obviously had to leave the city. I had models porcelain-skin Enrique and giant brutish El Toro and Hamlet, the sidecar owner, and an assistant with me, people who lived in Havana; but nobody could tell me where to find a quiet street. So I had to lead the expedition. People kept getting anxious that we were getting farther and farther away from Havana until we ended up in a town called Bacuranao. But I knew exactly the kind of road I wanted: hills, palm trees, space, privacy, especially privacy. And this is the street we found. It looked perfect at first. We even had cows. And so we sent the taxi away. We were stranded in what might have been very close to the middle of nowhere. But I had my sidecar and my models and my road and my plan and I was not the least bit worried.”
“It became quickly clear, however, that our road was not nearly perfect after all. On the road, came cars and tractors and vans and busses and bikes and horse-drawn carriages and carrier trucks loaded with travellers too. At first, we kept stopping to cover up the models from the many, many passers-by. Before long the models gave up caring about their modesty and so we found our rhythm and worked through the conflagration of surprising traffic and onlookers.”
“When we finish there is nothing to do but smoke by the roadside. And, just before sunset, when the sky opens up and it rains in a quick tropical torrent, there is nothing to do but get a thorough soaking. But it feels great. Still, we are relieved when our taxi returns just as the rain stops.” –BM-
Enrique and El Toro both make an appearance in Kevin Slack’s Cuban Men 2013 Wall Calendar available at Amazon.
KEVIN SLACK | BEAUTIFULMAG