graytoplogo gray  

Past Feature: Daniel Everett's haunting underground world.

Safety in Numbers, Photos by Brian Berman

In today’s mass culture world, sociologists observe, more and more people find meaning in their lives by participating in subcultural activities, from dirt bike racing to born-again Christianity. These subcultures constitute the new tribes of the twenty-first century. For the last few years, New York photographer Brian Berman has been documenting this new world, in which truth can seem stranger than fiction. 
He has been attending and documenting a diverse mix of eccentric subculture conventions, bringing together people obsessed with everything from rats, to vacuum cleaners, to furry role-play. Photographing attendees in their preferred habitats, Brian gives his work the feel of a collection of yearbook pictures. But, the underlying mood is more empathetic — his subjects are obviously comfortable in their own skins, delighted to be surrounded by their subcultural soulmates.

See more of Brian's photos at

Editor Molly Kincaid chatted with Brian about working on this series of photographs.

RJ with Kenmore Model 116.9814
“The vacuum guys were really cool, really friendly. They called this a convention, but it was really just a group of friends getting together to show each other their new vacuum acquisitions. What I liked about them is, while it’s obviously not the coolest thing in the world to be into, they just didn’t care. They weren’t self-conscious about it.”

Mike with GE Model VII C3
“I think it’s a psychological thing — some of these guys are into the objects themselves — the design aspects. The vacuums they collect are old, from the 50s, and they’re all chrome — it’s like old cars. And then some of the guys are just really into cleaning — it’s almost like this fetish. Some of them said they vacuumed several times a day. I don’t even own a vacuum!”

Shane and Fisk
“I think if you do a little research, you’ll find that there’s a lot of propaganda about furries — people just speculate about it on the Internet. There’s stuff out there about the sexual element of it — that they fuck in the fur suits. So, when I went in there I had a picture in my head. But I didn’t see any of that. It may have been happening, but if so, they were very secretive about it.”
“They have custom fur-suits made, so it becomes an extension of their personality. That guy’s name is ‘Moon Shadow,’ and he was an interesting guy. I think he was sort of drunk, kinda like this white-trashy character. His costume was definitely the most homemade — it looked like it was held together with dental floss.”

Dehner and Tank

“After I did the furries convention, I started thinking about the idea of these strange subcultures, and what these people are like at home — do they just hang out in their fur suits and watch football? So I found this couple in Massachusetts, one of them is a furry and the other is into this dog thing. I like this picture of them in the kitchen, because it’s a domestic setting — they’ve got a half pot of coffee in the coffee pot. I was kind of excited because it exceeded my wildest expectations. Then they had a cage in their bedroom. I just walked in and there it was. I asked if they had a dog, and the guy said, ‘That’s not for a dog, that’s for my boyfriend.’ He sleeps there every night.”


Read Bjork's2001 interview with Juergen Teller from the index archives.

Daniel Day-Lewis spoke with poet, Eileen Myles in this 2002 interview. Photography by Terry Richardson.

Copyright © 2008 index Magazine and index Worldwide. All rights reserved.
Site Design: Teddy Blanks. All photos by index photographers: Leeta Harding, Richard Kern, David Ortega, Ryan McGinley, Terry
Richardson, and Juergen Teller.