INTERVIEW: A Recon member chats with the creator of Nasty Pig. Part 1
12 April 2016
New York City based fashion historian Samuel Neuberg (Blackbandana991 on Recon) interviewed Nasty Pig founder and CEO David Lauterstein. Neuberg, a specialist in the history and development of queer subcultural systems of dress, met with Lauterstein at NPHQ to talk about the birth of Nasty Pig, the brand's future and the evolution of NYC fetish.
Samuel: I'm here with David Lauterstein, the CEO of Nasty Pig and we're gonna talk a bit about the history of the brand. First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself.
David: I am a lover of concept and language. Nasty Pig is basically a giant work of art for me. I was raised on hip-hop, I'm a child of hip-hop in New York
S: So you're a native New Yorker?
D: I am a native New Yorker. I was 10 years old when hip-hop started and I saw all of these talented people come up without record companies and build their own businesses which really inspired me when I got older. I knew that I wanted to make something on my own. I met my first boyfriend who was the most talented thing I had ever seen and we hooked up and he took my virginity and we started a company.
S: But you didn't always know that it would be in clothing necessarily or apparel?
D: No. When I came out of the closet in '93 there was AIDS and a lot of darkness in the gay community. When I came out I was in love with my identity and I was in love with being gay and I loved getting fucked in the ass and I didn't understand anything about any sort of shame or anything wrong with it. So Nasty Pig started as the MFA which was the Metropolitan Faggot Authority. I wanted to start an activist organization but we had Act Up and GMHC and we had all these things but I wanted to do something culturally relevant, because I didn't see that there was anything going on like I saw in hip-hop.
S: And what was gay New York like in 1993? In terms of one, the community in general in this post moment of AIDS; and two, what's on the market so to speak for people who want to dress and look like a faggot?
D: Culturally, there was a large creative class in the city because it was cheaper to live in New York back then so in '93 New York you were living in a very inexpensive town with lots of artists, lots of underground stuff. What you were starting to see was--there was a designer at the time named Raymond Dragon who was creating very body fitted sportswear. Then you had Pat Field who was creating sort of the club culture look, like the club kid version of gay people. And what you were also starting to see were people like Bruce Weber, photographers starting to photograph these beautiful gay men; because although AIDS was destroying culture, HIV positive people were working out and taking good care of themselves. So you had at the time when I came out this sort of disparity between people dying and then all of a sudden there was the inkling of a powerful masculine gay male identity.
S: So that brings me to my next point which is that today the level of awareness and the visibility of outwardly kinky individuals within the gay community- it's a night and day difference in a really relatively short amount of time. With your brand in particular, I think there is a level of influence and being kind of at the forefront of all of that change and greater representation.
D: My husband and I quietly talk about how so much has changed and we are very proud and aware of our role. You know, I'll pat myself on the back. We had a gigantic influence on gay people and culture at large and I'm very proud of that.
S: Well to an extent you have to be aware of what you've done and not let that slow you down either. And in spite of your years of hard work I think so many people would assume that Nasty Pig is another one of these start up new companies of the last couple of years, but in reality you're over twenty-one years old, right?
D: Yes, we're 21. We started in '93, we incorporated in 94, we opened our first store in '94.
S: So, what was on the market back then? it wasn't the same look that is selling today right?
D: in a fashion sense guys were wearing very tight slim t-shirts; you know that was the look. Short denim shorts and tight tank tops and tight shirts. Shaved, no body hair, and the fetish community, what was left of it was steeped in old guard protocol. So part of where Nasty Pig started was that me being a hip-hop kid I was wearing baggy clothing, sportswear and the first night I went to the L.U.R.E., which was a leather bar, I got up to the door and they wouldn't let me in 'cause I was in baggy jeans, a harness and a baseball cap and I walked away from that saying, I said to the doorman "I'm young, I'm horny, I'm totally fun and you're not gonna let me in. But if I had boots on and I sucked in bed you would have let me in." So I left there and I was like "I'm starting a company." I felt like, I am going to change this ridiculous segmentation of gay culture.