Johnny Crash captures burlesque and the sparkly side of San Francisco, and in so doing, has bestowed a great gift upon every one of us who has trod the glitter-strewn boards before his lens. Aside from being a visual record of the culmination of our many hours of work in five minutes of glory, his photographs stand on their own as important works of art, each.

When I first saw his photos, I was given a glimpse into something far deeper than the image of a woman taking off her clothes; his eye has a way of penetrating that superficiality and revealing a bit of the soul of the performer in question. Working in a usually-full house with a boisterous crowd and a crush of visual distractions, Johnny enrobes his subjects in rich, velvet-like blackness, isolating her (or him) the way Rembrandt isolated his sitters, or how a dark, flocked box sets off a white diamond ring. This visual isolation forces the viewer to focus on the character of the person in frame. Surrounded by that inky blackness, and defined, often, by only the most delicate rim lighting, the performer's soul takes shape in a way that is invisible in the live show. With his expert use of light and shadow, Johnny Crash pierces the veil of stage names and personas, of wigs and false eyelashes, and shows us something of the women (and occasionally men) behind these trappings. Though we may be topless onstage, it is only in his photographs that we are truly exposed.

Casey Castille