The Sex Goddess Project
Thirty one years as a professional photographer. My Sex Goddess project is a celebration of women of all shapes, sizes, colours and ages, expressing their sexuality in an authentic and unapologetic way. The project isn't porn or erotica, it's something different.
I've learned that it's not that important or even interesting to photograph anyone's exterior—no matter how pretty or dazzling that surface might be. It's a person's energy—their inner light that makes for great photographs.
My name is ricardo scipio. I was born in Trinidad 51 years ago and grew up in Toronto. I have been in love with cameras since I was 14. I became a fashion photographer when I was 20; after ten years I became bored of clothes, make-up and hair, and made the switch to a fine art nude photographer. For 23 years I did gallery shows and books of my Goddess nudes, in natural landscapes and in colour. I also became a film director and screenwriter in 1997; I have written seven scripts and directed three independent fictional feature films.
Something strange and unexpected happened to me several years ago: I was photographing a 70-year-old artist outdoors. At the time she was the oldest woman I had ever photographed nude. Halfway through the shoot she started masturbating. Not knowing what else to do, I just kept on shooting as she gave herself a big orgasm. I was completely surprised; not only did this come out of the blue, but I had also taken great pains over the previous seventeen years to keep my fine art nudes very non-sexual. At the time it felt like a slap on the face, but really it turned out to be a wake-up call.
I had a similar experience with a 53 year old woman a few months later.
I couldn’t deny it any longer—something had changed and shifted in my work. My models were clearly communicating to me that I was suppressing their sexuality just because I wanted nothing to do with porn, and didn’t want my work mistaken for porn. I was challenged to get over my hang-ups or risk being just one more among the countless number of men who had held back women’s sexuality for thousands and thousands of years—or longer.
I faced my fears and decided that my next project was going to be a vehicle that allowed women to express their sexuality in an authentic and unapologetic way. I decided to embrace sex in ways I had never dared to in the past.
I’ve spent most of the past three years traveling across the USA and Canada, sleeping in my van; there were many challenges and deprivations involved with that.
I had to learn how to shoot in a new way, since photographing two or more people having sex is very different to photographing someone nude.
I had to expand my comfort zone in terms of what I was willing to see and be exposed to sexually.
Western sexual culture seems to largely revolve around the phenomenon of slut-shaming. So many women wanted to shoot for the project but couldn’t because they were afraid of their friends and family and co-workers ridiculing them—or worse.
There were also many occasions when women wanted to shoot but the man in their life wouldn’t let them do it. Men controlling and stifling female sexual expression seems to be a feature of most cultures.
I am from an African and Aboriginal Indian background. I was born in Trinidad and have been influenced by a culture that embraces women expressing their sexuality, and one which is also open to plus-sized women. I also have a fair bit of Caribbean Indian blood in me, so I have also embraced the sexuality of The Amazon. I am a pagan who rejects most of the beliefs and teachings of all organized religions. I love nature and I love sex, and there’s not much I love better than natural sexual expression.
Sadly, because they have been told that they are ugly and unworthy, and have had their bodies criticized and preyed upon for hundreds of years, the obstacles to black and minority women stepping forward for a project like this are far more daunting than they are to white women. Nevertheless, I was still able to find some amazing Goddesses of colour.
The biggest influence that Western culture has had on this project is the way it has inspired me to rebel against it.
I want people to be moved and inspired on seeing the joy, freedom, intimacy, and lack of shame in this work. If photographs are like food, then when it comes to sexual photography, people have been generally exposed to pure junk food. Here in this project is a healthy, organic, home-made meal that I hope people will savour. I believe in giving people good nutrition.