You never really know. You go along, thinking, “This is so” until what is becomes what was, and you look around to see what remains of the dream you held in your heart…
In September 2013, Carlos Batts published Fat Girl (Rare Bird Books) a collection of photographs of his muse and wife, the venerated feminist porn star April Flores. The photographs for the book were edited from an archive dating back twelve years, to the very first day they met. It was at a photo shoot. Flores still remembered how it went.
She was on her way up to Batts’ studio, walking up the steps. She stopped between landings and was hit with a message: If she continues forward, her life will change forever. “I decided, ‘Fuck it. Let’s see what happens,’” Flores recalled. And it was at that fated first photo shoot that it all began.
As Batts noted in the book’s introduction, “I wanted to impress her. Everything was mellow, comfortable, super sexy.” He then asked her to put on a bikini. Flores remembered that. “I felt like, ‘aww hell no,’” but she decided to trust him and put on that bikini, and from that day, Batts’ camera began snapping.
From this trust, a love was born, a love that bloomed like the flowers of April’s name. A veritable garden of fragrant, delectable petals and sweet, succulent flesh, Fat Girl is a love story, a story of wonder, of self-discovery, to be or not to be beauty, to be art, to live as your own creation and to collaborate with your other half.
Here, the masculine and feminine come together in this celebration of one woman, an icon of glamour that belies the great D.I.Y. art of self invention. April Flores carries her curves the way other women carry their furs. She wears her body like a luxury.
The photographs of Flores are duets between artist and muse, they are soliloquies spoken and sung, they are poems of lust and odes of love. They are artist and muse made one, eternal forevermore. They are what remains when fate takes a turn for the worse.
On October 22, 2013, April Flores found Carlos Batts dead in their Los Angeles home. It had been a sudden and painless death due to natural causes, but one that was shockingly out of tune with the lives they were building. The book had just been released; Flores had received a Feminist Porn Award; and the couple had great plans for things to come. Batts, only forty years old when he died, left Flores, a young widow, alone for the first time in over a decade.
She who had always followed his lead is now charged to take up the reigns. With Batts’ death the page has turned and a new chapter has begun. A chapter where his photographs become artifacts of a life loved, a life lived, a life that celebrated art, style, music, love, sex, pleasure, food, fun—a life that was about creativity. Batts’ archives is a repository of soul, of personas and energies, a space and a place that captures the last decades of the millennium. His photographs of the world in which he lived are somewhere in between waking and dreaming life.
April 7 marks Batts’ 41 birthday, the first birthday Flores will not be at his side to toast to another wonderful year. But she is not alone, for we who have loved Batts as she does are by her side, to honor and cherish his memory, his legacy, his life in love and in art.