The art of parties and beyond

Keiichi Nitta


Long known as skank-photographer Terry Richardson's right hand (a title that comes with certain occupational hazards), Tokyo-based photographer Keiichi Nitta is returning to the U.S. with his first American solo exhibition at L.A.'s Constant gallery, Sept. 6 - 30. Comprising ten large-scale images of rough-edged eroticism and extemporaneous bad behavior, the show offers a documentation of Tokyo's wild-child underbelly, or at least the one Keiichi wishes it had. Here, the artist—who's gone on to shoot for everyone from Vogue Japan and Vice to Undercover and Marc by Marc Jacobs—explains in five questions from Hint's ARIC CHEN.

You worked for Terry Richardson for six years. What was that like?
It was a lot of craziness, it was so much fun. Very busy. Every day, we had fashion shoots in L.A., New York, Paris—lots of naked girls and parties. It was always fun. But when we were back in the studio in New York, it was nice to chill. I would play a lot of ping pong, sometimes I made a Japanese lunch for everyone. We went to a lot of Slayer concerts.

Keiichi Nitta

How did you meet Terry?
The first time I think was around 1998. I just came to New York from Japan and I would call him, like, twice a week—maybe every day. I was working at a sake bar and Japanese restaurant until 5 am, and when I got home, I would call him and say, I just came from Japan, I want to be a photographer, I like your work and can help you for free. I did this for, like, two years. That's fucked up, right? Finally, one day his assistant called me and asked if I wanted to work with him and then I just started.

What was the craziest thing you remember doing with him?
There was his show for Deitch gallery called Kibosh and he was fucking a lot of girls—well, not fucking, but there was a lot of sucking dick or whatever. Lots of nakedness. It was crazy. Then Terry did a video for Queens of the Stone Age ["Everybody Knows That You're Insane"]. You have to see it. I was living next to his building and one Sunday morning he called me and said, Come to the studio. It was just me and him. It was snowing, too—freezing—and he just filmed me naked doing lots of crazy things in the snow and that was the music video. It was crazy.

Keiichi NittaKeiichi Nitta

Your new photos are pretty crazy, too. In fact, your show is called I Think Japanese People Should Be More Open. What do you mean?
In Japan, the people are very uptight and very closed. They don't open their hearts so much. That's why they have so much suicide in Japan and, lately, a lot of children killing their parents. They're afraid to open themselves up. So I took a lot of pictures of Japanese gay sex, a lot of lesbian sex, and then I just put it in the show. I want Japanese people to be more open. They're just hiding so much. I don't know why.

So why did you move back to Tokyo?
I didn't want to move back. I didn't want to quit my job with Terry. But my wife is American and she got a big job in Tokyo and was like, Can we move there? I said, What? I had a job, I got to go everywhere, it was nice. But if you're married you can't say no. So now I've moved back to Tokyo. Am I happy? Not really. For fashion work, for money things, yes, but for fun things, no. But the great thing about Tokyo is the toilets—you push a button and water comes in your ass, like a hot massage. The eating is good and the people are nice, too. But me, I like more the New York style.

Read previous party reports in Jetsetera Archives

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