The Last Car
Project info

During a recent two-day layover in Mexico City, a friend took me out for drinks to La Purísima, a bar in a darkened, patchy fringe of the City's historic center. Wandering the crowded main room, a male couple caught my attention, their entwined bodies framed and backlit by a stark neon sign: PUTO — a Spanish slur for faggot.

I stepped aside and photographed them.

After capturing that image, my friend tipped me off to a type of scene starting an hour or so before midnight across all the subway lines: cruising in the very last car. Cruising? In the last car? It seemed strange like a holdover ritual from a bygone era yet wholly intriguing — a rabbit-hole leading down into some other land, into another period, another culture. Here, in Mexico City, in the one of the world's largest subway systems, in this age promising endless social connectivity of mobile apps or the immediate sexual gratification of online porn, why would one seek out, need or want to have a provisional place for men to connect? It all sounded suspect but also puzzling.

Photographing in a subway after dark is difficult (the light is flat offering few surprises) and potentially dangerous. As a foreigner, it’s impossible to be anonymous, particularly with a camera dangling around your neck. The subway and network of stations are an odd no man’s land, a transitory space — a place between places. Separated from the daily crush of commuters, these late night last cars, while stark and hardly private, offer cover for some of the men in Mexico City to still connect.

My curiosity piqued, I randomly selected the Pink Line that runs east-west through the predominantly gay Zona Rosa neighborhood. To my surprise, the last car did exist, with a scene even more active and out in the open than I had imagined. Furthermore, male intimacy is openly visible everywhere in the Mexican capital. Hence, my explorations led me from down in the subways out into the streets, to the din of bustling bars and pulsing nightclubs onwards following trysts that lead back to privacy, be it home or hotel.

Finally I would like to acknowledge Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb for their encouragement in developing this body of work. Over a three year period involving multiple visits back to the Mexico City, their questions and suggestions helped to focus and refine my initial curiosity.