Director ···· Ricky Lam
Medium ···· Photo
Published ···· September 2019
Models ···· Ariana, Fatima, Parisa, and Yassmin

It was 5 AM and the alarm rang. I begrudgingly turn over only to remember that I wasn’t on my bed, but on Calvin’s living room couch. He was still asleep so I quickly got my bathroom supplies and rushed to get ready. The bus to New York was leaving at 7 AM and the last thing I wanted to worry about was if I got my morning shit out of the way. Our Lyft arrived at 6 AM and we updated the others that we were on the way.

Fatima, Yassmin, and Parisa slept at Ariana’s house the night prior, planning to meet us at Union Station. The only complication was that Ariana didn’t tell her parents about the weekend trip and begged everyone to be as quiet as possible when leaving the house. While our Lyft ride was relatively peaceful, their Uber ride was far from it (I noticed that this seems like brand comparison but I promise you it is not, even though Lyft is technically better in my humble opinion).

Chaos hit the group chat as the four of them messaged each other in silence, trying to keep calm that their Uber drive was going 80 MPH at 6 AM, blasting 50 Cent as loud as possible. Ariana attempted to make conversation but was met with silence. At one point they spoke to each other in the car and the music only got louder. It didn’t help that the Uber driver’s gas tank light was flashing. Meanwhile, me and Calvin were sitting luxuriously with elevator music playing in the background as our ride came to a close.

The others miraculously made it in time and we got ourselves situated on the bus. Despite their Uber ride, things were going relatively well for a group that’s known to always be late for events. Ariana sighed in relief that her family didn’t catch them leaving the house when suddenly she heard her dad say her name. She looked down at her phone and realized she somehow tried to Facetime him as she got herself situated. I shit you not when I can perfectly remember all the looks on our faces when she realized she made a mistake. She put the phone to sleep and pretended that she didn’t see – we pretended as well.

The ride was going to be four hours and I eagerly anticipated our eventual drop-off. It was the first time visiting the city with my friends and the first time I didn’t feel unwelcome in the city since my internship. Whether anyone liked it or not, New York felt like my home away from home and I always yearn to be back in its arms despite how many missed opportunities I feel when I’m there. But that’s a story for another day.

“Juicy” manifested with the rest of the “A Fantasy Based on Reality” series, albeit it was less about me and moreso inspired by my friends. During my time with the Department of State, I had three ideas in my mind where I wanted it all to be completely different issues, but have some thematic connection to the twenties. Those initial ideas would be called “Cinderella,” “Juicy,” and “Superposition.” Unsurprisingly, things changed due to time constraints and overall lack of availability and I constantly reframed it to the best of my ability. It’s one of my least favorite traits and I do hope one day, I can consistently drive an idea to the finish line. I think my worst regret is not executing “Juicy” the way I initially envisioned.

The project was meant to show an alternate reality where women were the elite class. Inspired by cherry Twitter culture and Doja Cat’s “Juicy” track, I wanted to play off the title by retaining the “juicy” aspects of women’s sexualities, but showing that they too can have substance. It honestly came from my constant anger towards my male peers. Every time I would hear another story about a man fucking up or being unnecessarily rude towards my girl friends, I’d question their state of mind and just not being aware that they’re spouting absolute nonsense. The photo project would have depicted all my friends at their most powerful while retaining their freedom and independence to be innately themselves. It would’ve been a very “Nice for What” visual and everyone was excited to see it come to light. Unfortunately, things just kept getting in the way and my faith in the project dissipated. At a point, I just grew tired at waiting for the right moment to do it and my mind wasn’t there to reciprocate that energy again. I was ready to move onto my next project and sometimes I wonder if maybe not doing it was for the best. Would I have been the best fit for the job? Was there enough resources to fully make this the baddest thing ever made? Would anyone really care? Sometimes my decision to drop it all still haunts me and I wonder if there’s any chance to revive it.

What ended up being the result was a memorable shoot at a pop-up exhibit in Brooklyn. We had a set appointment but noticed a line that stretched across multiple blocks. I’m pretty sure we stood in that line for a good ten minutes, completely bewildered by how crowded this pop-up could possibly be. It was only when I noticed multiple fans holding copies of Charli XCX’s latest EP that I realized we were in fact waiting for a meet and greet with Charli herself at a vinyl store. To be honest, I’m pretty upset we didn’t just ditch the shoot and meet our PC idol. But the photos lived up to her name and hopefully she’s out there screaming “i dON’T cARe i LaUVe iT” to her thousands of fans.
Pink was the color of the shoot. With fake jewels that twinkled and dazzled across the vaporwave setting, I wanted to present my friends in their best light. Excessively dominating the photo, shot from the ground up – you didn’t want to fuck around with them. During the shoot, I thought about the one Cupcakke verse a lot where she screams, “Used to call you Daddy, but now I call you my majesty.” The amount of absurd DMs they receive on the daily from boys who are desperate enough to beg on their knees always leaves me in awe. Sometimes I read them and just don’t understand how they didn’t realize what they were sending and how incredibly pathetic it sounded. Granted I don’t make any effort to date nowadays so maybe I should keep quiet.

Looking back at it now, I have no idea how “Juicy” would’ve turned out. Maybe whatever idea that was in my head wouldn’t have turned out the way I wanted it to. Maybe I regret not making “Juicy” because most of my friends that were going to be featured are all booed up now and have professed their desire to simp. I hate that I have to hear it regularly now – they seem to be a little too nice to men as of late. For now, these set of photos are the remaining remnants of what this project could have been and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.