Girls On Film | April Flores: Photographed By Carlos Batts
It was many years ago, over a dozen in fact, when Carlos Batts began a photographic odyssey that would take him on a journey that would end in “death do us part,” the journey of a thousand miles which began with a single step made by April Flores into his life. It was June 2000, and Flores was on her way to their very first shoot. As she walked up the stairs to his apartment, suddenly it hit her – modeling for Batts would change her life forever.
Of their first shoot, Batts remembers, “I wanted to impress her. Everything was mellow, comfortable, super sexy.” Then he asked her to put on a bikini. April remembers that. “I felt like, ‘Aww hell no,’” but then she decided, “Fuck it.” She threw caution to the wind, and posed for what would be the first of hundreds of shoots that would occur between the two for the next twelve years, years that marked intense periods of discovery between artist and muse, resulting in the publication of Fat Girl (Rare Bird Books), an exquisite collection of their work in September 2013.
Fat Girl is a love story, an epic poem and an ode, a vision of masculine and feminine, of yin and yang made whole. It is a story of wonder and self-discovery, of beauty, art, lust, sex, high heels and long lashes, and big, luscious cupcakes covered with frosting and served up on a silver tray. Fat Girl is the story of artist and muse who found that together the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. The photographs reveal a connection that is iron tempered by heat so that it becomes steel, a bond grounded in a strength so deep that they continue to endure when fate takes a turn for the worse.
On October 22, 2013, Flores found Batts dead in their Los Angeles home. Though due to natural causes, it was shocking, as Batts was only forty years old. It was devastating for Flores to stand alone as all their dreams were coming true. Fat Girl had been published; she had just won a Feminist Porn Award and would soon go on to receive the AVN Award for BBW of the Year in 2014 and 2015. Flores, now a young widow, was forced to live and work alone for the first time in over a decade.
Speaking to Crave, Flores observes, “I am too close to everything that has happened. I see memories in each picture we took. I am really grateful the book was completed. Carlos was all about completing things. Out here, in Los Angeles, everyone has a million ideas. A quarter of them get started and three of them finish. Carlos was one of them.
“Looking at the photographs now, I see his hard work, his determination even more so than when I was with him. I’m a singular person now. Before I was is muse and I was lazy. I had the privilege and luxury to focus on my hair and my makeup and nothing else mattered except creating the image. Now our relationship has switched and Carlos is my muse. I can make him come to life by continuing our work.
“I look back at myself in these photographs and I see exactly how much I didn’t know and how much I foolishly thought I did know and a tiny bit of who much I took time as a process for granted. We don’t know until we know.
“Time is a constant. Nothing else really is. That’s the only real thing. Everything changes and evolves. Looking back at the photographs, I’m looking at a family album. I can really respect his creative process now more than I did at the time. Carlos took care of setting up lights, setting up the background, developing the film, getting the slides—everything.
“I can see him now more as an atist than as a husband. Outside of the daily bullshit that poisons marriages like groceries, rent, and bills—all those things that had clogged my mind and I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the process—I can fully appreciate the process now that he can’t be here to talk about the bills.
“The mundane is gone and he left his work behind. After he passed, I realized that once you leave this plane, what do you have if you don’t have kids or a legacy? You have your art. It’s the most true part of yourself. What am I doing to leave behind? I have to get to work! (Laughs).
“I am continuing with the work. I see his vision of beauty in the pictures. So much thought and care went into everything. It’s another level now. I’m just another viewer. He’s out of my reach. It’s like the artists who died 100 years ago and all we can have is the work.”