Unlike the damn kids of today when I was a youngster we were taught important life skills.
Like how to pose for a picture.
Coquettish half turn, eyes on the lens, no tension, warm smile – these are the techniques that you learn early and have to master before the Bar Mitzvah portrait goes on the wall.
And master them I did.
But the one thing my parents never taught me was how to approach the mug shot. Perhaps they thought that by not addressing the mug shot they would prevent me from ending up in the joint.
That’s obviously just bad parenting.
And now, all these years later, I’m kind of lost. I have no idea how to handle the mug shot and I don’t want to make a bad creative choice under duress – especially if I’m all cracked-out and internally bleeding. Jail sentences may only last a few years, but mug shots are forever.
So work with me here, people. Let’s think about the best approach for posing for a great mug shot.
Contrite: the classic mug shot pose is one of contrition. It says to the world “I’m sorry for what I’ve done” or at the very least “I’m sorry for getting caught for what I’ve done.” It’s a good play if you’re planning on getting out quickly and need to hit the family up for some cash. The only downside to the big ol’ puppy eyes is that other convicts tend to think you’re soft (or “fresh fish” in prison vernacular.)
Crazy Eyes: The opposite of contrite is crazy eyes. Nothing says “don’t fuck with me” quite like a crazy eyes mug shot. When you add crazy hair to crazy eyes we call it a “Nolte”. When you add a v-neck undershirt to a “Nolte” we call it a “Saddam”. Any of the three will be very effective in getting you into the most prestigious gang in prison, but the downside is that you’ll never be able to convince people that you’re not crazy ever again. (We call that a “Gibson”.)
Headshot: One of the hardest shots to pull off, the headshot is when you literally pretend the mug shot is your Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah portrait and you work that camera hard. You make love to that camera, which isn’t easy because you’re not exactly working with Dave LaChappelle in the booking office. When people say that Lindsay Lohan isn’t the greatest actress of our generation I remind them of her 2010 mug shot work. She looks radiant in that shot, even with the outdated orange jumper.
Smirk: I’m not a fan of smirking mug shots because they are fundamentally disrespectful. Look, you may think this is all a big joke, mister, but taking portraits is not a game. I always knew that Samantha Ronson was the weak half of the Lohan-Ronson coupling, but my suspicions were confirmed when she put on that Billy Idol-sneer for her mug shot. Bad choice, Sam.
Beatific: This one is my favorite. The trick is to project an entirely blank expression that allows the viewer to see what they want to see in you. Family members will view it as sad; fellow inmates will read it as resolute; and weird women that have conjugal visits with random prisoners will see it as sexy.
I think we have a winner!
Thanks for helping me out with this one.