According to Hugo, the models used were "into the idea and got paid". Even so, by midyear, a small troll army was up in arms about Hugo for displaying black bodies as "savage fashion", suggesting that the revealing images would put the lives of the Caribbean island's LGBT communities at risk — homosexuality is against the law on the deeply conservative island. But those who moaned clearly didn't get their facts straight, nor do they understand the "trill" crew Hugo collaborated with. (Trill: a hip hop term for well respected, a combination of "true" and "real").
Hugo approached the PH & HBA project as a photographer who frequently shoots luxe fashion. He happened to be in Jamaica at the time, shooting a Paul Smith editorial, with fashion editor Carlos Nazario, his partner in crime at HBA. In true HBA style, the photographer and editor piggy-backed on the Paul Smith shoot pooling resources, says Hugo. Together they street cast for models in Kingston, "guerrilla-style" and wound up with "a diverse crew of porn stars, body builders, models, construction workers and LGBT 'gully queens' who typically only come out at night," explains Hugo. Far from considering himself an activist, Hugo says he was "in part inspired by Jamaican author Marlon James's book A Brief History of Seven Killings and hopes that the project’s exposure "will encourage dialogue about homosexuality of which no mention is made in Jamaican culture".
The HBA street silhouette, formalizing sloppiness is distinctly New York, with a uniquely super-animated edge. "Butch for street, smart for school, glam for club, proudly ghetto and proudly elite," as described by Oliver. HBA is run and owned by LGBT men and women of Caribbean descent. Hugo says he only met the mastermind Oliver, who graduated from New York's Harvey Milk High School, much later and happens to be "both inspired and terrified of him".
Inadvertently, the fascination with the half-dressed "thug" silhouette presented in PH & HBO fits into the HBA ethos. After all, if we all stuck to the rules, French photographer Jean Paul Goude would have photographed French poodles or men wearing berets on bicycles smoking Gitanes with baguettes under their arms, and most certainly not Grace Jones a la Jungle Fever.