Milk Made’s Kalvin Lazarte just spent the last week blacked out in the jungles of Puerto Rico with Milk Underground Photographer Steven Stone. With half their crew in dilapidated despair, suffering from post fashion week fatigue, the seemingly simple task of meeting up with their friends from the shoe company Zuriick to shoot their upcoming catalog became a tumultuous, gut-wrenching ordeal. Which is exactly why we can’t understand why they both want to go back so badly.
Kalvin gave us a little insight into just how crazy the experience was.
Kalvin Lazarte: 4 AM is a terrible time to try and board a flight. If you’re still awake from the night before, it means you’re still drunk (and probably still drinking). If you’ve made the mistake of passing out for a few hours before you leave to deal with the godless lines of TSA, it means your hangover is just now beginning to set in.
Lucky for me I was still sipping the last bit of bourbon out of a Nalgene bottle with our photographer Steven Stone and his assistant Mike Bogart. We passed the bottle in silence and stared blankly at our stylist Alison Isbell crouched on her hands and knees in front of the ticket counter - messily rearranging her once perfectly packet suitcases to avoid paying the penalty fee for her overweight bags.
Looking out the window of the airplane as we flew into Puerto Rico all I kept thinking about was scene in Jurassic Park where they first see the island from the helicopter. From that high up in the air, all of Puerto Rico looked like a bunch of brocoli smooshed tightly together. This is when my lack of sleep wore off and the excitement of being somewhere I had never been before set in.
We met up with Model Meagan Camper in the parking lot of the airport, grabbed our rental cars, loaded up on cigarettes and alcohol and drove an hour down the Puerto Rican highway to reach or hotel. At first, Puerto Rico looks a lot like some of the more colorful parts of Los Angeles - that is until you see the blood and guts of a 9-Foot Iguana sprayed all over the passing lane of the highway. I have also never been surrounded by a team of scooter riding gang members before (at least not with scooters that shinny and futuristic).
Our hotel laid at the end of a thin, winding road that led us to the top of a hill in the middle of a tropical forest. As we drove past abandoned cars in front of colorful homes, we avoided hitting wild dogs as they greeted our cars by dragging ripped up bags full of hot garbage into the middle of the dirt road. When we arrived we rented every room in the small hotel, which seemed to have been built on a few acres of heaven and had an astonishing view of the jungle and the beach. Having the entire place to ourselves came in handy, it meant that that we didn’t wake any strangers when model Samantha Diaz came running out of her room screaming in the middle of the night about the giant centipede that had crawled onto her pillow.
The excessive amount of alcohol we had bought came in handy when asking if we could sneak a few shots in the locals backyards. The alcohol storage proved to be a necessity when Steven stepped on a rusty nail while shooting and used half a bottle of cheap whiskey to clean his wound. Each night Mike, Steven and I would take turns throwing our warm beers into the air and slicing them straight down the middle with one of Steven’s ‘Crocodile Dundee’ sized knives. Then we would take the party into our pool, where we turned a little plastic sack into underwater housing for our camera. Do not try any of this (drunk) at home!
Our hangovers were cured during the long drives to the beach, that were made longer by the fact that no one spoke spanish and I am terrible following directions in the first place. After hundreds of wrong turns into strange parts of town, we must have all looked like dogs who had just been let off their leashes as we all ran screaming towards the beach. We laid on the sand and played in the waves until it was time for us to go to the airport. We got back onto the plane with sopping wet shoes and sand covered clothing, wishing that we had one or two more days to avoid the frigid cold that awaited us back in New York.
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