"What's that?" people say, pointing at a photograph in my living room, and then they almost always ask, "Is that someone's balls?" It is someone's balls; whose, I can't say. Kelly O insisted that the owners of the balls in her show 100 Balls—48 pairs of testicles, one set of three, and one lone ranger—remain anonymous. But this particular person ought to be proud: He has a perfectly poised, beautifully colored, handsomely hanging Scrabble bag. There were no penises in any of the photographs in 100 Balls, just balls, maybe a wrist, maybe a watch, unzipped pants, a pubic border. No one else would ever make balls the subject of an entire show, and no one else would be able to get so many people to unzip. The photo in my living room is funny and so tender: Kelly O's hand is clasping the guy's hand to give him the courage to let her snap the pic.
Kelly O's best-known photos are always funny and tender. The portraits of drunks that first appeared in Drunk of the Week—a dozen of the best are featured in her new show, Drunks 'N' Punks, which opens Thursday night (June 17) at Easy Street Records in West Seattle—all have one thing in common: They are the result of the subjects feeling uninhibited, which is the direct result of Kelly O's magical Michigan personality (and of their being drunk, though she asks again for permission to publish them in the cold light of day). So completely uninhibited are the best Drunks of the Week that most of them are missing clothes, and some are fully alfresco. The naked dwarf on a scooter. The burning firework in someone's ass crack. The stripper squatting pants-less over her friend. The buck-naked partyer and his artfully placed empty half-rack of PBR. The man with his body pressed to a mound of snow, loser of a bet, sportsmanlike in defeat, his buttocks showing, his testicles unimaginably cold—possibly the greatest Drunk of the Week in... well, a while at least.