There are two things that are a staple of Instagram, food pictures and people wearing next to nothing. Typically the two aren't synonymous, except for in the case of @BurritoFever, where Brooklyn based artist, Charlie Quiroz, combines his two loves, burritos and exhibitionism.
"I really do love burritos," Quiroz told me while we scrolled through his pictures, or as he called them, "Sexualized funny food photography."
I honestly can't say how I came across Quiroz's account. I don't particularly like burritos-real talk: the shape of a burrito reminds me of little baby fetuses-and even though I'm a fan of the D, nudie accounts have never really been my jam. But when I first saw Quiroz's account, I saw something different at play.
"I'm just having fun making fun of selfie culture and foodie culture," said Quiroz as we chatted in his Williamsburg kitchen. "On one hand I can be very aware of how cheesy and vain people are who post half-naked pictures of themselves, how there's something ridiculous about it. So I can be aware and try to maybe skew it a little bit."
In real life Quiroz, 34, originally from Florida, is lean with a dark complexion, a welcoming smile, and a mischievous laugh. He's just as handsome in person as he is in his pictures, but his personality is relaxing, chill, spontaneous, and infectious. Halfway through our interview I began to feel less like a writer doing a story about him, and more like a friend. As he describes the evolution from basic burrito obsession to full on nudie burrito model/artist, I can't tell if I'm hungry or horny.
At first it started out as a joke. He would just take a picture of himself with a burrito.
"But a burrito is inherently a phallic object, and there's only so much you can do with a burrito, so naturally it went in a sexual direction," he said.
But Quiroz acknowledged that it's not a total surprise the project went in a more sexual direction.
"I definitely have an exhibitionist streak, and that has inserted itself into my love of burritos, and the two have bred this weird baby," he said.
His process is simple. He picks up a burrito from a shop by his apartment. He has a general idea in his head of what he wants to do. Then he comes home, sets up his iPhone 6 front facing camera, disrobes, busts out the burrito, and takes a shit ton of photos, followed by some creative photoshopping.
He says that his work has been inspired by other Instagram artists, like @Naropinosa and @bessnyc4, not to mention the standard "gym bunnies" type who tend to pose half-naked. But he's quick to point out, "That's just my type on Instagram, what I look at, but in real life I don't really have much interest in those people. They're not the type I get crushes on. I get crushes on nerdy, funny people," he said, giving hope to all my fellow funny nerds across the land.
I asked what the reaction has been, and he said it's mostly been positive, people find it funny. Some people are like, "Show me your dick, show me your dick," he says. "But I'm like, 'Girl, show me something first.'"
First and foremost his photos are funny. Clearly he's having a good time, but you can tell he's also trying to say something. Inherently it's just as ridiculous to take a picture of your food as it is to take a picture of yourself mostly naked and post it to Instagram. People who take pictures of their food and people who take pictures of their bodies have something in common, they're often doing it to supplement a lack of personality. It's almost as if they have nothing special to offer besides whatever they're eating or their perfect body. In the case of the latter, there could be a larger damaging impact.
Quiroz is doing something different. His work screams personality, while at the same time playing on common tropes we all can relate to. On one hand you can view his work as a hot guy covering his nasty bits with a burrito over a photoshopped background. On the other hand you can see it as a statement for people to take themselves less seriously online, to not obsess over perfection, to maybe laugh at yourself a little.
Maybe some of those foodies or gym bunnies on Instagram will feel Quiroz's burrito fever and not take themselves so seriously.