Why I Photograph the Underwear

By: Stacey Diamond

I seek out the unique and the odd but it also seems to find me.

I trace this back to the summer before second grade when I found a live parakeet in the road. I took it around the neighborhood to see if anyone was missing a bird. They weren’t. It became my first pet. So, I know that it’s possible to walk up on just about anything. I know the weird stuff is out there and I am open to it.

This Was Just the Beginning

My first street underwear find was in March of 2012. I enjoy the sites and the energy while walking around the downtown area and this Sunday afternoon was no different. I walked by the Asbestos Workers’ union hall and I see what looks like some panties near its door. I come closer and see that indeed it is. There were some unopened packs of wet-wipes beside them. I have my camera with me and I think of the possibilities.

Our hero's journey begins.

Our hero’s journey begins.

I know I need the panties and the wet-wipes together to take the photo I want, but this would involve touching them. I’m apprehensive at first. I wonder if this would just be too much for Facebook viewers. Then I think of the slogan,” Go big or go home.” If I’m going to take pictures of the weird I might as well go full force. So I touch them and pose them and I haven’t looked back.

I wonder how they got there. Did someone coming back from a work trip drop them out of a suitcase? Did one of the “holler” hookers have a tryst there the night before? Is it true what they say about union workers and their long breaks? Are they asbestos covered panties?  And why weren’t the wet-wipes opened? The possibilities are endless.  This was just the beginning.


I Use a lot of Hand Sanitizer

Since then I’ve looked through alleys wondering if any underwear was there, and, sure enough, it is, along with any manner of clothing, etc. I’ve also been walking down the sidewalk not looking for anything and there will be a bra. I’ve jokingly called myself the “panty prophet.” Maybe the underwear is supposed to come to me, like the guy on the T.V. show who got the newspaper one day ahead of time.

I’m sure folks wonder, yes the underwear is usually clean, even so, I use lots of hand sanitizer. Its interesting too, that much of the underwear is name brand.

Party at the McClung Warehouse.

Party at the McClung Warehouse.

I enjoy exploring around old buildings and any place unusual, so I knew I’d get some good photos after the McClung warehouse fire. I walked around under the bridge by the burned buildings and found a treasure trove! There were “naughty” Christmas boxer shorts, some women’s Victoria’s Secret pieces, and a Liz Claiborne sweater. There had been a homeless camp nearby, but it looked like some wealthy people might have had a party.


Captain Underpants was in too much of a hurry…

More Than Underwear

And, its not just underwear I find. Once, also in the spring of 2012, I was walking through the Old City hoping for something odd or inspiring to come along for me to photograph and a giant banana shaped car drove up.


And its not just downtown where I find the underwear. This past fall I was hiking on a trail in the middle of nowhere in the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge and there were some panties lying on the trail.

Spanks for the memories.

Spanks for the memories.

My latest oddity were some folks dressed as Easter Bunnies selling baskets for kids out of the back of a truck by a liquor store and the Fellini Kroger. Now that’s a good ghetto Easter gift for sure!  Like I said, the possibilities out there are endless!

That's so Knoxville.

That’s so Knoxville.

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© Stacey Diamond, 2014.

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