Thursday, May 6, 2010


My NY Dolls tales are minimal but extant, having photographed the New York Dolls live in 1973 at the Whisky A Gogo. I was a natural/stage lights-only snob in those days, not even bringing a flash, so I have very few photos from that show's dimly lit presentation, the best one showing David Johansen in his ebony halter top together with Johnny Thunders sporting his Elvis-like sneer and Big Hair. Far, far better for all concerned to consult Bob Gruen's excellent "All Dolled Up" documentary, easily available on Amazon and the like.

Shortly before he moved to New Orleans and expired, Thunders attended a New Years' Eve show at the Hollywood Palladium starring ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones. We both were standing in the guest list/VIP line together, since as a photographer, I required special entree for the audacity of wanting to enter with a camera. And we were both were being hassled about getting in at all, me-- because all photographic press are treated in the gamut from mere damage control to outright terrorists at rock shows, and him-- because they didn't recognize him or his name. We didn't speak to one another, but shared a knowing smirk at the staff's lack of worldliness in dismissing him.

Once he had been the ultimate in photogenic Italianate bad-boy cuteness, thanks to his cheekbones and overall good bone structure. Maybe they really didn't recognize him. By now, he had terrible skin, sallow, resembling "cottage cheese" acoustic ceilings. Even though I toted a flash unit along with me at that point in my career, any thought of my doing paparazzo-type pics (which I normally eschew anyway) of him in line would have been cruel. He did not look in any shape or form healthy. And as was shortly proven, he wasn't.


Retro Kimmer said...

Great behind the scenes story. I loved it!

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