rediscovered portraits of 70s nyc bad boys, from mick jagger to john belushi
Mick Jagger, William Burroughs, Andy Warhol
William S. Burroughs, Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Waters, Iggy Pop--these gritty, boundary-pushing legends vibrate on a different frequency from the rest of us. Their contributions resounded in their own worlds of poetry, art, film and music, colliding in an artistic fever pitch in the late 70s and early 80s. Photographer Marcia Resnick and writer Victor Bockris have brought these enfants terribles of different scenes together in one book, demonstrating their common ground. Punks, Poets & Provocateurs: NYC Bad Boys, 1977-1982 explores a six-year period in New York that was a hotbed for creative brilliance and dangerous behavior, and takes an intimate look at that period's cast of (male) characters.
Resnick has been a respected and prolific photographer of the downtown scene since its heyday, and Bockris made his name as a member of Warhol's pack. Resnick brought the punk and Bockris brought the art to their friendship and partnership. "I opened the doors to my world, introducing her to Andy Warhol, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, etc. I was a contributing editor at High Times and the underground publication Traveller's Digest and published the first selection of Bad Boys in 1978," Bockris recalls. "Marcia took me more deeply into punk. We spent a lot of time at CBGB's and our favorite, the Mudd Club. We were what I call Beat Punks, in other words people equally inspired by the Beat generation, The Warhol generation and the punk generation. "
Resnick had already started her Bad Boys portrait series in 1977. Bockris says she was a pro at going out every night to mingle and shoot, was best friends with Lester Bangs and Bob Quine, and even lived with Johnny Thunders for a bit. "I think Bad Boys came naturally to her in as much as bad boys were her chosen companions," Bockris says. Resnick explains her series' male focus as coming from a quest to "confront the mysteries that separate men from women."
When asked who were her favorite bad boys, Resnick names Johnny Thunders and John Belushi, who each have their own chapters in the book. "The first time I met Johnny Thunders was at the Gramercy Park Hotel," she remembers. "We immediately hit it off and I took my first photograph of him when he got into the bathtub in his unzipped jeans and tattoos." But Resnick, who palled around with all her subjects, thinks they are as important and impactful today. "They are bigger than ever because they were the best at what they did. And what they did helped to improve the scope of all our lives, particularly our sex lives and our creative and spiritual lives."
Punks, Poets & Provocateurs is divided into sections focusing on the beat poets, punks and musicians, and writers, artists and filmmakers. Alongside photos of Allen Ginsberg, Lester Bangs and David Johansen are interviews conducted at the time by Bockris as well as special contributions and intimate snippets like letters from Joey Ramone and a conversation between Richard Hell and Susan Sontag. Many of these men we've seen and read about before, but rarely so candidly with such a close-to-the-source perspective on their genius and destruction.
Punks, Poets & Provocateurs is out November 10th, 2015 from Insight Editions
Text Courtney Iseman
All images courtesy Marcia Resnick