Photographer Marcia Resnick — whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone and the Paris Review, and exhibited internationally in galleries and museums — has helped create icons; as writer Glenn O’Brien once put it, she is “the insider among the outsiders of art.” Her portraits of defining figures of ’70s counterculture are unique collaborations between her camera and her subjects. Unlike the omnipresent paparazzi of today, Resnick had intimate relationships with the personalities she photographed, who include William Burroughs, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Blondie, Lydia Lunch, John Belushi, and David Byrne.
Tonight, Bad Boys: Punks, Poets and Provocateurs, a selection of Resnick’s rediscovered vintage prints opens at Deborah Bell Photographs. The show, which is on display through February 26th, highlights her explorations of masculine identity, distilling something intimate, giddy and gritty in this particular cultural moment, when the “bad boy” persona was both flaunted and challenged.
Click through to preview a selection of counterculture icons and to read Resnick’s behind-the-scenes account of her own work.
Mick Jagger, William Burroughs and Andy Warhol, 1980
Marcia Resnick says: “One evening in NYC in 1980, Mick Jagger, rock legend, William Seward Burroughs, literary luminary and Andy Warhol, art prodigy, had dinner in the ‘Bunker,’ Burroughs’ residence on the Bowery. The atmosphere was palpable. A food fight erupted. Then, the egos of these three charismatic gods of the counterculture clashed, resulting in a profound silence.”
Marcia Resnick says: “Divine aka Harris Glenn Milstead was an actor, singer and famous drag queen who was a boyhood friend of John Waters in Baltimore. He appeared in the underground films of John Waters including Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Polyester, the original Hairspray, and opposite Tab Hunter in Lust in the Dust. This photo was taken in NYC in 1981.”
David Byrne, 1980
Marcia Resnick says: “David Byrne was the lead vocalist for the Talking Heads. After they disbanded, he began a career as a soloist, a photographer and a mixed media artist. He collaborated with Brian Eno, recording My Life in the Bush of Ghosts in 1978 and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today in 2008. This photo was taken in NYC in 1980.”
Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1978
Marcia Resnick says: “Jean-Michel Basquiat, was a graffiti artist who wrote clever phrases on city walls and tagged them SAMO. The film Downtown 81 featured both him and music by his band Gray. His neo-expressionist paintings became the toast of the art world after being praised in Rene Ricard’s article ‘The Radiant Child’ in Artforum magazine. This photo was taken in the Mudd Club in NYC in 1978.”
John Belushi, 1981
Marcia Resnick says: “In early September 1981, I spotted John Belushi in the New York after hours club, AM-PM. I asked him when he would do a photo session with me and he said ‘Now.’ As it was 5am, I didn’t believe him. Upon returning home, John and his entourage were waiting in a limousine in front of my building. Once inside, he paced around like a caged animal, fidgeting incessantly, uncanny for someone who was such a fluid performer. In one vulnerable moment, he peered from behind his flailing arm. The outcome of this session became Chapter 15 in Bob Woodward’s book Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi.”
Johnny Thunders, 1978
Marcia Resnick says: “Johnny Thunders aka John Anthony Genzale, rock guitarist, singer and songwriter, known for his explosive guitar sound, was in The New York Dolls before he founded The Heartbreakers with Jerry Nolan, Walter Lure and Billy Rath. Their album, L.A.M.F. (Like a Motherfucker) preceded his solo career, during which he made So Alone. This photo was taken in NYC’s Gramercy Park Hotel in 1978.”
Robert Gordon, 1978
Marcia Resnick says: “In 1978, rockabilly vocalist Robert Gordon greeted me before a magazine photo session. ‘Hey baby, what’s your name?’ he asked with a perfunctory Elvis-like sneer. The feminist in me reacted with, ‘My name’s not baby!’ I told him I was working on a series of portraits called ‘Bad Boys.’ A short time later I learned that he called his new album, Bad Boy.”
Kipper Kids, 1979
Marcia Resnick says: “Martin Rochus Sebastian von Haselberg and Brian Routh are a contemporary ‘performance art’ duo. Harry and Harry Kipper’s scatological slapstick pieces combine zany, comedic action with ceremonial routines. In Boxing Ceremony, one performer beats himself while the other performer acts as referee. This photo was taken in 1979 in NYC.”
Klaus Nomi, 1978
Marcia Resnick says: “Photographed here in 1978, German born Klaus Nomi, originally Klaus Sperber, was a pastry chef who was about to re-invent himself as a new wave opera singer. With his angular features (exaggerated by theatrical make-up), his outer-space-like attire and his distinctly coiffed hair (complete with receding hairline), he awed audiences. He employed his stellar countertenor voice in explosive performances, using synthesizers to create unique renditions of both arias and pop songs. He died of AIDS in 1983.”
Chuck Berry, 1979
Marcia Resnick says: “Chuck Berry, one of the first and greatest singers, songwriters, guitarists and performers in the history of rock and roll, was photographed in 1979 in a New York City club.”