Marcia Resnick is a photographer who made her name as achronicler and member of the 1970s-80s New York demimonde. Her work has notbeen widely shown nor collected in books, yet her eye is behind many of the mosticonic images of an era ravaged by the culture of sex, drugs and rock 'n' rollthat defined it. With the arrival of AIDS and the subsequent death of many ofthe people she photographed, Resnick dropped out of the scene to redefineherself, teaching the lost arts of the dark room for 15 years at universitiesin the area. We know what happened to dark rooms. Fortunately for Resnick,hundreds of photographs lost to a disreputable manager turned up, making itpossible for her to begin showing them again and to work on a book withVictor Bockris. "Bad Boys: Punks, Poets and Provocateurs," an exhibition at theDeborah Bell Gallery (511 W. 25th St., opening this Thursday) is agood place to start to get to know her work as is her Facebook page where shehas been posting dozens of photographs.


David Hershkovits: What's your definition of a Bad Boy?

Marcia Resnick: In the press release it says Bad Boys arebad from evil to naughty to cruel to good. A Bad Boy doesn't have to be the prototypicalJames Dean character. A Bad Boy is someone who is spectacular in some ways. Whohas charisma and who is daring in his arena. I do have some bad Bad Boys in theshow. Quentin Crisp was bad in an elegant way. Johnny Thunders is bad in aprototypical way. He was so bad that he was self-destructive. He wasself-destructive in a glamorous way, or so people thought.

The photo that I took of him that they are showing is of thetime when I met him at the Gramercy Park Hotel. He spent a lot of time in thebathroom and I photographed him looking at himself in the mirror. I photographedhim in the bathtub. That should be enough said.

DH: You also have a photo of John Belushi in the show.

MR: I might have had the last photo session with him. I wasat [the after hours club] AM/PM really late one night and I saw John and I hadmet him several times before and I said, "When are we going to do a photosession?" And he said, "now" and it was five in the morning between Saturdayand Sunday and I went about my business. And when I got home there was alimousine waiting for me with John and his entourage. Well, I took advantage ofthe situation. We all went upstairs. He was unusually giving in this photosession. This was September '81 and he died in March '82. And I even saw him afew days before he died. He was in New York before he flew to California wherehe died.

DH: Who else is in the show?

MR: Klaus Nomi. I shot him on several occasions. When Ifirst saw him he was a pastry chef and I photographed in his normal attire. Andthen he started to metamorphosize as the man we know and love. He was justbeginning to reinvent himself when I took the photos. He was an enfantterrible. But I just remember him as one of the sweetest guys.

DH: Any others?

MR: I have the summit -- the dinner with William Burroughs,Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger, the three kings of the subculture. That was at theBunker, William Burroughs' home on the Bowery. And that was something that VictorBockris put together for his Conversations with William Burroughs book. I gotto photograph everyone eating, but I didn't get a picture of the food fight. Itwas a cacophony of clashing egos. It was very, very odd. Two people would talkand one person would leave the table. And then there were these moments ofsilence. Victor was doing his Victor thing. He only interfered when things gotreally quiet. There were people talking at all times, but I remember when Andytook me aside because I had mentioned Kenneth Anger and Andy had a badexperience with Kenneth Anger and he had warned me against having anything to dowith Kenneth Anger. When I first arrived it was just William and Andy and theywere talking about young boys. Mick arrived late and that's when things beganto get strange. And the food was not very good.

DH: How was Jagger?

MR: I had photographed him for High Times just a littlebefore that and we had a good rapport during that photos session and I was theone that invited him to come. He was ok. He threw a piece of bread at me. I hadsaid something.

DH: Can you talk a little about the role of drugs in that period?

MR: They had a role. There was a lot of drugs in that periodof time. And I was part of the drug culture as well as anyone else. A lot ofthese people are dead now because of AIDS or drugs or because of themselves andhow they adapted to drugs or sex and what happened afterwards. There's amythology about drugs, that was even occurring then, that it helped yourcreativity. And as people got older they realized it impeded their physicalhealth. Heroin was really popular among people in the art culture in that time.Cocaine had its big heyday in the '80s. I think these drugs are still being usedby really young people who are going through the same things that we were allgoing though when we were young.

DH: Do you think the drugs helped their creativity?

MR: You can't separate the man from the drugs. Who's to saywhether those books and art works and skits on SNL would have been createdwithout the drugs because the drugs were so prevalent in people's lives. Ithink that the drugs certainly contributed to the way people express themselves,however, the fact that people expressed themselves was not dependent on havingthose drugs. They would have expressed themselves probably in other ways.

"Bad Boys: Punks, Poets and Provocateurs," an exhibition at Deborah Bell Photographs 511 W. 25th St., opens January 13th. 

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