Drag Queens, Rent Boys, Pick Pockets, Junkies, Rockstars and Punks

leeeLeee Black Childers, along with Bob Gruen, Roberta Bayley and Mick Rock was one of pre-eminent photographers capturing the NYC rock n roll underground – although Childers was just as likely to appear in a photo as to snap it. Childers came to New York in the late sixties from San Francisco via Kentucky where he was born in 1945 – not such a great time or place for a gay man. Shortly after arriving in New York Childers met up with Andy Warhol for whom he later performed managerial duties – a skill that he parlayed into gigs as tour manager for the likes of Bowie and Iggy Pop.

His close association with 1970s purveyors of glam rock afforded Childers special access to pursue his interest in photography. Childers consulted Warhol about the skills and talents required to be a good photographer, and in typical blasé’ Andy Warhol fashion, the pop artist advised “say you’re a photographer, and you’re a photographer.” That makes eminent sense to me.

Childers died the other day which brought renewed if temporary focus on the heady times of glitter, glam and punk that I thoroughly enjoyed in the 1970s. These were pioneering days for alternative music that addressed not flowers and peace and Rocky Mountain highs, but transsexuality, drugs, loneliness, violence and other urban delights.

Some of Childers’ best work was exhibited in 2012 under the title, “Drag Queens, Rent Boys, Pick Pockets, Junkies, Rockstars and Punks.” The show was revived in LA at the Lethal Amounts Gallery just a few weeks before Childers died.

Here are a few of my favorites. (All photos Copyright (c) Leee Black Childers.)

David Bowie

Brian Eno


Iggy Pop

Debbie Harry

Patti Smith

Robert Mapplethorpe

New York Dolls

Lou Reed & Alice Cooper

The Spiders from Mars


Duck and Cover

In Muslim cultures, the “thumbs-up” sign is an offensive gesture, and eating and drinking with one’s left hand is considered gauche. One of the more insulting gestures in Muslim culture is to show the bottom of a shoe, such as might happen when crossing one’s legs while sitting, as the sole of the shoe is where disgusting detritus can collect (especially in a country where camels wander freely.) Therefore, to throw a shoe at another person might well be the ultimate Islamic insult. Just ask George W. Bush who dodged a pair thrown at him by a reporter during a press conference.

Now, for some reason, the shoe-throwing gig seems to have crossed-over into the general secular arena as evidenced by the recent assault in Las Vegas upon Hillary Clinton who was giving a speech on solid waste management. She dodged the sneaker; can she dodge the expected smears that will redouble as she gets closer to running for president? As Clinton moves forward toward the 2016 Democratic nomination, you can expect an ever-increasing attack offensive on the former FLOTUS and Senator. I don’t anticipate lots of shoe-tossing (the Secret Service takes that shit rather seriously), but I do expect a heavy-duty, coordinated attempt to resurrect dormant memories of the decades-old Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. I’m not sure how well the tactics will work, but the goal is certainly to make a dent in Clinton’s natural advantage with women.

Before the onslaught begins, it’s worth remembering some of the hypocrisy of those late-90s crazy times – and to prepare for a lot more of it.

Newt Gingrich
Former Speaker of the House and serial adulterer Gingrich can be counted on to participate in the smear campaign, but he carries a ton of marital baggage. He was a relentless detractor of Bill Clinton’s affair while conducting one of his own. Gingrich’s belated self-assessment is telling. “There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong. But I was still doing them. I look back on those as periods of weakness and periods that I’m not only not proud of, but I would deeply urge my children and grandchildren not to follow in my footsteps.” That assumes anyone alive will admit to being a child or grandchild of pompous Newt.

Robert Livingston
In the middle of Monica-gate, patrician Bob Livingston was in line to become Speaker of the House. Instead he resigned from Congress. Livingston said he “strayed from my marriage” after learning that Hustler magazine was preparing an article reporting that he had had several extramarital relationships. Larry Flynt: The Edward Snowden of infidelity.

Henry Hyde
This blob of cellulite who was to head any inquiry into impeaching President Clinton was faced with revelations his own extra-marital escapades. Tom Delay of Texas, upon hearing of the allegations called them “the most despicable, most disgraceful, most disgusting piece of rumormongering that I have ever seen.” Unfortunately for the Tom the future prison inmate, Hyde copped to it (kind of): “The statute of limitations has long since passed on my youthful indiscretions.” Side note – his “youthful indiscretions” occurred when he was in his 40s.

Mark Sanford
Before becoming governor of South Carolina and avid hiker of the Appalachian Trail, Sanford was a member of Congress who voted to impeach. Sanford-the-pious opined, “I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign)… I come from the business side. If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he’d be gone.” Explaining his decision to back impeachment articles against Clinton, he added, “I think what he did in this matter was reprehensible… I feel very comfortable with my vote.” Years later, Sanford found himself in precisely the same situation as the evil Clinton. Did Sanford follow his own counsel from the business side, and resign his governorship? Shit, you know the answer to that one.

David Vitter
Holy man Vitter had harsh words for Clinton and voted to throw him out of office. He said of Clinton: “his leadership will only further drain any sense of values left to our political culture.” Perhaps, but what of Vitter whose name was later found in the Rolodex of the so-called “DC Madam”? A mea culpa, some bogus therapy maybe, but no resignation for our hypocrite from Loozy-Ana.

Mark Foley
Before being run out of Congress for engaging in under-aged sex with male pages, M.F. said of Clinton’s Oral Office behavior: “It’s vile. It’s more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction.” Perhaps he thought it was vile because it involved a man and a woman?

Larry Craig
This spud from Idaho voted to impeach before assuming a “wide stance” in an airport men’s room, flashing come-hither signals to an undercover cop. With his wife by his side on TV, Craig denied being a “homosexual” – but it only reinforced the claim.

John McCain
When our hero was running for president against Obama, we occasionally saw his bottle-blonde wife Cindy tagging along – the wealthy heiress of Hensley & Co., one of the largest Anheuser-Busch beer distributors in the United States. But where did she come from? Well before voting to impeach Clinton, John McCain was enjoying some extra-marital action with young Cindy whom he met in Hawaii in 1979. McCain ditched his wife of 14 years and married the heiress – and yet he still had no sense of empathy for a man whose little head sometimes overrode the big head.

Strom Thurmond
Damn – what can you say about a guy who voted against Civil Rights and voted to kick out a sitting president for extramarital infidelity, who then was revealed in death to have fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a black woman? What is in that South Carolina water?

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