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Aug. 8th, 2013

roller derby, ink

happy birth my pagan prince

wish i would hear from you from time to time.
your artdaddy

Jan. 26th, 2012

roller derby, ink

Selling da book!

And I thought the writing would be hard, but selling your book is really hard. Amazon rules and demands a huge discounts which is why I changed my www.theblondebomber.com site to supporting Independent publishers, and bookshops.

Had a nightmare at the first time out except my old buddy Gina who was the first editor of Moviegoer, and who I have always remember fondly, and I have the photos to prove it.

Jul. 26th, 2011

roller derby, ink

family fun and the mob




The long winding road, even decided to do a graphic novel about life as I have known it. I was talking to David Seders one of my favorite writers who writes a lot about his family, and I was asking him if everything he writes about his family is true .

He and his sister Amy who was sitting across from us started laughing and both said together "TRUE ENOUGH" And after hearing about my adoption they suggested I write about it, but a graphic novel seems to be my style.

I'm related to myself through marriage. But alas My grandparents were not married, and Wilma's mother was named Linsey, once agin I was told they were from "the old country" but in this case it means Ireland. Wilma's father Martin, was Jewish, his second "wife" was the connection.

If you remember (you were busy so you might not have been aware of all this) the fuss at your daughters Bat Mitzvah" the uncles" (your father being the ring leader) were sitting behind me two rows with Uncle Moishe. Your father was pointing at me. Uncle Jerry (the safe uncle) broke the pack and came over to give me a heads up about how your father was going to ambush Moishe and me. Your father suspected the truth, and NEVER let me forget it growing up.

But i already knew, and it became clear that is why no Chimerofsky was ever allowed in the house after Shirley C. stole a photo of me at my 4th birthday, Mom saw her take it, and they got into a cat fight big time. Interesting the photo was from the Peter Pan studios.

Shirley often showed the photo of me to Wilma over the years taunting her, "I know where your son is, and I won't tell!" No wonder no one liked her on any sides of the family.

Mom always kinda knew but didn't want to know, something to do with cheating grandpa Sam out of lots of money. I was a black-market baby, bought from them, Wilma was a teenager unmarried and her father and new Jewish step-mother (Fay) tried passing her off as Jewish and wanted the kid out of the picture real fast.

Wilma kept trying to get me to go to her church all the time, but she didn't know Jewish guilt, and the Jesus shit just didn't work with me. I was taught by experts
(dads side of the family). Grandma Epstein could bring down dad with just the right sigh... it was sad.

Yes it took many years of neurotic therapy, drinking, confusion, fear, and finally i just said FUCK IT, and went out and found my bio-parents. Who knew they would get remarried and I would be best man, I asked the judge if that still makes me a bastard? He freaked not knowing what to say. Yes Wilma was married for 36 years to a guy named Sol martinez, he had a baby from another marriage so Wilma got to raise a child, but once I showed up the step-dauther never spoke to Wilma again. I met her once, thank god there were no sharp knives in the room.

Also another fact not in your info was that both fathers were named Gene, (and as I met him, aunt Max whispered in my ear "don't want to freak you out even more, but both Gene's look alike!) and they knew each other. Dad worked for the mob (Sam "Momo" Giancana (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Giancana) and the Moran Brothers, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugs_Moran) he even got a job for your father once with them) Bio-Gene was a truck driver and CTA bus driver, and would often drive stolen booze to the Moran Brothers warehouse where my father had an office. What are the chances????

My bio-father drove stolen booze that was hi-jacked from a fright yard that dad and the sheriff of Blue Island owned,. They built a spur to a ware house from the train yard in Cicero. Why do you think at any given time there was 200 to 300 cases of stolen liquor in our crawl space.

When i watch The Sopranos It's like home movies.

Every time before we pulled out of the driveway, I would get both mom and dad giving me a long lecture about what I can't talk about when we went to your house (or any place else) both about all the mob stuff and their drinking and mom's being a prescription junkie. I would hid in the little bathroom of the kitchen at your house.

Sounds like there is a next new tattoo in all this.

Grandma Pearl was friends with the Capone boys, and did their books, and kept the mob out of the roller derby, which I write about in my new book The Blonde Bomber. Both of us felt like outsiders in our family and we bonded very strong, and she told me many stories about her life before she married Sam.
No one fucked with Pearl back then.

May. 6th, 2011

roller derby, ink

Riding Shotgun with the Blonde Bomber.

Originally posted by artdaddy at Riding Shotgun with the Blonde Bomber.



Driving from Chicago to the next game, the rain poured. Peoria, Springfield, Gary, ribbons of highways. It's a lonesome road to the next game. Joan and her constant companion, Malia, a little mutt of a pooch. We were at a diner near Peoria searching for a hamburgers.

“Why did the team drive separately”, I asked? Joan recalls that skaters barnstormed by bus years ago. A tire blew and the bus went off a cliff and exploded killing over 20 skaters plus personal. The accident almost wiping out the derby in 1937.

At every stop, waiters, short-order cooks, dishwashers, waitress, and dinners ask for Joanie's autograph. Weston always complies smiling. In the parking lot, her food gets cold because of signing napkins, shirts, and grease stained menus. Her fame gets in the way, on and off the track.

The Bomber has to watch her back.

Everyone on the track is gunning for her, team members and opponents, trying to grab notoriety by clobbering the Bomber. Fame and assault are a daily routine the track.

The Blonde Bomber, The Golden Girl of the Banked Track, the Viking Princess, The Blonde Amazon; That's a lot of personalities for one 5' 10” tall, 165 lbs. gal to inhabit. Hard work when your name alone fills an entire 20,000 stadium. That's who Joanie was for over 25 years. Joanie really enjoyed her superstardom. "Do you know what it’s like to be able to bring 20,000 people to their feet–to make them hate or love you? That’s where it’s at. Power!”, she said to me.

Joan thought about being a nun, graduating from Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, a soft softball player, scoring 8 home runs in one game, a dog breeder, a surfer, anything that was competitive. She loved hockey, and fumed when the derby was compared to wrestling. Thought hockey was a better comparison. Joanie would receive a standing ovation from the crowd when she went to a Chicago Blackhawks hockey game.

A young athletic woman had few career opportunities in the 1950s. Joanie saw the derby on TV and found her calling. She was 14, sneaking into the unguarded Rose Bowl derby track in LA and practiced. She lied about her age, her hight and shapely silhouette, Joanie becoming a favorite member of the Los Angeles Braves, and later captain of the San Francisco Bay Bombers in 1965.

Weston, like Calvello wanted to be remembered.

Unfortunately Joan didn't live to see the resurrection of the derby. Joan died in 1997 of Mad Cow Disease (bad meat while in England I was told).

Ann got her wish, the Calevello Cup, the worship of the new skaters, and a sweet film called Demon of the Derby http://www.fireproofproductions.com/ Joan and Ann's grudge matches were very real, Ann referred to Joanie as a “bitch” often, and meant it. Joanie would roll her eyes back in her head at the mention of Ann, and say “Well we sell tickets!”

The Blonde Bomber book, bring Joan back into the spotlight.

The derby had an amazing past, starting as a marathon endurance race. Leo Seltzer and Damon Runyon met while drinking in Miami, sportswriter and member of the Algonquin Round Table. The author of gangsters classics like Guys and Dolls, Bloodhounds of Broadway, Little Miss Marker, Sorrowful Jones, and Pocketful of Miracles is the guy to thank for the derby rules. Pretty much the same rules as today.

Another motel exit. Joan unpacks telling me the 1972 film Kansas City Bomber, starring Raquel Welch, was supposedly "inspired" by hours of interviews the screenwriter did with Weston. That film is an obvious sour point. The screenwriter changed her story enough so Joan received nothing.

Rummer is that Goldie Hawn has a developed treatment based on Weston a few years ago.

Joanie also hated the song Roller Derby Queen by Jim Crouch which was always played when she entered the track. In fact the song was NOT about her, but the Viking Princess smiled and excepted it as part of the job. My fantasy film would star Joan Allen as the Bomber, Allen has the inner depth and icy, pissed, fuck you gaze. Edie Falco would play Ann Calvello. insanely whacked-out. I'd pay to see that film in 3D.

Joan was not original as Ann Calvello always told me.

Ann's right. Joan inherited the name, there were other Blonde Bombers, and Blonde Bombshells. Joan had media savvy that kept her on top for 25 years. The1950s TV camera loved Joan's curvaceous, athletic looks. In the1940s, Dorothy Wosilus was billed as Johnnie, the Blonde Bombshell. Joanie was a superstar, as long as the Derby was in the limelight.

The lights began to dim

Joan suggested over dinner that we do a book about her life in the derby. Rumors were flying that the derby was dying or being sold. Weston did not want to be forgotten.

We developed an interesting and complicated friendship. Joan needed me to document her, our friendship was the perfect codependency. She taught me to skate, allowing me to photograph her as a participant rather then a spectator. My photos were about HER as an athlete, hero, tough dame! No one fucked with me on the track. Joan worked the media, I was the media. I went the extra mile on skates. I was trusted, to a point. Joan had boundaries, even to me.

Joan was a feminist but the word was new to her. Feminism made her nervous, to close to a political statement, another boundary of hers. Joanie was a Republican and did some campaigning, I think for Nixon, she was elusive in details. Watergate was front page then. Politics and sexual preference were completely off the record with Joanie, but a number of woman on teams claimed to have affairs with Joanie.

Joan also owned a “woman's bar” call the Driftwood in Haywood, Ca. Joanie held court there. The Driftwood softball team played in the lesbian bar league. Fans, skaters, gay men and women were always welcome in her bar.

Joan didn't make a big deal that she was married to Nick Skofis another skater (a Sony Bono look alike.) She always called him “Her buddy” rather then husband. Joan knew her fans thought of her as the battling Amazon Goddess. Cat-fights between “lesbos” were a hot ticket back then. Being married could hurt her image, interesting dilemma for the times. Joanie thought about these things.

Flat track speculation

Joanie would have really dug the flat trackers. Their guts and creativeness, giving life back to a sport she invested her life to. I don't know how she would have reacted at all the ink, fishnets, piercings, and funky names. Weston the Republican was pretty conservative in her personal life. The new derby with women in charge would have put a huge smile on her face.

What really pissed Joan was that the MEN were in control back then! Men started the games and finished the games, scoring all the winning points, men dreamed up the rules. The justification by the all male management to pay men 30% more then the dames. Everyone knew the “weaker sex” was the draw. They just were not valued as much.

The Blonde Bomber was voted Roller Derby Queen four times, received the Most Valuable Player award in 1968 and was inducted into the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame.

Joan and I played postcard tag for years, talking about the book project. As time faded, in a world before email and Facebook the derby and it's superstars became a distant memory, the most unique American sporting event just faded out, and Joan died in 1997. Mad Cow was not a fitting end to such a outstanding athlete.
Thanks to the woman of the flat track Joanie and her amazing accomplishments can be rediscovered for a new generation.

Joanie would probably be training the new skaters, she already owned her own fearless name The Blonde Bomber.

Just don't play that Jim Crouch song while reading this!

Dec. 23rd, 2009

roller derby, ink

Renee Geyer Updated

renee geyer,R&B

I've updated my story about one of the best singers you may never heard of. I added a video clip as well of her singing. Take a look, her music as of last month is now on Amazon at long last.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Dpopular&field-keywords=renee+geyer&x=0&y=0

Dec. 1st, 2009

roller derby, ink

Alters & Shrines

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My Pagan Prince's, Leodios' images on his blog got me thinking about what we worship on the alter of desire. It suddenly made me realize that I have been documenting anonymous peoples mystic, spiritual, and greedy self-expressions to the universe. I have hundreds of these images and am thinking it is a photo book after the roller derby book. Next is the the UFO graphic novel.

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I was really pissed off at the way i was treated at the publishing company where I was laid off from a few months ago. They killed off everything with no direction and very little thought.

Even the Advocate is in it last stages of life. It will die soon after 40 years. Thats what happens when Mr. Alcoholic and Mr Meth are left in charge while using. When I was in meetings with them, I felt like I was babysitting at Betty Ford.

I worked for the Advocate in the mid 1970's, did the first illustrated cover, and many photo stories over the early years while it was still a newspaper.

my Advocate cover

my advocate story


IT'S TALKING TO ME


So why was I so pissed?
I realized that I have the opportunity to start my own publishing company, Spaghettibraines Press. Suddenly the glass was more them half filled.
Glad to be out of that queer sweat shop.
FUCKk EM!

Here are a few of the shrines people create.

shrines



space monkey shrine



dog shrine



carny shrines



truck shrine



old gas shrine



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god loves shrine



toy shrine



rebee shrine



toy shrine



downtown urban shrine



devo shrine



dummy shrine



heaven shrine



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devil bathroom shrine



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beer shrine



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all images are @ 2009 a j Epstein

Nov. 13th, 2009

roller derby, ink

my graphic novel

frequent flyer

I have started my own publishing co. Spaghettibrains Press, and my third book is going to be a graphic novel based on my adventures with UFO's. I'm part of the group Bent Comix. http://bentcomix.com/
© art can not be used with out written perm
Tags:

Sep. 21st, 2009

roller derby, ink

my book is now for sale

FRIENDS, LOVERS, & ...
By A. J. Epstein

Jul. 10th, 2009

roller derby, ink

"TORN BETWEEN TWO LOVERS...

ufo starbucks

Feelin' like a fool, lovin' you both is breakin all the rules!"

once again perched in my daily leather chair at the starbucks on Wilshire near La Brea writing my little heart out.

It's the only escape I give myself daily since being let go from my gig. Part of me is pissed because what "they" did was kinda illegal, but proving it is to much wasted negative energy. Part of me is Happily rid of the bullshit that lived in that office, think I'll go with the glass is half filled image.

Removing my job freed me up to really work on self-publishing my roller derby book . I threw the questions and fears from my brain out into the universe and thankfully the universe answered back in several terrific emails. Who or what are my two lovers, my art and my photography. I can't do both at the same time. Todays self-portrait drinking my chi latte. was a toast to my priorities, the UFO graphic novel will have o wait and the roller derby moves to the head of the line. The birth of spaghettibrains publishing!

The photography part of my brain is kicking in. I got a wonderful email from Ann Bannon one of my favorite novelist and the person who gave me the idea for my photography show opening this sept Queer Culture" at the One Archives here in LA.

Ann Wrote:

Many of us have known for years what a wonderful photographer and
graphic artist Andrew J. Epstein is. Now, with the presentation of his new
show, QUEER CULTURE, at the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, all of us
can celebrate his work. For forty years, AJ has been following events and
people in the queer universe, preserving in his images their celebrations,
their ingenious creativity, their challenges, heroes, leaders and friends.
In his iconic photography, you can trace the rise of confidence and courage
that characterize the LGBTQ world today. Here are the muscle men, dykes, and
divas of the Gay Pride parades, from their early beginnings to today, and
from sea to shining sea. Here are the stars and the everyday folk of the
community.

With his artist's acumen, AJ manages to segue easily from
significant people: Harvey Milk, Robert Mapplethorpe, Edmund White, and dozens more--to significant expressions of gayness: body art, leather,
entwined women, and frank eroticism of all kinds. His portraits can be
thoughtfully considered, both playful and introspective. But he's a master
of the quick take, too: impressions, captured in a blink, that pierce their
subjects' defenses and give us the person whole. In short, this is the work
of a maestro. Many of us--some well-known, some anonymous--take bows in
Epstein's gallery; I'm proud to be one of them. Andrew J. Epstein sees queer
people in all their variety, at work, at play, living their lives, over the
past four decades, and loves what he sees. Viewers will, too.

Ann Bannon
Author, THE BEEBO BRINKER CHRONICLES
Sacramento, July 2009
http://www.annbannon.com/

Art © 2009 a j epstein

Feb. 18th, 2009

roller derby, ink

THE BLACKOUT BLOGS #4 POTATO PANCAKES & GLOWING BABIES

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This is a page from the graphic novel I'm working on called "Frequent Flyer", my lifetime adventures with UFO's.

The early 1970’s were pretty wild and full of creative possibilities, unfortunately for me I tended to drink myself into a state of obliteration.

I met Keith Haring one night at a bar on the lower east side called the NO NAME as he was drawing a glowing baby on the toilet seat I was pissing in. I had seen the babies appearing all over town, in the subways, and walls downtown. I was excited to be pissing with this mysterious artist at work. We became friends right away I even gave him some of his earliest illustrations assignments, but he really wanted to be a gallery artist and wasn’t much interested in commercial work.

Keith was also the first person I can recall to approach me about UFO abductions. I found a curious entry in one of my journals from that period about him. Looking back at the journal entry over 30 years later it is even more curious.

After we would drink and smoke our brains out at the No Name bar we would walk up the street to the Kiev restaurant and order potato pancakes and applesauce and talk for hours. He would always pull out one of his markers and draw the glowing baby and a UFO pulling it up into it and shove the drawing in my face. I loved the drawing but didn’t have a clue about why he would repeatedly draw the image and push it into my semi couscous face.

I have been told over the years that some abducted people can spot each other, and it has been certainly true that complete strangest have come up to me out of the blue and told me their UFO stories, for some reason they always seem to know I would understand their odd stories. But my gaydar has never worked very well and spotting fellow space travelers was something I never seemed to be able to do very well.

Back then UFO’s were nowhere in the gray matter of my brain, so I never made the connection until recently when I saw that entry in my journal.

Keith was always fun, but could become very serious when he wanted to be. I can’t remember him seriously talking to me about UFO’s but there are major chunks of the early 70’s I don’t remember.

I now am thinking that Keith was telling me in his own visual cryptic way that that we had more in common then sex, drinking, art, and the No Name bar.

art and words © a. j. epstein 2009

Jan. 20th, 2009

roller derby, ink

FEED THE DUMPSTER!

I just finished a project that I thought was going to drag me under, but instead set me free.

I decided having a storage shed with box's that I have been dragging from city to city was killing me. Some boxes had 5 moving stickers on them. I put myself into a mindset, not sentimental, no dwelling over the stories of the past, visual glories, lovers, family. It just all to had to go.

I opened every box and examined it's contents and on a scale of one to ten, how much did the contest still mean to me. How many times have I said I couldn't live without these things. Surprisingly very little. The remaining 9 boxes are what's left of all my many lives, the original blocks for printing my art, and images of friends, photos, and art, and way to many books. I also threw away 20+ years of Reader newspapers covers I had done. I suspect I did more covers then anyone for that paper.

Rreader

I was purging my life at 59, removing the clutter, the baggage, the excess that has been dragging me down in storage costs, a personal sign of my own economic recession, and way to much emotional baggage.

I fed the dumpster well.

I also discovered some of my very first art in print, The Chicago Seed, that town's first "underground newspaper" along the poster (and cover) of a political newspaper I worked on in 1968 for the SDS. It was the Democratic Convention. My drawing which stared out a a sketch in a journal became a small political cartoon for the paper. The editor decided it was a strong political statement for the cover. The drawing was also blown up into a one-sheet poster that got plasters all over town, and my once small little signature suddenly became rather large.

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I was in college, I received a note to come to the deans office and found four FBI agents, two members of Chicago's "Red Squad" and two policemen yelling and demanding to know if I was the person who did the art.

artdaddy in 1968

I was expelled on the spot, and escorted by the cops out the door never to return. It was also the first time I met Mike Royko, Chicago's leading reporter who wrote about my incident, a few years later we were working together and friends. We also drinking rather heavily while both working at the Chicago Daily News, along with Roger Ebert.

My father never let me forget how I fucked up my life and lost my scholarship, and my mother lived in terror screaming we were Jewish, they murdered the Rosenberg's (Ethel and Julius) I remember she said "They kill the Jews" one of the few times I ever remember her saying anything political.

SDS

Our family phones were bugged which was a huge problems because my fathers south side mob connections were cut off. For years every chance they had they would twist the guilt knife a little deeper. Their commie-no good-commie-son, I was always called.

Getting expelled from school was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I was taken under the mentorship of the graphic god Art Paul, art director for Playboy magazine.

blond bomer

I shot and wrote Playboys first female sports interview with Joan Weston (the Blonde Bomber). All events that changed my life. I had gone from alterative to the big leagues, drunk with Royko and Ebert at Ricardo the local watering hole.

landers royko

ROGER EBERT

Many years later I was living in NYC redesigning the NY Daily News and got a call from my best friend in Washington, David Root informing me I was in one of the most important art shows he ever saw at the Corcoran in DC., a historic show called Images of an Era: The American Poster 1945-1975.

There I was on the wall and my rather large signature (thank God) was how they were able to credit me on the wall signage and in the impressive catalogue. Every amazing and important poster created up to then was in that show. A definitive moment in my life. David sent me the large catalogue from the show, I was a full page in it. Finally next time Dad and mom start in about ruining my life yet again I was able to plop down the catalogue in front of them. I never heard another word on the topic ever again.

That poster is now in the permanent graphics collection in the Smithsonian archives. And was on loan for a show a few years ago at the MOMA.

all photos and art © 2009 AJ Epstein, Epstein by David Root, and the Seed cover was not by me.

Nov. 26th, 2008

roller derby, ink

Slice & Dice

animal rights

After a weekend in total terror i found a peaceful place in my head about the operation on Tuesday morning. I have never had one.

On Friday at 5:p.m. the surgeon called and said he had to switch days, he had an emergency, but he said he could squeeze me in later but after an 11 hour operation he would be tired and that's when he makes mistakes...

I gaged!!!
I was very grateful that an amazing singer, Michael Tomlinson, http://www.michaeltomlinson.com/) the man is incapable of producing anything but amazing music with all positive affirmations. It came in the mail at the same time I was talking to the surgeon. Inside was a little note wishing me a healthy recovery. Think I will listen to the new CD right before the they put me under. The universe sometimes has a way of balancing my head out if i let it. Sometimes I get in the way.

So agreed to switched to first thing on Friday (Dec 1) morning, allows me to have a dead bird day, to feed on with friends Richard and Robert.

I just finished laying out a special issue of Men magazine, called Hairy Men, and got to shoot the cover-story with a porn star friend Steve Cruz, http://www.stevecruzxxx.com/ shot by one of my long time favorite photographers who is going by the name "Axl Bender" for his first "dick' shoot which he did great!

I also got to assign and feature my favorite artists:
Justin Hall http://www.allthumbspress.com/
Dogspunk http://dogspunk.com/
Tom of Finland, http://www.tomoffinlandfoundation.org/
Steve Macisaac http://www.stevemacisaac.com/
Brad Rader http://www.flamingartist.com/
Drub http://www.drubskin.com/
Patrick Fillion http://classcomics.com/
Axel http://www.artbyaxel.com/

Great art, great images, hope it sells.
Hope i can walk again...
hope the surgeon got a good nights sleep.

© 2008 all art by A J Epstein

Nov. 3rd, 2008

roller derby, ink

Blocked in Paradise 2008

blocked

So many voices in my head right now, living in LA is getting to me.

Having the operation I need is stalling with the insurance, bull shit with the DMV, money, age, ending a relationship. Not so great for a drama free zone kinda guy.

It's a beautiful day out here in paradise, unfortunately I'm just not part of it at the moment.

I'm living under my shadow.

art © 2008 a j epstein

Oct. 2nd, 2008

roller derby, ink

MOO MOO LAND

raw meat

I have given up meat and finally took myself off the steroids I was taking (DR. orders)

I feel toxic from all the drugs in me because of the leg pain.

Giving up meat and chicken which are already full of roids seemed to be the logical path.

art © 2008 a j epstein

Oct. 1st, 2008

roller derby, ink

Amy Arbus is her own Arbus now!

Amy Arbus mouth

I finally got to see my old friend Amy Arbus, daughter of Diane after many years of emails. I found this shot of Amy and I dancing on a cover shoot for New Jersey Monthly in 1987. I seem to always have shots of Amy with her mouth open.

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I met Amy's mother Diane on my first trip to NYC around 1970. I was taken to Diane's loft, she was conducting a workshop and Diane was so great to take the time to meet me and look at my photos, especially my roller derby images which she loved.

At first I had no idea who I was meeting, her first name was pronounced differently then I had ever heard. I was shocked looking around the room realizing I was face-to-face with one of my photography gods.

For years I never told Amy that I met her mother, not sure why, just thought it might get in the way. Amy's early portfolio was very confusing, it was a large box of images, a layer of incredible stuff and then layers of very mundane images anyone could have shot. But there was enough to tell me she had a good eye. We have worked together for many years. and now she has two killer books out. It's so great to see her books next to her mother's books in the photo sections of all the better bookshops.

amy's book 2

Interesting hearing Amy speak at the Hammer last week in Westwood, Ca, She said that it took her a while to figure out she was a photographer. Now I understand the very confusing early portfolio she sent me at Moviegoer magazine.

Amy book 1

I also got to meet her father again. I had worked on a film that my friend Pam Grier was staring in, and Allan Arbus was the Columbian drug dealer in the film.

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Allan Arbus stared in some great movies by Robert Downy SR. Greasers Palace, and Putney Swope in the late 1960's they were called "underground films" and were shown at "Art" movie houses.

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greasers

It's great to see Amy come into her own, and her books are terrific, and surprisingly she looks exactly the same.

All photos © AJ Epstein & Amy Arbus

Sep. 26th, 2008

roller derby, ink

New friends in the fast lane

I was on the set of my buddy's new film, "Blue Movie" for Falcon Studio. His first directing gig, Steve Cruz. Steve is one hot fucker, and I'm sure the film will be as hot as his hairy chest. But hanging out on a porn set is all work.

It's amazing how dull being on a porn set can be sexually. Steve's models, Dillion Buck & Nick Piston are all very sexy men, and Steve is a little demon sexually, but with all the set-ups and lighting, well the sex just becomes one more "thing" to light. I hate to destroy all your fantasies but it is really nothing to get hard about. It's hard (pun intended) work. Steve's finished film will be the boner.

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There was the truly amazing photographer Joe Oppedisano (http://www.joeoppedisano.com/) shooting in a side room from Steve for the film. I love Joe's work, always have.

His new book "Censored" is about to hit the stores soon and it's one hot fuckin' collection of images of sexy guys with great butts.

Unzipped magazine which I art direct is doing a story on the book and Steve's film. I need to shoot Joe as well as Steve for the January issue.

Interesting when the chemistry clicks, and you instantly know it, and fortunately Joe made his move and we became instant friends, zooming past all the stages of getting to know each other. We were hangin' in his non- smoking hotel room smoking big stinky cigars, and talking about Tom of Finland.

Suddenly there was knocking at the door and phone calls, seems while we were hanging out next door the film got a visit from LA finest. The filming got busted. Sounds like BS, but worth a million buck in PR. (More info on Steve's blog at http://stevecruzxxx.blogspot.com/)

It felt like Joe and I had know each other for years. He's a talented interesting guy, and so am I, I'm sure glad he spotted it and made the effort to connect.

There are never any coincidences in my life!

By the way I directed a photo shoot with one of my favorite photographers (who will remain nameless, but was Cher's official photographer many years ago.)
My friend has never shot porn, gay or straight, but he has an amazing eye so it was no surprise he shoots dick great, and who better to to shoot then that hot fucker Steve Cruz. Steve will be the next cover for the new Men's Special, "Hairy Men"


All art © 2008 A J Epstein

Sep. 18th, 2008

roller derby, ink

Defying Gravity

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I live on a big round ball
I never do dream I may fall
And even one day if I do
Well, I'll jump off and smile back at you

I don't even know where we are
They tell you we're circling a star
Well, I'll take their word, I don't know
But I'm dizzy so it may be so

I'm riding a big round ball
I never do dream I may fall
But one day the high must lay low
So when I do fall I'll be glad to go
Yeah, when I do fall I'll be glad to go

©1974 Jesse Winchester
art © 2008 a j epstein
the little blue stars are really Xanaxs

Sep. 10th, 2008

roller derby, ink

pain and daze!

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I feel trapped in Valley of the Dolls, and I would rather be in my old friend Roger Ebert's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, I dug the flower power scene, man.

I'm in constant pain from a 30 year old injury from roller derby. We were going about about 30 miles per hour around a turn, I was blocking and he slammed me into the rail, spun around and flew off into the side of a table. For years it never really bothered me, but now that I have finally finished my roller derby book the injury has returned.

I have constant shooting pains down my leg, and can't stand or walk for a very long time without leaning on something.

I'm afraid i will need a new hip, the word surgery has come up in conversations with my DR. I'm terrified at that thought.

My Dr has me on Perfect which doesn't really stop the pain that much, and gets me funny in the head, and upsets my stomach.

The real probleem is, I'm feeling my age, and that is a new experience for me. In my head I'm only 45 and taking a mountain climbing class, roller blading to the loop along the lakefront in Chicago, and river rafting the rapids in Tennessee. All but a fading memory these daze.

Sep. 2nd, 2008

roller derby, ink

it's one of those daze!!!!!

another new life, another reinvention, another me, think I'll have fun if the world doesn't end.

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Aug. 28th, 2008

roller derby, ink

Black Out Blogs #4 80 proof Howdy Doody Buckaroo

I can’t sleep. I never could, now I take pills to put me out.
The space between lying in bed and the last flitter of my eyelids closing, the nights are pure terror for me.

i cant sleep

I became an alcoholic because I couldn’t sleep.
Genetically predisposed to the life of the drunk, yes my father and mother were both alcoholics. I was adopted, so who’s to say, I was taught by experts, I certainly learned by their example. I would see my father passed out with a half glass of scotch at his fingertips nightly. Sure looked like sleep to me. Mom and dad, eyes shut tight all night.

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I got down on all fours to sniff the magic glass and the liquid inside. Then I went to our extensive down stairs bar and sniff all the stolen mob booze that was stored in out crawl space. At any given time there would be two to three hundred cases of hot liquor in our home. Watching the Soprano’s was like watching home movies.

I couldn’t sleep so I poured scotch into my Howdy Doody tumbler jelly glass and drank it all at once, gagging as my 8-year-old throat turned to flames.

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The room would spin and soon I was staggering back to my bed and would finally begin to finally sleep. All my toys danced around my face. My toys danced around my face for many years, more sophisticated, toys, relationships, money, my integrity as a man, all was just one large swirl, around and around, and around…

long night

Spinning was my favorite feeling.

I loved the room spinning, and then I would pass out, my form of sleep for 28 years.

The start of my alcohol abuse was my cure for sleep. I truly believed this was the magic potion that would allow me to finally shut my eyes. So “When they come and get me, I won’t know it!”, a phrase I used for many years. Many shrinks thought I was talking about my birth family, but no the guys I feared were gray. This way I wouldn’t remember, but who was coming to get me? It was many years into my sobriety before I found out and became a part of Dr David Jacobs book "Secret Life". (as Allen Edwards) The shocking truth for my night traumas, and how I found myself on the Joan Rivers show.

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I have often thought of really telling my sobriety story unedited in AA meetings, but even with 31 years of sobriety the fuckin’ drunks in the room would think I was nuts. I have never really honestly told about how I became alcoholic, so fasten your seat belts, it will be a bumpy ride!

all art © 2008 a j epstein
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Aug. 15th, 2008

roller derby, ink

The Black Out Blogs: Part 3 In The Rooms

I've debated this a lot in my head.

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My journals are falling apart, the ink is fading, pages falling out, so I have been scanning some of them.

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I found an interesting group of images I liked. They were drawing done during AA meeting early in my sobriety. For me drawing in the meetings is one way that kept me coming back to AA.

three guys

I was afraid I was not going to be able to draw if I gave up the bottle. I fell for that myth of the creative genius who had to be a tormented soul, cut off my ear, and get plastered to tap into my oh-so-deep artistic soul. Not only was I a drunk but i was terminally unique.

two cups of coffee

Then I heard a very famous painter who I worshiped speak, about creativity and recovery. He had a major show opening at Mary Boone gallery. It was his new work and it was all done sober.

purple dress

I asked him to be my art sponsor, a drinking a sponsor but also help me retain my creativity, he loved that idea, and out of that was born a workshop we both have done over the years at AA roundup.

black guys

"Reclaiming Your Creativity In Sobriety"

black and white

One of his suggestion was to draw at every meeting I went to, perfect subjects, they sit still unless they have the DT's, and I was practicing my art at the same time, and staying out of the bars.

flat top

These are some of the drawings, they are from AA meetings in NYC, Chicago< LA, Philly, Sydney and my wonderful North Hall in Sacramento.

t-shirt design

Not only did I draw the people I also designed the logo for the t-shirt for the Philly
round-up and did my original three monkey image that has turned in to a best seller of my art prints.

cover monkeys

Thanks you everyone I drew, it's been 31 years and I haven't stop drawing you yet.

Aug. 13th, 2008

roller derby, ink

My Animal Self Part 2.

A few days ago I wrote in "My Animal Self" post about getting into a hassle with an artist I respected, and who works for me constantly. I'm still not sure what the problem is. We are still not speaking I think, although I put through a payment early for him just so he didn't get pissed off again.

I started writing about how I had given my power away to a man that was rude to me and very unprofessional.

This drawing is from my Warriors weekend in 1995.

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As I was writing about the situation I had one of those great moments of clarity. I realized that I need to clear myself of all the internal confusion with my integrity. I took action and remembered my mission statement from my New Warriors weekend http://www.mkp.org/, an experience that changed my life, and still does.

I made contact with someone from the Warriors site, he gave me a name of a group of men who have gone through the weekend in my area. I emailed about entering their circle of men, and just a few minutes ago I got a fantastic phone call from an old Warrior brother from Chicago who I had lost touch with and is in that circle of men i just contacted.

He teasing me by calling me Andrew (a name I haven't used since I left Chicago years ago) and left me guessing for a bit. Finally he said you want to come to my group.

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It was Fredrick Marx the filmmaker whose first feature film I worked on many years ago. Fredrick had written and edited a famous documentary called "Hoop Dreams", and a guy I connected with right away when we met.

hoop dreams

He lives about a mile away and I'm going back into a circle of men with integrity, a circle of brothers and a long lost friend.

All because this artist exploded in my face.

Good out of bad!

I throw the shit to the universe and the universe always answers back, your ok!

I trust my gut. I have reclaimed my power.

I would be sorry if this guy holds on to what ever it is that he is pissed about, but I found my brother because of him so I must thank him cosmically, he was the spark to bring me back into the circle and Fredrick.

I just got back from lunch with Fredrick and he handed me a copy of his film, and he pretty much used my design on the cover of the DVD. What a gift!

unspoken dvd cover i did

There are never any coincidences in my life, NEVER!
roller derby, ink

Blackout Blogs Volume 2, Early Recovery

I have been going through my journals which are starting to fall apart. They go back to 1969, a year I was less then honest to everyone including myself in them. Well into my drinking and drugs by then. For me it was a bottle of scotch, a tab of acid (blotter) and a Janis Joplin record, and I Was a happy hippy dude.

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The journals from my early AA recovery are interesting. I seemed to keep in touch with my creative self by drawing many of the people in the AA rooms and wonder if it would be "outing" them by publishing them on my Blackout blogs. They are some of the best figure drawing i've done. The drawing of me on my bike is me racing to an AA meeting and trying to beat out a huge storm that was right behind me in Philly.

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The other recurring thyme is how often i was in motion, running, on the move, and the phrase "You Can't Hit A Moving Target" seems to appear a lot in the journals.

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I moved from NYC to Tennessee my second year of recovery. On to Philly, Columbus Ohio, Sydney, New Jersey Atlanta, La, Palm Springs (to care for my dying father and the evil Mrs. Epstein #2) back to LA, Santa Monica. After dad died I lived in the studio behind his house of my favorite photographer Mark Hanauer who's site is http://www.markhanauer.com/ and his wife at the time Terri Hanauer a wonderful cult actress and also a photographer. Terri was the frozen corpse on the poster for David Cronenberg's "Rabid" staring Marilyn Chambers, She was also in the "Rapture", and "Six Feet Under", "Clean and Sober", "Communion" (I like to think i helped her with getting the last two films) and many other film and TV shows.

They were very kind to take me in after I had an emotional melt-down when my father died. All the while as their own marriage was falling apart. Thanks Mark and Terri, you saved my life! I was very close to drinking again if I was on my own! If I never really said it to your faces I love you both separately and collectively.

driving far

I seemed to always be on the run in my early sobriety there are a few other images i will be scanning in, I think I need to see these images again as a reminder; "That no matter where I run I'm always there anyway!",

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If you can't read it this last drawing is me packing up yet again, i think it was 1980 something, it says "Leaving LA, once again, how many times?" So i might as well just stay put in LA area and reclaim my life in 2008.

all photography and art © 2008 A J Epstein

Aug. 7th, 2008

roller derby, ink

my animal self

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Ya can't like everyone, I try, I reach out, I'm reasonable. But at times I ware my baggage like a huge weight engulfing me. I get intimidated, and then feel like i have to fill the air with words.

At times I give my power away. I am not perfect.

Someone exploded in my face recently, I thought i was helping a situation but the email was read wrong and KA-POW-IE!!!! Gray brain-matter in my face. I apologized far to much, and again I gave my power away, I allowed my self to be intimidated. No more "I'm sorry" don't even really know what I did,

I don't like being anyones door mate.

I'm a man with integrity, as a men among men my mission is to bring clarity and creativity to the world. and I do daily!

I learned my mission-in-life on my Men's weekend, New Warriors. I confronted my shadow, fear of men, felt like damaged goods, less then, if you knew me you would hate me cause i hated myself. That's what i projected to the world and I wondered why I got that back from the world. I got what I put out.

my animal sprite

I had to change, and I did. I like who I became, if other people don't get it, well it's their loss

I'm cool with me! It took many years to be able to own that statement!
I became spirit coyote

It's funny how something that started out bad lead me back to something good.

all art and photography © 2008 a j epsein

Jul. 10th, 2008

roller derby, ink

My Adoption Cluster Fuck! or Oy Gevalt I'm an indian!!!

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I recently had my birthday, and like usual I found myself falling into the usual depression.

This is an annual pattern, over the years people thought I was grieving the loss of my youth. (Long gone anyway)That was never the real reason. My birthday and the nations are one in the same and it is nearly impossible to hide from the day, sparklers on every cake, fireworks that were repeatedly told were just for me. (Never did believe that one)

No, my depression is not my age, but it is the day I was given away, July 4 1949.

The day my life changed forever. A traumatic day so tells my birthmother whom I sought out many years ago. A day she cried all day and night. A day I was sold and secretly carried out of the side door of an unwed mothers home on the northwest side of Chicago in 1949. It was a different time and society and I understand that and have even come to appreciate that in many ways I had a better more privileged life, upper-middle-class, Jewish, and mafia family.

My adoption has also radically changed my view of abortion, (personally against it!) If abortion had been easily available in 1949 I’m sure I would have been a fetus flushed down the toilet like all my dead goldfish. (I do support a woman's right to choose)

While my adopted parents were classic 50’s dysfunctional, both alcoholic with a few mental disorders. Basically they bought a kid to look like a normal 1950’s TV family. I had a lot in common with the sofa in the living room, and about the same price.

I found my birth mother a number of years ago with the help of a friend and coworker, Ann Landers, who was getting many letters from her readers about looking for their birth parents. She decided to use me as her on going saga in her column, Adopted adults and their need and political rights to know their own birth.

ann landers

A few years ago I discovered my birth-father was alive. I found him living in Elizabethtown KY in a doublewide trailer, which certainly explained my pick-up truck truck named Elvis, and love of redneck music. I always felt like a southerner culturally. When I took a job as senior designer for a publishing company in Knoxville Tennessee, in a funny way I felt I had come home. I loved exploring the south. One day I was Mr. NYC Downtown Gallery Guy, the next day, river rafting down the Hiawassee River with a strange addiction to Gortex, it all seemed natural to me

My birth-parents and I met for the first time in 47 years. I found myself having dinner with total strangers that just happened to look like me. To everyone else in the restaurant we looked like a perfectly normal family eating, but I was completely freaked out. I was actually having a meal with my “parents”, or were they really my “parents”, it was very confusing and the first meal I ever had with them in 47 years, something right out of Twilight Zone.

The next day while at a motel they decided to remarry and asked me to be best man, I freaked! They suddenly were not playing by MY script, my scenario was that they get together, and it becomes very clear why they had to separate and give me away. But for them to reunite like nothing happened turned me into a volcano ready to explode. Fortunately I was involved with a men's curiousness group, New Warriors and was able to process the situation and not dump all my shit on them. They were old and this was all my stuff to deal with, they were not going to around a long time so i had to process it all pretty fast and did.

birth-parents wilma & gene cook

Above, Gene and Wilma Cook and their discount frozen wedding cake.

The Cooks tried to act like we were some sorts of family, but in my heart it never was real, we were a family of strangers who just happened to look alike. I had survived a dysfunctional, alcoholic, pharmaceutical addicted, father and mother, and had no desire to repeat the situation with people who used the baby Jesus for some sort of guilt factor they worshiped without question. Their guilt wasn't Jewish, I was completely immune to it and easily said NO when it was applied in heavy doses. It was wonderful little guilt free pleasure hidden in a unusual situation. I remained slightly distant every time the word “son” came up. Sometimes it was just to much to explain to strangers and other members of the Cook family.

Once at a funeral of some Cook relative I never knew, I was pissing and another family member was pissing next to me, he kept staring at my face, then down at my dick, there was no sexual vibe from him, finally he said, I can see your a Cook but for the love of God I cant figure out who?

So there we were bonding with our dicks out he uncut, me circumcised, explaining I was the illegitimate child of Gene and Wilma who gave me away at birth, but I just came back. He informed me he was my first cousin, we washed out hands and that was the last time I ever saw him or his foreskin.

There was too much baggage that went along with that word "son". I only could refer to them as my birth-parents never mom or dad. They just weren’t, no matter how fucked my adopted parents were they owned the right to that word and I had to respect that.

My birth-father Gene asked me if I was sorry and disappointed at finding the Cooks, I thought for a moment and sighed,"Either way, Epstein or Cook, your both fucked up and I would still be in therapy, just different issues."

I was also fixated by my background history, having been raised upper middle class, Jewish, but never really feeing like I had any history I could call my own. I always had a unnerving feeling that I might not be Jewish, a fear I developed after seeing the film "The Bad Seed" around my Bar Mitzvah. I was sure God was going to kill me with a bolt of lightning once I touched the torah like poor psycho killer Rhoda was as she reached into the pond to retrieve the media. My God was vengeful, and he must have it really in for me, I was so bad my real parents didn't even want me . My Bar Mitzvah was also my first successful alcoholic black out, but that's another story.

I looked like everyone in the Cook family, I fit right in. One of the Cook cousins, Judy kept giving me orders, I have to come to church at midnight on Christmas eve which was coming up, help decorate the cousins tree, and sit on cousins Tommy's lap who has remained Santa for years as his waste line expanded into the red suit.

After receiving my Cook marching orders, I was trying to be fun and friendly about it all, I mentioned that this would be the first christmas tree I ever decorated, at which point Judy screamed "WHAT, Why" I told her I wasn't sure if my rabbi would approve, again she shreaked even louder "WHAT IS YOUR LAST NAME? and i said EPSTEIN, and she kvetched "OH MY God YOUR A JEW!..." and quickly added "ISH"

That was me alright, confused, guilty and an "ish".

So much for my relationship with the extended Cook family. It lasted about one month. They were anti everyone, racists, homophobic, anti american indian, Republicans, and probably more if I had gotten to really know them which seemed like a very distant possibility at this point.

When I ask about my background I discovered that I had a Jewish grandfather, but the Cooks were as embarrassed about him as they were about their Cherokee grandmother. I clearly had her face especially if I were in Pocahontas drag as she seemed to be in the few family photos they showed me. I kept asking questions about her, and they clearly did not want to talk about "IT" at all.

Oy Gevalt I'm an indian!!!
Well if i was going to be an "ish" a Cherokee ish seemed to be cool with me. But years of guilt taught by experts has by association made me a JEW-ISH life life force, and all those dimes I gave at Hebrew school to plant trees in Israel must have counted for something.


All art, photography and words © 2008 a j epstein
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Jun. 7th, 2008

roller derby, ink

The Blackout Blogs #1

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ART PERFORMANCE WARS 1972

Leodios has gotten me doing a blog.

I couldn’t see the point but it has become a very interesting exercise and tool in collecting my thoughts, ideas and visuals into one place. Going over 40 years of journals in various states of disintegration I have found that I have some very funny and sometimes sad stories documented in-between the covers of my journals. I have decided to start colleting them and putting them up on my blog.

This first one is 1972, New Years day in San Francisco. I had wound up in the gutter, literally at the corner of California and Polk streets. I always hated New Years parties, something dating back to my alcoholic toxic parents and their idea of a New Year. Often including fistfights, and one part of the family not speaking to the other for years at a time. My tendency to deal with New Years Eve was to get plastered, and this year was no exception. I guess I was at a party and decided to stumble back home to the Castro and my boyfriend Victor who own the Moby Dick Bar. The perfect enabling boyfriend for an alcoholic art director and photojournalist. (my logo design is still used, I only slightly remember drawing it)

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I had decided the best spot for my projectile vomiting attack was over a gutter opening on the coner. As the sun started coming up from purple night to some bright magenta morning light, I looked up from the curb at very lively argument in the middle of the street. Two well know street performance artists around town were going at it, and me with out my camera. I found my sketchbook in my backpack and drew the drawing above of Anna Banana and Mary Christmas screaming at each other over a turf war between them.

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Mary dress in a foam rubber and fabric Christmas tree was smashing Anna with the glitter star on the top of her costume, and Anna dressed in a very bright yellow foam rubber banana suit was clobbering the tree with the stem of the top of her banana suit. Mary’s decorative ornaments were flying every direction, and Anna's Doc Martins were stomping on the ground like a poodle in heat.

It was the perfect surreal moment, I think it was a quote from Jean Cocteau, when asked the meaning of his art and surrealism as being the “the chance meeting of a sewing machine and a clown in an operating room at midnight.” A Christmas tree and a banana arguing on New Years day while vomiting last years scotch was my own surrealism.

Was it ART or just another blackout, some how I was sane enough to preserve the moment. I knew this was going to be an interesting year, and yet I had six more years of blackouts until I found my way into AA , and was lifted out of my own surrealism. But I do miss the visuals I vomited on along the way.

All words and art are © 2008 A J Epstein

Jun. 4th, 2008

roller derby, ink

Dichotomy: Photographs of Blake Little

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Blake Little is a well-known commercial photographer. His portraits of the rich, powerful and beautiful are often featured in the better upscale urban magazines and entertainment advertising.

Little has published his first personal photo book, Dichotomy (State of Man Publishing/Colt Studio.), and in it he manges to achieve what other naked-by-the-pool books have only aspired to; he presents the male body as art!.

The photos included in Dichotomy have an inner life. They are poems of shape containing great mysteries. The bodies are interpreted rather then worshipped.

Little is painting with light, building a structure utilizing men's bodies in a non-exploitative masculine essay. He is exploring his mythologies of manhood through his camera. The images are timeless. They are past, present and future. I believe they will be just as powerful 50 years from now as they are today.

Little's photographic art is very unlike that of Robert Mapplethorpe. While Mapplethorpe's work got better with time, he rarely got past the surface image of his subjects. He had an eye for composition, and "borrowed" lighting styles from other Lower East Side photographers like Peter Hijia.

There are photographers who do cross the line, from documentation to inspiration. Classic explorations into the mind of the artist. Duane Michaels is one example. He takes the viewer on a visual odyssey, cleaver, witty, always original, remembering to pay homage to our lost or forgotten homosexual literary ancestors.

Another American visionary who transcends the boundaries of photography and art is Arthur Tress, one of the most prolific artists working today.

Blake Little now enters into that creative vortex which combines art and photography. He has found his eye, his style, his vision, and it has been thrilling to watch the man grow. Little's photos are Homoerotic in the truest sense of the word; big, humpy men, not shot for there dicks, but for the architecture being —the shadows they cast, and the space they occupy.

Dichotomy book can certainly stand alone as the typical "humpy bodies-coffee-table-book of the month" such as the recent flood of publications by Tom Blanchi, Herb Ritts, and Greg Gorman. They all offer nice eye candy; after one or two viewings your meal is done and you leave the table undernourished.

Blake Little's work is exploring limits, boundaries, and the power he brings into his images is only limited by the viewer internal vocabulary. This is not a simple book. This is a book that gets more complex the more you involve yourself into it's myths..

One image in particular stands out in my mind: It is a photo of two muscular men within hoops. One man is black the other is white. They are not passive, nor are they in conflict. They seem secretive, one appears to be whispering into the others ear. This powerful but tender image is filled with questions. Is this a racial statement? Is this about entrapment, relationships, sexual, male bonding, or defining boundaries?

Another complex image is of a muscular pair of legs cropped at the groin. As you survey the shot you soon discover that the powerful thighs are resting precisely on as small rubber ball. Why the ball? Is it a metaphor for the delicate balancing act men must rest upon. The sexuality of balance. Men needing to stay on top?

Blake Little's collection reminds me of my first exploration of George Platt Lyons and his vision of male eroticism. Like him, Little discovers his own vision of masculinity and the mysteries that comprise art and man.

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Dichotomy by Blake Little
(State of Man Publishing/Colt Studio, 1996 ISBN:1880777398. $50).


all art and photography © 2008 a j epsein
except men in hoops @ blake Little

Jun. 3rd, 2008

roller derby, ink

Richard Kirk Schmiechen Queer filmmaker!

richard and oscar


Richard Kirk Schmiechen 7/10/47 — 4/7/93

I found my best friend's photo staring back at me in the New York Times, always looking the part of the serious filmmaker. For a moment I excitedly thought, "Oh wow, a story about Richard."

The truth sank in slowly as I read on. I was reading his obituary. Richard was dead! “Richard Schmiechen, Producer of Harvey Milk film dies at 45," the Times announced.”__I loved Richard, it is important for me to say that I loved Richard, in the best of complicated ways. As a friend, lover, roommate, filmmaker, confidant, political and artist comrade.

It was a long winding road we traveled. Richard and I met in Chicago; Richard was dating a friend of mine (David Root famed graphic designer for Ravinia Festival). Richard stood out, serious, intellectual and very political. We all hung out at a bar called the Snake Pit; very Berlin cabinet it was Richards suggestion I read one of his favorite writers Christopher Isherwood’s book I Am A Camera one drunkin night while sitting at the bar.

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Pretty soon it was time for all of us creative types to leave Chicago and get real about our art.

Richard landed a job as a film editor for the Maysles Brothers in NYC, legendary documentary filmmakers of Gray Gardens with a social conscience and politics that nurtured him. He also had an affair with the director James Ivory (Merchant-Ivory) while working on their film Roseland. One of the few time in my life when I was truly jealous, there was no way to compete with a talent like Ivory.

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Like a bad B-movie, I bottomed out in Hollywood working as art director for porno star and director, Fred Halsted. Very boogie nights! I got involved with John C Holms and the people who were involved in the Wonderland Murders, a drug robbery that went bad at the direction Johnny C and his 14” dick. All these people were constantly hanging around Fred’s office and my drinking just got worse, and the people got stranger.

Epstein at the NYC news

One pitifully lost weekend in LA I drank myself into a furious blackout and wound up on Richard's couch in NYC. I don't remember the plane or cab ride into the city; I didn't remember much of anything for a few weeks. Seems I had gotten a job redesigning the afternoon sections of the NY Daily News paper, a job I was perfectly capable of doing, but I had no memory of the interview, excepting the gig, or even if this was my office. I called Richard right away and had him meet me in the Horn & Hardart automat cafeteria on 42 and Lexington, and over cherry pie he retold me how I got the job in great detail and even the celebration which started the binge drink celebration that started at out at a friends French restaurant The New Amsterdam café in the west village two weeks earlier.

Richard look care of me, and when that moment of clarity that AA keeps talking about happened, Richard was there for me.

He was the only friend who had the balls to tell me to my face I was a drunk. He walked me to my first AA meeting in Greenwich Village (Perry Street) over 25 years ago. He sat across the street for two hours waiting to walk me home after my first meeting. Richard did stuff like that for people.

Once after a film, I left Richard on the corner in Chelsea to go work in the darkroon I shared with Robert Mapplethorpe’s. Six drunken Spanish guys who didn't want "fags" in the newly gentrifying neighborhood of Chelsea took their liquor bottles and started smashing Richard in the face.

Richard fag-bashed NYC

I took care of him for days, and once again rather then complaining about the pain, he was focusing on a film idea about fag bashing. He insisted I take photos for the film. They were too painful to look at back then, and the images have not diminished in time.

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Richard always got me involved in his documentary projects for PBS. One was a film narrated by Martin Sheen about Agent Orange, and another was the first examination of atomic veterans, a film called "Nick Mazzuko, Biography of an Atomic Vet," for the Independent Focus series.

In the 1970s Richard introduced me to the Upper West-Side literary pot-luck dinners with writers like Vito Russo. Vito was educating his friends over spaghetti about our lost and coded history in film, the book he was writing was called The Celluloid Closet and I wound up designing all the invitations and flyers about Vito’s lectures. A fact that Rob Epstein (director of Celluloid Closet and Times of Harvey Milk) recently reminded me of. http://www.tellingpictures.com/about.html

Years later I became the senior designer for a publishing corporation that produced a film magazine called Moviegoer. Vito did a cover story on Lily Tomlin for the magazine. Lily later narrated Rob Epstein's film based on Vito's book The Celluloid Closet. Karma, coincidences, fate. There are no accidents!

A few years later Richard called and was very insistent that I hop on a plane and come to San Francisco. He wanted my reaction to the rough cut of his new film project with Rob Epstein about Harvey Milk. Richard knew that Milk and I hung out years ago in San Francisco. Harvey owned the camera store on Castro were I got my film processed. Harvey and I had many sexual and chemical romps back in those days. I was expecting to see a movie called the "life" of Harvey Milk, which I was not so sure the world really needed. The Harvey Milk I knew was a lunatic, a madman who drank and drugged as much as me.

I left San Francisco before Harvey cleaned up his act and transformed. I avoided old drug friends like Milk for fear of threatening my delicate sobriety. I was sorry when he was killed, but I had no idea of his life being a political statement. I watched their film repeatedly all night. I knew I was viewing something very important, but my response was confusion.

Harvey wasn't just shot by a madman on a Twinkie rage; he was a targeted political assassination. Richard always made me connect the dots and see the entire political picture. Richard made me step back and take a really long hard look. He opened my eyes. That's why the film is called The Times of Harvey Milk . It was bigger than my memories or photos, it was a time.

Richard and Rob's vision was of course, the bigger picture, the whole story in political terms. They reclaimed a queer political history that could have easily been forgotten. They recorded and bore witness. It was our assassination, our Kennedy, our King, our Malcolm X. Our bullet in the head.

When Richard and Robert won the Oscar for The Times of Harvey Milk they turned their moment of personal glory into a political statement as well.http://www.tellingpictures.com/harveymilk/main.html

History was made that night. Queer History. No longer the invisible minority, two openly gay men accepting their Oscars. Richard and Robert gave us a voice that night.

I miss Richard, his politics and his back rubs. I miss thanking him for 31 years of politically correct sobriety, a day at a time, and forcing me forever to see the bigger picture.
All photos and art Copyright © 2008 Andrew J. Epstein

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all art and photography © 2008 a j epsein
roller derby, ink

Renée Geyer

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Renée sounds like she grew up on the Southside of Chicago rather then Sydney. She described herself as "a white Hungarian Jew from Australia sounding like a 65-year-old black man. " Which she does, putting her voice and her face together is confusing, sometimes it baffles her as well.

Renée Geyer was born in 1953 in Melbourne, Australia, to a Hungarian Jewish father, and a Slovakian holocaust survivor mother. Geyer was named Renée for another holocaust survivor who had helped her mother survive in Auschwitz after the rest of her mother's family was lead to the ovens.

The odds are you have no idea who this sexual R&B powerhouse is because until about a month ago her CDs were not sold in the states. Thanks God for Amazon, she is now available, and I don’t have to bootleg her music for my friends anymore.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_5_5?url=search-alias%3Dpopular&field-keywords=renee+geyer&sprefix=renee

One interesting exception was for a Starbucks buddy whose SUV was in the shop and needed a ride home. Playing in my car was Renee’s cover of Marvin Gaye’s "Sexual Healing". We pulled up to his 1930’s 18 room mansion. He wouldn’t get out of the car until the song was finished, He Said “that’s so weird I have to have a copy of that CD!”.

Entering his place a cold chill ran through my veins. I asked about the house, he said he got it cheap, "It’s Haunted!". It belonged to Marvin Gaye, the house his father killed him in, your standing on the spot he died. My friend burns a copy of the CD, and a few minutes later all 18 rooms were filled with Renée singing Gaye’s classic, and by all accounts the house has finally settled down.

When I told Renée the haunting story, even she had to admit that was pretty weird, even by her outrageous standards.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPmDXz4FMJk

Renée has 24 CD’s to her credit. Her self-produced CD "Tenderland" went gold soon after it’s release. She’s no longer the pop idol she once was in the early 1970’s with a string of catchy disco and reggae pop hits like "Tender Hooks" and "Stares and Whispers."

Recently at a BBQ in Hollywood I was sitting next to the great New Zealand actress Rena Owen, star of the film "Once We Were Warriors". We were yacking about the land down under where I once lived. I mentioned Renée, suddenly the actress drifted off into a long forgotten teenage fog, singing softly "Stares and Whispers", one of Renée's most popular older hits.

Rena sang, and later told me about her memories of Renée;

"since i was a small girl
i've always been alone

they just stare and whisper

moving in the right direction
towards your love and affection

dis is gunna be a brand new start
it's the way to your heart

she soared...

she touched me
she moved me
she inspired me

i danced to her sounds
i sang her lyrics
i fell in love
my first

i cried when
when he cheated
my heart got broke
and she consoled me

she rocked...

30 years later she is one of the only singers who
can still get my ass out of the chair
and on to da dancing floor
any where, any time

bring her on!

forever one of my favs
forever grateful
forever in awe
forever a fan

for the one and only Renée Geyer!"

— Rena Owen

once we were warriors

Geyer has that effect on people, always did, and several decades later, still does.

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Renee’s book is refreshingly honest, "Confessions of a Difficult Woman", she had three ODs from her heron use, lots of coke living in LA, abortions, her surprising sex life, self-image as her body got larger and larger. It’s a book truly about sex, drugs, rock n' roll, and survival!

After all the bullshit Renée created for herself, fear of live performances because of her ever changing appearance, being a virgin prick tease, perceived as a hard-ass chick in the band. Other peoples projections of her, her own insecurities, Renée has survived and conquered, something she clearly inherited from her mother and namesake from Auschwitz.

Renée is a powerful survivor you hear it in every note she sings. Gayer admitted to me she is at her peak creatively but by her own admissions "a little rough around the edges these days". That's the way the world is, a little rough around the edges!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPmDXz4FMJk

Renée had a record deal from Polydor, Geyer decided to split for the states in the 1970s. Polydor was aware her vocal style led listeners to assume she was black and urged her to keep a low profile until her popularity had grown. They suggested her US album release should not include her photo on the cover.

Known for her uncompromising and direct in-your-face manner, (aka "Difficult Woman") Geyer refused to allow this deception and insisted the album have her image on the cover. She referred to it as "my big pink huge face" Shot by the leading rock photographer of the time Norman Seeff. www.normanseeff.com/

Her LP got some airplay on the east coast black radio stations. Once her "big pink huge face" showed up she was dropped from all the black play lists.

renee norman

Renée today is a full-blooded woman who demands your attention, throws her erotic narratives in your face (like the way-over-the-top "My Killer Lover" or "I'm Evil Tonight") and lets you have all the raw sexual energy she can muster. Think of her as the bastard offspring of Etta James and Dusty Springfield with a little Marianne Faithful and Millie Jackson thrown in the DNA. You have a slight idea of this powerful seductive singer.

renee geyer,R&B

With her most outrageous, and my favorite CD "Tonight" Renée goes well beyond a great rocker or R&B; it's completely nuts, the stuff great art is made of. Song titles like "Gutless Wonder", "Takes a Woman to Know", and "Love is a Drug." Geyer is willing to take chances with her music, knowing that her loyal audience will continue to follow her any place she wants to go musically.

I asked if her songs are confessional, she laughed, admitting to being a great storyteller.

Asked who "Gutless Wonder" is, she snickered seductively and said “Well we all have a gutless wonder in our lives, don’t we.” How did It’s unusual R&B meets a Mariachi band surreal arrangement came about? " She replied "I was listening to a lot of Johnny Cash’s, "Ring of Fire"."

Renée has a great site at: http://www.reneegeyer.com.au/
Which has audio clips of her music. Also a Myspace page with her hundreds of admirers like Bonnie Raitt. Amy Weinhouse, Herby Hancock, Quincy Jones, Sun Ra, Lucinda Williams, Nick Lowe, Robert De Niro, and me. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=95679932

renee 2008

When I asked Renée about touring the states, she said "There are no plans, but I'm very available for bookings, if some one was interested." SOMEONE REALLY SHOULD BE VERY INTERESTED!


Renee Geyer Live - Australia Day 2007

Kerry Jacobson | MySpace Music Videos

Jun. 1st, 2008

roller derby, ink

(no subject)

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ANDREW J. EPSTEIN (b. 1949)

Andrew J. Epstein has been drawing since his very early childhood, and he also started making photographs early on. He says he began using art as a mental escape when he was about fi ve, after he was told of his adoption. He spent two years studying at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art in the late 1960s, leaving when he was expelled for creating a poster advertising Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) gathering in Chicago to coincide with the 1968 Democratic Party Convention in the summer of 1968. Since that time he has made his living primarily in the overlapping fields of graphic design and commercial art. He spent the 1970s and much of the 1980s in New York City, commuting during the late 1980s between New York and Los Angeles, until 1989. Thereafter he lived and for various periods of time in Knoxville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Sydney, Australia, holding down design-related jobs in each city. He left Australia and returned to the United States in the mid-1990s to take care of his dying adopted father, and he returned to Chicago in 1997 to search for his birth family. He eventually reunited with both parents.

aje art allstar game

In addition to his work as a visual artist and photojournalist, he is a award winning design director in custom publishing http://www.ajepstein.com. Among the visual artists, designers, and other varied sources that he credits as influences (and friends) on his work are Brassai, Robert Crumb, Diane Arbus, Paul Cadmus, George Platt Lyon, Keith Haring, Barbara Nessim, Tom of Finland, the San Francisco school of late-1960s psychedelic poster art, Roller Derby queens Joan Weston and Ann Calvello. (Epstein skated in the derby in the early 1970’s and is working on a book of his photography which can be seen at, http://theblondebomber.com)

blond bomer

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Andrew J. Epstein was adopted as an infant and grew up in Chicago, where he was introduced to alcohol early on and began drinking by the time he was nine. He describes his adoptive father as a manic-depressive liquor salesman with mob connections, and recalls his adoptive mother, who managed a medical clinic, as a “prescription junkie” who routinely stole medications. Addicted to alcohol by the time he reached junior high school, he began indiscriminately using a wide variety of drugs in the 1960s, but then again who didn’t.

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He attributes this substance abuse and other forms of compulsive behavior not to a dysfunctional upbringing, but to pervasive fears resulting from highly unsettling, nocturnal experiences that he began to have when he was three or four years old. After small, shadowy beings accompanied by a brilliant light entered his childhood bedroom through a closed window and surrounded his bed on more than one occasion, he started drinking in order to overcome his resultant fear of falling asleep. As he grew older, he regularly slept with a loaded gun under his pillow. After many years marked by ongoing experiences of this kind and innumerable therapy sessions to help him understand them, he became convinced that he was being periodically visited, probed, and tested by extraterrestrial UFO travelers.

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Epstein gave up his heavy reliance on alcohol and other drugs in the late 1970s after joining Alcoholics Anonymous. All of his works in We Are Not Alone, and High on Life Shows at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore pertain to the struggles he experienced with those substances or with other forms of addictive behavior. Since renouncing his dependencies, he no longer feels the necessity to sleep with a gun under his pillow, and does not fear the little grays.

By Tom Patterson - curator of High on Life: Transcending Addiction
American Visionary Art Museum.

Epstein has been in two year long shows at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore We Are Not
Alone, and High on Life.

all art and photography © 2008 a j epsein except ballpark image, by mark hanauer