Drag / Fashion / 70s NYC
8.875 x 12 inches
90 full-color photographs
“I can’t remember when I first saw the book Idols by Gilles Larrain. All I know is that ever since I got it, it’s been a huge influence on me. Idols is one of the best photographic books I’ve ever seen. It was published in 1973 and is a collection of studio portraits of trannies, gender-benders, and just generally awesome looking people in New York City. It’s an incredible time capsule. There are Warhol people, like Taylor Mead and Holly Woodlawn, and members of the San Francisco-based psychedelic drag queen performance troupe the Cockettes. There’s a photo of the artist Al Hansen, (a.k.a. Beck’s grandfather), covered in silvery paint and dressed up like some kind of Roman soldier, and an unrecognizable, teenage Harvey Fierstein, looking like a young, pretty Jewish lady (well, almost). Most important, these people all had the best style. The greatest fashion always originates with drag queens. The outfit you’re wearing today was probably invented by a drag queen ten years ago.”
—Ryan McGinley, from the Foreword
Idols, an authentic compendium of 1970s’ New York style and attitude, and a confirmed masterpiece, began with an awestruck Larrain visiting Max’s Kansas City in the explosively liberating early years of the gay rights movement. Featuring a generation of New York’s most talented, outrageous, glamorous, and mostly gay personalities, the unique photographs in Idols are testament to countless hours his subjects spent applying original makeup and costumes in Gilles’ now legendary SoHo studio.
These arresting photographs may delight you. Perhaps they will offend you. They will almost certainly inspire you to ask questions about yourself and your sexuality. They will not leave you cold. The Halloween glamour of the transvestite world is captured in these superb photographs by Gilles Larrain. And, beneath the glitter and the pose, you will see the questing and vulnerable souls of people you might never meet outside these pages. People living out their fantasies gallantly, brilliantly, and desperately—posing the disturbing challenge, “Who do you think YOU are?”
Born in Da Lat, Vietnam in 1938, Gilles Larrain began an atypical life that would see him living in Vietnam, Chile, Argentina, Canada, France, and America, all before the age of 16. He would have to learn many languages and integrate each new world, so it is not surprising that expression, communication, and curiosity became the framework for Larrain’s life pursuit, the making of art. From architecture, to painting, sculpture, creating happenings in New York City’s fabulous 60s, and photography, Gilles Larrain learned the languages of his craft (in part by attending l’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris and MIT) as he had those of his ever-changing environments growing up.
Ryan McGinley is a New York based photographer raised in New Jersey. After moving to New York in 1998, he began extensively photographing his downtown environs. He received a BFA in graphic design from Parsons School of Design in 2000. In 2003, at the age of 25, McGinley was the youngest artist to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. His work has appeared in galleries and museums worldwide, on the covers of magazines and albums, and has been collected in five monographs, most recently in Life Adjustment Center (Dashwood, 2010).
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