Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Pleasant Adventure



Pleasant - Punk Rock's Perennial "It-Girl." Here she is in all her voluptuous glory on the cover of a 7" single by The Ventures. This artifact is rich in its layers of stories, history, resonance, relevance and etcetera etcetera.

Where to start? Picture facts: Shot in my spare bedroom in my apartment on Clark Street. Clark Street is the same street as San Vicente, but it is called Clark Street above Sunset Blvd. It runs north, behind the Whisky A Go Go. A funny aside, the apartment directly below mine was inhabited by one very young Motley Crue. Yeah - VH1's Behind the Music mentioned it all over the place. And I worked at VH1 at the time - however, none of my co-workers believed me. I had to show them pictures of my apartment (I shot pictures of the Orchids in the stairwell. I shot pictures of The Last by the pool. You'll see those soon.) I have funny stories about the Crue, but unless you write me and specifically ask for them, I shall refrain from telling them. I have issues with the Crue.

Anyway, I had this swell 2-bedroom apartment at 1140 North Clark St. It was apartment 306. The back bedroom had a wonderful huge picture window and in it streamed light from the East. It also had a skylight that made everything beautiful because of the frosty glass. I hung up a seamless against the wide wall and photographed everyone I possibly could in there.

Pleasant loved the camera, and the camera loved her. Pleasant is one of the last of the Renaissance women. Let me take this opportunity to direct you to her current incarnation as Princess Farhana.

If you hung out with Pleasant, she made you feel as though you were her best friend. She is warm and wild and witty and just plain wonderful. We did a million things together. Pictures were just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

Dan and David Kessel, sons of the jazz musician Barney Kessel, and their friend Blake Xolton had a record label and they did some music producing. They famously once worked for Phil Spector and had the wildest stories. At this juncture, they were on their own and releasing a 7" single by The Ventures, "Surfin & Spying," a song written by The Go Go's, who were not only friends of Pleasant and mine, but were really catching a buzz. Who knew our girlfriends would become famous!?

Dan and David insisted on "art directing" this shoot. Pleasant and I knew what we were gonna do! Pleasant's father, Richard Gehman was an editor of Playboy at one point in his career, I believe. And Pleasant herself was not only an artist, but gifted of a certain specific style that the punk aesthetic not only embraced but emulated. We knew that this surf-garage band's single required a va va va voom image. Pleasant was only too happy to play it to the hilt. Dan Kessel lit the cigarette that provided the wisp of smoke you really cannot see coming out of the pistol on the "B" side - "Showdown at Newport."

Fast forward - here you go. The stuff of pulp novels on the sleeve of a Ventures record! And I did it!

As I put these pictures up, I marvel at myself. I can't believe I was here. Which leads me to my next point and brings this all full circle. Just as I had to prove to my erstwhile VH1 co-workers that I indeed lived not only in the same apartment complex as Motley Crue, but directly above them and had contact with them ad naseum... for so many years I had to provide triple proof of my association with this scene. It goes way back to when I was in high school and why I started taking pictures of concerts. No one believed I was there. Doubt is an emotion I have trouble understanding.

I have faith and always had faith in this thing called Punk. I knew back then that it was an epochal benchmark. I was right, wasn't I?

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