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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Celebrations

Oh no, its not about love...its about punk rock.

My dear departed friend and fellow photographer, Herb Wrede had a Valentine's Day birthday. Herb was a dear. He lived in Ontario, California, and would come up and see shows in Hollywood with a friend of his, Diane Grove. Together, they did the Screamers Fan Club. This is their handiwork.

Both Diane and Herb took pictures, and Herb and I took photos of each other. Herb took more photos of me than I of him, however... it was this routine we had - so that he could get some good isolated shots of musicians...I would talk with them and then Herb would yell out my name, and the musician and I would both turn towards him.

One of Herb's most well-known of these photos is one he took of David Johansen and me in 1978 backstage at the Whisky.

David and I had become quite friendly (and I drove him around too) and so when he was relaxing alone backstage, I simply wandered in and started chatting with him and Herb came in to ask "Can I take your photo, David?" To which David replied, "Only if she's in the shot." I do wish I had a scan of it - but perhaps you've seen it. Its one of the photos on the Backstage page of Creem from September 1978. The caption reads: David Johansen relaxes with the Mrs. courtesy of a NYC subway. And that was a reference to the graffiti on the walls.

When I went to NYC not long after that photo was published, everyone thought I really was David Johansen's wife. Even his recent ex-wife, the late Cyrinda Foxe did. But she finally accepted the truth...that I was not the new girl in her ex's life, and we later became friends. But this case of mistaken identity served me well as I sought entry into exclusive clubs or VIP rooms in those clubs. They thought I was Mrs. David Jo. I said nothing, but the velvet ropes parted. I think its hysterical.

The next time I saw David, I told him, and I think he found it pretty funny too. It was especially effective for me getting into sold out shows at the Mudd Club. The case of mistaken identity also got me on Johnny Thunders short list of people from whom he would shake down for money. I never gave Johnny money, but I did buy a great leather jacket off him in Paris one winter when we ran into each other in the Forum des Halles and he said, "I know you from New York. Can you lend me $50." Of course, if you knew Johnny, or know his reputation, at that point in his life, he owed everyone in New York $50. I traded him $50 for his jacket, and then we went back to England and he invited my flatmates, Stiv Bators and Michael Monroe down to his recording sessions.

Johnny Thunders

Stiv in the studio

So, what does any of this have to do with Valentine's Day? Nothing. Its just Herb Wrede's birthday, and he'd be 50 if he was still on Earth. I do want to say and publicly throw out a GIANT THANK YOU to Trudie Arguelles Barrett - Mrs. KK Barrett (of Screamers fame to you). In exchanging emails with Trudie over the last couple weeks, she told me that she rescued Herb's photo and negative archives from the fate of being thrown out in the trash by his parents. In addition to all that Trudie has done in her life, that sole act of buying Herb's archives was a great unsung moment of historicity. Yes... that is a word. James Joyce made it up in Finnegan's Wake. Anyway... my big Valentine kiss goes out to Trudie for knowing, for always knowing what was the right thing to do.

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