An unflinching and uncompromising portrait of one of the most controversial photographers.
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This programme contains strong language and explicit sexual scenes.
Robert Mapplethorpe was the ultimate bad boy of the camera.
The only thing more shocking than his photographs was his life.
He gained notoriety in the 1970s with images of New York's underground gay scene,
which he glorified, uncensored, until his death from Aids in 1989,
at the age of 42.
A master of form and light, no subject was off limits.
Fetishes and sadomasochism were captured with the same meticulous
detail as eroticised flowers.
His work convinced art dealers that photography could be as collectable
as painting and sculpture.
But exhibitions of his sexually explicit work inevitably raise questions.
a Cincinnati art centre was taken to court for displaying work considered pornographic.
It's this controversy which opens the film you're about to see.
Directors Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey were given unlimited access
to Mapplethorpe's archives and work, and the result is,
Look At The Pictures.
An unflinching, uncompromising profile of one of the most provocative
artists of the 20th century.
a known homosexual who died of Aids and who spent the last years of
his life promoting homosexuality.
Now, if any Senator doesn't know what I'm talking about
in terms of the art that I have protested, well, look at the pictures.
Now, any Senator who thinks that I'm attacking aesthetic art...
..I don't know whether television cameras can see it or not,
I'm going to be fast enough with it that they can't.
But I want Senators to come over here if they have any doubt and look at the pictures.
In Cincinnati, police close down the Mapplethorpe exhibit.
We are sending the Mapplethorpe exhibit to trial.
Come over here. Look at the pictures.
One of two artists whose works led to a dispute.
Look at the pictures. Look at the pictures.
Look at the pictures.
It was Mapplethorpe.
The art gallery and its director are charged with obscenity
for exhibiting photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe.
-Look at the pictures.
-Mapplethorpe's work is highly controversial.
-Can I show it to you?
-I don't want to look at it.
-I don't even acknowledge that it's art.
I don't even acknowledge that the fellow who did it was an artist.
I think he was a jerk!
This is one of five vaults in which Mapplethorpe's archive resides.
Audiovisual material is in here along with more ephemeral paperwork
from his studio and personal correspondence.
The photographs are in a cooler
environment and Polaroids are in an even colder environment.
One of our big challenges is to really make a case for why we're doing two
concurrent exhibitions about one artist.
This is two sides of one coin.
-There is a duality that runs through Mapplethorpe's work and life,
and we hope to be able to divide the material up in a way that would
highlight that duality.
-This is a box of self-portraits.
-Yeah, biker jacket from the back.
I really like this white piping and how it leads up to this other shape.
That's one of the great ones.
When you say Mapplethorpe,
people immediately think of the controversies that happened during
the '90s. Guerrilla rebel.
-Mapplethorpe was being demonised by Conservative politicians,
so one of our goals was to humanise Mapplethorpe,
to bring him back into people's consciousness as a human being.
It's quite convincing.
-Ah! Mapplethorpe and bullwhip.
I remember it being a slightly higher contrast.
-It's a different paper.
-This is a lot warmer and softer.
The way his hand is,
it's so great, it almost looks like he's releasing the shutter.
Yes, because that...
..cord comes just to the edge of the frame.
-The cord kind of connects the viewer with Mapplethorpe.
-Because it's coming out of the picture.
-As well as the eye contact,
-It's very defiant.
He's not hiding his face.
He's not hiding his identity.
He's not hiding what he's doing.
Robert was just my younger brother.
I'm the oldest. That's myself, my brother, Richard, Robert, Edward,
Sue and James.
That's the six of us. When we were young, we did a lot of colouring.
Robert always had weird things.
You know, he'd have a green face, or...
..just not the norm.
Or purple hair or something.
And I'd say, what are you doing that for?
That's not the way it's supposed to be.
As far as, like, photographs, he never took photographs.
My dad took a lot of photographs.
But Robert, he had no interest in that at all.
My wife and I and the children moved here in 1949.
I was always interested in photography,
but none of my kids were until Eddie.
I had all the equipment downstairs -
a darkroom, enlarger and printer and drier and everything else.
This is the block we lived on.
See, all the houses were the same?
This was during the snow.
This is Robert here with two of his friends.
You know, we had to be home a certain time for dinner, and
you had to sit at the table until you've finished your dinner.
Robert was a regular kid.
One thing was his endurance on a pogo stick.
He was having competitions with people.
He would go all the way around the block on a pogo stick.
Robert was the pogo stick champ of 259th Street of the neighbourhood.
He just could go on forever.
And he was so proud of that!
You know, there's something about black and white pictures that are so
much better because they last.
I took this of Robert in front of our house, right?
The rest of them, all these, he took of me,
and I believe it's probably the first pictures he took.
There was this television programme in the early '50s.
Someone would give them something to taste with their blindfolds on.
You would have to guess what it is.
That's how we play the game -
identifying items by means of our five senses.
Well, we Mapplethorpe kids made our own Sense And Nonsense game.
Robert, the little devil that he was,
went to one of the many ashtrays around the house, which were always full,
and put ashes in my brother's mouth.
And they were fuming.
That's the kind of stuff he did, that kind of needling stuff.
So he was a devilish guy.
We never missed Mass on Sunday.
We always went to church, and I still do.
I first met Robert Mapplethorpe when I was assigned to Our Lady Of The Snows Parish in Floral Park.
They were active in the parish, you know,
so I got to know the whole family.
So Robert just kind of took to me,
and I, you know, took to him, and he used to paint me pictures.
He drew me a couple of paintings of the Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary.
And I thought to myself, he's been too influenced by Picasso.
But anyway, I have to say that, first,
he was the only person I knew who could sit on a couch and chew his toenails.
The other thing was you'd look at Robert, and I think the first thing
you'd notice is his eyes.
They were huge.
And as if he was always looking, always penetrating, always...
..trying to get through.
I come from this, you know...
It was a very safe environment...
..and it was a good place to come from, in that...
..it was a good place to leave.
He never quite really fit in...
..with all these other teenage boys, you know.
There was something very fragile about Robert.
Robert was Mum's favourite.
I don't know why, though.
I can't put my finger on specific things, but I would say, oh,
Robert was her favourite.
-Sometimes, that just wasn't enough for me.
Robert was smart. Everything came easy to him.
I worked like a dog for my marks, but he graduated at 16.
-As soon as I could, I started art school training, and I moved to Brooklyn.
My dad was basically against it.
My father thought...
..you can do it as a hobby, but what are you ever going to do with art?
Did know that photography and homosexuality share something in common?
Growing respect for photography in the art world
with the growing visibility of the gay rights movement.
Each suffered a gauntlet of prejudice during their coming-of-age.
Just as Mapplethorpe was starting out,
to be openly gay was still very much a cultural taboo, and photography was
considered not much more than a utilitarian medium
and applied art, a bastard of the arts.
He was very young when he started Pratt.
He just looked like a little boy and people made fun of him.
That time, his name was Bob Mapplethorpe.
And to further diminish him...
..they called him Maypo because that was a children's cereal back
in those days.
# I want my Maypo I want my Maypo... #
He was not macho.
# I want my Maypo! #
It makes you strong.
He told me he would take his father's negatives to class and present them
as his own work.
He was a fuck-up!
So I was interested in his experience at Pratt
and how he found himself as an artist there.
Is that a self-portrait?
Yes. This one's actually ink so I'm imagining he rolled an oil-based ink
-onto his face.
It's kind of hard to comprehend.
The psychedelia of it, too.
He was really into acid at the time.
We both had a similar background.
Right off the bat, I think we kind of hit it off.
He started taking drugs -
smoked marijuana, LSD.
We both were living on candy bars and cigarettes, basically.
And he was getting really skinny and we were both really pale-looking.
But we smoked, and so he put LSD in the cigarette.
I completely lost my memory, and so...
I don't know, I'm losing track. I'm kind of like having a...
I'm going back there too much, I guess.
ROBERT: When I was in art school, I'd stay up all night stoned,
trying to think. What hasn't been done?
I was obsessed with trying to come up with a new
approach to art, to be unique somehow.
Bob and I realised, you have to get a little name recognition, and sometimes
the weird thing can work well for you.
So, somewhere along the way there, he had purchased this little monkey.
He named it Scratch.
And I did some really nice drawings of Scratch.
The monkey had some bad habits.
The monkey masturbated a lot.
The monkey threw crap at you sometimes.
And he would walk around with the monkey on his shoulder,
and he was wearing a black cape.
Robert and I graduated Pratt in '67,
the Summer of Love, and blah, blah, blah.
And here's Robert standing all by himself, in a corner,
you know, hiding his face.
He's extremely mysterious.
And that's who he was.
The final project for both of us was to make a musical instrument out
of a bone. Then, I remember, I got a call from Bob.
And he was all kind of weepy, and he said, "I don't know what to do,
"Scratch has died." It was maybe two o'clock in the morning,
he came in and he was really shook.
He said, "I boiled Scratch's head,
"and I've got my bone, but, you know, it was terrible.
"It smelled terrible, I hated doing it, I had to cut his head off."
So he aced the project.
ROBERT: There was a lot of negativity, even at Pratt, toward what I did.
People would say, oh, that isn't art,
that isn't the way you make art, and I just did it the way I wanted to do it.
Robert set himself apart from his classmates.
It's a beast, and this is his backside.
It's a pose that he uses himself later on in self-portraits.
If you compare it to Bullwhip, that backward pose,
he already has it in his mind.
The last time I saw Bob, he had no clothes on, he was afraid,
he had all the furniture stacked up against the door and he was really
beside himself, and he said...
.."I'm afraid, I'm afraid, someone's coming, someone's coming. Could you give me 20?"
I met Robert accidentally, and he was just a boy.
I mean, we were both 20,
he was a kid going to Pratt, and we fell in love,
and he was my boyfriend.
-It was the first time I had ever been in love with anybody.
The fact that it was somebody as unique as Patti...
I mean, she was a magical kind of person,
so, like, you know... And she was...
..supportive of what I was doing,
of my magic, and I was supportive of her magic. Neither one of us were
ever jealous, so it was, like, a storybook relationship.
He helped me to build confidence in my work and to think of myself as artist,
to have a concept of oneself as an artist.
That was always really important to Robert,
not as an apprentice, not as a student, but as an artist.
I loved photographing my friends, and Robert called me and said,
"Can you do some naked pictures of Patti and me?
"I want to make a little film called Garden Of Earthly Delights."
So then we set up lights on the back of a chair and I just took the pictures
that he asked for.
Robert and Patti were so beautiful in such an interesting way,
in an unconventional way, I think.
He exuded this kind of androgynous sexuality, and so did Patti.
Patti was drawing all the time and Robert was drawing all the time and
It was messy, there was stuff hanging around, tacked up on the walls,
it looked like a scene from a Godard movie.
We sat for hours and hours, night after night, drawing and,
you know, drawing from each other as well as drawing.
I'm a thief. And I dig it!
A good thief never hesitates, a good thief steals clean.
And now I'm stealing now. And now I'm stealing now.
And now I'm stealing now.
The Chelsea has been home for more than a century to a colony of artists
who have also celebrated it in books, poems, plays, dance and painting.
ROBERT: I kept on saying to Patti...
I loved them.
We were like a family.
He kept telling me I was like his sister.
Patti was working like crazy to let us live.
She was very generous.
And she wasn't jealous of me at all, which is wonderful.
She trusted me with Robert, totally.
I never was in love with him or had any sexual feelings for him,
but we were very close.
We would sit in my totally white empty room at the Chelsea,
which supposedly had had Oscar Wilde stay in it and had had Jackson Pollock
stay in it, and I had Warhol's clouds floating,
the helium clouds. And that's all I had in the room, and a mattress.
We lived on the floor and it was clean enough to eat off of, and that's
exactly what we did.
It was a 25-hour art show all the time or movie set or whatever you would
want to call the life.
It was just a life being recorded.
In a stark sun-drenched studio lives film-maker Sandra Daly.
I called him up, I said,
"Could you bring over some of the things and put them up on the walls
"cos there's nothing here, it's all white?"
And he came over with the stuff, and I looked and I thought, God,
leather pants with a cock sticking out! I thought, why not?
It looked fabulous.
ROBERT: I was working with
articles of clothing that were kind of like fetish sculpture.
If I had a jacket that I wore all the time, I'd put it in a piece.
So it was like assemblage.
What's made you live in the Chelsea for the past seven years?
Um, my friends, I guess, live here, and my teachers.
-It's my home.
-Robert didn't say much.
He didn't talk at all, did he, in that clip?
Robert could sit in silence a lot more comfortably than I could.
I'm Edward Mapplethorpe, Robert Mapplethorpe's brother.
I was three years of age when he left the house.
I remember waiting anxiously on my stoop and knowing Robert and Patti
were coming, and I'd be like, wow!
Wow, look at these guys! I mean...
They didn't look like anybody else, they didn't talk like anybody else.
I would say creature. They were like creatures.
Just the way he dressed, the way he carried himself, the way his hair was, the way, er...
It was just...
It encompassed him.
The art. The artist encompassed him.
There was no separation.
I see them as exquisite.
Most porn looks amateurish and...
Just make it look like...
I think I said a Louis Quinze chair,
so that it just takes your breath away.
It doesn't matter what the subject matter is.
It's like a love story.
To porn, maybe.
ROBERT: There was a feeling I could get through looking at pornographic imagery,
and I thought, if I could somehow retain that feeling,
maybe it was the forbidden, because I was young, you know,
that if I could that across and make an art statement...
..do it in a way that just kind of like
reached a certain kind of perfection, that I would be doing something...
..that was uniquely my own.
Oh, and that one even includes a camera.
He highlighted it, and this was before he was even making photographs.
But this is when he started thinking,
it would be cheaper for me to take photographs than buy all this porn!
Same great film.
ROBERT: I wanted raw material that originated with myself.
I felt that I was stealing them from other people and so that's how
I started with the Polaroids.
It was not because I wanted to be a photographer.
We had a Polaroid camera and Polaroid film was really expensive,
so my focus was always that Robert got what he needed first.
And we had so little money for film,
we concentrated on getting him the film.
ROBERT: It was all there from the start and,
when I first started taking Polaroids,
I was working with photographs that dealt with
sexuality - portraits, flowers and still lives,
because I used the still lives to experiment with lighting.
These are the first times that Robert took emulsion.
He washed it off of the Polaroid till it floated above the base
and stretched them out.
That's me, ugly as ever.
And that's David Croland.
I'm really not a model any more, I'm just, you know,
If you want an explanation of why I'm wearing this robe,
it's for Robert, and Robert liked robes.
And he liked black silk.
And I thought twice about it, and then I thought,
you're not going to think three times.
Patti is the first girl he photographed for Polaroid, and I was the first boy.
HE POPS LIPS
I met Robert in 1970...
on Memorial Day...
on a steamy hot day.
As soon as he got his camera, the film was loaded and my clothes were off,
a robe, and then the robe was like here, etc, etc.
He photographed me a lot and, in those days,
I just thought, who cares, Polaroid film?
I was used to being photographed by the big format, you know, by...
Should we drop some names? Someone said, "Stop dropping names."
I said, "I can't help it if everyone I know is fantastic."
I thought these Polaroids were like, what the hell are these?
I saw very quickly that he wasn't just stacking up
a bunch of Polaroids, he was making stuff out of them.
He was incorporating them into a new type of art,
which no-one was doing. No-one.
And then, someone called Patti to say they were boyfriends,
so that's...we were busted.
Patti knew that I was helping Robert,
so there was no animosity, not at all.
At least, I don't think so.
When you're young, you don't have much of a conscience.
I mean, when you're young, I don't even know if you think.
I don't even think it's a good idea to think - to this day.
It's just better to do stuff.
I had this small amount of money. I could make a movie.
I said, Robert, you can pick out anything you want to do.
MAPPLETHORPE: I just thought it would be interesting to have a ring
through your tit, cos I'd maybe seen it in a movie or something,
but it wasn't something anybody had at that moment
and all of a sudden, there was a whole situation where
I was to get my nipple pierced.
I had done a number of films for Andy Warhol.
So I was... As a model, I was used to having the camera trained on me.
But I had no idea where that film was going.
Where that film went was to the Museum of Modern Art,
and it showed there at a big screening.
MoMo was very crowded and I was writing film reviews then
for the Village Voice and I remember
Robert was standing against the wall and he had this sort of angelic
kind of hair and I guess I had a crush on him and whatever.
Right away, in my mind, I saw him as an angel and a devil.
Then Patti has this brilliant monologue
that she did as the soundtrack.
I read this book, Robert had this book in his drawer,
called Leather Boys and like, I picked it up the other night,
cos he went out and once he got those leather pants,
he'd be down on Christopher Street.
Like, he wasn't like my boyfriend or nothing.
I guess the only reason I don't like it, is cos they've got secrets.
"In sharp counterpoint to the delicacy of the visuals,
"is the harsh and hilarious soundtrack by Patti Smith, poet.
"..who, it seems, dislikes homosexuals because,
"A, she feels left out
"and, B, they use their assholes."
He called me after the review came out and said that he really liked it
and could we, like, meet for a cup of coffee or something?
Robert and I would, you know, meet up at like four in the afternoon
and go into some deserted restaurant and sit, you know,
just order coffee and...
He only had a Polaroid then, he didn't even have a camera.
But he was already, you know, planning on his first exhibition
and who he was going to invite and who he hoped would come.
This is Robert Mapplethorpe's announcement for his first solo exhibition.
The envelope is embossed by Tiffany & Co.
It was a show of Polaroids.
He encased his announcement in the "don't touch here"
safety cover from the Polaroid film pack.
Mapplethorpe says in several interviews,
an exhibition doesn't begin when you go to the opening,
it begins when you get the invitation.
It is a small dot sticker,
that's really not opaque.
What do you want the viewer to feel when they open that invitation?
MAPPLETHORPE: I want them to remember, that's all, you know.
You're thinking of what?
Standing out from this huge morass of...
Being more... Why can't it be in terms of one's whole lifestyle?
You know what I'm saying?
The whole point of being an artist
or making a statement is to learn about yourself.
I think that's the most important part.
The photographs, I think, are less important
than the life that one is leading.
I would just run around and
give people their food.
It really was a comprehensive scene of downtown artists,
not a closed world, but it was,
you know, almost like a clubhouse, in a way.
I probably saw Robert almost every night of my life.
You know, most people that I knew lived in such horrible places
that you really only knew where they lived if you had sex with them.
Lots of times in Max's, he would come and sit with me.
You know, it was probably the time I enjoyed Robert the most,
because he was an incredibly amusing gossip.
He was extremely good-looking, in a very particular way. You know?
No-one that saw Robert did not have a crush on him immediately.
No-one. Everyone... Dogs liked him.
He looked kind of like, you know,
a kind of ruined Cupid, and he was very...
reliant on his charm.
You know. In other words, he made great use of it.
By which I mean productive to Robert.
Robert was not a hustler. Robert didn't have to hustle.
People hustled Robert.
Mainly, out of his pants, if they could.
Me too, by the way.
Robert didn't think anything was wrong with his ambition.
He didn't think of it as selling out.
He didn't think...
He just, you know, he pursued it the way that people now do.
Was Robert ambitious?
There is no word for it.
For either of them.
That is an understatement.
For both of them.
I went away for a summer and when I got back,
Robert was suddenly into S&M.
One day, I showed up at his place and he was wearing leather pants
and it looked like a radio attached to his crotch.
I said, "What the hell is that?"
He said, "It's a codpiece, isn't it great?"
I said, "This is like the beginning of the end,
"if you keep dressing like this!"
He started to trick me out in leather jackets and handcuffs.
They started to get, not me, at all,
and more him,
and he wanted me to go, always to go further
and I thought, "That's not going to happen.
"I'm a model."
Sam Wagstaff. I only knew that he was eccentric, handsome...
And then - when he took me to his loft later that day - rich.
But right before we went to his loft on Bond Street,
he spied a little tiny picture of Robert taken in a photo booth,
with that little sailor cap on.
He looked like a Jean Genet drawing and he said, "Who is this?"
I said, "That's my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend."
So I called Robert up and I said, "Listen, your ship's come in,
"it's in my harbour, you're going to jump on this boat.
"You're going to love him, he's going to love you, I can tell."
They had a date that week and they fell in love, very quickly.
Sam was his protector, in every way.
You know, the way that girls are protected by men.
It was a beautiful match.
I knew other people who had older, like, guys who supported them
and stuff like that, but Sam devoted himself.
The career Robert had, I don't believe would have existed without Sam.
I met him when he moved
next to us on Bond Street,
so he was literally the boy next door,
and we just instantly became friends.
It is just this little cobblestone street in New York.
Robert lived at 24 Bond Street
and Brice and Helen Marden lived at lived at 26 Bond Street
and I lived at 42 Bond Street.
And the '70s in New York was very different than now.
New York was bankrupt.
Things were pretty corrupt and violent.
There was a lot of crime.
And, you know, Bond and Bowery was in the middle of,
people sleeping in the doorways and lying on the streets,
but it was the art world.
When we first moved here, I was hysterical.
I said, "We have just spent 40,000 bucks on this dump
"and look at this area, look at this, I mean,
"it's like miles before you can get to a restaurant, a grocery store,
"you know, a light at night, the place is dark."
You had this beautiful free-flowing stream
and then there would be all the soap suds and garbage.
-That's the way Bond Street was.
And now, of course, the last time I tracked it,
the penthouse in that building I think sold for 19 million.
I never thought we'd have any money. Did you?
No, it wasn't the intention.
I mean, it wasn't as though it was just a band of innocents, you know.
You came to New York
because you felt you had to be in New York, you know,
or else you would have just gone to some place that was nice to live.
He loved coming over and taking photographs of my bats.
You know, he wasn't Robert Mapplethorpe in the beginning.
You know, there was no thought that this was ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE, right?
We were just all doing our work and chatting about it.
We'd go to these funny little used book stores
and they'd have, like, cardboard boxes filled with old postcards
and filled with old photo prints and Robert would go through them
and he'd find, you know, a Weston or Steichen or something.
You know, it was like no-one knew what it was and it was, like 5,
or 10, and he would do that much more once he got together with Sam.
MAPPLETHORPE: What happens is I started collecting photography,
so I studied it through holding these pictures in my hand,
which is probably the best way to study photography.
Robert and I liked to lie on his bed and look at all the photographs
Sam bought and then he would tell me how much they were worth
and we would laugh.
Never having really looked at photographs as art,
it really took Robert to bring me to photography.
That's terrific. What are you up to?
-You should see some of Robert's work sometime.
I'll be getting down after the sale.
There was something about the quality
of even the Polaroids
which startled me.
Something very knife-sharp about his work.
I think this is the most intimate thing we have in the archive
between Sam and Robert.
Robert doesn't write, so in a way,
this linen album is his love letter to Sam.
You can see the dialogue that's going on between them
-about photography and love and all that sexuality.
I used to be slightly embarrassed
by certain photographs that Robert took.
He helped me get over that.
Robert has always liked to play on the edge of pornography.
MAPPLETHORPE: I always was fascinated with the idea of taking
a loaded subject like sexuality and somehow bringing it to a level
that it hadn't been to before.
He's absolutely wedded to truth
and opens it up in front of his
camera in an almost surgical way.
I remember somebody saying, "You know, you really shouldn't
"do that because it's going to fuck up your career,"
and I said I thought it was stupid for him to even think that way.
I was convinced that what I was doing
was the right thing to be doing.
I met Robert in the early '70s
on Fire Island, where his friend, Wagstaff,
was renting a beautiful house and they invited me to stay.
The '70s was a sexual time in Fire Island.
We went for sex,
for that beautiful availability
of sexual encounters.
the drugs were floating around.
It was heaven.
Whenever we went out, I was recognised, right?
And people stopped me, and Robert liked that
and he was craving for fame
and he enjoyed to be seen with me,
but he was sort of feeling he should be the one who should be recognised,
and so I agreed, as a friend,
to pose for him.
Then when the weekend was over,
Robert went back to New York City
to work on his career.
For me, the ambition was to get laid.
Robert's ambition was to be a great photographer,
and that's why he is,
because in order to be a Mapplethorpe, you had to work hard.
He walked into my office at Drummer -
a major gay magazine, where I was the editor,
wearing leather chaps and a leather jacket,
carrying a black leather portfolio,
"Hello, I'm Robert Mapplethorpe, the pornographic photographer."
Well, everybody that came to my desk
was a pornographic photographer.
The problem in the '70s was everybody was having sex -
photographers weren't shooting, painters weren't painting,
writers weren't writing, but Robert was functioning.
We ended up in bed, then we became bicoastal lovers
for the next three years.
He knew that he needed to be written about,
which was one of the reasons he came to Drummer.
MAPPLETHORPE: Well, I think life is about using people,
and being used by people, and that's what a relationship is all about.
I was just one of many writers that he approached.
I mean, nearly all of his friends were writers.
He wanted to be a legend, he told me he wanted to be
a story told in beds at night around the world.
He had that kind of drive.
And in a way that's part of what makes geniuses,
this self-centredness and this ability to use people,
so I was someone who could help Robert.
I had that power of being, you know, editor of Interview,
but I don't think we used him that much,
because I was aware that Andy didn't like him.
He always said "Oh, he's so dirty-looking,"
and, you know, "He's so creepy..."
Andy didn't like anybody who took Polaroids, he thought
he sort of was the only person who should be taking Polaroids.
But once Andy realised that Robert was with Sam Wagstaff,
he started to like him.
So, it was OK for me to then use him for Interview,
and we sent him to Mustique.
We met Robert, my husband and I,
on our way to Mustique,
in a private little plane.
I hadn't heard of him at all,
but I was fascinated by his mind and on top of that,
he was so good looking.
He said, at one point, "I want to photograph you,"
and I said, "No way!"
And he said, "You know what, you might regret it later,
"because I'm going to be a fantastic great photographer
"and you're not going to have your photograph taken by me."
He was a big hit with the aristocracy
and he loved Mustique and Mustique loved him.
He was living this double kind of life where he would be uptown
at a fancy dinner, and then he would go to The Mine Shaft.
It looks well worn!
-I imagine it is.
-Not just a souvenir.
Well, that was one of the key places he went to find his models -
The Mine Shaft.
What went on in The Mine Shaft, for all those years,
was two floors of the most outrageous sex
had this side of Ancient Rome.
All kinds of S&M sex,
scatological sex, fetish sex - from the sling, to the stocks,
to the whipping post.
People talk of the famous bathtub.
I mean, there was always somebody in it and a ring of men around it,
one, two, three layers deep.
Everybody jerking off, touching each other,
moving just like a scrum around that bathtub
and then the ones in the first line would piss all over
whoever was in the bathtub.
MAPPLETHORPE: The work dealing with
sexuality is very directly related
to my own experiences.
It was an area that hadn't been
explored in contemporary art
and so it was an area that interested me
in terms of making my statement.
I was in the perfect situation
in that most of the people in those
photographs were friends of mine.
And they trusted me.
And I felt like,
almost an obligation
to record those things.
Robert and I first met at The Mine Shaft.
He comes over, and I'm like, "Oh, here it goes...
"We're going to have an orgy
"or go down in the basement."
He was very good-looking.
You know, all in black leather, it was like...
It was hot, he said "Let's get out of here,"
and we went home,
did a bit of coke, had some sex,
very, very vanilla sex,
he looked bored out of his mind.
And we were up in two hours.
Just as I was nodding off,
get up, to do the first shoot.
We did it like six-thirty,
seven in the morning.
He said he liked the light
coming in the window.
MAPPLETHORPE: It becomes a documentary, in a sense.
I like to see it more as an autobiography.
You know, it's what I'm involved with
at any given moment.
Leave that open.
I did this in a shop window.
This is Hockney.
And this is a young film directoress from LA.
I remember this one time we were at his studio
and he said, "Do you want to see my private stuff?"
At that point, all this stuff was really taboo,
none of this stuff was out in public when he was showing it to us.
Robert lived, not too far east of my apartment,
so I just walked there.
I remember, as I got closer and closer,
that I felt increasingly more frightened.
I was a bit anxious.
I'd look up, and there's Robert, up on the fire escape,
smoking a cigarette and
I was like, "OK, here we go."
Very low lit.
The first thing that struck me about him, he was not at all...
..you know, the kind of person
that one might think might make these kind of photographs.
-Well, this, er...
-This will pick up.
-Yes, this will pick up.
He said, "Oh, is that a Sony?"
And I said, "No, it's not."
And he said, "Oh, Panasonic. Well, Sony is better."
And you know, tease me about having the wrong tape recorder.
In his early work, Mapplethorpe signed with an X,
so there's a kind of double entendre here.
has 13 gelatine silver prints mounted on black board
and signed in graphite.
MAPPLETHORPE: Sex, is for me,
probably the most important thing in life.
You know, it's the one area that
offers a bit of magic, a bit of something we don't know about.
Just seeing how his little brother reacted, he just, he dug it.
He loved to get a jolt out of people
it was power. They were powerful.
RECORDING: Any sexuality, like I portray it, it's very much today,
but people will, you know,
it will take a few years for people to realise that.
You don't think that you're just existing in a specialised
-kind of subculture?
-New York is specialised,
but what happens in New York is indicative of America, finally.
If I was going to pick an image that I thought was humorous,
I would pick the man in a rubber suit
-with a hose coming out of his mouth.
That's really disgusting!
I'd grown up with abstract art and conceptualism and...
..you know, nude men in rubber suits were not part of my art education.
it was hard to know how to talk about them.
MAPPLETHORPE: I was always amazed that it shocked.
I mean, just cos once I had a photograph and had taken it,
it wasn't shocking to me any more.
I'd been through the experience.
Just watching me. Even though I was perhaps being tested that day,
I wasn't going to fail.
I was like, you know, "This is cool."
"This is cool."
MAPPLETHORPE: Maybe they're the best or most important pictures
I've taken. When one sees something
you've never seen before, it's rather important.
I mean, still, I can show those to people and they will have never seen
that image before, so it opens something up
and I think that is what art is about,
it is opening something up.
A couple of times, he was like,
"So, what do you think Dad would say about that one?"
There were two that particularly,
you know, took my breath away.
One was a pinky inserted into a penis.
That was like, "Oh, my God."
And the other one was the fist.
"Oh, OK, Robert."
I guess you definitely found your voice.
MAPPLETHORPE: I wanted to do a great fist-fucking photograph,
so I did that picture,
and then he said, "Now it's your turn."
He sort of pinned me against the wall and said...
Anyway once I had the picture taken,
I thought it was a really good picture.
But most people would say that image was a horrible image of yourself.
It's a good one.
Robert, he said,
"I can't have you go home without giving mum and dad something."
So he just went...
And signed it "For mum and dad."
It was certainly better than anything else they had up on the wall.
It was an Easter lilies print.
Are you proud of your son?
The artwork he did, yes.
But for some of the photographs that he took,
I just could not accept them either.
He did a beautiful job on flowers.
There was tension, there's no doubt about it.
One time in particular, being very, very uncomfortable
because my father wouldn't look at Robert.
My father was an electrical engineer.
He wore one of those pen-holders.
Robert would make his attempts, he came with a Polaroid camera one time
and gave the camera to my father to...
He did a Polaroid of Robert.
After he left, my father making mention
of how Robert shook people's hands.
It wasn't a manly handshake,
it was a soft-set handshake.
Let me say this, that I thought he was for quite a length of time,
but I would never even mention it to my wife,
because as far as my wife is concerned, he was her favourite.
He and Patti told my parents they were married.
I remember sending her birthday cards as Patti whatever,
Mrs Robert Mapplethorpe.
I think my father always had his suspicions, though.
There's no pictures.
You know, there's no certificate.
Did you resent the fact that he was gay?
I did, yes.
I guess I did, yes.
He never spoke to me about it.
Cos he knew I would never accept it.
Admitting that he was gay or telling me that he was gay,
that wouldn't have helped matters at all...
..because, I probably would have had more resentment
to that fact if he had TOLD me.
So he was really not part of the family.
You know? And it's sad, it's sad.
I so wish I could talk to him now about it all, you know?
yeah, Robert always wanted to be famous
and he became famous.
Dear Lloyd, I finally have a gallery in New York.
It's run by a woman named Holly Solomon
but you probably have never heard of it,
but it doesn't seem to be a bad place to be for the moment.
I said, "Before I show your work,
"I would like you to do my portrait."
And when he took my portrait,
I was convinced that he was an artist,
convinced that he could manipulate people extremely well -
and I use the word manipulate -
and so I said, "OK, let's do a show."
Sam Wagstaff was a great photography collector.
Holly Solomon said, "I wouldn't have touched Robert without Sam
"and there are others like me who felt the same way."
He had two shows in one day.
One was the S&M pictures
and then one were the pictures for, you know, the uptown trade.
And then there was a dinner that Sam gave,
a black tie dinner at One Fifth Avenue.
It was carefully thought out, it was like an ad campaign, and it worked.
MAPPLETHORPE: Sometimes I think it's better for the public
to be able to separate things,
because, when you mix them all up,
the sex thing overpowers it
and what happens is they just pick sex pictures out
and that becomes the show.
What would you say to those people
who accuse you of having a dirty mind?
Well, I don't know what that means exactly.
I mean, I think everybody, in one way or another,
is involved in sexuality,
so if you believe that sex is dirty,
everybody has a dirty mind, I suppose.
But I never consider sex being dirty.
The image that particularly riveted me was Mark Stevens,
Mr 10 1/2,
with his penis and balls laid out on the pedestal as if
they were a work of art, which, in his case, they were.
Artistic photography is controlled by very civilised people
in New York City and
in essence, he was glamorising the penis,
which is a very uncivilized thing to do.
He sold one only.
So I bought the whole show from Robert,
figuring, "OK, stuck is stuck."
He said, "I want to go uptown," and he brought me a present.
The present was a self-portrait with the whip up his...
..tush. And my husband, he was quite insulted
and he said, "I'm going to rip it up!" And I said, "No, you're not.
"Someday I'm going to get handsomely paid for that photograph."
Is that making a statement about myself?
You know, it's one aspect of everybody, I suppose.
You know, the demon within.
There's a sense of humour in what I'm doing
which I hope people pick up on.
Sometimes they do and I'm always pleased when people see that.
I don't think he could have produced
the work he produced
if he hadn't been raised Catholic.
I think the way I arrange things is very Catholic.
Even though I was never a religious person,
I think it's rather important as an influence on my life.
The imagery was what was important to him,
not the dogma.
There's something very ritualistic about sadomasochism.
It's kind of a black mass basically, right.
His S&M work is based on the Catholic martyrology.
As grade schoolchildren,
we hear tales of Saint Agatha tied to a stake
and her tits torn off with a red-hot pinchers.
If you're a little kid and hear that, twisted in a certain way,
all of a sudden you're excited and not horrified.
I'm really not, you know, into sadomasochism.
You know, I don't encourage it with other people either,
but I really felt as though there was a struggle in Robert
between the crucifixes and devil images -
good, evil -
there is a great conflict there.
He liked the fact that I had been in the seminary for many years
and was an ordained exorcist in the Catholic church.
And because I was trained to be a priest,
he was very confessional to me.
"Dear Jack, it's midnight.
"MDA ingested, only the first signs now visible.
"I've been out nearly every night.
"Tonight is no different.
"The Mine Shaft is beckoning.
"Come, go, come, go, come with me.
"Oh, I almost forgot to tell you.
"I let some creep stick his hand up my ass.
"I've been fisted, even came, but I think I prefer being the giver.
"In fact, I can't help but give preferential treatment
"to the feeding process.
"I want to see the devil in us all.
"That's my real turn on.
I have to say that because nobody WILL say it.
I have to say it and it's not to put him down,
but it's simply to reveal.
Satan to him was not this evil monster.
Satan was like a convivial playmate,
having a jolly good time seducing the maidens.
To me it was a bridge too far.
Can we close the doors? I'm getting awfully cold in here now.
There's a draft. Mark!
San Francisco, 1978.
Robert was having a show.
It was a sex show. It was unusual,
I mean, you didn't see sex as art in galleries.
And then someone said,
"Well, you know, he did the album cover for Horses."
It was the only black and white album cover.
And to see an androgynous-looking woman with a jacket
over her shoulder. I just love, love, love that photograph.
Robert was holding court and he said
well, let's have dinner the following night.
And that's how I met him.
And then I guess you want to know what happened the following night, right?
He reminded me of a satyr.
He literally looked like a mythological creature.
Like half goat, half man.
To be in Robert's world, you either had to be rich, famous,
I wasn't rich, I wasn't famous,
so it left that.
As he certainly wasn't monogamous,
he could have multiple relationships on a weekend,
but with me there was no S&M.
It was about being close and spooning, and, you know,
just the normal, the normal kind of intimate stuff
that he didn't have from picking up strangers.
He said I want to do a nude.
So I said why don't we do something like, you know,
those pictures of the hunt, you know, where you have like
the harvest with the dead rabbit
and the fruit and everything all and about.
So I thought it was going to be more like that
and he turned up with just this dead rabbit.
I said, "What am I going to do with this?
"Like a mink stole or something?"
I'm surprised you even know that picture because
you'll never see a picture of me in any book by Mapplethorpe.
You really won't.
The fact that I started getting a reputation
aside from just being Robert's, cute "with"
from San Francisco -
how dare I become a photographer that was well-known?
This infuriated him.
He couldn't deal with that.
"I've had a house guest here for much too long -
"a very cute boy that I met in San Francisco.
"He's sweet, intelligent,
"has a nice cock, but that ain't enough.
"I wish he'd find an apartment, as he's cramping my style."
That was probably me.
I mean, but I've never heard that.
I mean, I don't know who else he met in San Francisco.
That's the first time I'm hearing that.
Well, it finally isn't enough, is it? What he wanted.
It's never enough.
Everything was a means to an end to his career.
Oh, my God! You guys are old school, I love that.
The Bond Street loft never changed.
In the front was sort of no man's land and that's where
-he used to photograph a lot.
Then you moved back, and it's this little sitting area
which is where he would always hold court,
but across from that was the bedroom.
High...gloss, with the handcuff holds above the bed.
-I never went in there.
-Oh, I did!
First thing he said to me,
it's all you have to know is where the darkroom is.
OK, dude, whatever. You know, do your thing, I'll do mine.
And remember the first image I printed which was just
a nasty dirty picture.
It's a guy laying on his back pulling on his nipples.
It's not a well-known picture but it's a classic.
-And that's where we went to work every day.
-That's where we went.
-Yeah, off to work. Here we go.
-Little WASP-y blondes.
-Yeah, WASP-y blondes.
-Going to the den of iniquity.
Going to the fist-fucking file.
Wasn't it funny how soon we became anaesthetised to the sex pictures?
-To the penis!
-Yeah. I mean, cos it was just daily.
There would always be film in the morning from the night before,
so the first thing I'd do is process film.
He'd come in in his robe.
"How are the films, Tom?"
When he saw the image for the very first time, he teased me.
What do you think of that cock, Tom?
You know, "Get the fuck out of here." You know?
I was just out of school, looking for work
and Robert was like, I don't know how I really feel about this,
but I am looking for an assistant.
And I started the next day.
Because he didn't have a real photo background,
he was always insecure about, technically, did I get the picture?
You know, did it come out, did it come out?
If it had light on it and he'd get it to exposure he was happy
cos they were all fucked up in the middle of the night.
MAPPLETHORPE: I'm not a technician.
I never studied photography.
I don't particularly care to know it.
I know what a fine print is.
I would probably have less than half the number of photographs
if I did my own developing and printing.
But he always had coke.
I was the only guy he gave coke to cos he wanted me to keep going.
He wasn't generous. But, you know,
"If I give Tom a little coke he'll print faster."
Yeah, Tom, he'd go in the darkroom and get me a bump.
You know, my father said to me,
"How can Robert call himself a photographer
"if he doesn't even know how to process a roll of film?"
But Robert had vision.
He always had a certain way of seeing things,
so how you got there didn't really concern him so much.
He wanted everything to just be flawless.
You know, let's make this guy's arm meet this corner
and let's straighten it out a little bit.
"But it's a guy pissing in another guy's mouth, what the fuck's the difference?"
He wanted things as...
you know, unrealistically
perfect and smooth,
and taking all the flaws out of the skin.
You know, some days we'd just sit and retouch for a day,
until all of the blemishes were gone.
MAPPLETHORPE: I talked to Patti about doing a book
and having her transform herself
into all these different characters
that would have been Patti.
I mean, she would be this character one day and that character another.
And I think she had a certain range that
could have probably carried a whole book,
but I never did a book with her.
I met Lisa and I realised that she, in fact, had this range within her.
A very different range, but it was still worthy of a book.
I thought she was unique.
She had this form that I'd never seen before.
It was like a complete new animal.
She was particularly important to Mapplethorpe because he was trying
to balance out his sex pictures with pictures of women.
Mm-hm. It's so interesting to think about how the female body-building
idea then was really radical and kind of challenging.
-That kind of physique to us doesn't seem so shocking.
She's such a prominent subject.
-The make-up, the hair, the ruffled blouse.
-The shoulder pads.
It was prototype for a new species.
Sort of an animal perfection,
and I felt in him
a kind of male version of the same thing.
My ambition, that I discussed with him, was to explore
the range of possibilities of ways of being a woman -
historical ways, contemporary ways,
cliche ways, unheard-of ways,
tribal ways, the high fashion-type,
the sex goddess-type,
the lingerie-type, the bondage-type,
the virgin-type, the bridal-type,
What had seemed very daring
when he did it with men...
..looked very retrograde when he did it with a woman
who was dressing up in different hats and garments.
And so I wrote about that and he was furious.
I think he called me and yelled at me.
I feel like
it may have been a bad idea to write that review.
I mean, that is sculpture to me.
You know, that's sort of one of the points I'm making
in photography, is being a sculptor,
without actually having to spend all the time sort of
modelling with your hands.
You know, that's much too archaic for me.
It's like inventing sculpture myself with a camera.
It really is like bronze, you know?
I often say that photographing black men is like
photographing bronzes, you know?
I was the last white intimate person in his life.
After that he was only sleeping with black people,
photographing black people.
He became obsessed with black people.
MAPPLETHORPE: All I know is that
it's physically attractive to me.
Visually it's also attractive,
and so it became an obsession with me,
taking these pictures of blacks.
People would accuse him of exploiting these people,
He told me he photographed what he loved to do
and the people he loved to be with,
and to me that's not exploitation.
That's just living your life, and using a camera to document it.
For the most part, when whites have photographed blacks,
they've sort of shown them from a certain social point of view.
I'm photographing them as form,
in the same way that I'm reading the flowers
or anything else that are photographed.
I'm not attempting to make a social statement about their plight.
Robert was looking for God in a black man,
and he found him in Milton Moore.
And fell in love with him.
Now, I think he fell in love -
and this sounds ridiculous -
with Milton's penis.
Robert was looking for the absolute perfect black penis,
and he had it, I mean, the exact measurements down.
I mean, it had to be just so,
and he'd discuss it with others,
and, you know, the ratio to this and that.
The thing the world is most afraid of is penis...
..and Robert dared show penis, but he dared show black penis,
and there's nothing more scary, because behind
all of sexual prejudice is the sex envy,
this penis envy, that drives people insane,
either with lust or with fear.
Milton did say to him as one condition of taking the pictures,
that he could not show his head in the frame.
Picture Of Man In Polyester Suit was really one of his most famous.
Milton had picked up that suit in Hong Kong and was very proud of it,
and Robert purposely lined up his thumb
so that it would show off the cheap seams.
I'd never seen it and then we went to the framers
and I saw it laying on the floor as it was going to be put into
the frame, and I said,
"Robert, this is a show that the whole world will see."
He said to me,
"Will anyone write about it?"
That was his comment.
And they did.
"Main picture here is a big black dude seen in an expensive
"vested gabardine suit
"with his fly open and his elephant cock sticking out.
"This picture is ugly, degrading, obscene,
"but typical of the artist's work, which appeal largely
"to drooling, lascivious collectors,
"who buy them and return to their furnished rooms to jerk off."
We actually did sell that picture,
during the exhibition,
to a collector in New York for 2,500.
It was a reach.
It was a big price for a photograph
and especially by a living photographer.
There were 20 works in the show and we placed all of them
with very strong collectors, which was very important for Robert.
This was the first show that had ever happened to him,
and it was a kind of lightning rod,
and it was notorious.
Lot 144, Robert Mapplethorpe's Man In Polyester Suit,
and I'm going to start the bidding here at 180,000.
It's possibly one of the top ten most recognisable images
in photographic history.
It's an iconic image.
You know, it's like Andy's Marilyn.
None of us realised that photography at its
beginning was just considered commercial reproduction,
Many collectors would never dream of collecting,
and I think Mapplethorpe is one of the artists
responsible for photography being considered on an equal basis
with sculpture and painting.
I never for a second doubted that photography was a very real art.
There was something about his photography immediately attracted me.
I was shocked by his absolute brutal honesty about everything,
from sexual organs to relationships between people.
MAPPLETHORPE: You know, the people that have influenced me the most
are the relationships I've had,
you know, the lovers I've had in my life,
and of course I've photographed every one of them.
The only time that Robert ever cried was talking about
how much he loved Milton.
Not Patti, Milton.
He had just did that show called Black Males
at the Robert Miller Gallery,
so I went to go see that show.
I said, "That's going to be my boyfriend."
We lived together for the better part of a decade.
We rarely fought.
You know, because he was too self-absorbed
to really care.
It was so easy to be around him because he was so busy
being Robert Mapplethorpe.
When we started seeing each other, he started taking pictures.
And I was kind of shy, so I didn't want to take nude pictures.
And Robert goes, "Just don't look at your dick.
He goes, "It's just a picture."
There is no picture of Ken Moody's dick.
There just isn't. And I'm sorry.
As soon as I stepped in front of the seamless, it was magic.
It was absolute magic.
There's no way you can describe it other than making love.
And as soon as we stepped away from that backdrop...
..nothing, absolutely nothing.
We had nothing in common, we had nothing to say to each other.
There was a ghetto element to the men that he had the strongest attraction to.
I had none of that.
He's quoted in an article as saying that I was too white for him.
MAPPLETHORPE: I brought them together.
It was interesting because they'd never met and never had
a conversation with somebody else that had lost all of their hair
as a child, and it was interesting to watch them react
and relate to each other.
The more time goes by, the bigger that photograph gets.
When it was in Times Square on the Nasdaq billboard,
that was like...wow!
Where's my mother?
I've read several things on the shot of Ken and I.
It's like they've tried to read all of this philosophy into it.
Black Ken, eyes closed,
meaning the subconscious white Robert, eyes open,
afraid of the unconscious.
I'm like, "What?"
The black man was in the background
because the black man's neck wasn't long enough
to reach over the white man's shoulder.
We tried it, and my neck wasn't long enough!
I think that's why he did every position...
-..to find out what worked best.
There was no philosophical anything.
Robert was so not like that.
No, totally not.
Take your shirt off.
Sounds silly, I guess, using the word magic.
Now fold your arms.
Stay right there. Lift your head up a little bit.
I was able to pick up the magic of the moment and work with it.
You know, that's my rush in doing photography.
Hold that! Hold that.
Tilt a little right and turn a little right.
Turn your head to the right.
Now bring your eyes back to me.
Look back here. Lean right, turn right.
Put your head down. Now bring your eyes up.
Click, click, click, click. Eyes to me.
Click. Chin up.
Turn this way.
Turn your head this way.
Yeah. More. More. More.
And gently, instead of looking to the side, look straight out.
Often I'm dealing with fractions of inches.
Just, yeah, from the neck. Stay there.
I'm looking for that perfect position
where the head sort of somehow makes sense to me.
Actually, I should take it with all of the things coming in at you.
Look this way.
That's rather good, actually.
I'm going to start showing a series of portraits.
I'll stop at any point but I don't want to comment
too much about the pictures cos I want my vision to come across,
the way I see things.
That's William Burroughs.
Philip Glass on the left, Robert Wilson on the right.
Donald Sutherland, one of the best subjects I've ever photographed.
one of the most difficult subjects I've ever photographed.
That's Debbie Harry.
I sat for him a couple of times,
which was pretty scary for me the first time.
Smiling wasn't his thing.
You know, the way that he saw people,
was like he was seeing into them or something, or through them.
I don't think it's necessary to tell you
who is in each photograph because
if the pictures are good then they'll transcend who they are
and it doesn't matter.
-He became known for the elegance of his portraits.
And any photographer who takes
pictures of celebrities is making
a smart business move because
those people and their friends have
lots of money and they buy pictures.
Yeah. Well, and his social life was a part of his artistic life.
-It was very interconnected.
MAPPLETHORPE: Ideally, you get the subject to a point
where they direct themselves.
They say, "This is really what I want to be photographed doing."
I thought it was going to be a catastrophe, and I prepared for it,
so I did take a piece of mine.
It was a good collaboration, right, because he's famous
not for his flower pictures.
He's famous for his objectionable sexual representation.
You know, taking pictures of sex is no different than
photographing a flower, really. I mean, it's the same thing.
It's just submitting to whatever's going on and trying to get
the best possible view of it.
Nobody else can photograph flowers the way I do.
It's just the way I see.
Even Robert said that the pictures started getting very, very slick.
That was the word.
So slick, so perfect.
But perfection, that's a Mapplethorpe characteristic.
Anybody who was involved in that studio will agree with me
that you just got sucked into Robert's world.
You wanted to.
I mean, you just did.
It was an interesting world, it was a lot of excitement,
it was a lot of fun, but I wanted to do something else.
I can't just be Robert's assistant for the rest of my life.
So then the invitation gets sent out.
Nice group of artists.
And lo and behold,
Edward Mapplethorpe comes before Robert Mapplethorpe.
And he was...
"I'm not going to have any kid brother,
"I've worked really hard to get where I've gotten,
"and if you think you're going to come and ride on my coat-tails..."
And I was like, "Fuck, man," I was like...
And Robert asked him to change his name,
which he struggled with, I think, for a while, but then did.
-He changed it to Maxi.
It was all about Robert, it was ALL about Robert.
You know, they were brothers.
I can't imagine what all that was like.
You know, it was a futile attempt because everyone would go,
"This is Edward Maxi, he's Robert Mapplethorpe's brother."
I was like what good is this doing? This is ridiculous.
But, yeah, it sucked.
That day sucked.
Just like the day that he got angry at me for deciding
that I was going to leave the studio.
This is somebody who two years earlier didn't know whether
he wanted me in the studio with him. Two years later,
I guess he learned to rely on me quite a bit,
and was angry, very angry.
-The lifestyle of some male homosexuals
has triggered an epidemic of a rare form of cancer.
He would go to the bar in the afternoon, pick up someone,
have sex with them.
Then go back later that night,
maybe again pick up someone else,
and then, towards the end of the night, like a night cap.
Last weekend, Mayor Koch predicted that The Mine Shaft would close.
They are selling death.
Places where death can be distributed.
They're making love in the street on top of cars and everything.
This is men, grown men. I mean, that's not normal.
Most of these people, they're not fit, they're not human beings.
They have emotional problems.
Cos I was sleeping with him for all of those years,
I thought I was going to die.
I had came back from an appointment to get my results,
he was laying in the bed when I walked in,
and then he looked at me and said, "You got it, right?"
I said, "No, no, no, no, no," I said, "I'm negative."
I remember he got really upset and he goes,
"Then why do I have it? Why do I have it?"
And he started like pounding the bed.
AIDS at the time was pretty much a death sentence, right?
And he, on the one hand was upset, but on the other hand
he was fascinated by the demand for his work.
Like, his market took off when people heard that he was about to die.
It really took off.
We were very busy.
We didn't stop working and he didn't stop shooting
until he physically couldn't get out of bed.
He was like, "What am I shooting next?
"Get me some flowers. Let's do that."
You know, and the flowers got done, the statues got done,
the commissioned portraits got done.
MAPPLETHORPE: One day I'll photograph flowers,
the next day I'll do some fashion work,
the next day I'll do some pornography,
the next day I will do a portrait. You know, I don't really care.
I sort of thought I should be keeping a journal.
"I did watch him shoot today.
"It's so amazing to see how he musters the energy to do the pictures.
"It absolutely keeps him going.
"And the money. Funny money."
Long-lasting Natrel protection.
He was never interested in talking about his health.
All he wanted to talk about were sales and who was looking
at his work, and when are we going to have a million-dollar month?
He was interested in making as much money as possible
and he resented the fact that his contemporaries', like Brice Marden,
work started selling for several hundred thousand dollars,
and Robert's works are selling for 1,100.
Mapplethorpe had a sort of jealous
or competitive relationship with Warhol.
He would say to me, weekly, "If I die,
"will I have died with as much money as Andy Warhol had?"
And I'd say "No, not nearly."
I remember him saying to me once how frustrated he was
about being ill because he was getting all this money now,
and he actually said "I won't be able to enjoy it."
He was not very interested in leaving money to people,
so the foundation idea really began to appeal to
him because his money, his assets, his real estate,
his art collection would support his foundation,
so it would automatically promote him.
Robert sent for me for his birthday, his 40th birthday party.
That's when I was like, whoa.
This is not good.
Robert Mapplethorpe's way to interpret me
was totally different than any other photographer.
He wanted my hair back, so that was unusual to me.
Everybody else had always wanted me to do a hairdo.
He wanted a very, very natural feel.
I look like an angel on that picture,
so how can I not be pleased?
He was the first photographer to
photograph me completely in profile.
It's never, he was the only one.
The profile was just so much more soul-baring.
I got to sort of study him.
He didn't seem happy.
Everything seemed precious and I think there was no sense
of wanting to waste time or be frivolous.
In German, you say, there's this word, "getrieben",
which means as if something is chasing you constantly.
I used to go and visit him.
We both sensed that he was dying,
but we didn't talk about it.
And he had that very sad expression because he didn't want to leave.
He wanted to stay.
And one day he said, "I need to take a photograph of you
"and you need this one because it's going to be the last one."
That's what he said. I said, "Don't be silly!"
And it was.
It was just sort of business as usual until things progressed
and he was having a harder and harder time getting out of his seat.
And he had a horrible, horrible cough,
which I guess was typical.
Six o'clock would roll around and then he'd sort of be like,
"Can you come keep me company?"
You know, it was this little boy. "Don't leave!"
Little baby voice.
Robert was in his bedroom,
not feeling particularly well,
and he was like, you know, he was like,
"I'd like to do a picture with my hand holding the skull cane."
And I said to Brian, I said,
"Listen, this has got to be a self-portrait."
And it wasn't often that he'd wanted to take his own picture,
but he had been trying.
I took the skull cane and I held it like this and I said,
"Do a Polaroid."
So I brought it to Robert and he was like, "Wow!
"That's good." And his knees started to hurt,
so we put a chair in for him to sit on.
That's the classic masterpiece picture.
It's a tremendous photograph.
One of the greatest self-portraits of all time.
-It is 2:38. Here's the WNBC weather - cloudy, breezy,
chance of showers and thunderstorms right through the evening.
The low tonight in low 60s. Right now, 74 degrees.
There was something electric that day.
It wasn't just an opening.
It was a...
..a memorial with a living corpse.
Your heart just went out to him because here he was having
the success that he dreamed of from those days
in coffee shops in the village,
and, you know, we could tell he was dying.
This is... Someone took this picture of me...
..taking a picture of him.
He knew what I was doing there.
I think he understood the whole thing.
He didn't like it, but he understood it.
I think that was his proudest day.
I really do.
He looked like the king sitting there.
Had everything from flowers to fist fucking...
..and I had to go around the room with my mother in a wheelchair.
When I saw the one with the whip, I thought, "Oh, my God!"
And I remember going to my kids and I went,
"That's him?!" It was a self portrait!
He loved attention.
Even though it had to do with the fact that he was a dying man,
it didn't matter.
He was one picture.
I mean, it stunned people.
We all sort of were under the impression it was going to be
this glorious article, when in fact...
-That was sad.
-I'm sure he saw his own mortality.
Very clearly at that moment.
His image out there was this handsome, vain,
elegant creature, and...
I mean, come on! It was like...
he was alive!
Working with Robert Mapplethorpe has been my most enlightening
and rewarding curatorial experience.
I felt that Robert Mapplethorpe's work was so important,
so I went to New York and visited him at his studio.
We started to talk.
He was very easy to talk to.
I felt after five minutes that I'd known him a long time.
MAPPLETHORPE: Have you ever seen the X, Y, Z Portfolios?
There's an X portfolio, which is sex pictures.
There's 13 of them.
Then there's Y, which is flowers.
And there's Z, which is blacks.
He was particularly interested in showing the X, Y, Z series,
which had not been shown before in its entirety.
Maybe interesting to have a wall where you have a row
of X, Y and Z all in one mass, or in three rows or something.
We devised a way of displaying them
in a case that would be so high
that a child could not see into it.
But an adult could look down upon it.
I remember showing my husband some of the pictures
before the exhibition opened.
He said, "Janet, do you know what you're doing?"
But I didn't listen to him.
Maybe I was crazy!
Hi, Robert. Here we are.
You are with us.
You're with us and we're with you.
I think you can tell whether a show is successful
by the sound in the gallery.
If people are talking a lot,
you know somehow the show just doesn't have it.
In the Mapplethorpe show there was silence.
You could hear a pin drop.
This one time, it was a terrible night for Robert and he was almost
hallucinating a bit and he ended up pulling out some of the IVs
so I had blood dripping out of his arm, in IVs,
and I had to, he... I know I had to clean him up.
He'd shat in the bed.
And I'm like, "Oh, my God."
That night Robert looked at me teary eyed, crying,
and said, "Oh, my God," he's like, "I'm dying."
I'm dying. And...
I had to say, "Yeah."
What can I... I couldn't... I mean, yes.
Robert gave a going away party for himself.
A lavish cocktail party at his loft.
Waiters walking around with silver trays
with little tiny blini and caviar and champagne.
It was very elegant.
And Robert was sitting in the middle of the room.
I walked up to him and kneeled down at his feet
and came face-to-face with him.
He said, "You still look so beautiful," and I said, "Thank you."
I said, "Well, what do want me to do?"
He said, "I want you to tell her everything.
"Keep me alive."
"March 8th. Well, this is it.
"The last two days have been hell.
"The funny part is not knowing how to say goodbye.
"Letting go. Are words enough?"
I was just like, come on, Robert,
just like have a conversation with me and just say, you know,
"I'm proud of you and keep it going," And, "just do good work."
I never got it.
Never got it.
Some days yes, and some days no.
You know, on a daily basis,
I would say in any given day I'm happy part of the time
and not the rest, you know.
I think I'm a perfectionist and I think it's hard to be happy
if you like things to be perfect cos things are not perfect.
I don't know whether the television cameras can see it or not.
I'm going to be fast enough with it that you can't.
But I want senators to come over
here, if they have any doubt,
and look at the pictures.
I don't even acknowledge that it's art.
I don't even acknowledge that the fellow who did it was an artist.
I think he was a jerk.
-Keep your hands off! Keep your hands off.
This line is for two o'clock only.
You need a pass to get in to see the exhibition.
..it happened. What you're watching now is the Cincinnati police
as they made their move today
against the Contemporary Arts Center.
They temporarily closed the controversial Robert Mapplethorpe
exhibit that resulted in charges today against
the Contemporary Arts Center and its director.
It's an important exhibition,
it's important for the city that it be seen here.
It was suggested that I wear a bulletproof vest.
There were the calls to the home or the calls to my office,
saying we're going to kill your children.
The art gallery and its director are charged with obscenity
for exhibiting photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe.
The jury took about two hours to come up with its decision.
We the jury in this case find the defendant
-not guilty of obscenity...
-SPEECH DROWNED BY CHEERING
Next up is the Robert Mapplethorpe flag,
the great Star-Spangled Banner, gelatine silver print.
48,000 now gets us going.
48,000, 48,000. 55,000.
60, 65,000. Thank you, ma'am.
He was always giving me his work.
70,000, with Caroline...
I had at least half a dozen photographs and a collage.
Don't ask me what I did with this, please,
because if I kept it I wouldn't be here,
I'd be in my villa in Tuscany.
I can't discuss it. Too upsetting.
I threw it away.
-When I moved.
I told this once to an art dealer and he said,
"I can't believe that you didn't know that someone as ambitious
"as Robert, as clearly as ambitious, wouldn't become famous.
And I said that no-one could have imagined that photographs
would be so valuable financially. Cos they weren't.
No photographs were.
It wasn't just that I couldn't imagine it, no-one could imagine it.
Whatever it took...
..to become Robert Mapplethorpe
is what it was going to take, and it took his life to do it.
Mapplethorpe by himself, the name is really great.
-It's like Titian or...
-Yeah. You know where to go.
Just the name, that's all you need is the last name
to recognise the artist. It's so clear and simple.
What if you stacked three images into the...
We can't have nudity on the street banners because of city regulations.
So that's one point of discussion.
Second is the colour.
This is a mock-up of the invitation for our opening reception.
The self portrait on the front,
then the inside message.
Then the RSVP card.
It's just an innocuous flower,
not anything that the Post Office would object to.
I'm not planning to put a curtain, but I'm sure
there will be some kind of warning on the gallery as people go in.
Well, and with her holding her sculpture.
-That was purposeful.
-Yeah, so great.
I wanted to put Louise Bourgeois holding her sculpture, Lafayette,
which looks like a phallus,
next to the picture of The Man In The Polyester Suit.
Yes, with his actual phallus.
It's a curatorial pun.