Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Amazing Adventures of the Portfolio in the Storage Locker

Putting together a full color portfolio in the 80s was a very different thing from now. I had to shoot 4x5 internegatives to make each 8x10 blowup of a Polaroid, so my portfolio originally cost several hundred dollars to create, zip-up, checkered black-and-white cloth binding, too cool for school. I only had one. (As they got cheaper to produce, I had several. I never stopped giving them out or trying to get my stuff published. This is the story of THAT ONE portfolio, the first I ever made.)

An editor at Spy Magazine had my portfolio and expressed interest in either doing a story about me or hiring me to do a story on someone else. I didn't hear from him for more than a year when I got a call from a janitor who was cleaning out the abandoned offices of Spy Magazine. They had ceased publishing and closed down. Someone had left my portfolio behind in a pile of rubble. Since there was no more mailroom for him to mail it back to me, and since the offices were being closed THAT VERY DAY, the janitor gave me till 6PM to get down there to pick up my portfolio, a bit difficult since Spy was in New York and I was in Los Angeles. Luckily I had a friend in New York, Garry Goodrow, who got to the offices just in time to salvage the portfolio and mail it back to me.

I met Hugh Hefner at a press conference at the mansion. He loved my shot of him and asked for a blow-up for the mansion. I personally gave him the portfolio and he said we'd do something for Playboy, which he was only publishing at the time. One year later I got my portfolio back from the editor of Playboy with a note saying Sorry, my work wasn't right for Playboy.

One day Timothy Leary showed up at my door. He was a birthday present and he spent a couple hours with me. He loved my work, and when he left, he took the portfolio with him, promising to show it around to help me get published or find a gallery. I kept running into him at openings and premieres and he kept promising. Then he died. Then Cristie's auctioned off all his stuff and my portfolio wasn't among them. A year later, I got an e-mail from the woman in charge of keeping the inventory of Leary's stuff. She had my portfolio and wanted to know what I wanted done with it. She gave it to a friend who brought it back to me 10 years after I gave it to Leary.

Doug Edwards, curator for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, took the portfolio and decided to produce a show for the lobby of the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. When Karl Malden was voted in as president, he cancelled the show, so we waited two years for him to be voted out of office. The show was back on when Doug suddenly died of AIDS. One year later, three years after Doug had taken it from me, I got it back from the Academy with an apology for not having my show.

The portfolio now sits in a storage locker in Desert Hot Springs waiting for crowdfunding to save it from the dumpster.