Studio 2728--Girard Ave. Philadelphia,PA
We took the rhubarb, asparagus, and kale out of the trunk and walked across Girard Ave. to the entrance of the Studio. It was still early. Like 6pm. The shows always started at six but no one ever got there until around 7. At least that’s how it usually went at Studio 2728. But tonight was special. It was to be the first big deal night for Jon and Leigh. Everyone assumed for one reason or another, whether it was the old adage “sex sells,” or the rising status of the erotic photographer, that this show would draw the biggest crowd the place had seen thus far.
By eight o’clock there were more tattooed women than I’d ever seen in one place milling inside the gallery and outside on the sidewalk. Models that had worked with the artist I guessed. The story went that he was now being hired to fly all over the world to shoot women in his erotic photographic style. Originally working and based in Baltimore, MD, he now lived on a “farm” in one of those mid western corn states. Iowa was it? I couldn’t remember but he definitely brought the crowd. Skip had been irritated with this guy because at six o’clock, when the doors were supposed to open, the photographer and his assistant were still hanging art. Apparently he had some anxiety issues and was sucking down Mt. Dews all day. I thought the whole scene was comical. Here you had this fairly typical hipster looking guy sporting big ass gold-rimmed Elvis glasses nervously floating around the gallery ordering his assistant to various tasks in an almost whispering, raspy voice while back in Jon and Leigh’s bedroom was his quiet, sly looking girlfriend putting on heavy movie-star eye makeup with Skip’s cat snoozing on the futon. To his credit, I got the sense that this photographer was only as much of a primadonna as it might take to push him from cult star status to something more. It was all too LA yet in a fairly endearing, low-fi kind of DIY-for-porn-star way. The energy was there. That great city, art-scene energy vibe that can be sometimes hard to find out in the country where I live. Not to mention the amazing looking people in all their hipster attire. Flaunting style just to do it.
What a juxtaposed weekend. To think I had spent the morning at a Mennonite farm learning about companion planting in the garden. By ten that night a crew of us headed over to the Barbary Club for the after- gallery party. We had heard some friends of the artist would be spinning reggae and soul records there . I had been skeptical about this part of the night’s events at first but was amazed to find the dimly-lit, dingy bar slammed with people getting down to classic 60’s soul and yes! reggae. I had never been to the Barbary before but felt right at home immediately. It felt like London. I should say it felt like what I imagined a hard-hitting reggae club in London to be like. And what would any London club worth its salt be without a few skinheads dancing solo to the chorus, “I’m a sufferer, a sufferer, a sufferer.”
All photos by Wayne Miller