All my life except for a few times I have lived in a big city. By now we who live in Vancouver must finally almost accept that it indeed is a big city even if it does not have the population of Buenos Aires and Mexico which are cities that I knew well.
But there is something about Vancouver (and at this point I think I can say “my Vancouver”) that now I find that through my blog I can catalogue how I interfaced with it.
There is one person who I must consider important in this final realization. The person is Malcolm Parry (we who know him well call him Mac). It was in his Vancouver Magazine of 1978 that I first started my career as a magazine photographer. I like to compare what was Parry’s office with that of Ukraine. Not having tall mountains, army hordes went through it from West to East and from East to West. Parry’s office (he never closed its door) was open to anybody who might have wanted to see him. There were politicians, writers, boxers, wrestlers, strippers, prostitutes, photographers, designers, illustrators, painters, hoods, actors, musicians, poets, novelists, etc who would see him to pitch stories. I was around for many of those pitches. And because I was a sort of de facto house photographer I photographed many of them.
All this led me to get to know Vancouver in ways that others might not have had the opportunity to experience.
Consider that I could walk into the Marble Arch and at the bar, the bartender; called Jorge would place a large glass of soda water in front of me. He knew that was my choice. And I could never pay for it. I felt like Humphrey Bogart going into a bar.
Another time a nasty man threatened to burn my house down or torture my daughters if I did not return some negatives of a girlfriend of his who was a stripper. A hood, I called dealt with the problem. I had reported the incident to the police. A few days later a policeman knocked on my door and told me, “It seems you have good friends in this city. Your problem has been solved.”
For quite a few years I would have coffee with a handsome man who wore Holt Renfrew clothes including tasselled cordovan moccasins who was a homicide cop.
I photographed mayors and many politicians. From them I got glimpses into the fabric of my city.
Because I am now 78 I look at my extensive files of the people of the city and the people who passed by the city and think that I have written about some of them in my now over 5200 blogs.
For today’s blog I want to use some photographs of an ecdysiast called Robbie who was a fave of my writer friend Les Wiseman. In the 80s when Vancouver had some of the best exotic dancers on the planet Wiseman and I knew most of them and even knew their real names!
I have no idea how many other photographers were given permission to shoot shows at places like the Drake and the Cecil. How many of them were given access to the dressing rooms? I was and I have hundreds and hundreds of photographs that represent an era of Vancouver that will never return.
We now live in politically correct times where men sit at a
computer with a beer and watch what at one time would have been far better and
probably with the company of friends. The ecdysiasts I knew were artists.
So Robbie is featured here today. I know I took these photographs on February 1985 because the date is stamped on the back of these Kodachromes. I have no idea how I could have possibly used Kodachrome (ISO 64) inside a strip bar. In this century with a digital camera it would have been as easy as the hordes of passing through Ukraine.
It is amazing that in this century my spell check does not accept or recognize the word Kodachrome!