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Remembering Leee Black Childers Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

11 April 2014

Timothy Leary. LSD. "This seems fun," Leee Black Childers thought on reading the story in Life Magazine. So he got in his car and drove to San Francisco for the Summer of Love in 1967.

He was astounded by the drag queens he saw. And he had a camera. Nothing else, in fact.

As he says in the clip below, "I don't know how I got the nerve up, because they were so scary. But believe me, when you go up to a drag queen and say, 'Can I take your picture?,' you can take their picture."

Originally from Kentucky, Childers took his camera to New York City where he met Andy Warhol at the Factory. Childers confessed he wanted to be a photographer. Warhol gave him some career advice. Just call yourself one, man.

To make his point, Warhol pointed to the drag queen Candy Darling nearby. "Look at her. She says she's a woman. She is."

From then on, he was a photographer.

The Vinyl Factory published Drag Queens, Rent Boys, Pick Pockets, Junkies, Rockstars and Punks, a collection of Childers' work in 2012. It features images of '60s and '70s legends including David Bowie, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Robert Mapplethorpe, Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, Andy Warhol and Warhol superstars like Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling.

Childers loved everyone he ever shot, his assistant John Connell told the New York Times.

"His incentive for taking these images had nothing to do with money or fame," he said. "The only thing Leee ever wanted up until his final days was for these people to 'live forever.'"

One might have wished the same for him.

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