Laura Levine
meetings with remarkable men & women
Alex Chilton photo session, 1981
posted: March 18, 2010
Alex Chilton, NYC, 1981 © Laura Levine all rights reserved
Alex Chilton, NYC, 1981 © Laura Levine all rights reserved
Alex Chilton and I took these photos on the rooftop of the Iroquois 
Hotel in 1981 (September, in fact, for you September Gurls fans). When I arrived at his room and knocked on the door, he was still asleep, so I went and got him some coffee and that seemed to do the trick. Up to the roof we went. I think he was still half alseep but that's what I like about these photos - they're very open and unguarded, as we can be when we're not quite awake yet. He was a lovely man and a great talent, and he left us way too soon. R.I.P. Alex Chilton
all photos © Laura Levine all rights reserved
Iggy Pop photo session
posted: March 15, 2010
Iggy Pop, NYC, 1987, © Laura Levine
Seeing as tonight's the night Iggy Pop and the Stooges will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it seemed a fitting time to post some of the photos I've taken of Iggy over the years.

The main session, in 1987, was a two-parter: first, a portrait of him and Chrissie Hynde for the cover of Details mgazine, and then a solo portrait session. Here's the cover as well as some of my favorite shots from the session which didn't run.

I'll throw in a live shot from 1981 as well. And a snippet from a contact sheet.  Enjoy!

All photos © Laura Levine, all rights reserved.
Iggy Pop, NYC, 1987, © Laura Levine
Cover photo of Iggy Pop and Chrissie Hynde, NYC, 1987, © Laura Levine
Iggy Pop and Chrissie Hynde, NYC, 1987, © Laura Levine
Iggy Pop and Chrissie Hynde, NYC, 1987, © Laura Levine
Iggy Pop, NYC, 1981, © Laura Levine
Joan Jett session, 1981
posted: March 12, 2010
Joan Jett, NYC, 1981 © Laura Levine - all rights reserved
Joan Jett, NYC, 1981 © Laura Levine - all rights reserved
It's been a while since I've posted some of my musician photos from the archives. Given that the Runaways movie opens this week, I thought it might be a good time to share some of the portraits I took of Joan Jett back in 1981.

I lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a fourth floor walk-up in Chinatown. There was just enough room to move the sofa out of the way and hang an 8 foot roll of white seamless for my photo sessions. Joan arrived with a bottle of champagne, her manager and a few others in tow. We relocated her mini-entourage into the tiny bedroom and shut the door so they could watch some TV and we could take some photos without any distractions. By the end of the shoot the champagne was gone, Joan's hands were scratched, my cat Tchatchke was exhausted (but happy) and I had some wonderful portraits of a very cool girl.

Joan and I were both around twenty-three years old when we took these photos. She may have had a tough demeanor but she was a girl at heart, and I always loved how these photos showed the playful side of her.
Tommy Ramone plays bluegrass!
posted: August 20, 2009
We've got another great MUSIC FOR FRONT PORCHES performance coming up at the Mystery Spot this weekend. It's free, so come on by if you're in the area (or feel like a weekend or day trip getaway).

Uncle Monk is an indie-acoustic duo featuring founding Ramones member Tommy Ramone and Claudia Tienan. Their music is rooted in old-time and bluegrass influences blended with an indie sensibility. Their critically acclaimed CD is titled ‘Uncle Monk’ on Airday Records.

The music starts at 1PM on Saturday, August 22. The Mystery Spot is at 72 Main Street, Phoenicia, NY (845) 688-7868.

Upcoming performers on the porch include Grasshopper & Jonathan of Mercury Rev (date TBA), Gail Ann Dorsey (date TBA), and Ambrosia Parsley & Chris Maxwell on Oct. 11 @ 1 PM).

Check out the details on Facebook. I first met Tommy in 1977 backstage at the Rat in Boston, when I photographed the Ramones for my college newspaper (see below), and we happily reconnected only recently (32 years later) through in-laws and such.

Friendly Faces at the Mystery Spot
posted: July 22, 2008
Seymour Chwast!
As some of you may know, I run a little vintage shop on the side called The Mystery Spot, which is only open weekends in the summer/fall - maybe 40 days out of the year....if that.

The other day I was thinking (gratefully) about all the illustrators I know who have stopped in to visit and say hi. It's always a wonderful surprise when a familiar face pops in. (It may also have something to do with the wonderful selection of art books we have in the back room).

So without further ado, some of my friends and yours'. And if you're ever in the neighborhood (Phoenicia, NY) between the hours of 11 - 4PM on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, stop in and say hi!

(You can see more fun people here:
Adam McCauley and Wig!
Anita Kunz and Dick Chin!
Barry Blitt, Joe Ciardello, Tim Bower and John Cuneo!
Cathie Bleck and the lovely Ana!
Eric White!
Julia Gorton and Dan Kirk and family!
Katherine Streeter and Hank!
and Amy Sedaris (just because.......!)
I Was a Teenage Monty Python Fan (And they have the pictures to prove it).
posted: March 31, 2008
That's me with the camera (natch) between Brenda and Ina. Michael Palin and Graham Chapman in background. I had no idea someone photographed us!
When I was sixteen, I was a huge fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus. You know the type: reciting entire skits from memory, telling dead parrot jokes, etc. They'd just started airing the show in the US and my girlfriends and I were hooked.

Well, when it was announced in that the group would be coming to New York to take part in the WNET (PBS) fundraising night, my good samaritan side kicked in, and the next thing you know, we (me, Ina and Brenda) volunteered to help answer phones for pledge night and hopefully meet the Pythons.

And so we did! They were fantastic, charming, lovely, witty. I was just starting to shoot photos, and took a ton (which I later sent to them) and Terry Gilliam made some wonderful drawings for me. We then took to loitering outside their hotel in Manhattan (the Hotel Navarro) whenever they came to town (i.e. for the premiere of Holy Grail, etc), and they obliged us with more photos, chit-chat, ginger ales in the hotel bar, and the like. They were utter gentlemen to these three dorky teenage girls. Over the next year or so they warmly responded to our letters (hand-written on their fantastic Python letterhead), sent us signed books (Bert Fegg's Nasty Book for Boys and Girls, etc) and basically made our miserable teenage lives worth living. (Michael Palin and Terry Jones were the two we got to know the best).

When they came back in 1976 for their live show at City Center - something I'd been looking forward to for months - I was sick with the flu and couldn't make it. I was devastated. Well, my friends (who at this point had gotten a job baby-sitting for them when they came to town) mentioned this to them, and Michael Palin actually called me at home from backstage to wish me well!

Anyway, this all leads up to my discovery of their autobiography - a wonderful, huge book (The Pythons). I flipped through it and lo and behold, I found a bunch of my photos! (Which I'd sent to them thirty years earlier.). But even more surprising, there was a photo of me, Ina, and Brenda, taken at the moment we first met them at the WNET studios. I had no idea this photo existed. What a kick! And yesterday I ran into a friend who told me that a different photo of us is in the new Michael Palin memoir. (Which I haven't seen yet).

Looking back, we were so lucky. They were such an inspiration, and simply wonderful to us.
Brenda, me, Terry Jones and Graham Chapman. (Note National Lampoon "Mona Gorilla" T-shirt).
Lisa Germano video
posted: November 29, 2007
Another video from the vault. This was quite a production -- costumes, props, live frogs, and sets based on my artwork, all shot on a Hollywood soundstage. Lisa Germano first gained notice as the fiddler with John Mellencamp, and her own music is very dark and emotional and wonderful (Geek the Girl, etc). I suspect this particular song - a major label release before she found her home on the indies -was a little out of character for her.

It was fun to create these fantasy worlds for her to inhabit - fairy princess, cowgirl, bride. Sort of like a living storybook (with an edge, of course). In particular I remember we had a great time going to Western Costume in Burbank to find just the right outfits for the shoot. That place is incredible - acres and acres of costumes from just about every movie you can think of, some with the labels of the movie stars who wore them sewn inside (many were worn by extras, of course), and you can just rent them!

By the way, we also rented those frogs - including some very exotic and expensive ones - and halfway through the shoot a PA noticed that one of the frogs was missing.  A closer look revealed that the legs of the smaller one were sticking out of the mouth of the larger one. The rest of him had been swallowed. I somehow managed to pull the little guy out and he survived. Lesson learned: never put two strange frogs together in the same tank!

filming Giant Sand in the desert
posted: November 28, 2007
In a previous life, I made a few music videos. This was always my favorite, "Wonder," by Giant Sand (with Victoria Williams on banjo). Everything about the shoot was magical. I flew out to the desert in where they were staying, at Rimrock Ranch. It was a few days after a big earthquake had hit Yucca Valley, and there were still aftershocks. We were all friends and family and it was as as fun time as it (hopefully) looks.

We spent a lot of time at Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace (still going strong, I hear!).  Pioneertown was built as a set for Hollywood Westerns back in the day and you could walk down dusty Main Street and see the Saloon and what-not.

Giant Sand was Howe Gelb, Joey Burns and John Convertino. Joey and John now have a band called Calexico. Victoria Williams is an incredible talent. They're ALL incredibly talented, and nice, and I still love this song.

(Yes, those are live rattlesnakes.)

at YouTube

posted: March 11, 2007
A shout-out to R.E.M., who tomorrow will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This shot is from the very first photo session we ever did together, twenty five years ago. I photographed them more than any other band in my career (I also made a movie with them), and I don't think I've ever known a nicer, more decent or smarter group than these four. (Not to mention of course, talented). They have an incredible sense of integrity and loyalty in everything they do. They've truly earned all the success that has come their way.