CHRISTOPHER MAKOS ▓▒░░ ░ ░
█ White Trash Uncut █▓ ▒
It’s actually almost impossible to walk through the rather expurgated downtown Manhattan these days and simultaneously remember and realize that not too long ago this area was dominated by dilapidated buildings reminiscent of borderline third-world poverty. On the other hand though this very same era - and we’re talking about the late 70s here - was also one of the most fertile times for creativity New York City has ever generated, with a rising underground music and art scene that has significantly shaped pop culture as we know it. In 1977 Christopher Makos released his seminal book “White Trash“ - a highly sought after publication that is now selling for around $500 at the digital retailer of your choice - in which he was chronicling the convergence of New York’s uptown and downtown worlds which produced unique talents such as Debbie Harry, Richard Hell and Grace Jones to name just a few. Almost four decades later Glitterati Incorperated is releasing a deluxe edition by the name of “White Trash Uncut“, which features 25 new photographs in a new hardcover format, graced with essays by Peter Wise and Andrew Crispo.
Lodown hooked up with the influential photographer in early February 2014.
Could you sum up the year 1977 in buzzwords for our readers?
Snuff Film. Legionnaires Disease. May the Force be With You. Evil Empire. Elvis sightings. Disco. CBGB’S.
How did you get into the New York Scene back then - did somebody introduce you?
I really didn’t get into the New York scene, the scene got into me. I think if you try to get into anything, it’s really quite futile. Just do what you do, and do it well. People will notice, and your scene will be the one that they all want to be around.
What was the difference between the uptown and downtown scene?
Uptown was established, for people who had made it. Downtown was for people who were making it. Uptown clubs were elitist, private. Downtown clubs were edgy, more democratic. Uptown = studio movies, Downtown = independents. 1977 was at the start of rich people colonizing downtown. Clubs like Studio 54, the Mud Club and Area started to attract both uptown and downtown types. Combined with a general upswing in NYC economy, and the maturing and eventual success of young downtown artists, those distinctions eventually faded, and the “downtown scene” got priced out of Manhattan.
Is photography still a medium of expression these days - or has it become a byproduct of mass communication? How do you feel about social media and photo sharing apps?
Photography will always be a medium for artistic expression because of its fundamental nature as an extension of the human sense of sight. Social media has embraced photography because of our basic human desire to communicate is conveniently served by digital photography and the ability of social media to share images instantly. Smart Phone photographs and photo sharing are new technologies in a long line of innovations in photographic technology. These innovations have made photography simpler in the process and more available to a wider audience. Remember a phone is a phone and a camera takes pictures, don’t be confused. There is formality when using a camera, that doesn’t exist when taking phone photos.
Do you have any advice for the young and restless?
Focus your restlessness into useful energy. Use your eyes, stare, and really look at things. Make sure what you see is really what you see. Then you will have found your vision!
All images taken from White Trash Uncut by Christopher Makos, © 2014, published by Glitterati Incorporated glitteratiincorporated.com, 112 pages, 8 x 12 inches, hardcover, 66 b/w photographs, ISBN 978-0-9891704-6-8