Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bird Spotting

There's this woman in her 80's that I saw this morning.. I see her often enough to call her an acquaintance. She sells me gloves and shoes at this local shop and I desperately want to take her portrait. I kind of stare at her through the racks. I'm afraid to ask. Not because I don't think she'd want to, but because I want to style her in a....well... a Quentin Crispy way. I can't see her any other way and I don't think she, the individual, wouldn't find it flattering.

Part of this visual tick ( if you will) is because all cool old ladies remind me of Quentin, and frankly that's who I really wish to photograph, I suppose. Of course that's impossible because he's gone. I will ask the older lady anyway- you never know, she might humor me. :) I'm going to ask her this weekend.

While I'm musing over faux Quentins, I thought I'd tell you my Quentin story.

It's not really a story but a moment to remember. That's one of the brilliant things Mr. Crisp did, especially in his elder years. He gave out these moments to strangers and he knew they were gifts. In New York as this older man with silk galore and sweet tart hair, it WAS like spotting a rare bird. A bird you may never see again. I saw Woody Allen everyday on Madison Ave. walking his Soon-Yi, draped jewels around Isabella Rossellini's neck and even saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer chick's ( whatever her name is) boobs while fetching her more shoes to try on. Typical New York celebrity moments in high end retail... but... they all seemed so far away, so busy. Removed from "down there" in civilian town, even when they were nice.

I was on my way to a friend's near Houston Street. It was my day off, in June 1999. I passed a restaurant window and something caught my eye ( TWEET!!) The restaurant wasn't a nice one. It was a plain ol place to get coffee and maybe a bagel or some crappy cobb salad with a bowl of luke warm veggie soup. There he was in a cream blouse, with pink scarf and broach with hat all jaunty like-cane leaning- Painted round pink bursts on his adorable sagging cheekbones and a cup of tea. I recall these details because I stopped dead in the middle of foot traffic and soaked him in. For a good 20 seconds he didn't notice me, and then he did. He straightened himself and placed a delicate hand on his jaw line. He posed, I gushed.. then he smiled and took this swaggering sip from his cup, like, ''that's right darling, it's me, Queen of England". I blew him a kiss and he waved ( yes, like Miss Magnolia on a Thanksgiving Day float). Whether it was real or not, I felt like I'd just seen this kindred being, a little like seeing an old friend. He died later that year.

Film- An Englishman in New York..covering the later period, in which Crisp resides in New York.
The film premiered at The Berlin International Film Festival.