Underground Influence

5.30.2007

By Sabine Rogers

The 74-year-old photographer, filmmaker, costume designer, and onetime drag queen James Bidgood has spent the last half-century toiling in the underground, even though his aesthetic has influenced the likes of Rainer Werner Fassbinder (in his surreal drama Querelle), David LaChapelle, and, perhaps most directly, Pierre et Gilles.

There are reasons we've only relatively recently been introduced to Bidgood's legacy. Though he was the force behind the 1971 soft-core cult classic Pink Narcissus, his dissatisfaction with the final edit led him to insist that the film be released anonymously. When he claimed authorship in the mid 1990s for the film'long rumored to have been a Warhol production'interest in his larger body of work began to flourish.

In January, New York City's Clamp Art Gallery mounted a solo show of Bidgood's photography, featuring images of ornately costumed young men in fantasy and mythical settings; many of the pictures originally appeared in 1960s physique magazines. Bidgood is also one of five gay seniors profiled in the upcoming documentary 10 More Good Years, which will soon be making the festival rounds. A once-unknown legend is finally getting his due.

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