All That Glitters

Article excerpt

REDISCOVERING GILLES LARRAIN'S IDOL WORSHIP

In 1973, photographer Gilles Larrain published his first book, Idols, alavish account of various members of New York City queer and drag culture whom he gained access to at the legendary nightclub Max's Kansas City. With their sexual gazes and flamboyant costumes and makeup, this group of eccentrics needed little coaxing. So Larrain shot them with an unflinching frankness - almost an aloofness - letting them do the work. The resulting document offered a mix of underground glamour and rebellious spirit from a community of outsiders longing to be seen and heard.

In the new reissue of Idols (powerHouse, $35) portraitist Ryan McGinley notes the powerful dichotomy Larrain captured in his subjects: "You see the glossy surface of who they want to be, and then you get a glimpse of the reality. The photos are so detailed that you see every imperfection. 'The harsh truth of the camera eye,' as Morrissey sang."

And that, in away, was Larrain's goal. His photos highlight the beautiful decadence of an era without ignoring the undercurrent of gritty desperation that propelled it forward, MAX BERLINGER

Idols will be re-released in October, and an accompanying exhibit of Larrain's work will be shown at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City starting November 3. …