❚ LAST NIGHT BRITISH PARTY PROMOTER Chris Sullivan sat in a new London gallery cafe to ask Leee Black Childers about his formative years leaving Kentucky for New York City and getting drawn into Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd of the late 60s and 70s. For more than an hour at The Society Club in Soho, Childers confessed all about his formative years when Warhol encouraged him to “say” he was a photographer, after which he snapped many informal early pix of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Jayne County. All the photographs on display are on sale for the next week.
Our two videos catch a few ribald moments verbatim. Other landmarks included Danny Fields and Andy Warhol taking him to see this “terrific new band”. Using the camera his brother had given him on his 17th birthday, Leee produced sensational pix of the young misfit Iggy Pop at the Stooges’ first New York concert. Leee lived for a year with Iggy. “You should know that he had a really great mind. He would talk about Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and kept me awake talking about philosophy all night. He was also a very kind person and had one of the best penises I’ve seen.”
Lee attributes the birth of the glitter phenomenon in 1970 to Theatre of the Ridiculous director John Vaccaro’s production of Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit which was set in a circus, to which he brought “giant, huge barrels of glitter and he said, Put it everywhere, and everyone onstage was covered in glitter”.
In 1971 Leee visited London when Andy Warhol’s ground-breaking show Pork took over the Roundhouse with nude scenes that revelled in the recent abolition of theatre censorship in the UK. During this trip he met David Bowie performing at the Country Cousins nightspot in Fulham: “I’d never heard of him but I went because they said he wore a dress, but he wasn’t wearing a dress. We also met Angie Bowie who was not wearing a dress either. That show was pretty lame.” Yet when Bowie later came to play in New York, Leee was asked to be the vice-president of his US company. He subsequently travelled with Bowie through Russia in 1973 and was tour manager for Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers when they supported the Sex Pistols on their 1976 Anarchy tour across the UK.
Leee hung out with the Sex Pistols in both London and New York. Asked from the floor “Who killed Nancy?”, Leee replied: “Nancy killed Nancy. She created the situation where it was impossible to go on” — referring to her fractious relationship with Sid Vicious. Though Vicious was charged with her murder in 1978, Leee says: “We all know it was not Sid.”
➢ Last week’s report: Leee Childers brings his slice of 70s New York to London
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