In February last year I did a post about Damian Michaels whose altered, photobooth self-portrait I had purchased on Ebay a few weeks earlier. As a result of that purchase and an admiration of his work, I decided to commission him to alter one of my photobooth strips. The finished work can be seen below along with the original strip. I was very pleased with the results. My favourite image being the last of the three. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment, below. You can find out more about Damian and his work by following the links below.
This is the final photo that I have of USA, Tattoo Man and his partner. Probably the least exciting of the lot. I wasn’t able to find this photo in its original context, so below you will see three more low resolution strips from the original sale, just for fun.
He appears to have had a great time creating this lot, especially so the first strip! Having been made around the turn of the century, I cannot imagine what circumstances allowed this collection to end up for sale on Ebay so quickly, but I am glad they did.
One of the more exciting, and for me, unexpected aspects of being a blogger is the amount of enthusiasm and generosity that comes to my inbox out of the blue and from all around the world. I have recently started following a blog by Ted Strutz of Friday Harbor, Washington State in the San Juan Islands, USA. The blog is called TedBook and has some very amusing conversational short stories that I encourage you to check out. Ted emailed me the above photos and the following history a couple of days ago –
When I lived in Chicago in the 80’s and early 90’s, there was a bar called the Rainbow Club. It was quite large with a big horseshoe shaped bar, booths, tables and a stage, maybe a dance floor. They played 33 LPs on a phonograph. Kind of an artsy place. There was a photo booth as well. It was very popular, and I would imagine they made almost as much money off that thing as the booze. I think it was a buck. I’m sure they have quite a few strips that were left behind. It was a lot of fun. Of course that was one of the first places we took out of town visitors.
Anyway… I guess it was 1988 or so when an old girlfriend came from Sacramento to Chicago to visit me. I had been there for two years, and although she was ‘the one who got away’ we had stayed friends. I took her to the Rainbow Club, as it was close to the Wicker Park neighborhood where I lived and a fun place to go. My daughter and her friends hung out there a lot, and that’s how I was introduced to the place. I didn’t go there that often, except when people came to visit so we could do the photo booth. It is interesting to look at people in these strips and how they react to what the other person in the booth does. It’s kind of a mini play sometimes.
We had a good time on her visit, and I eventually introduced her to a friend in Sacramento who she would later marry. They had two kids and are still married. I was a good matchmaker. Interesting to note there are two backgrounds… one with photo strips, it looks like, maybe to show people how to use it, and a curtain. My other strips all have the curtain. I would say that the first one we did is the one without the curtain. For that reason, and in the first photo Cheryl is posing with her reflection as it was the first thing she saw. She always did ‘duck lips’ when looking in a mirror and my two tiny daughters would copy her when looking in a mirror. They still laugh and talk about her when they do it now. The bottom of one of the strips has the corner torn off. Those were fun times.
When I saw your blog, it reminded me of that time and I went and found them. I have 7 of them and a strip of my daughters when they were little kids… they are in their 40’s now. The last time I was in a photo booth, was with my mother about 5 years ago shortly before she died at 90. We had gone to the movies and she wanted to do it so she would have a picture of us two together.
Thanks so much, Ted, for sharing your photobooth memories and your photos. Thanks to Cheryl, too.
Here is USA Tattoo Man and his friend once more . I think he is eating a hamburger but it could just be a bagel or filled bread roll, judging by his friend’s wee morsel. As with the previous posts in the series, that you can see here and here, I only own the above photo. You can see it in its original context below.
I have played with the tags in today’s edition. When I posted an image of myself eating a peanut butter dream bar, I added “woman eating a banana” to see how may extra hits it got. (You can read the story behind why I did that, here.) It turns out it is a rather successful ploy. My stats were very impressive for that day. So if you are here looking for a man/woman eating a sausage, or a man/woman eating a banana, sorry. You have been the victim of an extremely infantile prank – but hey, why were you searching under those tags anyway, hmm??
This is a large format photobooth photo, before and after cleaning. The process was very unsophisticated (a cotton bud lightly moistened with cold water, used to gently wipe away any residue). It is usually a very safe option, though I knew it was risky on older photos. The image is improved in some ways, worse in others. I wasn’t expecting the emulsion to come away. Whenever I have tried this on other photos, the emulsion remained stable. I didn’t notice it had happened until it was dried and flaking off.
This photo of a charming, smiling elderly woman, has quite a poignant and shocking inscription on the back. ” T***, Sister to Grandma D***. Married an abusive husband, F****.” With such a tranquil, kindly face it is hard to read those words without a profound sense of shock and sadness. I hope she weathered her personal storm as well as her face suggests she might have.
All three names are inscribed in full (including a surname) but as the ladies have names that are very unusual, I thought it best not to publish any of them in case any members of her family are still with us. The photo is undated and came in a large mixed lot of photos from a seller in the USA.
Following up from Part One, here is Tattoo Man on the phone in a photobooth with his partner. Once again I only own four individually cut photos from this series, this being the second of them.
Below are some of the complete strips from the original sale on Ebay. You can see the above image in its original context and two other strips of the same man and another partner who only appears in this one, heavily altered, series. It is also the only strip to be dated out of the dozen or so scanned from the seller’s website. It is hard to work out a scenario that explains why such a wonderful collection should have ended up in the public domain so quickly after its creation. (It is dated the 19th of May 2003.)