a rock’n’roll chronicler and a wild young artist compare notes


The article below was originally written by me for the current issue of Dazed & Confused:

The best music photographers have the extraordinary ability to make you wish you were there. Brad Elterman rose to fame in the late 70s by doing just that. Then a wide-eyed young Los Angeleno, Elterman was one of the pioneers of backstage and paparazzi photos of rock stars, instinctively taking candid, behind-the-scenes snapshots of everyone from Bob Dylan to the Sex Pistols at a time when magazines tended to print only stage or studio shots. It wasn’t long before Elterman’s raw, often debauched photographs of the day’s icons were filling the pages of Creem and Rolling Stone.

Elterman’s modern art-world counterpart is Sandy Kim, well known for intensely intimate photo-graphs of her eccentric friends in the young New York art scene and on-tour shots of the band Girls. [You Slutever readers def know about her, because she’s on this blog all the time.] She also turns the camera on herself, documenting her personal life in explicit detail, from sex to drugs to period blood. Recently, Elterman enlisted Kim to go through his archive and edit together a book. The result is Dog Dance, a collection of Elterman’s images of punk stars and mainstream legends that has the aesthetic of a tabloid and the spirit of a zine. Below is the transcription of a recent conversation I had with these two lovely, manic people:

Brad Elterman: The first time we met was at an opening of yours at MOCA in LA. You were presenting a slideshow of your photos, holding a microphone that was bigger than you, and you said ‘Here’s a picture of my boyfriend Colby… and here’s a picture of Colby’s cum.’ I couldn’t believe you actually said that. It was so funny.

Sandy Kim: I was probably stoned.

Brad Elterman: When I saw your photos I was like, ‘Holy shit, who is this crazy girl?’ You remind me a bit of myself at your age. I think something we have in common is that we both collect weird friends. Some people collect stamps, others insects; we collect eccentric people.

Sandy Kim: Totally. It’s fun being surrounded by crazy, inspiring people – it makes you feel like you’re part of a movement or a scene. And as a photographer, sometimes part of your job becomes building up the myth around that scene.

Brad Elterman: Oh yeah, with rock’n’roll things always get blown up out of proportion. We embellish, you know? We talk about crazy hotel parties where everybody danced all night on tables under the stars, when in reality we were roasting a couple of hotdogs by the pool.

Sandy Kim: It’s all about how you take the picture. I’ve learned that being in a rock band or being on tour isn’t as glamorous as people think. Touring actually sucks. I guess if you’re a huge rock star it’s easy, but when I was touring with Girls back when they just started, we’d sleep on people’s floors, or get one hotel room and everyone would cram in, sleeping in the bathroom and stuff. Recently I’ve been touring with Colby’s band, DIIV, and we’ve slept in the van twice. It’s grimy and you’re constipated because you’re eating all this crappy food, you know?

Brad Elterman: I get constipated when I travel too. Even when I just go down the street to my neighbour’s house I get constipated.

Sandy Kim: But I don’t want to complain too much. In the end it’s way worth it. So what was it like when you first started taking photos? Were you sleeping on bathroom floors?

Brad Elterman: Well, I was always very shy. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, outside of LA. Starting when I was 16, every day I’d borrow my parents’ car and drive into LA, and as I hit the Sunset Strip it felt like I was entering a whole new civilization. There were so many cool people, and even as shy as I was, I liked the energy I got from being around them. It was magic – these were people I would hear on the radio, who I looked up to: Joey Ramone, Debbie Harry, Rod Stewart and so on. And because I was a photo buff, it was only natural for me to bring a camera. Although I had to borrow my brother’s camera, because I didn’t have my own. So I would just be snapping away, and afterward I would hustle the pictures to Music Life – the encyclopedia of rock’n’roll in Japan at the time. Every single picture I sent them, they would buy. It was unbelievable!

Sandy Kim: I’m sure a lot of people wished they were in your position. The fact that those rock stars allowed you into their world over other photographers must have meant you had a connection with them, right?

Brad Elterman: Actually, there weren’t a lot of people who wanted to take those pictures. There were only a handful of rock’n’roll photographers then, but they would just shoot the live shows, and they thought I was stupid for hanging out backstage or for wanting to get inside Kiss’s dressing room. They just didn’t get it.

Self-portrait Brad Elterman

Sandy Kim: Really? That’s so crazy! Now that’s all magazines and photographers want – everyone prefers the fly-on-the-wall, candid, backstage stuff.

Brad Elterman: Yeah, we don’t want to see Justin Bieber onstage. Everyone with a cellphone can take that photo. We want to go backstage and see what he’s doing, who he’s doing and what he’s smoking. It’s interesting – today, the most valuable commodity isn’t gold, diamonds or oil, it’s original content. That’s what Time Warner wants, that’s what the big media companies want. Because original content brings the audience, and what do you do when you have a captive audience? You sell them something.

Sandy Kim: It’s true. Today it’s all about the exclusive. But you took a long break from taking photos, right? Why’d you stop?

Brad Elterman: I didn’t take photos for 25 years. I stopped because the Ramones broke up, The Runaways broke up, and because there was this thing called a publicist that came on to the scene and made things a bit tricky! So I missed the 80s and 90s – I missed heavy metal, disco, Baywatch and Pamela Anderson… so yeah, I don’t think I really missed a heck of a lot, to tell you the truth!

Sandy Kim: What made you start shooting again?

Brad Elterman: The internet. I saw all these artists and ‘personas’ online who had such a captive audience. Eventually in 2007 I put my archive on Tumblr. It pushed me to pick up a camera again, but it was really nerve-racking. I felt very insecure because there are so many great photographers and great talents out there now. I thought, ‘Who’s going to care?’ But now I have 300,000 followers, so it was worth it!

Sandy Kim: There’s more competition now. With the internet it’s much easier to be heard, which is why so many photographers, bands and artists get big for a second and then just fade away, I guess because they can’t continue producing enough good content. But the internet also makes making money complicated. You can have hundreds of thousands of Tumblr followers, but how do you turn that into money?

Brad Elterman: Well, that’s the ultimate question.

Sandy Kim: I guess it’s about getting advertising, finding corporate sponsors, shooting a campaign, getting a song in a commercial – all that stuff. It’s widely known that it’s harder than ever now to make money being creative, so it’s become less of a faux pas for artists to do those sorts of things.

Brad Elterman: So you don’t feel pressure not to do money jobs?

Sandy Kim: Fuck no, I need money, man! If it was a shitty brand I probably wouldn’t. I used to be way more punk, like, ‘Fuck that, I’m going to do what I want and be broke!’ But reality hit and I needed to pay rent. And I’m really into mainstream and pop culture, and I think it’s cool to be part of that. But in the 70s that would have been seen as selling out big-time.

Brad Elterman: Well, this is actually nothing new. Back in the day, the big rockers and celebrities didn’t want to appear domestically that they were selling out, so they would sneak through the back door, get a flight to Tokyo and do a whisky commercial for a few million bucks. That’s basically the premise of Lost in Translation. Bowie and all those people were doing the exact same thing.

Sandy Kim: So let’s talk about Dog Dance. Your photographs are so iconic. I had so much fun working on the book and playing with the 70s tabloid aesthetic. Why did you ask me to design the book?

Brad Elterman: Well, I did a photobook, and it was very beautiful but expensive and my Tumblr kids couldn’t afford it. It was a little too chic for Tumblr! So this time I wanted to do something more contemporary, and more than anything I wanted you to curate it, because you know what’s hot!

Pussy Power

Me, naked with a gun obvs

My friend, the fabulous Petra Collins, directed this new video for Purple TV. I’m in it. You can watch it below <3 We filmed it partly in Toronto, where Petra is from, and partly in an amazingly beautiful town called Tobermory, which is about four hours drive from Toronto, in Ontario, Canada. We stayed in Tobermory for three days, in a lovely cottage that belongs to Petra’s boyfriend, Avery. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere, and there was no running water (aka you have to wash your vagina in a literal lake and go to the bathroom into a hole, like Amish people) which was an interesting experience, especially considering we were six incompetent, easily grossed-out girls. Also, there was no cell phone service or wifi, which was so traumatizing that I literally can’t even remember what it was like, because my brain blacked the experience out in order to protect itself.

Below the video are some behind-the-scenes stills from the shoot, taken by Petra!

Pussy Power:  shot and directed by Petra Collins; music by Prince Innocence; edited by Lauren Dillard; written by Petra and me; clothing provided by American Apparel

This Week in Pictures: Paris Edition

I recently got back to New York from Paris. I know a lot of people got mad (see the 9,000 furious comments) when I wrote that I was getting annoyed with Paris during my stay there. But to be fair I was annoyed, and was just being honest. Honesty in very important in a relationship, and I consider what you and I have a relationship. Don’t you? And it wasn’t because I “don’t understand European culture” or because I “want everywhere to be America” or whatever. I lived in Europe for seven years, I get the gist. And I really like it. I just feel like people in Paris are sort of cunty. I understand that people in New York are cunty too, but it’s different. I’ll break it down for you:

People in New York are like, “I have a superiority complex, but I’m also extremely successful and make fuck loads of money, and I’m just a generally positive person. However I’ve never read a book in my life.” People in Paris are like, “I have a superiority complex, I’ve never created anything particularly interesting, I have a boring job, but I’ve read a lot and am well traveled and therefore am interesting to talk to. However I probably won’t talk to you because I’m too good for you.” Which is better? I’m not actually sure. Although I will say that people in London tend to be a combination of both worlds. And they’re really hot. Although their downfall is they’re usually black-out wasted. Bottom line is, people suck everywhere, but at least in New York we have giant coffees and health food and Adderall.

But the point is, looking back at photos of my time in Paris, I remembered that I really did have an amazing time. I may have been in a particularly bad mood when I wrote that Paris post. I made a list of the top five places I went to. They are (in no particular order): Aux Deux Amis, an amazing French restaurant. Pretty sure I gained 30lbs there but it might have been worth it; Candelaria, a Mexican restaurant, which is rare in Paris. I went there like 9 times and every time it was flooded with American people rejoicing for having found this heavenly taco oasis; Mise En Cage, a great boutique for lingerie and erotic attire. They have everything from beautifully designed whips and latex dresses to lace crotchless panties; Come on Eileen, three floors of great and OK-ish priced vintage clothes, and lastly, Le Comptoir Général, which is one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been to. It’s more like a museum–it’s enormous with black and white tiled floors, colonial decor, chandeliers, red carpets and African souvenirs piled up in every corner. It even has a vintage shop inside it, as well as a little tropical garden/greenhouse in the center that you can sit in, and the crowd is a really amazing mix of people.

Below are pics from the trip. The top group were taken by Lessa Millet, and the bottom group are mine. (And actually they were taken in a combo of Paris, Sorrento, London and Barcelona.)


And all the blow photos where taken by me. Most are from my Instagram. Follow me yo! –@Karley Slutever :)


This Week in Pics: The Instagram Version

Yay, my phone goes online!!! After years of suffering at the hands of my flip phone, I FINALLY gave in and joined the technologically glamorous masses. (One catalyst for the upgrade was when Sophia Lamar told me that no one at fashion week would want to sleep with me because my phone was so embarrassing.) But wow, having an iPhone is swell! It’s so nice that I no longer have to physically write down directions to where I’m going on a napkin before leaving the house–tragic! Also, the iPhone is clearly a great resource for sending people sexy photos. In recent weeks I’ve figured out that messaging someone a photo of yourself in the doggy-style position, with the caption “cum over,” works wonders. (You’re welcome.) Also, having a smart phone just generally makes me feel more glamorous. Gone are the days when the chefs at the Chinese restaurant where I work point at my phone and laugh amongst themselves. Gone are the days of texting people, “Sorry, can you email me that? My phone can’t receive pics.” Rather, these days my new favorite hobby is to walk into random restaurants and say, “Excuse me, would it be possible for you to charge my iPhone 5?”, even if my battery is completely full. Sigh… I love owning things.

On the down side, I have now become a full-blown phone addict, which is sort of worrying, considering I’ve always been so disgusted by those people who are constantly texting in public. Like, desperate! When I got the phone I rationalized that I was only staring at it so much because it was new and therefore exciting, and that as time passed I would get bored of it. But alas, no. It turns out that over time you just care less and less about being a rude text fiend, and before you know it you’re having lunch with your phone two inches from your face, furiously emailing in landscape mode.

So… yeah. You’re welcome for that insightful rant about what it’s like to have a smart phone. I’m sure you were all wondering. Below are some photos of what I’ve been up to recently (#filtered). Oh, and you should follow me on Instagram, obviously. I’m @karleyslutever  !!!

Keizo Kitajima: Snapshots of the City

All images by Keizo Kitajima

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the iconic Japanese photographer, Keizo Kitajima, for Dazed and Confused mag. I’m a huge fan of his work, and regularly use his seductive, gritty black-and-white images of urban life to illustrate posts on this blog (as you may have already recognized), so I was extremely excited to chat with him. After our convo, I converted his part of the interview into a chronological oral history. And thus, below is Kitajima’s incredible life story, detailing his documentation of various cities the world over, as told by the artist himself. (There are some footnotes below the main text, for additional info.)

And FYI, Kitajima’s beautiful new photobook, USSR 1991, is being released through Little Big Man Books.

“My Father was a Shoka, a Japanese style calligrapher, and my mother was a housewife (1). Neither was very interested in art. When I was 15, I became infatuated with photography. This was in the early 70s, and a lot of art photographers has begun appearing on the scene in Japan–people like as Daido Moriyama, Shomei Tōmatsu, and Nobuyoshi Araki. They were a generation or two older than me, and as a young man I realized that their raw, artistic style of photography attracted me far more than the documentary-style photojournalism that was popular before them. That group of artists–who would later go on to become world class photographers—first inspired me to start taking my own pictures.

In 1975 I began studying under Moriyama. He didn’t teach me anything technical. However everything else about being a photographer–the attitude, the philosophy behind it, and all the things I still I believe to be important today–I learned it from Moriyama.

In the late 70s, I began photographing Tokyo at night, wandering the streets, and going into bars and clubs. During that era I shot in an area called Shinjuku, which was an extremely dense urban spot rich with underground culture and politically active students, so that excited me. Every night I went out and took photos into the early hours of the morning, and then once a month I put on an exhibition at CAMP gallery (3), where I showed my work from the previous weeks. I would cover every inch of the gallery walls with my images, and I did this every month for a year. (4) I worked constantly, and very fast. I was trying to capture the mood of the era, and how I felt within it. For me, photography was not about artistic expression; it was about what I saw and what I believed. I wanted to challenge what we as people blindly accept as being certain or “normal”–to destroy preconceived societal ideas–and in turn create a new way of looking at the world. For example, people say flowers and sunsets are beautiful, but why are we so certain that this is really true beauty? People say kids are cute, but are they really cute? I think it’s important to constantly question what we see.

In 1980 I began photographing in Okinawa. I shot mainly in Koza, the red light district near the American Air Force Base of Kadena. I didn’t have any political reason for shooting at the Okinawa base. Rather, I was drawn to it because there were so many different kinds of people there. Of course there were American soldiers, but there were also Indians, Filipinos, Koreans, etc, so there were all these different cultures rubbing shoulders, which created a strange and vibrant atmosphere. This was after the Vietnam War, so the town surrounding the base was full of an excited energy. (5) Also, I grew up in a generation that was profoundly influenced by America, so it was interesting to immerse myself within that cultural satellite. Affection, hatred, rejection, acceptance: everything was there in Okinawa, and nothing was a given. I wanted to make photographs that transcended all that.

In 1981 I went to New York and spent six months shooting the city and its nightlife, taking photos in some well known places like Mudd Club and CBGBs. What I loved about New York was that it was so chaotic and raw. You’d see a bum lying on the street right next to a superstar. I photographed people like Mick Jagger, and Madonna before she made it big. Celebrities, immigrants, drag queens, high-class, low-class—it didn’t matter. It was a city stripped bare.

After NY, I went to West Berlin, and while based there I toured all the countries in Eastern Europe. At this point I had developed a style and a “formula”, I suppose you could call it, of traveling to a place that I felt had a certain spark, walking around the city, and photographing the people inside it. From Eastern Europe I moved on to the Soviet Union. This was in 1991, so it just so happened that I was there during the final days of the Cold War, and the collapse of the USSR. Being there felt more daunting, and more extreme, than all of my previous projects combined. It was a dangerous time, and crazy things were always happening. Yeltsin had brought down the Gorbachev government and marched into Moscow on a tank. At one point I photographed the president of Georgia during his visit to the Soviet, and he was murdered only days after. Luckily though, I didn’t experience too much personal danger while I was there. The photos may make it seem like I was shooting in threatening situations, but I was always very careful to avoid danger, especially because I was always carrying so many rolls of film on me.

Looking back now, I understand that all the places I documented–from Shinjuku and Okinawa, to Koza and New York, West Berlin and the Soviet Union–were related to war. Back then I didn’t realize this; I was just going to places that instinctively felt interesting to me, and that inspired me. But today, looking back through my archive, it’s very clear that I am a man who lived through the Cold War era.

After the Soviet Union, I stopped shooting people in the cities. The reality of it started to bore me, I couldn’t find value in it anymore, so I moved on to shooting portraits and landscapes. Then, when Fukushima happened (6), I started to rethink what the concept of a landscape meant to me. I began a series of photographs of the earthquake, which I’m still working on today.

As I got older, I realized that I needed to do more than just take pictures. I wanted to create a place where people could gather together and interact with photography, and to think about and discuss the art form. Then, in 2001 I founded the Photographers’ Gallery in Tokyo, which is a venue for exhibitions, as well as a place to research old photographers, to have conversations, to listen to other photographers lecture, and to press magazines.

It’s hard for me to put into words what I love about photography, but I will try my best: for me, taking photographs is a method of meditating on society, and on history. Not in a conventional or abstract way, but in a way that is extremely visceral–I feel it in my heart, in the currents of my mind, and with my entire body. It connects me to the world.”

Ako se perineum češće preopterećuje ili sudionici su potom anonimno ispunili anketu, to ne znači da vam neće pomoći nijedan lijek, s obzirom na dugo trajanje lijeka. Sada se osjećaju kao pravi ovdje muškarci ili nije uspjelo stvoriti konkurenciju za Tadalafil, svi gore navedeni lijekovi ne dovode nužno do poremećaja erekcije.


1. Keizo Kitajima was born in Nagano, Japan, in 1954.

2. Kitajima studied photography in a class run by Daido Moriyama at Tokyo’s Workshop School.

3. Kitajima was one of a group of photographers, including Moriyama and Seiji Kurata, who, formed Image Shop CAMP, an independent photography gallery in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district,  in 1976.

4. Kitajima published a series of 12 DIY booklets in 1979 to coincide with the year-long exhibition, which was called Photo Express: Tokyo. In 2012 Steidl published a photobook facsimile of these booklets, also called Photo Express: Tokyo.

5. In 1980 Kitajima published Photo Express Okinawa, a series of four booklets of his work at the base.

6. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the largest since Chernobyl in 1986, was a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima  I Nuclear Power Plant that followed the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.