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Mick Rock’s photos and the stories behind them

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If not for an LSD trip he took in 1968, at age 19, photographer Mick Rock might never have snapped iconic photos of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Mötley Crüe and a host of other musicians. At the time, he was attending Cambridge University in ­England, majoring in literature and harboring no photographic ambitions.

But Rock told The Post that on that night, “I was at the home of a friend who had all the toys, including a great record player and camera. Sitting around his room, tripping on blotter acid, I picked up the camera and began playing with it. Every time I clicked, there was an explosion and I saw a lady’s faces in a million ­iterations.”

Rock fell in love with photography and went from shooting girlfriends to capturing rockers for London publications and Rolling Stone.

“It was a different time,” he said. “I picked up what I needed to know as I went along. I realized that you didn’t need to know much when it came to photography.”

Still, Rock went on to become an image-maker of choice for stars from Freddie Mercury to Joey Ramone. The West Contemporary Editions gallery in London is in the midst of a sale that includes a dozen of his favorite prints.

Here are a few of his top shots and the stories behind them.

Debbie Harry of Blondie

Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry© Mick Rock 2021/Midaro

In 1978, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione wanted to start a women’s fashion magazine. Rock was commissioned to shoot a portrait of Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry. He did it in his New York studio.

“Debbie and Bowie were the two most photogenic people to come down the pike,” said Rock. “She loved having her picture taken . . . I gave her some attitude with wild hand gestures, and she responded by pulling on the scarf.” Rock remembered that she told him, “If you were a drag queen, your name would be Miss Direction.”

As for the fashion mag, it never happened and Guccione ended up putting the punk princess on the cover of Penthouse. “She didn’t mind,” said Rock.


The Pointer Sisters

Pointer Sisters
Pointer Sisters© Mick Rock 2021/Midaro

It was 1973, the Pointer Sisters were getting ready to play their first British gig and everybody was pumped. Rock went backstage to capture the moment. He was ready — but made to wait longer than expected.

“The makeup artist was good but a pain in the neck,” Rock remembered. “He worked with me for [Bowie’s] ‘Life on Mars’ video [which Rock directed]. David called him Pierre Le Poof. I remember being mad at Pierre that night . . . He used all [the Pointers’] time with makeup. F–king Pierre.”

But then Rock reconsidered: “I only got one set of pictures done, but maybe the time constraint is what energized the whole thing. Look at them — they’re so bright and cheerful.”


Mötley Crüe

Motley Crue
Motley Crue© Mick Rock 2021/Midaro

A 1986 conversation with bassist Nikki Sixx struck the perfect chord prior to a shoot with Mötley Crüe. “Nikki said to me, ‘Do what you want. Just make it glammy and dramatic,’ ” remembered Rock.

“They were out of their f–king minds with ­cocaine. They made me look like an amateur — and I was no amateur. At one point during the session, Vince Neil disappeared with some bird.”

As for this image, Rock said, “They were completely wild and fun and there happened to be a bathtub [in the studio]. Somebody told them to get in; so they did and poured in the bubble bath. I thought it was the perfect photo, but for some reason their record label didn’t use it.”


Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop© Mick Rock 2021/Midaro

Iggy Pop came to London in 1972 to record the album “Raw Power” at the behest of his pal David Bowie. “Everybody was telling me to go to Iggy’s show at King’s Cross Cinema. I was with Bowie and had free range [for photos] — Iggy was notoriously crazy, charged up, but not quite drooling,” said Rock, adding that Pop was unsuccessfully trying to avoid drugs at the time. “I wound up selling pictures from that show to his record label for the ‘Raw Power’ album cover. They paid me $200. Clearly, my photo didn’t help sell the album. It wound up in the bargain bin months after the release.”


Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus© Mick Rock 2021/Midaro

Last year, in the thick of pandemic lockdown, Rock received a call from his friend who had produced Miley Cyrus’ new record.

“He wanted me to fly to LA so that I could shoot Miley for her ‘Plastic Hearts’ album cover. But I had a kidney transplant in 2012 and I wasn’t going to f–king go there and get sick,” said Rock. “Then, soon after, he called again and said he was in New York with Miley.”

As is the norm for Rock, there was not a lot of advance planning — save for a pair of nurses to administer COVID tests — but his pedigree went a long way. “Miley wanted to know about David Bowie. She asked me about the first time I met him,” he said. “It was backstage . . . We were both South London boys, he was charming and minded his manners even at his craziest; we got tight quickly.”

As for Cyrus, “She likes sticking out her tongue and I didn’t object. All of a sudden she began licking the statue. I made sure to get the shot.”


Joan Jett

Joan Jett
Joan Jett© Mick Rock 2021/Midaro

Some of Rock’s best shoots took place with little in the way of advance notice. Such was the case in 1983 when he received a midnight call from Joan Jett’s manager, Kenny Laguna.

“He told me that Joan had done three or four photo shoots, hated the pictures and needed to get the album [art] in,” recalled Rock. “So she came up to the studio with a few changes of clothing and I shot her. I saw her in that jacket and thought that she looked like a female Elvis.” It became the cover of her “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” album.

As for the late-hour vibe, Rock said, “I’m sure there were other things going on that night. I know there were for me.” Asked if he’s referring to illicit substances, Rock replied, “Drugs? I can’t talk about drugs, old boy. But I do have the greatest collection of ­cocaine still-lifes. It was a different time, darling.”


David Bowie and Lou Reed

David Bowie and Lou Reed
David Bowie and Lou Reed© Mick Rock 2021/Midaro

Sheer love of rock ’n’ roll paid off when the photographer got invited to a 1972 press gathering for David Bowie and Lou Reed in a suite at the Dorchester Hotel in London.

“I don’t even know if I got paid to take pictures there,” Rock said. “But getting paid was not the point. It was about hanging out with David, who was very ambitious. He talked to me about wanting the big time. Lou” — whose “Transformer” record Bowie was getting ready to produce — “might have been a bit out of it that afternoon. Between them, he and David were very chatty but they did not talk to anyone else. Most of the time, David had a cigarette in hand . . . and Lou looked like he just stepped off the campus of Syracuse University [Reed’s alma ­mater].”

Bowie was something of a muse for the photographer. Said Rock: “Bowie was always dressing up. I shot him in 72 different outfits over 21 months.”


Fin DAC collaboration

Life on Mars
Life on Mars© Fin DAC/ Mick Rock 2021/Midaro

As far as Rock is concerned, a series of images he did with spray-paint artist Fin DAC are more about the content, artfulness and context than the photos themselves (which Fin DAC, not Rock, snapped).

“A monkey could take those pictures,” he said. The photos show limited edition works depicting Rock’s images on T-shirts worn by a model. Fin DAC paints each piece.

“The point was to make the T-shirts, put them on the person and do the art,” Rock said. “They’re cool. Plus we split the money, we split the publicity and we split the co-ownership.” Iterations featuring David Bowie, Lou Reed and Debbie Harry are being auctioned off for charity.

All prints are available to see and purchase at West-Contemporary-Editions.com.

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‘Brokeback Mountain’ screenwriter Larry McMurtry dead at 84

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Larry McMurtry, the prolific novelist and screenwriter who won a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award for his work, died Thursday at 84.

Amanda Lundberg, a spokesperson for the family, confirmed McMurtry’s death in an obituary published Friday by the New York Times. Lundberg did not respond to The Post’s request for confirmation.

Neither the cause of death, nor where McMurtry passed away, are known.

McMurtry was best known for his anti-Western work, or stories that focused on demythologizing the romanticism of the American West.

“I’m a critic of the myth of the cowboy,’’ the native Texan said in an 1988 interview. “I don’t feel that it’s a myth that pertains, and since it’s a part of my heritage I feel it’s a legitimate task to criticize it.’’

Often cited as his most memorable work, his coming-of-age book “The Last Picture Show” sold over 9 million copies and was adapted into a film starring Cybill Shepherd, Jeff Bridges and Cloris Leachman.

McMurtry was not only respected for his 843-page novel “Lonesome Dove,” which won him the Pulitzer and was made into a mini-series for television, but also for the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain,” a 2005 romantic drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. Co-written with his housemate and collaborator Diana Ossana, the pair won the Academy Award in 2006 for that film, which focused on the romantic relationship between the two men, one a ranch hand and the other a cowboy.

McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay for "Brokeback Mountain," which won him an Academy Award in 2006.
McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain,” which won him an Academy Award in 2006.
©Focus Films/Courtesy Everett C

Over the course of more than 50 years, McMurtry wrote more than 30 novels, more than 30 screenplays — and published other works of memoir, history and essays. One book, “Horseman, Pass By,” was made into the film “Hud,” starring Paul Newman. The film version of his novel “Terms of Endearment” won the Best Picture Oscar in 1984.

McMurtry was born the son of a rancher in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1936. He studied at North Texas State, Rice and Stanford universities. He taught English at the university level, but ditched teaching in his younger years. For about a half-century, McMurtry was also a bookseller. His store Booked Up, in Archer City, Texas, is one of the largest in the nation, according to the Times.

Archer City, where he was raised, served as a model for the town of Thalia, which appeared in his works of fiction.

It’s not clear who survives McMurtry, but he most recently married the widow of his friend Ken Kesey, Faye, in 2011.

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Truth of Pink, Christina Aguilera ‘Lady Marmalade’ feud revealed

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Gitchie-gitchie yourself a load of this juicy drama. 

Sex, divas and shade, honey! Those were the makings of music producer Missy Elliott’s masterful 2001 “Lady Marmalade” remix — which celebrates its 20th anniversary next month. 

While the Grammy Award-winning track — with lusty vocal contributions from pop powerhouse Christina Aguilera, rock ‘n’ roll fireball Pink, R&B dynamo Mya and hip-hop heroine Lil’ Kim — starts off with a sultry salute to “all the soul sistas,” the vibe between the singers was anything but sisterly. 

“I think it’s pretty public knowledge that there was tension between Christina and Pink,” Tina Landon, who served as lead choreographer on the music video for the chart-topping jam, told Cosmopolitan.  

Landon, Missy, Mya and Aguilera all recently revisited the sweet beats and sour notes of working together on the colorful collaborative piece that had almost every millennial sing-screaming “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” with the radio volume on full blast. 

“It got a little hairy at one point,” the choreographer said of the unharmonious energy between Aguilera and Pink. 

Their bad blood boiled over on March 17, 2001, during the two-day video shoot in Los Angeles. 

“They were all sitting there watching each other work. Paul Hunter, the director, was trying to give Christina direction and she couldn’t hear him,” Landon said. 

“She said, ‘What did you say?’ And Pink reiterated what Paul had said. Christina did the thing: ‘I was talking to Paul.’ I just sank down in my chair going, ‘Oh, God, please don’t let this get worse.’ And it didn’t!”

Although the dance pro remembers the on-set edginess, Pink, 41, said the beef between her and XTina ignited well before a single “Lady Marmalade” lyric was ever sung. 

“[Aguilera’s label executive] Ron Fair walked in and didn’t say hello to any of us,” Pink said of one of the formative meetings she had with her would-be collaborators. She recounted the incident during her feature on VH1’s “Behind the Music” in 2009. 

“He said, ‘What’s the high part? What’s the most singing part? Christina’s going to take that part,’ ” she recalled. 

“And I stood up and said, ‘Hi. How are you? So nice of you to introduce yourself. I’m Pink. She will not be taking that part. I think that’s what the f – – king meeting is about.”

From there, “I just became the a – – hole,” Pink added. 

Pink, Christina Aguilera and Mya celebrate their Grammy win.
Pink, Christina Aguilera and Mya celebrate their Grammy win.
WireImage

But after years of exchanging thinly veiled barbs, unmistakable side-eye glares and nearly resorting to fisticuffs during a heated exchange at a club, the “So What” superstar said she’s made amends with her “Fighter” singing rival. 

“She’s so talented and, deep down, I’ve had bad days, too. She’s a really sweet person. We made up on ‘The Voice,’ ” Pink told Andy Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live” in 2017. 

Aguilera, 40, echoed Pink’s illustration of their newfound friendship to Cosmo. 

“She’s such a powerhouse and definitely paved the way, setting the precedent of pushing back if something didn’t feel right,” she said. 

‘She’s so talented and, deep down, I’ve had bad days, too.’

Pink

Decades-old shadiness aside, Mya, 41, praised “Lady Marmalade” — a remake of Patti LaBelle’s 1974 tune — as the women’s empowerment anthem of the day. 

“It was truly about coming together, being women, being slightly over the top, expressing ourselves, and exuding our bold approach to being sexual beings,” the singer insisted. 

Producer Elliott, 49, reimagined LaBelle’s original version of the song to be used as a seductive hymn for director Baz Luhrmann’s blockbuster “Moulin Rouge!” The ornate film earned Oscar and Golden Globe accolades in 2002. 

Although La Belle, 76, gladly belted out the hit alongside Pink, Mya, Aguilera and Lil’ Kim — all of whom she lovingly refers to as her “little girls” — at the 2002 Grammys, the music legend still demands the world’s respect as the “Lady Marmalade” originator. 

“People loved it and still do today,” the Philadelphia native told Cosmo. 

“When I do it onstage, I have to say to the audience, ‘I did this 100 years ago. These little heifers, they did it 20 years ago and it’s a hit.’ I have to remind them that I did it first. Isn’t that something?”

Pink, Mya, Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera perform with Patti LaBelle at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
Pink, Mya, Lil’ Kim and Christina Aguilera perform with Patti LaBelle at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
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Jay Baruchel on his starring role in sitcom ‘The Moodys’

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When Jay Baruchel took his starring role in Fox sitcom “The Moodys,” he enlisted his wife’s help. 

“I got sent the script about a month before I was about to get married. If I took the gig, it would mean starting a day or two after our wedding . So of course I had to ask my — at that time — fiancee what she thought,” he said, referring to Canadian model Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel, who he married in 2019. 

“We each cracked open our laptops and sat on either side of the kitchen table and read them simultaneously and were both laughing a whole bunch. That made it easy.”

Season 2 of “The Moodys” premieres Thursday, April 1 (9 p.m.). Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr., one of the three adult Moody children. Other members of the close yet dysfunctional family include his brother Dan (Francois Arnaud), sister Bridget (Chelsea Frei) and his cantankerous parents, Ann (Elizabeth Perkins) and Sean Sr (Denis Leary).

“We all get on like a house on fire,” he said. “[Perkins and Leary] are both just so good at what they do, it makes me better, being around them. It’s been wonderful getting to be their fake son.”

Jay Baruchel and Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel at the 2020 Oscars.
Jay Baruchel and Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel at the 2020 Oscars.
Getty Images

Season 1 revolved around the Moody family reuniting at Christmas when each had their own struggles and self-destructive behaviors: Dan got into a messy love triangle with his cousin’s girlfriend while Sean Jr. was still living with his parents and working at an ice rink. Bridget, meanwhile, was a high-powered lawyer who had recently cheated on her husband. 

Season 2 sees Dan continuing to have love troubles, Bridget getting divorced, parents Ann and Sean Sr. contemplating a road trip, and Sean Jr. chasing “get rich quick” schemes such as a funeral business involving fireworks (to “revolutionize the grieving industry”).

“I am incredibly fortunate that I found a career in acting, because basically if I didn’t get on TV and movies, there’s a very good chance that I am Sean Jr,” said Baruchel. “We’re wired very similarly in that we’re chronic daydreamers — as passionate about the stuff we dig as we are absolutely incapable of doing anything else, to our respective detriments. There’s a lot of me in him and vice versa. But the biggest thing is that I was lucky enough to trick people into giving me a career in movies and stuff.”

Baruchel, who grew up in Montreal and is now based in Toronto, is known for a slew of movie and TV roles, including “Knocked Up,” “Tropic Thunder,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “Undeclared.” As high-profile as many of his projects are, fans often approach him about one that’s much more obscure. 

Jay Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr. for Season 2 of “The Moodys.”
Jay Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr. for Season 2 of “The Moodys.”
philippebosse.com

“Actually I think the one I get recognized for the most is one a lot of people in the States have no idea was a thing. When I was 15, I co-hosted an educational show called ‘Popular Mechanics for Kids.’ It was on all the time up here [in Canada], so it’s like a whole generation of kids that ate cereal every day watching me teach them about centrifugal force. That’s probably the one I get the most love for still, to this day.”

While he was tight-lipped about Season 2 of “The Moodys,” he had a cryptic teaser. 

“It’s pretty crazy. Sean is a very ambitious lad, and he maybe doesn’t always think everything through as well as he should, so I’ll say this: there are monks involved. What would make people interested that wouldn’t give anything away? Monks.”



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