PRINT Summer 1994


I COULDN'T STAND Billy Sullivan the first time I met him. It was a few years ago, at a chic-ish sort of inner-circle dinner party of the kind I had lately been finding myself at the periphery of—a confab of art/fashion/magazine mavens. The food was superb. Anyway, I was the new blood and the whole thing had me internally thrashing with terror: everyone there had a history with each other, a certain élan, knew the names of roads in Amagansett. Billy seemed like some kind of leather-boy bullfrog, completely at home croaking away in this pond, where I felt like a turtle trying to make a small raft out of cigarettes rather than pulling into my shell and sinking down down down. (“Rigid” was my middle name.) Of course I resented his comfortableness: I felt like I was eavesdropping even when I was being spoken to directly; this guy worked the room like he was brushing his teeth. The odd thing is that when I was a teenager my arriving-in-New York fantasies ran toward: I would step out of the limo in Times Square, pausing to offer my arm to my companion Jerry Hall. We’d bump into Pat Ast and decide to go to Reno Sweeney and see our friend Bette Midler. The show would be great, so we’d hang out backstage talking and laughing. Some comtessa or other would find us all amusing and invite us to stay on her yacht in Greece. I’d be a big hit and I could have whatever I wanted.

This is how it seems in Billy’s pictures. This is the joy in them. This is their fragrance—fun with people, pretty, exciting, glamorous people, and you know he’s had it, and you begin to believe you can too. To some this is perhaps not a priority, but if you come to New York, or if you chose to stay here after being raised here, ten’ll get you twenty that to be around the pretty, the exciting, the glamorous, figures high on your list of desires. It does mine.

The thing I like about Billy’s pictures is that even though they’re done in ink and pastel, they look like they’re lit with a flashbulb, and they probably are. He manages to take these very voyeuristic snapshots of scenes he’s very involved in, rendering them in an amazingly fluid way—like a quick-sketch artist on the Riviera. He makes our memories memorable and our desires desirable.

Now that I’ve let my defenses drop, Billy has become a close friend. To speak of his friendship is to speak of his art. They both say the same thing.

Me: I can’t bear them. They’re off my list.

Billy: Darling, there’s no point in excluding anyone. Everyone likes them. Have a little patience.

Me: Well, I don’t care—I’m not having them.

Billy: Oh, you’ve got to get over that, doll. Everybody’s just trying to have a little fun. It’s a party. We’re all fabulous. Just relax.

Me: Oh, OK.

Marcelo Krasilcic’s photographs urge me toward another locale of narcissistic identification, another movie I imagine my life to be. A foreign film: many of us are sharing our youth. We have divided our hope, our sexuality, and our beliefs; we have it all because we have each other. We live together in a big farmhouse and pedal bicycles to the beach. I love him and he loves me but she loves him and yet another loves her, in her blindness to it all, in her sweater. We care about each other, dispassionately dotted around the frame of this world, in this moment before the world begins. Someone stands still. Someone else moves on.

In the midst of a major blowout between me and my best friend, he screamed at me, “You cast your friends like you’re art-directing a picture. Well I refuse to be the blond beach boy. I’m not an object like the rest of your ‘friends!’” Marcelo could never be accused of this, nor would I be inclined to place him in an earlier genre that focuses on colorful or “interesting” subjects, set up and bathed in pathos as they play out William Burroughs fantasies. The people he chooses to point a camera at aren’t especially photogenic; the situations they are found in don’t cry out for attention either. But the moments they inhabit have a peculiar sort of intelligent innocence that fills these pictures with an almost gestural-seeming beauty. The art director in me wants needlessly to prop these photographs with worn copies of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, or brighten the wardrobes of Marcelo’s friends. The nonchalance of his esthetic frightens me, but the luxury of his emotions can comfort us all.