Jul 1, 2017
Fred with Tires: The Iconic West Hollywood Photograph
A buffed young man carrying tires through an auto shop, his male-model face and expensive hairstyle contrasting with his working-class surroundings, a sweaty, macho, implicitly heterosexual grease monkey emerging from his closet, transformed into an object of homoerotic desire.
He represented all of small-town joys that we left behind in the Straight World, and the much greater joys we found with our friends and lovers in our new home.
I didn't know where it came from until yesterday: it's "Fred with Tires" by fashion photographer Herb Ritts (1952-2002).
The next year, a photo of John Voight made it to Newsweek.
Pleased with the critical reaction, Ritts began photographing other celebrities, such as Brooke Shields and Olivia Newton-John. He specialized in female supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford. He published a number of books on fashion photography, and became a renowned expert in the field.
He was also a well-known commercial photographer, with work for Levis, Revlon, Brut, Chanel, Maybelline.
He hated the raincoats, so he had Fred pose in jeans instead. The editor hated the photos -- too sultry, too erotic, too gay -- but ran them anyway. And the last, taken when Fred was tired, sweaty, and little annoyed, anxious to finish up and go home -- perfectly captured the West Hollywood moment.
The original hangs in the Getty Museum, and prints became fixtures in our apartments, emblematic of home.