It’s not quite accurate to say The Stones are back in the news as they’ve never left sight of us or us of them. But they’re off and rolling big time. The once and always rock and rollers. Years ago in l972 I worked on the mammoth New York Times Square billboard. A city block long marquee, since torn down. It was my first billboard gig, I did the MADE IN THE SHADE cover that was the first of a series to be added to the turbo eagle’s talons. Welcome back, boys.


For four years in the 1970’s I was the world’s only female scaffold-climbing/pulling billboard painter. Oh what a life I (still) lead!

Billboard Painter, 25 Stories Above 42nd Street

Most of the jobs were hanging 10 to 25 stories up, swinging in the breeze above Times Square, New York City’s 42nd Street mecca. We did cigarettes and booze and Broadway openings. John Belushi’s “1944” , The Wiz with young Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones 1973 World Tour. A bottle of Dewars sinking into the Manhattan skyline sunset. You had to work fast, we mixed all our colors on the scaffold, pots of pigment, Japan drier, linseed oil and benzine. Eyes were painted with four inch brushes. The standard billboards were 30 X 60 feet. Big. Sweet.

Rolling Stones 1973 World Tour
Made In The Shade (David Bowie in Drag)

Sparhawk painted the album cover, about 20 – 4X8 sheets of masonite. Huge. The remarkable Paul Chan painted the turbo eagle.

I worked for ArtKraft-Strauss and Villepigue. The companies never wanted women in the business but I was good at faces and they hired me. I’d get fired every 30 days, then brought back in, kept me ineligible for the union. The last job was 25 stories up. The street temp was 18 degrees and it was a windy November and I decided they weren’t paying me enough for all that and quit. During those years, I moonlighted weekends tending bar in a stinky little artist and biker haunt called The Barnabus Rex on old West Broadway before it turned into SoHo. While all the patrons were filling out grant forms for Guggenheims I was spending 40 hours a week with a brush in my hand mastering paint and having a ball. I was snobbed for selling out, to Advertising! Lucky me.

2 thoughts on “ROLLING STONES WORLD TOUR, redux

  1. my Father spent many a year working as a Sign Painter and the distinction between a sign and a Bill Board is you paint a Sign and post a billboard . Even at that time he said it was a dying art and with the computer graphics and vinyl printing its pretty much a dead art You were probably in the last group of real sign painters with your pounce bag ,cartoon layout, mixing colors and painting something that was a unique piece of art
    Don’t call yourself a pigeon when you are a hawk soaring above all them lowly bill posters


    • Amazing. There were some paper signs emerging in the ’70’s, not many. I think cigarette ads may have been the first but I painted my share of Salems. Your dad was right, I can’t imagine any of it being done by hand with pots of paint. And yes, ‘cartoon’, cheesecloth pounce bags of charcoal dust, snap lines… the same words and system used by the Renaissance painters, including Michaelangelo on the Sistine Chapel to transfer artwork to ceilings and walls in proportion.
      All of it was a singular, unforgettable experience. Thanks so much for telling me about your dad. Still soaring….


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