THE ROLLING STONES ’73 WORLD TOUR
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!
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.
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.
I worked steady on summer weekends in Brooklyn’s Coney Island, painting carousel horses, signs with drippy ice cream cones, steamy french fries, rides and the haunted houses. I’ve always relished the bizarre. Coney Island is rich in it.
The kids stole the horse’s tails and popped out the jewels on the bridles with their switchblades.
If Coney Island looks seedy in these poor old photographs, you’re not looking deep enough. There’s pure magic in every rusty nail and broken bottle. The Brooklyn crowd’s lit up, the color and motion are almost too much to bear, your brain’s caught fire. You slam your quarter in front of the man who will always be more and know more than you and you take your chance on winning.
I did a lot of sign painting in my neighborhood, too. Here on a realtor’s front door, Atlantic Avenue. The bucket held the paint and brushes, that got emptied in front of the job, then the bucket held the painter. It was a good life.