Those familiar with the original glam-rock scene that emerged in the early 1970s in London will recognize the iconic images hanging on the walls of Balans on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Karl Stoecker photographed brilliantly painted model pin-ups and contributed album art for Roxy Music and Lou Reed during the peak glitter-era year of 1972. The vibrant images oozed sexuality , flirted with androgyny and helped define a brief but still influential era in British popular music.
Stoecker’s contemporaries included Mick Rock and Brian Duffy. He often worked with makeup artist Pierre La Roche, who applied the famous lightning bolt to David Bowie‘s face for the cover of his 1973 album, Aladdin SanÃ©. Stoecker himself dated Bowie and other musicians in this scene in the early 1970s. He keeps in touch with Roxy frontman Bryan Ferry, who always sends him CDs of his latest work.
See also: The work of glam photographer Karl Stoecker (Photos)
Today, Stoecker lives in South Beach in a tiny house hidden behind a lush garden planted by his wife for 27 years. They have lived in the house, located within walking distance of the shore, for two decades. It was there that they raised two daughters. They share the house with five cats, a giant Rhodesian ridgeback and – Stoecker is keen to point out – two possums.
“They are very beautiful creatures,” he said between the puffs of a hand-rolled cigarette. “Sometimes when they come into the house it’s hard to get them out. But once you get them cornered they really turn around and play dead.”
His wife, Patti Stoecker, a former model and 20 years his junior, clarifies that he does not promote his work much but that many orders have come to him due to the indefinite exposure of his photos at Balans.
“It’s good,” said the photographer. âSometimes people call from there,â he says of the Balans screen. âIt’s nice not having to feature them,â he laughs.
He always did his job for nothing more than the love of it. He photographed 1940s neo-pin-ups mixed with contemporary frills of heavy makeup that sometimes appeared in fashion magazines. Ferry took note of her work and asked her to provide footage for her band’s debut album, a deal that continued through to Roxy’s third album, Failed, released in 1973.
In between, Stoecker shot the back cover of Reed’s 1972 glam-rock album, produced by Bowie, Transformer. Rock provided the album’s famous weird and androgynous cover, but the back featured the dueling images of a man and a woman. Stoecker’s wife recalls her striking quality:
“The whole thing with him was a she,” she said, referring to the words of Take a walk on the wild side. “I got this album the day it was released, when I was a kid. I would even think if it was the same person?” she said of the back cover, featuring model Gala and Reed’s roadie and friend Ernie Thormahlen, wearing a plastic banana in her jeans.
âYou know, when you were a kid and you watched a record cover for ten hours,â Patti continues, âyou thought, was that the message?
Stoecker would later learn that he was underpaid for his album art.
“Someone came he was with [the band] Bad Company, and we were talking about album covers back then, and he was like, ‘Oh, yeah, we paid them 10,000 pounds to have someone make an album cover.’ I was paid 250 pounds, you know what I mean? “He says and laughs.” Which works out to $ 500 or something. ”
Although he still does photography, including art and catalogs, his work gained a little more cachet when it was shown at the Tate Museum as part of an exhibition retracing the British glam scene. original titled “Glam! The Performance of Style”. It was thanks to Patti and a fateful meeting.
âIt’s the worst to be a businessman, to call people back, to sort out situations,â she says, âbut all you have to do is get out for a bit, and something like the Tate Museum happens. . ”
A client of Patti, who works as a designer and owns the Posh Vintage store, introduced her to Chrissie Iles, curator of the Whitney Museum in New York. She had a catalog of her husband’s work and found the courage to ask his opinion.
“I just took it out of my wallet. I was so nervous to show him my husband’s things, and a month later the guy called us from London.”
Without this reunion, his famous shots of a feather-clad Brian Eno would have been omitted from the 2013 exhibition. Not only is this an oft-requested print, but it has also become the cover image for the brochure of the exhibition when she moved to the Kunst Museum in Austria.
Of all the guys at Roxy Music, Karl Stoecker remembers getting on particularly well with Eno, who was often celebrated as the most eccentric member of the group before leaving after just a year on a solo career that would spawn likes of ambient music.
âBrian really liked music,â he says. “He did this thing with the trumpeter in New York [Jon Hassell]. He did a lot of great things with John Cale. He lived on Portobello Road, somewhere in Notting Hill, and so you would go over there and he would do some interesting stuff. Like, they recorded a marching band that played poorly. It was either a bad-playing marching band or a bad-playing marching band on purpose, and he was like, “Yeah!” And I didn’t get it, “he laughs.” I don’t like bands anyway, but he liked the sound, which was really, really nice. ”
Stoecker continues to be a huge fan of contemporary music and of course he revolves around women. He loves Beach House and Lana Del Rey and even thinks Miley Cyrus is awesome.
âI love Miley,â he says. “She’s cheeky. It’s awesome. It’s like I loved Madonna when she first started, and then I didn’t care anymore.”
Stoecker ignores any hint of sexism in his often provocative works (one features a favorite model, Kari Ann, her body painted from head to crotch in a red stripe resembling a penis, under a sheer bodysuit). If someone is offended, they say, âI guess, well, that’s what they think, whatever, and often people can say anything. What you think may be totally different from what someone else thinks the picture represents. . ”
Sure, working with the stars and getting a little more work and recognition would be great for Stoecker, but his aspirations remain modest.
âI think now I just want to be a beachcomber,â he says. “I mean, taking pictures is good, but that’s what I want to be for my main occupation if I can figure it out.”
Stoecker’s work will hang indefinitely on Balans walls at 1022 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. To learn more about Karl Stoecker, visit karlstoeckerphotos.com.