James Bidgood was born March 28, 1933 in Wisconsin, but moved to live and work in New York City. His artistic output embraced music, set and window design, and drag performance and eventually photography and film for which he is most widely known. His work in design and drag allowed him to gather exotic materials and props to use in his lush and sensual photographs and film. Highly recognizable, his photographs exhibit high fantasy and camp, which has unique in its talent in those days and inspired the work of many since. His masterpiece, the film 'Pink Narcissus' took seven years to make, and Bidgood built all the sets and filmed the entire piece in his tiny apartment. He later removed his name from the film because he felt editors had changed his original vision. Consequently, the film bore the word "Anonymous" for the director's credit, and it was misattributed to many other directors such as Andy Warhol for many years. When I first saw it at the cinema in the early seventies, apart from being stunned to see such a work, a discussion began about the anonymous director which was only revealed a few years back. There were so many guessing games. I was also thrilled on my first trip to Paris, to see huge posters on the street advertising the film. To me this was a loud and flamboyant grand jete out of the closet; an unapologetic affirmation of male beauty.
Pink Narcissus, the legendary film of beauty and visual indulgence, was released in 1971. Backed by a soundscape of classical music, phone rings and street noise the film is laden with anything that sparkles and all that is pretty. It is overwhelming in its splendour.
Pink Narcissus starred Bobby Kendall in the iconic silent role living fantasies in ancient Rome, a public urinal and a bull ring as he is enticed by butterflies, bike-riders and men of all ages. Kendall was a teenage runaway when he met James Bidgood, in New York City in 1962. The young actor, whose beauty has been admired for decades was surprised to be asked to model for Bidgood and ultimately star in his lavish film Pink Narcissus, as he had never considered himself to be attractive.The name, a pseudonym, was given by Bidgood and the two lived together for several years. Kendall was last mentioned as still living in New York.
Watch Pink Narcissus (1971) by BFIfilms this version 64min which appears to be a few minutes short of the 71 minute DVD length.
Some of James Bidgood's Photography
The Film and the Book, both of which I own.
James Bidgood page on Facebook
Bobby Kendall page on Facebook