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11 December 2023

James Bidgood/Terri Howe (1933-2022) 1950s drag performer

James Bidgood was born and raised in Wisconsin. He moved to New York City in 1951.

He found work at the drag nightclub Club 82 when it opened in 1953 as a set and lighting designer, and then as one of the drag performers, performing under the name of Terri Howe. 

He also graduated from the Parsons School of Design, and then worked professionally as a window-dresser, costume designer and free-lance photographer. He desisted as a drag performer. 

Through the 1960s he became a photographer of male nudes, often working in his own small Hell’s Kitchen apartment. His masterpiece is taken to be the 1971 film Pink Narcissus, IMDB, with male actress Charles Ludlam, again mainly filmed in his apartment over a period of seven years, although he was not credited with the film until almost 30 years later in that he took his name off the film after the financers became exasperated by his perfectionism, and imposed their own edit and soundtrack. For many years it was incorrectly assumed that Andy Warhol was behind the film.

In 1999 Bruce Benderson, having researched Bidgood’s life and work, published a large coffee-table book of Bidgood’s photography, and put the record straight re Pink Narcissus

In 2005 Bidgood was honored with a Creative Capital grant, which financed his return to art photography. He was recognized in the last years of his life as pre-cursor of camp. and is now spoken of along with Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger. 

He died of complications from COVID at age 88.

  • Bruce Benderson. Bidgood, Tashen, 1999.
  • Jesse Dorris. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Camp”. Aperture, May 15, 2019. Online.
  • David Noh. “James Bidgood’s Sexy Phantasmagorical World”. Gay City News, June 25, 2019. Online.
  • William E Jones. “AGAINST NATURE: William E. Jones on the art of James Bidgood”. ArtForum, Summer, 2019. Online.
  • Trudy Ring. “James Bidgood, Creator of Film Pink Narcissus, Has Died”. Advocate, February 01 2022. Online.
  • Patrik Sandberg. “Elegy for a Packrat: Remembering James Bidgood: Patrik Sandberg on his years of friendship with the legendary filmmaker”. Frieze, 23 May 22. Online.
  • Miss Rosen. “How James Bidgood Inspired a Generation of LGBTQ Artists”. Blind-Magazine, October 24, 2022. Online.

EN.Wikipedia    IMDB

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