Monday, January 16, 2012

The Mystery of David C. Nolan's Marilyn Monroe Photographs Resolved?

I love the Internet. Rather, I love my stat counter. After being gone for most of the holiday weekend, I noticed a lot of traffic coming in from a certain website. When I first saw the name of the link, my thoughts were "Why on earth is a porn site linking to my blog?" That thought didn't prevent me from immediately checking. Enter... astonishment (!!!). I like to think of this blog as a serious documentation of my artistic process in addition to other artists' work that I am contemplating in some form or another. So with that thought in mind, here is a link to Billy Watson's "I Shoot Porn" and his amazing story of the "world's greatest pervert... David C. Nolan."


What follows is the information written by Watson that strikes me the most:

"Each picture (herein referred to as “Nolans”) was numbered and date-stamped in black ink (the 1.50 was the store’s price). Then, in red ink, we get owner information (maybe too much for a porno collection? As if Mr. Nolan actually thought someone would return his pictures if lost/stolen?!) Below that, in pencil and in almost perfect penmanship, either an odd sort of description for the girl/post/photo or some dialogue formatted like a movie script: you can read the one I showed you [image below]. Then, below that, denoted with a small red circle (in pen) a sort-of categorical note. And, below that, the very most important information of all: the model’s ...."

"The best part of this story comes when I’m paying for my stack of pictures: “What do you know about this guy David C. Nolan?” I asked. The store clerk didn’t know much. “You don’t have any more of these laying around, do you?
I was out of luck.
“Did you guys have a lot of these?”
“How many?”
The clerk looked up at me and said, “there’s a whole lot of Nolans floating around. We got them from the flea market down in Pasadena a while back, and the person we bought them from said he’d been selling them for years. Apparently, when Mr. Nolan passed, his wife went down to the basement for the first time to see what was down there. The basement was strictly off-limits to her, so he dies, she goes down there, and to her horror she discovers files and files of these.”
“Files and files?” I repeated.
The clerk looked up at me and said cooly, “Three hundred thousand. Give or take.”

"My jaw dropped. “You mean like…a quarter million Nolans?”
The clerk nodded his head. “She was so embarrassed she didn’t even sell them. She just gave them to the first person who agreed to haul the whole lot out of her basement.”
I didn’t know whether to gasp — or laugh. I think I did both. “And each one of them had the same kind of information on the back?”
The clerk nodded his head.
“But it must have taken at least 5 or 10 minutes a picture to number and stamp them, and then come up with these whacky sayings, and then label them as to whether or not the girl shows beaver…and then finally add the model’s name. And do it all really neatly.”

Watson then goes on to tell how he Google searched "David C. Nolan" with his San Francisco address and came to Something Between Want and Desire. He further offers his assessment on Nolan's character (as Watson has more information, I am inclined to believe his version while mine was just a guess).

The following photograph is from Watson's post of the back of his "Nolan" card from the above link. It's amazing seeing Nolan's handwriting in a completely different context. I am also glad that someone else was as fascinated as I was in this odd character who clearly spent more time in the basement than he did in other room in his house. Now if only I had known that when I went to photograph his address last summer!

Now to rewrite that artist statement.

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