Sep­tem­ber 1974 Lou Reed photographed by Oli­vie­ro To­sca­ni

VOGUE (Italy) - - CULTURE -

“I know my obi­tua­ry has al­rea­dy been writ­ten,” Lou Reed told one in­ter­viewer with re­si­gna­tion. “And it starts out: Doot, di-doot, di-doot...” Was the­re ever a song like Walk on the Wild Si­de? Ta­king on­ly its ti­tle from Nel­son Al­gren’s De­pres­sion-era no­vel, it sprang ful­ly for­med in­to li­fe in 1972, a ground­brea­king an­them for weird and won­der­ful ti­mes. It was a paean to the un­der­bel­ly of s ocie­ty, a g lit­te­ring pa­ra­de of f reaks, hu­stlers, wan­na­be ar tists and tran­sgen­der star­le­ts who pluc­ked their eye­bro­ws whi­le hit­ching a ri­de to New York Ci­ty. Self-pro­clai­med ‘su­per­stars’, no­bo­dies, any­bo­dies, who sold their souls (pos­si­bly mo­re) to be in An­dy Wa­rhol’s eye-li­ne: Hol­ly Wood­la­wn, Candy Dar­ling, Vi­va, ‘Lit­tle’ Joe Dal­le­san­dro who ‘ne­ver on­ce ga­ve it away’. (A fur­ther si­gn of tho­se di­sjoin­ted ti­mes: re­cord label RCA is­sued a ver­sion in the U.S. whi­ch edi­ted out Reed’s re­fe­ren­ce to ‘co­lo­red girls’ but kept in the one about oral sex.)

A few years be­fo­re To­sca­ni ’s L’Uo­mo Vo­gue por­trait, Reed w as still t he dri­ving f or­ce be­hind The Vel­vet Un­der­ground. His s ongs about l ife on t he mar­gins soa­ked in re­verb and feed­back, and with his croa­king stac­ca­to del ive­ry a cross bet­ween Bob Dy­lan and the Mar­quis de Sa­de, as one cr it ic put it, e ar­ned h im t he mo­ni­ker ‘ the Go­d­fa­ther o f Punk’ - a t erm t he i ra­sci­ble Reed l oa­thed.

Reed mu­st ha­ve li­ked To­sca­ni’s ima­ge, ho­we­ver, be­cau­se he used it a year la­ter for Lou Reed Li­ve (1975). And why not? It pla­ced him f irm­ly in his by now com­for­ta­ble mi­lieu: stud­ded lea­ther jac­ket, sha­des, pa­le, dra­wn and vam­pi­ric de­mea­nor. Be­nea­th the tril­by hat, Reed spor­ted one of tho­se pe­cu­liar hair­cu­ts that on­ly he could pull of f. His on­ce blea­ched-blond hair sha­ved in­to a ton­su­re, a To­sca­ni prof ile shot was put on­to the back of the al­bum cover.

L’Uo­mo Vo­gue mu­st ha­ve like To­sca­ni’s por­trait too. They used i t again, as a cover in 2008, to ce­le­bra­te the ma­ga­zi­ne’s 40th a nni­ver­sa­ry. A t rue ori­gi­nal, the self-pro­clai­med ‘Rock’n’Roll Ani­mal’.

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