I really don’t know how to reflect on the original White Trash, published in 1977, except to say that what once was the everyday is now barely recognizable except as an era gone by. Just in the way that the Village People meant something to somebody at a point in time, so did PUNK.
I never really intended to do a book about PUNK. As the light on the disco ball at Studio 54, and the last refrains of Donna Summers’ “Save the Last Dance for Me” started to fade in the distance, the lexicon of PUNK was starting to make some noise with its two - and three - chord musical impressions. And I was there merely to record that moment, without thinking much about the future of that moment as I recorded it.
At that time, not only were the musical chords of the day simple, but the basic, savage style of the way people dressed, or the “fashionista’” dressed anyway, were making their mark on the New York Scene. It was a time when David Johansson was prancing around in Levis and 8” heels. I was questioning what constitutes a personal style, how we could all become the best of ourselves through just a bit of reflection. At the time, it was how one dressed that really made a first impression when going out in culturally oriented New York in 1976.
During the seven-day period in 1976 that I started documenting my friends, I realized I was documenting the personal style I was trying to identify; it was what the media of the time was calling PUNK; today it’s called Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. With the flamboyance and excesses of the disco years, I, along with Debbie Harry, Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine, among others, found my way into the scene of “simple,” where less is more. A great example is the streamlined Steven Sprouse knit wool dress that Debbie Harry is wearing on the cover of this book; or exemplified by the time I attended Haltson’s fashion show at the then most-important skyscraper in New York City, Olympic Towers—then owned by the newsworthy newlywed and husband of Jackie Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis - just wearing a black garbage bag (Black seems to have survived the test of time).
With this,"Uncut" version of White Trash, I am able to go back and re-visit my photographic impressions, and reintroduce myself and possibly for the first time introduce the reader to what my original intentions were. But in this updated version, I have “un-cropped” many of the original artworks, added about twenty new photographs that now enhance the story of that time, and create a more permanent document of what was then a quick-take presentation. Now a mainstay document of PUNK, White Trash (the original) has been incredible for me to edit and to see the photographs again - both in the way I saw them that first time and now, the way I finally want to see them - as memento as much as record.
Text by Christopher Makos