Wednesday, November 5, 2014

An Artist in Berlin

The genesis of the a great time I had recently in New York City was an email I received some four and a half years ago, on Monday, March 8th, 2010:

Dear George, I am an artist living in Berlin, Germany, and I am currently working on a book about Cookie Mueller.  The book consists of interviews, stories, writings, musings and images all paying testimony to the life and work of Cookie.  I have been researching over the past three years and have met with over forty of Cookie's friends including people such as John Waters, Amos Poe, Gary Indiana, Mink Stole, just to name a few.  I've spent quite a bit of time in Provincetown and remained in close contact with Sharon Niesp and Max Mueller.  I noticed while looking online that you took a fabulous photograph of Cookie at the premiere of Female Trouble and I was curious if you would be interested in contributing any of your work or perhaps your memories of Cookie Mueller.  The book I am producing is an homage to Cookie and has an emphasis on visuals as much as text.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask.  Looking forward to hearing from you.  [signed] Chloe

It was exciting that someone -- whoever Chloe might be -- that someone halfway across the world thought enough of Cookie to think she deserved a book devoted to her. Cookie was one of the most unique people I'd ever been around. I lived in Provincetown from 1972 to 1984, and during some of that time Cookie did too, and I was Cookie's friend. That does not make me special -- everyone was Cookie's friend. Everyone who knew her loved Cookie. I wanted the book written already but had to wait.

I told Chloe that I'd be honored to have a picture I'd taken of Cookie in her book. As it turned out, in the process of about fifteen more email exchanges, Chloe ended up using about a dozen photographs I'd taken of Cookie and friends of Cookie.

I could tell just from her several emails that Chloe was a class act. And then, in this past August, after what was surely a tremendous amount of work, she sent me a copy of the book:

Later an invitation came for four events in Manhattan in connection with the launching of Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller. On the first night, I entered the venue -- The Participant Gallery on Houston Street ... approached Chloe and said, "Hi … I'm George Fitzgerald." I got a warm hug, and person-to-person thanks for the use of my pictures.

She's attractive. You realize right away that you probably just want to hang with her forever. Isn't that what love is? Or was it just a crush? A great big gigantic mammoth super-wide, super-deep, super-high crush. Maybe I just wanted to be her. Seriously … she's lovely, she's cool.

Chloe in Berlin, biking in high heels just as Cookie did.


From left: Susan Lowe, Sharon Niesp, and John Waters
reading "Just Three Sluts" from Edgewise. The organizers had sat up chairs for about twenty people but the large room filled up; there must have been close to two hundred people there.  It got hot. I was sweating.

Chloe autographing books after the readings.

If I liked the styles of other attendees I sometimes asked if I could take a picture of them; my skills with my iPad camera suck; only a few came out good.
I'm a groupie for Michael Stipe so was thrilled to shake his hand and say, "Thanks for a lot of great music in my life." Then I hurried to tell Chloe "Guess what!!? Michael Stipe is here!!!" "I know," she said. "He's my friend! He spends a lot of time in Berlin!"

Two more whose styles I liked.
In one of the three vitrines, a b&w still that I happen to love; it's from a John Waters film; in the corner is a photo I took of Channing Wilroy and Howard Gruber on Halloween 1981 at Cafe Mews.

With Sharon Niesp. Though I never met Cookie's husband, I like to think that Sharon was Cookie's best lover. Sharon is also a great actor and a great singer (even Aaron Neville, I hear, was impressed by her voice).
A picture of Sharon in her younger days, taken by photographer David Armstrong (whose obituary just happened to be in Saturday's New York Times).
I loved running into Dennis Dermody and Susan Lowe, two friends I hadn't seen for a long time.
Sharon Niesp with Chloe's mother; the latter's height, chic attire, and extraordinary poise were a sight to behold. I went up to her out front and told her I understood that she was Chloe's mother and that she was absolutely beautiful and had reared a remarkable daughter.  She said, "Thank you ... so you know who I am, but I don't know who you are?" I said my name and that I'd given Chloe a dozen pictures for her book. She took both my hands in hers and said, "Let's go -- you must show them to me."
I led her to another of the vitrines, all of which contained Cookie memorabilia, and said, "These … all the colored ones … are mine. Look, she even saved the envelope in which I mailed them to her back in 2010!"
More of my photos in another vitrine which are in Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller.
Just after the 9pm closing, as my friend Ellen and I were waiting for a friend, I looked at a woman off to the left and said "That's Nan Goldin!" She's a famous photographer. Ellen went up to her and asked, "Are you who you used to be?"
Inside, Nan Goldin and Chloe Griffin had a .. uh.. chat?
Lots of pictures on the walls, mostly of Cookie.

Cookie's son, Max, showed me how to take a selfie.

OCT. 16th - Thursday: No Credit, Cash Only; Cookie in Film and Video

Bradford Nordeen

On the night following the opening party, clips from several movies Cookie appeared in were screened.  Many more chairs were set out than had been the night before, but there were still not enough, and the room was jam-packed again.  Fortunately, though, the heat had been turned down.  The presentation was written and read by Bradford Nordeen, the young man pictured above.  He was interesting and clever and funny.  He knew Cookie's writing inside-out and he knew her acting inside-out.  You can out more of him at ….

OCT. 17th - FRIDAY

On Friday, way over on Tenth Avenue, the Edgewise event was of filmmaker Amos Poe interviewing Chloe.  Ellen and I didn't go because we'd been invited to dinner by a friend.  This friend made it an absolutely delightful night!  His stories are astonishingly entertaining; he's lived a very eventful life, and knows everybody and everything!  His apartment is like a museum!  Who but he would own, and have nicely framed, the original Sears & Roebuck receipt for the $25.00 down-payment on a freezer sold to a guy named Jeffrey Dahmer?  His stories are way way way entertaining.


Saturday seemed like a day off from the fun of joining Chloe in the launching of her book.  I met two friends at one p.m. at the Whitney Museum for the Jeff Koons exhibition. (Ellen, booted from foot surgery, could not have handled all the walking we'd be doing.)  I was interested only in Koons' salacious work involving his Italian girlfriend/wife; only two pictures fit that narrow category so I wandered around five floors of art caring very little about 98% of it.  But there were lots of reflecting things so I could take lots of weird pictures, and it was fun hanging out with Scott (short) and Patrick (tall). 


OCT. 19th - SUNDAY - "ANOTHER BORING DAY -  A NIGHT OF READINGS FROM COOKIE MUELLER'S WRITINGS" -- a return to The Participant Gallery on Houston Street.

Chloe Griffin

Richard Hell - After the readings I told him I had seen his punk group Richard Hell and the Voidoids at CBGB in 1977.  "Thanks for remembering!" he said.

Max Mueller reading Cookie's story about giving birth to him.

Sharon Niesp


Max Blagg

Linda Yablonsky

And so it went … from an email four and a half years ago to a great time in Manhattan just a couple of weeks ago.  All because I posted one of my favorite pictures of Cookie on my blog in 2009 and a cool woman in Berlin came across it.

Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller is a great accomplishment.  I loved Cookie and you might end up loving Cookie too just from reading this book.  You can become the book's friend on Facebook!  You can follow it on tour at  You can order it on Amazon.  You can ask Santa to bring it to you.  You can do lots of things.  But I don't know if you can get a Chloe Griffin kiss on your cheek unless you have the good luck of meeting her and the nerve to ask for one!

Thanks Chloe and Ellen and Dennis and Scott and Patrick!

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