|Photo by Mapplethorpe|
Robert Mapplethorpe, Prince of Darkness
A new HBO documentary on the late photographer is smart enough to realize that his power derived from his creepiness.
here’s a darkly funny and truly unsettling moment about halfway throughMapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, the terrific new HBO documentary, which premiered on April 4, about Robert Mapplethorpe, the openly gay Queens-born photographer who shocked the world with his graphic gay S&M pictures before he died of AIDS in 1989.
His former lover and confessor Jack Fritscher leans into the camera and says, “I have to say that, because nobody will say it.” He pauses nervously, then continues, “Not to put [Mapplethorpe] down, but…Satan, to him, was not this evil monster. Satan was like a convivial playmate”—a truck or some construction interrupts him—“having a jolly good time seducing the maidens.” Fritscher is alluding to Mapplethorpe’s deep foray into a nocturnal world of multiple sex partners and extreme acts. “To me, it was a bridge too far.”