Marilyn Minter and Alicia Renee Thacker. Photograph by Dustin Thacker
AS: Marilyn, you are credited with subverting the glamor aesthetic that has evolved from fashion and beauty media- As such, does your choice of subject work toward this end?
mm: I’m not sure… but I’ve never been interested in models that are the cultures idea of perfection: porcelain flawless skin, symmetry, etc.
AS: The present generation of American youth is perhaps the most color blind ever- Despite this, the race polemic still persists across all milieus- In the July 2008 issue of Vogue there was a story examining the lack of black models used in fashion campaigns- How does being the product of a Southern upbringing in Louisiana shape your translation of beauty?
mm: The most compelling legacy of growing up in the deep south was understanding at a very early age that I had to get out of there as soon as possible. I left at 18 and never went back.
Marilyn Minter, Sunspots, 2007. Enamel on metal, 48 x 48 inches. Image courtesy of Salon 94, New York
AS: Due to the angles of your images, Alicia for the most part is presented as a woman of indiscernible race. On closer observation, her features appear European and yet there is irony here… To meet Alicia one realizes she is probably a mixture of many races. Is there a sentimental aspect in your selection of Alicia?
mm: I think mixed race people are the most compelling and most beautiful. I wouldn’t call it sentimental as much as prophetic. To me, Alicia looks like the face of the future.
AS: What qualities did Alicia possess that made you want to use her as your muse?
Marilyn Minter, Drool, 2003. C Print. Image courtesy of Salon 94, New York.
AS: I remember reading a comment you made in which you told the interviewer about having watched many beautiful people who were unaware of their own beauty- until told they were beautiful. Please feel free to correct me here because I don’t remember the exact details- this is interesting in the sense that there exists a sense of incredulity in your lens…
mm: I’ve never met a model who truly believes that she’s beautiful – even a famous one. They know that they’re not ugly, but they don’t know what the fuss is about. Maybe there are models out there who know they are beautiful, but I’ve never met one.
AS: Scholars who have studied the history of cosmetic fashions and the changing ideals of beauty over time do so as a means of understanding cultural fluctuations, changes in moral attitudes, social conditions etc. If you had to imagine yourself in the position of social scholar, outside yourself, what clues would you find in your own images? Particularly in the sociopolitical arenas, things such as wars and revolutions if any?
mm: I wouldn’t know how to begin to answer this question.
Marilyn Minter, Satiated, 2003. C Print. Image courtesy of Salon 94, New York.
AS: Marilyn, you are a painter and photographer… Can the term caricaturist also apply?
mm: No. Not even close.
AS: I can’t help but wonder about the role that you assign to beauty in your daily life… What is a consistent beauty ritual for you?
mm: Bathing is a must.
AS: To end, I must make a confession, the brilliant red of Alicia’s lips remind me of Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz… If you could go see the wizard, what would you ask him for?
mm: World Peace of course… and then ten million dollars!!