The Voyeur in Repose – The New York Times


Two Great Danes, Prince and Harlow, lay in front of him on the parquet floor. Side tables had diamond skulls. On his bookshelves were several novels by Joyce Carol Oates, David France’s exhaustive history of the AIDS era, “How to Survive A Plague,” “The Photographs of Ron Galella” and Gay Talese’s recent book “The Voyeur’s Motel.”

As a little boy, Mr. Klein had braces on his legs, though he can’t exactly remember how he wound up with them, or when those came off; the point is, he was bowlegged and an outsider. When he gained full control of his legs, he became one of those kids who was constantly sneaking off to go explore.

At some point, his mother tied him to chair to teach him a lesson, he said.

In junior high school, Mr. Klein developed a crush on a girl who liked to read fashion magazines. Around the time of his bar mitzvah, he was given an Instamatic camera. During a family vacation in Miami, he sneaked into a club with exotic dancers and started snapping away. Back at home, he ventured off to a sanitarium and took pictures of the residents.

Mr. Klein began to realize how bored he was in high school when he started reading books by George Gurdjieff, an Armenian philosopher who saw life as a constant state of hypnotic waking sleep.

“I imagined myself being in a salon of mystical people who were searching for truth and meaning,” said Mr. Klein, who in 1981 headed to the Rhode Island School of Design, where he moved into painting. But he’d always been, as he puts it, a voyeur, and his interest in photography got stronger as he learned about Weegee, Diane Arbus, Guy Bourdin and Irving Penn. (Mr. Newton, he acknowledged, is another influence, “but that came later,” he said).

In the late 1980s, Mr. Klein moved to a studio in the East Village of Manhattan, turned the closet into a darkroom and began hanging out at places like the Pyramid Club and the Sound Factory.



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