What are your favorite looks from the book?
My favorite from the book is Rumy on page 113. I have a picture of her hanging right in my wall when I walk into my house because she looks like a Baltimore girl. And with the guys, I love all the crotch treatments. I wonder how many of these men turned out to be gay. Because not that many straight men wear full crotch treatments. Do you think they were actually tough?
Who is tough? Were your friends actually tough? I mean they looked tough in the movies.
My friends, you wouldn’t want to fuck with them because they’d say really rotten things to you, but could they beat you up? No. Could these kids beat people up? I’m sure a few of them could. But, I’m looking through here, and I don’t know how tough they really were. My friends were scary, maybe, to some people. But they weren’t violent. They weren’t tough. Cry-Baby was based on someone that looked like this. He lived across the street from me. And he never spoke to me, but I watched him, he was my idol, and my parents hated him. The family, everyone on the block looked down on him. And today, he’s probably toothless if he is alive, you know what I mean? But he had this look, this look of a young juvenile delinquent ’50s macho rebel.
Is it camp? Is it kitsch?
No, I don’t think it is at all. What kitsch means to me is an old man talking about Rita Hayworth. I like Rita Hayworth, but I wouldn’t say that she’s on the lips of that many people in cutting edge gay conversation. Do I think they’re camp? No, camp to me is a word I would never say out loud, but it means something that is so bad it’s good. And to me, these people aren’t so bad they’re good, these people are fucking amazing looking. These people have fashion gall, they were trendsetters. There are books on them 40 years later. They are artists. And I doubt if they followed contemporary art at the time. Weinberger did porn for gay magazines really early, and I bought a great piece from him that’s called Angel in Sheepskin, which is a guy in a sheepskin coat with a huge dick. He told me when the police busted him and took the porn stuff away from him they said he could keep a few of his favorites, and he kept that one.
(© The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger, from Rebel Youth, Rizzoli New York, 2011)