Just Kids

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Great portrayal of life in the Chelsea Hotel, the back room at Max’s after Warhol got shot, life as a penniless kid in NYC in the late 60s and early 70s. Smith gives a lot of attention to Robert Mapplethorpe, her partner in crime during these years. She claims to have rebranded him “Robert” after he introduced himself as Bob. They begin as lovers and end as friends, she supporting him as the breadwinner so he can focus on his art, nursing him back to health when he’s near death with trench mouth (?!), high fever and gonorrhea. Mapplethorpe encouraged Smith to let people her her voice, just as she encouraged him to take his own photos instead of using others’ work for his collages. She says that she learned to focus and concentrate on her work during marathon drawing sessions the two of them would do. After one snide comment about her hair, Smith goes home and snips away, creating her signature style and immediately getting different attention from the back room crowd at Max’s. Mapplethorpe eventually settles in with the super-rich Sam Wagstaff who funds his art, but he admits, “Patti, you got famous before me.”