Cro sex picture
Cro sex picture
But arch provocateur Robert Mapplethorpe was also very sweet and very shy, according to his first boyfriend, who shares his memories and their personal photos here for the very first time ‘Sweet’ is not a word used often to describe Robert Mapplethorpe, a man renowned for depicting New York’s underworld of erotica and sadomasochism, and for being one of the most notorious photographers of his generation.“Controversial” is more common; “excessive”, almost mandatory. But beneath this oft-told narrative, lies an all-but-untold tale: that of a serious – and yes, “sweet” – young artist who fell in love with his first male model, David Croland, in his early twenties.His life is usually summed up with the help of a few well-known touchstones: Patti Smith, his soulmate. Sam Wagstaff, art curator and his long-term partner. The pair, who had both identified predominantly as straight until then, went on to date for three years.
Croland was Mapplethorpe’s first “official” boyfriend and the pair met when the photographer was still with Patti Smith.
The well-connected model, who had dated Warhol acolyte Susan Bottomly, introduced Mapplethorpe to a whole new crowd. “What I believe he meant was: keep me alive; keep my memory alive,” Croland says. He has co-curated Fashion Show, a new exhibition of Mapplethorpe’s work at the Alison Jacques Gallery in central London.
They socialised with New York’s top designers, models and art curators. It will showcase his portraits of some of the most iconic figures in the fashion world, from Karl Lagerfield to Grace Jones, as well as his hand-crafted jewellery and intimate pictures of Croland. It is more than 40 years since Croland first met Mapplethorpe in his room in the Chelsea Hotel, but his memory hardly falters: “We had that thing from the minute we saw each other, that’s for sure,” Croland drawls, in his relaxed East Coast accent.
And it was Croland who introduced Mapplethorpe to Wagstaff. “I remember that the room was about as big as your foot.
Croland has never shared the details of his story, until now. You could barely turn around in it, so we were pretty close on first sight. It was very hot, and I think they were wearing white shirts, jeans, and sandals.“Both of them were very sweet, very shy and observant.
“Robert discussed this with me before he died and he said: ‘Tell them everything,’” Croland says. They both had these extraordinary eyes you looked at while they were looking at you.
They were beautiful – both of them.”It was only a matter of days before things turned romantic. We were kind of sitting together on a coach, then all of a sudden, like in a movie, our hands touched; there was a bit of spark. Our hands touched again and then, well, that was that. It was very sweet.”From then on, the pair were boyfriends (although not exclusive).
Croland insists that Mapplethorpe “wasn’t the jealous type at all” and adds that if he ever felt any possessive pangs himself, he could “certainly turn the table”.
Describing himself as probably the “more old-fashioned” of the two, he tells me that the duo “never laid down any rules in our relationship; no way. Bisexuality in those days was very in fashion.“We were alone in my apartment a lot. What we talked about mostly were the people we spent time with.
I knew them and he wanted to connect the dots a little,” says Croland.
“And then Robert worked a lot and I was there being the first male subject that he photographed.”Smith, who lived with Mapplethorpe throughout, describes in her memoir Just Kids how she discovered the two had become a couple – a friend called and told her they were having an affair.
While she says she was “stunned”, she also writes that she liked David and “was involved in so many things that the concern of Robert’s sexual preference was not [her] immediate concern”.