Makos can be forgiven though, as Reed is one of the few key players not contained within his bold, beautiful book. Originally released in 1977, White Trash has achieved seminal status for its direct portraits of Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith and David Bowie, alongside the gutter-glamour ephemera – safety-pin earrings and cigarette butt necklaces – that characterised the artful nihilism of punk.
Makos was born in Massachusetts but grew up in California, later moving to New York after high school. He also spent time in Europe, where he met eminent American photographer Man Ray, who taught him “to obey your first impressions”.
But it was in New York that Makos made his name. He was a frequent contributor to Warhol’s Interview magazine and a mainstay of his Factory clique, becoming friends with the coterie of hip, outré creative types who frequented the pop artist’s studio at 860 Broadway in Manhattan. “Everyone was everyone’s friend,” Makos remembers. “Debbie Harry and I spent the New York City [electricity] blackout in 1977 my apartment, sitting there by candlelight.”
Makos talks with a chatty zeal which almost makes it seem like you were there with him – a quality which is translated in the stark immediacy of many of his portraits, which have been exhibited in more than 100 museums around the world. Warhol had a deep admiration for Makos, who taught him how to use his first camera, and particularly loved White Trash: when the original was released in 1977, he was so enamoured that he bought 1000 copies.
Looking back, Makos considers the book to be about more than just punk. “It was about being different, being who you are, and that being ok.” There are shots of drag queen actress Divine; trailblazing gay performer Lance Loud in leopard-print pants and make-up artist Gigi Williams’s bare breasts. In the reissue, these sit beside photographs of Tennessee Williams and Man Ray, the “precursors to punk”, as Makos calls them: “These people made the landscape so that things like punk could grow and emerge.”
He’s proud of the White Trash re-issue, but Makos says he’s no sentimentalist, and prefers to focus on the now. How, then, would he document New York City circa 2014? “Everything in Manhattan now is a clothing store, a coffee shop or a bank” he grumbles. “I can’t believe that any place could sustain so many coffee places. It’s the new drug. People walking around with their faces in their phones, jacked up on coffee.” Step aside White Trash; next up it’s White Coffee.
Krystian Filip Jarnuszkiewicz has not chosen a license for this content.