We met in December 2019 at Saluggi’s restaurant in TriBeCa, New York, when I interviewed Nan about the reissue of her 1993 book “The Other Side” and her last show at Marian Goodman Gallery in London. We talked for hours.
I flew home to Colorado the next day for the holidays and, when I got back to New York, we picked up where we’d left off. We started playing backgammon and began what I refer to as “film school”, where Nan teaches me about movies — we started with Hitchcock and Visconti, and everything starring Judy Holliday and Barbara Stanwyck.
When we heard about the impending lockdown, we had a conversation about what it would look like to quarantine together. I made the decision to move into her home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, quickly, but it was the right one. I feel like myself with Nan: like an adult, safe. For her birthday last September, I took her to Holy Land USA, this run-down religious theme park in Connecticut that was in one of our favourite movies, “Wanda” (1970). Last summer, I went swimming for the first time since going on hormones. From a boat, Nan took a picture that is precious to me. Her photographs allow me to replay those moments when I felt beautiful.
I was very lucky Thora came into my life when she did. I hadn’t photographed a person in years. I was more inspired by the sky, or by going into my archive of tens of thousands of slides to make new pieces. It’s very intimate for me to photograph someone. I need to feel a deep connection, and that can become deeper through the process.
When I see somebody who’s beautiful and doesn’t know it, I feel an obligation to show them to themselves. At the beginning, Thora seemed very shy, but over the past year, I’ve watched her become more feminine. Thora has a great memory and has introduced me to many new authors, like Anne Moody and Sigrid Nunez. I turned her on to Patricia Highsmith. People assume we’re lovers, and I find that to be a limited understanding: we’re in very different stages of our lives, but we’ve found a level playing field. We’re addicted to backgammon, and spent all of lockdown playing. We help keep each other sober and sane.