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Episode 47
Photographer Bonnie Schiffman

  • 2 min read

Episode Description

A discussion with photographer Bonnie Schiffman. Bonnie spent decades specializing in portraits of actors, directors, musicians and comedians for some of the nation’s most popular publications, particularly Rolling Stone magazine. In the episode, she discusses her improvised shooting style, her ability to capture an honest image, her favorite celebrities and her expansion into NFTs.


Craig: [00:00:09] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. On today's episode, I speak with photographer Bonnie Schiffman. Bonnie spent decades specializing in portraits of actors, directors, musicians and comedians for some of the nation's most popular publications, particularly Rolling Stone magazine. In the episode, she discusses her improvised shooting style, her ability to capture an honest image, her favorite celebrities, and her expansion into nfts. And now exploring the Bonnie verse with photographer Bonnie Schiffman. Bonnie Shiffman, thank you so much for joining me this week on the Art Sense Podcast. Bonnie a lot of times with artists, I like to start with a hypothetical and that's if you're at a dinner party next to somebody who's never met you before, how do you describe your work to them?

Bonnie: [00:01:14] If I'm if they're asking about my work.

Craig: [00:01:16] Yeah, like, you know, like they don't know who you are or they don't know what it looks like. How do you describe what you do?

Bonnie: [00:01:23] I'm a photographer who had such a great time with people, and I was kind of I have a lot of therapists in my family and I'm a visual therapist. That's kind of how it was and started out with a great lunch. I have fun and people were willing to have a blast. And not everybody, certainly. But I was different from a lot of photographers because since a lot of artists viewed having to be photographed like going to the dentist, it was kind of the same thing. It was different with me and I think they had a good time.
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Craig: [00:02:08] The years that we really think of as being Bonnie Schiffman's kind of wheelhouse were years at Rolling Stone, right?

Bonnie: [00:02:16] Well, in all sorts of other magazines I started out at Rolling Stone, worked for them a lot, and then immediately I went to New York and was working for tons of magazines and that was the best. But it's a great place to start.

Craig: [00:02:32] Just for the sake of the folks that haven't seen your portfolio. But they'll go there at the end of our conversation, I'm sure. But what what names are we talking about?

Bonnie: [00:02:41] We're talking about Robin Williams, who I worked with a lot, and we're talking about Whoopi Goldberg. We're talking about Billy Crystal. We're talking about. artists. I mean, all sorts of not only artists, but musicians. Just tons of people who were very popular and still are. And a lot of them are gone and are still very popular. Right. Right. Michael Jackson, I mean, just sort of everybody. It was a great time. There was a lot of talent. And I worked at A&M Records. That was my first job for three years. Alpert and Moss, there's a great documentary about them, and I photographed all these people at A&M as well. So I got around. I photographed business people. When you work for magazines, it was, you know, I photographed artists. Famous business people. Politicians, musicians, just. The Who's Who of Hollywood and beyond.

Craig: [00:04:07] It sounded back there like you. You kind of had a methodology for breaking the ice with these people. So what did that include?

Bonnie: [00:04:15] It included shooting people when you were allowed them, because before like 1990, you could shoot at people's houses and they were pretty comfortable there. You know, you can't do that anymore and blah, blah, blah. But I would shoot it through houses. We would be outside, we'd shoot in at my house, which was amazing. And it kind of was different than going into a studio. I also did have a studio at the beginning and it just was comfortable and really having a great lunch was very important, right to break the ice.

Craig: [00:05:02] Was there a favorite meal that you would be the go to to?

Bonnie: [00:05:06] We just had stuff catered, simple, great stuff.

Craig: [00:05:10] Give me a background on what the process is for being a portrait photographer like this. Like if you're working for the magazines, were you sent into these situations, having an art director give you some sort of opinion on what might work for the shoot, or was it all improvised? Did the people give you some sort of idea? How would you come to an agreement and what the setup would be?

Bonnie: [00:05:35] The setup was what ever happened. And there was like...I shot Martin Short at my house and it's like, what are we going to do? We go in the yard. And I had this tree. I had an avocado tree. And then there was an...yeah, it had like big giant leaves. So it was like, Martin, take off your pants and straddle that leaf. And it's great. That's what would happen. There was no, "it has to be this way" because magazines, you were allowed to be pretty much free. Publicists didn't come with you. Like they do. Then they started to show up and it wrecked everything. That's when I stopped doing it because it was awful. It wasn't any fun anymore. So we would just. You know, look around their house and it's like, oh, my God, let's you know, I was a Julia Child's house and she had this giant like a whisk. I mean, like really long, like, you know, four feet long, hanging on her wall. And it was raining out and pouring. It was kind of near Santa Barbara. She lived in this place with her husband and it was like it stopped raining. It got so gorgeous out that it was insane. I've been very lucky that way several times. And she took the whisk off the wall and we go outside and she's holding her giant whisk. And it's just such a fabulous photograph. It was just happened. That's how it works. If there were no props, occasionally when I started shooting movie posters, that was a whole different story. It was really boring and, you know, shoot this person doing that. It was easy. But when you went to do magazines, it was just kind of creative. And it wasn't like Annie Leibovitz, who has 6 hours and $50,000 to do a shoot. Sometimes I would have 15 minutes. So there wa, it was either you better fucking get it or it's not good.

Craig: [00:08:05] Did you know everybody that you were shooting like or did you ever have to do homework on someone to really kind of understand maybe a side of them or a part of their nature so that you could kind of bring that out in a portrait.

Bonnie: [00:08:19] I mean, I never asked anybody how they were, how what is this person like? Because at a photo shoot, some people, it's like the most disgusting, awful you would hear the most difficult. And for me, it was like easy. I had a great time with them. So no, I didn't go into that. I didn't want to know if somebody was. You figure that celebrities. It's like going to the dentist to be photographed. And there were a few people, Jim Carrey, who was so fun and Robin who was such a blast to be with. Sort of scary because he was so he had like two brands and. But I went to Thailand where they did Good Morning Vietnam. And I shot the poster for that and it was amazing. We just got along. They trust you. You know, I'm a person you can trust, and I don't know why, but I was having a great time, you know, I didn't have to wait on tables, let's put it that way. It was something I wanted to do. And it started in high school where my teacher, she was so amazing. She passed away a few years ago and we were friends up until that time and it was so joyous that there was a dark room and it's like I had taken art classes and all that. It was like a joke because I was contained. It's like absurd. But when I saw that image come up in the developer, I screamed and that was about it. It's like, I got to do this. It was just like, "Oh my God", you know.

Craig: [00:10:10] Right it's magic.

Bonnie: [00:10:13] It was magic.

Craig: [00:10:15] So where did you where did you grow up, Bonnie?

Bonnie: [00:10:17] In Los Angeles.

Craig: [00:10:19] And so so have you always been. Well, you said New York.

Bonnie: [00:10:24] Well, I went to New York to go to see other magazines. A friend of mine who it was just a weird thing. I got her a job at A&M and then her friend, who was the she was the art director, Mary Shanahan, at Rolling Stone when it was in San Francisco, and they were just going to go to New York. So she called Lori, whose husband later became a really famous photographer, and she knew everything about photography. It was crazy. And Mary said, Lori, because she's at A&M. "Could you do some work for us in L.A. because we're leaving and you know every photographer?" Laurie said, "sure". So she would be at A&M and she would give us, throw us jobs. So she started about three of us, you know, and working for Rolling Stone. It was crazy. So it seemed to work out. So I quit A&M after three years, and then I went to New York and saw all the magazines and I worked for everybody. So I was just really lucky. And then she became the photo editor at Rolling Stone for like 15 years and then other magazines and buddies with Herb Ritts. And she it was really funny because once she was working for at A&M and people would say, "Go see Laurie Kratochvil, she's in LA," you know, people who are photographers. So she called me one night and I was making dinner with a friend and she said, Oh my God, there's this photographer who she envisioned with a pipe and a jacket with the sleeve. And it was Robert Mapplethorpe.

Craig: [00:12:28] Oh, my gosh.

Bonnie: [00:12:28] Shows Laurie. And she goes. So she goes to pick them up. And he's standing at the top in leather and all this stuff. And she was like, she called me and said, "Oh, my God, I can't take him to blah, blah, blah restaurant. I said, "Bring him over. We are having lemon chicken and Arlene is here and it'll be great." So she did. She brought them for dinner. And it was..but that was, you know, it was crazy. So it was really funny.

Craig: [00:13:01] Sure. Well, it sounds like the experiences weren't lost on you. It sounds like you understood just how wonderful you had it, right?

Bonnie: [00:13:11] So, yeah, I mean, I flunked the test to be a phone operator. I walked and, you know, I was very lucky and I loved it. My brother was in the music business, so I went up and photographed Kenny Loggins when he was living up in the hills and, you know, with his family, he put those guys, Loggins and Messina, together. So that was an intro into the whole thing, too.

Craig: [00:13:41] You know, a lot of the celebrities that you photographed over the years were were actors. I mean, they're performers. And obviously they know how to act and perform for you. Did you find it any easier or harder photographing actors? I mean, did you want them to break character or did you want them to embrace that character?

Bonnie: [00:14:05] No, I wanted them to be themselves.

Craig: [00:14:07] And I guess that's part of the question. Were they were they were they capable of being themselves or were they trying to be?

Bonnie: [00:14:13] That's what I was good at. I mean, if you look at the pictures, it's people are you know, it's pretty unusual for people to be that relaxed, especially comedians. You know, I think Annie Liebowitz said they're the hardest people to photograph. And I just found them...mostly I loved shooting men. It was much...women were much more difficult. And there were a few women that I worked with who were great. But most of these guys and I think comedians were. It wasn't about how they looked so much. You know, and having to look perfect. That wasn't their thing.

Craig: [00:14:57] We are a country that kind of worships celebrity. And I imagine a lot of ways people would think that yours was a was a dream job. But was the reality as glamorous as the fantasy?

Bonnie: [00:15:12] No, it's hard. You had to get the shot or you wouldn't work. And that's what I realized later when I looked, you know, looking through all the stuff I've done, it's like certain things I even forgot I photographed. It's like, Oh my God, there's so much there's so many photos and there's so many really, really great photos. And they're I think they're kind of unique to me, you know, and lots and lots of comedians. That was my main thing because I don't know. I was pretty good with them. They were. I don't know. I just had a really great time with them and women really worried about how they looked. I mean, it was just like, get her out of here. They've been doing makeup for like 5 hours. It's like, just stop. You know, there were difficult men, two of the most horrible people. One was a lawyer. And it's just like, "oh, my God, what a nut."

Craig: [00:16:17] So I mean, I guess this was in the day where you wouldn't have been shooting with a digital camera, so you probably, probably would have been showing them Polaroids that kind of give them an idea of what was going to be in the frame. Right.

Bonnie: [00:16:32] That's what we did. We got the Polaroid and then the lighting, and then we just continued, you know, and then sometimes you would just shoot and shoot and finally you would get to the shot and it's like, boom.

Craig: [00:16:48] And would you would you know it when you when you took it? I mean, you could see it in the frame.

Bonnie: [00:16:53] Oh, yeah. You can kind of see it. But we shot of I shot with a Hasselblad a little later, first a Nikon and then I got a Bonnie: Hasselblad because I just and it destroyed my posture camera now. But I don't know it's just. Mostly worked out. Not always, but most of the time it worked out really well.

Craig: [00:17:19] Sure it would. With the majority of your pictures, like would would you get it perfect in frame or would you have to do a lot of work on the back end in terms of like cropping to a specific composition? Or was that was that somebody else's job?

Bonnie: [00:17:37] I mean, they finally got to choose and they didn't always choose the best picture. And then I started, you know, give them three pictures instead of 50. I learned that a little later. But Matthew Ralston, Herb Ritts, other photographers, said, "sorry, I fried the rest of the film".

Craig: [00:17:59] There was an accident. I accidentally opened the camera and this is what I got left.

Bonnie: [00:18:04] This is what you're getting. You're getting the best of the best. And if there's two, you get two. I didn't do that particularly. But, you know, and then you give people and they, you know, for a cover of a magazine, there were certain requirements, but then there were other pictures that were better, in my opinion.

Craig: [00:18:22] Sure.

Bonnie: [00:18:23] Just to use now and to sell and to have the best of the best.

Craig: [00:18:30] I know I can think of particular things in my life where, you know, it's just it's like yesterday I can remember particular event. Is there a particular shoot, a memory that sticks with you?

Bonnie: [00:18:42] Well, there's several, but Muhammad Ali sticks with me. And it's one of my very favorite photographs. That's the shoot it was at his home. He was already fucked up, right? He had Parkinson's and whatever. And he kind of closed his eyes. Between each shot, his head would go down and then he would come back. And in this photograph he was powerful. Every time he would come back to the camera, it was always. And it's so beautiful. Wow. Because this is who I am. He just it's just gorgeous. Sure. And working with Robin Williams, I mean, it was always amazing. So many great pictures of Robin.

Craig: [00:19:36] So was it hard was it hard to harness Robin Williams? How do you how would you control that energy?

Bonnie: [00:19:42] You would just be there and go with his energy and photograph him. And we did certain things, but he would just keep going. It was like it was amazing from the first time I shot him outside of Paramount when he was doing Mork and Mindy, that was the first time. And he was so great. He, like, came out in this kind of overcoat with this these dirty kind of pants, and he had a little guy, kind of a rubber little thing sticking out of his pants and he had a t shirt on, which is really great that The Tubes that was a group on A&M and they were artists and amazing. So he had this great t-shirt on and he just did all sorts of things. I mean, it was just. He was amazing. It's like, who is this guy? So we got along really well and I started photographing him for quite a few years. And. You know, he was tired. We were he was shooting Good Morning, Vietnam. And we're in Tet. We weren't in Vietnam, but it was in the jungle. It was my first trip out of the country. And here we are. And it was my birthday. And I'm in the frickin jungle with Robin, who's entertaining people in the middle of this. And it's hot and it's crazy, but it was amazing. And he did get tired a few times, but what a amazing person. It was so sad when he passed away, he had a way of the world. He was very sick. And but he was my favorite, I think. And Betty White, so fabulous.

Craig: [00:21:39] Betty was a huge animal lover. Did you photograph her with. With her animals?

Bonnie: [00:21:45] With my dog. Photographed her a couple times and she was incredible. I have her as a fairy princess. Oh, my gosh. We had to dress her up. There were certain outfits we were proposing, and the outfits are so great. So she I have her and I've never printed them. But I'm going to. As a baseball player in this fabulous. I mean, it was amazing. And as the fairy princess was beyond incredible. And then I asked her, I don't even remember what it was, but she goes, I won't do that, but I will be a lady of the night. A lady and I ever dressed up. It's unbelievable in like a prostitute outfit. I mean, it's just crazy. So those are amazing. And I've only printed the fairy princess, but the other ones are going to be printed soon. Very soon. But you couldn't do that if you were shooting now or in the nineties. And it just was like these publicists would come and it's like. What are you telling me what to do? I was Dustin Hoffman came to my studio and I turned around and she was a big publicist, his publicist. And I said, "Why are you saying that he can't do that?" And she said she actually said to me, "Now there are maybe three. Maybe a magazine cover, maybe an inside story. And I don't want my client to look weird" or she just didn't get it. So it was like really boring. It's like, I don't need you sitting there telling me what to shoot. I'm not going to do this. It was just so that was after, I think the Schwarzenegger movie. What was the movie? It went over $100 million.

Craig: [00:23:54] Or like Total Recall or Terminator

Bonnie: [00:24:00] Terminator, that movie costs so much money. And that's when the publicists said, we have to be there to choose what is photographed because it's too important. And it was just became dull and yucky. And I shot at the best time and then it became digital. So we had to shoot the picture that they could use. There wasn't retouching, there wasn't any of that. So the picture had to be right and you wouldn't get the film back for a day or so. And it was like because you had to do a test roll with different exposures. So when you got it back, it was like Christmas Day and hopefully there was a shot.

Craig: [00:24:48] Yeah, I remember back in the day shooting conventional film and it was, it was always nerve racking waiting to see what came back from the lab because like you never knew whether you got your f stop or whatever, right? I mean, you just get that.

Bonnie: [00:25:03] That was my assistant. I had an amazing guy that I worked with several, but I still see him now after all these years. And I mean, it's crazy. Yes, we did. You know, we worked for, like, 12 years together and. Pretty wild, but he could just if there was an electric problem, if he would fix it. He made it happen. Technically.

Craig: [00:25:31] So you don't have to name any names. But can you can you give me an example of of a shoot that was just turned into a real struggle?

Bonnie: [00:25:41] Well, that one we were doing, like the greatest lawyers. Anyway, the guy threw us out of his office. I think he went into his we straightened the pile of papers on his desk, and this guy became head of one of the studios, like huge. He threw us out of the office, and I was, like, crying. It's like, you crazy? I mean, so that was really horrible. Oh, yeah. I was photographing John Travolta. That was pretty funny. And we were at his house out in, I don't know, wherever he was living out there was a gorgeous house and. We were in the house and he's smoking a cigar. And I'm shooting and I'm shooting and I'm feeling kind of nauseous. And then we go outside and we're in the driveway and I got lovely pictures of him until I said, Oh, my God. And I threw up. I was like, I think we're done. It was.

Craig: [00:26:48] So was it the cigar smoke or were you just it was at a bet. Was it that lunch was bad or.

Bonnie: [00:26:54] I think I was like just getting sick and we were just I mean, it was kind of funny. He came out with this big bottle of, like, Perrier and whatever he said feel better? I mean, it was really funny, but it was kind of at the end of the shoot, I did get some really nice pictures of him.

Craig: [00:27:12] So, Bonnie, you're releasing NFTs. There is something called the Bonnieverse. Can can you can you kind of explain?

Bonnie: [00:27:23] No. Lisa who I'm working with she's here, and I think she should explain to you.

Craig: [00:27:30] What is Lisa's full name? Lisa Berman. Lisa Berman. Yeah. And so, Lisa, what can you can you can you explain explain what what we're doing with the Bonnieverse.

Lisa: [00:27:44] There were three or four other topics that I thought would be really engaging for your audience, for your listeners that really set up the foundation of the landscape of what made Bonnie's photography so magical. I'm going to touch that really quickly, and then we're going to do Viber. So one of the things that that she forgets and is her relationships were really special with these particular people. She'll talk about George Burns, but also Billy Crystal. He writes in the foreword to her Rolling Stone book of comedy that she took the best pictures. His favorite pictures of all time are taken by Bonnie because he talks about the fact that she captured the real person. He wasn't on stage. You didn't have to be a comedian. She's photographed him on top of a car behind a curtain on a horse. And he really talks about that in the essay in the introduction to her book. And another funny story about this is some of these portraits on some of these comedians. There was this ongoing competition that I don't know whether it was the third or the fourth time that Billy Crystal was at Bonnie's house, which was fantastic studio.

Lisa: [00:29:01] So her favorite portraits were lined up, printed, framed in the hallway, and you could tell if you were her favorite because you had made it to the wall and she tells the story. It was maybe the third or fourth time. And he came in, put his arms across and was harrumphing, and she's like, What's the problem? He's like, What do I got to do? What do I have to do to make it to the ball with Bonnie's wall? What's the problem? She's wrong. Let's take a better picture. Oh, right. Eventually, obviously. All right. So these are these endearing relationships that she created with these people because there was no prefacing. There was no there was no celebrity. There was just two people coming together. And she captured that moment that met with her lens. And then, Bonnie, do you want to tell him? And we'll get to the Bonnie verse in a second. Absolutely. I want to talk about your these are also fantastic, the tapes, because you have to remember when people still had this is still when people had answering machines.

Bonnie: [00:30:13] Yeah. I would have people make answering machine tapes for me.

Craig: [00:30:18] So like the the outgoing message like, "hey, you reached Bonnie"

Bonnie: [00:30:22] Zsa Zsa Gabor or Terri Garr. I have them. Ed McMahon. But I mean, it was just so I recently had those you know, digitized. Digitized. Exactly. We got this stuff.

Lisa: [00:30:42] And I think to roll into the Bonnieverse. So I've known Bonnie for about 22 years through my originally through my gallery Sculpture to Wear in Los Angeles. And then then we just connected in regards to her photography and working her with, with her with a few shows and placing pieces and then National Comedy Center and also. 

Bonnie: [00:31:08] A friend of mine, my daughter's friend who lives in Japan, had one. And he's in the business, too. He does. He's pretty amazing and he wants to be a director. But he said, Bonnie, when he was here visiting, he came over and kind of interviewed me and he said, you should be doing NFTs. I go, "What the hell is an NFT?" So he said it. And then Lisa came over and it was like, Wait a minute. Why should I be doing these things? But they both, you know, and this other guy who is the NFT guy.

Craig: [00:31:49] Right

Bonnie: [00:31:51] Said we should be doing this.

Lisa: [00:31:54] Yes. And and even before that. So, for example, in 2019, we did a show at Photo LA and we weren't really certain how it was going to go because Bonnie hadn't showed in that type of arena in many years. And everyone was looking for the avant garde photography mixed in with the digitalization. And as it turned out the booth next to us, didn't show up. They were from New York. And of course, the host said, "Can you please go get some more photographs?" So we literally had an incredible space. And what happened was, again, we had no indication of how it would be received or work. And we were literally busy from the second that the doors opened until the.

Bonnie: [00:32:39] End of the show.

Lisa: [00:32:40] And all ages of people really loved her work. And we actually were able on a quiet morning, we had a piece, the the George Burns piece was acquired by the Greenburg Collection, and now that's in the Getty's permanent collection. So that was exciting. But even for me, I have a I have a 13, a 14, almost a 14 year old daughter. And what bonds images help connections. They help generations stay connected. So when my daughter is younger, she will look at Robin's pictures and say, "Mrs. Doubtfire", or she would look at Gene Wilder and say "Willy Wonka", because that was her frame of reference. But there's this connectedness that families would see in her work, and people would stop in front of images and tell stories about the first time they saw that particular actor or how their family felt about it. It's like looking at these fantastic photo, these family photo albums, some of them, because they're such.

Bonnie: [00:33:42] People, were incredible. I mean, they still are. I mean, it's, you know, Julia Child.

Speaker1: [00:33:48] I think it says something about like our American culture that, you know, especially the 70s and 80s, I felt like, you know, we became a latchkey kid society, folks my age, we would be plopped down in front of the television every day, you know, just absorbing these people who wound up being like our family. Right. You know, the people of television in the movies, I mean. Well, it's part of what made Hollywood. Hollywood, right? I mean, Americans have a fascination with their celebrities and particularly actors, actresses. Your portrait, the portrait of Michael Jackson that I saw. I mean, that's I don't think I've seen another portrait of Michael Jackson, where he looks quite as at peace and relaxed as he does in that shoot.

Bonnie: [00:34:40] And it was an insane day. And there were like four rolls of film. They wanted us to not even do it. It was. It was crazy, but. The pictures are really, you know, and they didn't even buy them. They buy everything. But for some reason there were just a few rolls of film. So I walked out one day and it was on. There was a red striped t shirt and a blue striped t shirt that my friend brought. And it was on like five magazine covers. It was so crazy. I said, We have to do this shoot, it's a cover. We've got to do it. So they said, okay, you have like 15 minutes or whatever.

Lisa: [00:35:25] But it was a contentious day and the fact that was the day.

Bonnie: [00:35:28] They were firing his manager. But it was just a crazy thing. That was one crazy day, right?

Craig: [00:35:36] Well, I think the theme here is there's never been a dull moment, right?

Bonnie: [00:35:41] No. Then, you know, I'm so lucky to have gotten to do this as a job. I mean, it's crazy. And when I left A&M and my friend Laurie was still working there the next week, she hired me to go do a shoot on the beach. There was a group called Pablo Cruz on A&M, so I went to the beach. We were there for maybe 2 hours. The next day we delivered the film and it was like, I think I made $300. Well, that's what I made all week. So it was like $300 for a shoot on the beach and the film in stay for 10 minutes or work somewhere all week. And that was like, what do you do? I mean, please.

Craig: [00:36:31] When I was looking at your site and I was looking at the Nft's that are available on Opensea, I saw the pictures from "Raising Arizona", which was like one of my top two or three favorite movies ever. Right. And, you know, it was really amazing to see that you were obviously on set shooting them in costume, in character, which is just like for someone who loves the Coen brothers and loves that movie and those characters, it's just a that's a real treasure.

Bonnie: [00:37:04] This movie is great. The Nic Cage film, right?

Craig: [00:37:08] Nic Cage. Nicolas Cage. Is Nic Cage in? In Nic Cage. Right.

Bonnie: [00:37:14] Well, that was a fantastically fun. Oh, my God. And Holly Hunter, they were just fabulous.

Lisa: [00:37:20] And I think that rolls into your question about I'm going to jump into NFTs. And I've had the honor and privilege to know Bonnie for this many years, but and have had looked through some negatives and prints no one's ever seen. They've never been published. But it wasn't until she moved from one house to this new location that she started to really delve into her archives. 

Bonnie: [00:37:48] And thanks to Lisa we delved.

Craig: [00:37:49] Thanks, Lisa.

Lisa: [00:37:50] I dove, literally sometimes she'll be in another room and the house and I'll scream and she's like, Are you okay? Like, how do you have this material? It's insane. Like, how do you have that person in that Polaroid doing that thing? No one has this. And she would come over and say, "Oh, yeah, I did that 30 years ago." It's just incredible, the vast amount of material that no one's ever seen and it's really exciting. It's really cool stuff. So I think that connectedness with the fact that you feel like you're looking at photo albums because you know these iconic people and you you connect with these movies. But then with these NFTs, we have these Polaroids that no one's ever seen before. I think Bonnie probably forgot about them anyway. We also have these unlockable with some of these voiceovers from these tapes.

Craig: [00:38:44] Oh, wow.

Lisa: [00:38:45] It's crazy. And then also just to try to figure out who's the audience, because it's really hard. We all love all of them. I mean, like she was saying, going from architects, actually, artists. I mean, there's a party of Andy Warhol's party after one of his exhibitions on the West Coast. And you look at every who's who of art collector and dealer in that particular just that one party. And we have not dropped that yet, by the way. Right. The list just goes on and on. It is incredible. So I was lucky enough to meet Jay Huddy and Brandon Martin of Replayer probably two years ago. And they are just remarkable. They're remarkable visionaries, marketers. And we finally said after two years, this is a great way for us to collaborate. And they and I think it was Jay and Brandon came up with this idea after looking at all this material and the enthusiasm, they just said, it's the body verse because you have to have this marketing. And it is really that it's fun. It's a fun, iconic image and it shows only, I think, 1% of 1% of everyone that she is photographed. So it's fun. It's an interesting idea. Uphill battle with photographers, essentially with the nfts. But we're doing some really fun and interesting, out-of-the-box marketing with it. And they come up with pushing the envelope of new ways to introduce work and. You gain access to new collectors with really educating the millennial, not the millennials, but educating the boomers and the Gen Zs about what is an NFT. What do you do with it? I hear they hear about it every day. It's not making anyone sick. Some people make a few money from it and it has to do with art. And it just so happens this particular NFT collection are images they love anyway. So it's all about education. So it's an exciting journey and the fact is it's really a fun. We have a great team. We go from our thirties to our seventies, so we're kind of an oddball team and it's fun. It's fun to have this much fun with this group of people.

Craig: [00:41:05] There are NFTs out there available now on Opensea. Is that is that so? You're probably not going to drop 6000 nfts all at the same time, right? I mean.

Lisa: [00:41:17] It's no, no, no. The other thing is the other really rare element that she has is she has proof sheets, she's got negative, she's got these Polaroids. No one has these because most people are just creating original artwork. And by the way, what's a note to note is that all of her nfts are one of one. There are no editions where a lot of people have editions with their nfts. So one Robin Williams Polaroid, that's it. One Robin Williams particular image. That's it. Roy Rogers, someone just acquired. And so people, the boomers, they want to have a piece on their wall, a print on the wall, and then also an NFT. Right? It's kind of like bragging rights. They have both. And as much as they're beginning to understand it, yes, we will have different themes anywhere from stars in their cars. And that actually came from a Bonnie photoshoot with Vanity Fair, probably was in the 80s or early 90s. That was a feature article for Vanity Fair.

Bonnie: [00:42:23] Also, people with their cards. I mean, it's like.

Lisa: [00:42:26] But they're really great.

Bonnie: [00:42:28] Yeah, there's.

Craig: [00:42:29] Yeah. And I hear what you're saying about the baby boomers and, you know, the, the sponsor of the podcast is Canvia. And the digital displays that Canvia sells really makes NFTs more practical and able to get their hands around. Exactly. Oh, well, I get it. I can put it on my wall, I can see it, and then I can actually rotate from one image to the other all in one frame. Right?

Lisa: [00:42:59] It is. And what you just said, that's a key connector. So you've got the visual of the NFT frame and or the actual photograph and then of course, the NFT collection that can also just sit on your phone. But having that having that tangible I know we're talking about non tangible and non tangible tokens, but it really is tangible to Gen Z and Boomers who are looking at it on their phone. That's that connection. So yes, we're definitely having a lot of fun with it and there are so much material to go through. It's it's really that's the most challenging is figuring out which ones do we mint, what do we dop? So and that's that's a great problem to have, right? You know.

Craig: [00:43:44] I'm so jealous of you, Lisa, getting to just kind of comb through those archives because, I mean, it sounds like, Bonnie, the interactions became so every day to her that maybe she doesn't understand the cultural significance of maybe some of the things in there. What an amazing experience it would be to to uncover those those treasures in there.

Bonnie: [00:44:09] Yeah. I never really pushed my work, you know, or looked at it like, wow, this stuff's really good. But I got involved with this project called The Museum Project, and a friend of mine was in it, and Robert von Sternberg, who taught photography for 25 years. And when he left, he started this project. He wanted mostly fine art, but he said, You are totally welcome. This is not your job. These are you know, they're amazing. Part of history anyway. So he. Was going to do it for a couple of years, and he wound up doing it for several more years. And he's gotten stuff into like 250 museums all over the place, all over the world. And so I have a lot of pictures. Guy came in really late. I was the last person to come in. But these places just loved. The pictures. So it's like in 50 museums. It's pretty cool. That's great. That was a great project. Yeah. And. I realize that. Well, these are terrific images and they should be out in the world. That's where I want to just get them out there and sell them and whatever else.

Craig: [00:45:35] Well, you've got a legacy. So, Bonnie, if folks wanted to keep track of the Bonnieverse and your photography and where where's the best place? Is it the website? Is it Instagram? Is it OpenSea? Where are we pointing people to these days, Lisa?

Lisa: [00:45:54] So, yes, it's all of the above. It's Then you've got on Instagram, Twitter

Bonnie: [00:46:02] And you can go to

Lisa: [00:46:05] Which is the traditional website.

Bonnie: [00:46:07] Which takes you. So you can see a lot of stuff. Not everything is on there. It hasn't been redone in a while. But that takes you to the Bonnieverse as well.

Lisa: [00:46:18] And what's really important when you visit the Bonnie verse, you will see a lot of added feature benefits that we've added, like the NFTs EDU. It literally will take you step by step about what is an NFT, what is a Coinbase wallet? How do you set this up? We have also created something that's really unique to this. We've taken it a step further and we actually created the white glove experience. So it's white glove service. And that was another one of Brandon Martin's fantastic ideas where we literally will hand we'll take any of those details, extract them from a client and just walk through this. And it is the ultimate white glove service, which is just included in what we do. It's not anything that we charge extra for. And the other thing is you can also track the Bonnie verse and some of the other things that she's going to be doing. The National Comedy Center has been a good place for her images to be seen. There's a series of her stacked images when you exit the train station. And so those are fun. And they just contacted her for a special project with Carl Reiner. And then I'm sure and then on Netflix, May 18th, you'll see the Netflix special and it's "All About The Hall", which is the new comedy stand up comedy Hall of Fame that they're building. And I don't want to tell you who's being inducted, but when you watch the special on May 18th, 50% of the inductees are images from Bonnie. Yeah. Yeah, we're excited now for leadership.

Bonnie: [00:47:59] Yeah, right.

Craig: [00:48:01] Right, right. Yeah.

Bonnie: [00:48:04] So it's fun in this crazy day and age, I mean to be doing this.

Lisa: [00:48:11] And the other thing is, if people have particular images that we haven't even thought of, we make it a request and we can mint that or things like that. So it's we are really taking this to the level of white glove service and we're also having fun with it. I mean, it's a great image if you look on there, people are just these comedians, these stars, these characters, their characters are having a lot of fun with it. That's really what we want people to not be afraid of an NFT that we want to really for them to have fun with the whole process. That's what it's about.

Craig: [00:48:48] Well, Bonnie, Lisa, I really appreciate you guys taking time out of your day to talk to me and tell me your amazing stories. And I feel like you probably have five, six, seven more hours of amazing stories. And, you know, we have visual proof of all of that. Right. And, you know, your work kind of speaks for itself. And I encourage people to to go check out your work at and Bonnieverse NFTS So thank you guys for for being available.

Bonnie: [00:49:25] Absolutely. It was fun.

Lisa: [00:49:27] Thank you for letting me be a stage mom.

Craig: [00:49:38] That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to Art Sense. You can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rate the show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. And if you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read the transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to and click on the podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me. You can email me at Thanks for listening.

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