New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 44 November 13 to 19, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Marilyn Wannabee
Amy Touchette
Shoot the Arrow: A Portrait of the World Famous *BOB*
Ed Barnas

Photo by Amy Touchette . Source: clampart.com Amy Touchette, "Backstage, Times Square"

Ideas for photographic projects arise in various ways. Arriving late at a crowded burlesque show, Amy Touchette was forced to stand in the wings of the stage. The vantage point proved fortuitous as she was able to observe the faces of the performers – both when they faced the audience and when they around to the back of the stage. One performer stood out–– the World Famous *BOB*. Born female, *BOB* embraces a hyper feminine persona in performance. She was attracted to the glamour of drag queens at an early age and considers herself “F2F” – a female to female impersonator.

Photo by Amy Touchette . Source: clampart.com Amy Touchette, "Backstage at Galapagos Art Space, Williamsburg"

Drawn to both her over-the-top persona and her otherness, Touchette got to know *BOB* and gain access to both her public and private life. At first spending a few hours with her, and later intense 24-hour stretches, Tourette undertook a long term portrait project that spanned 2002 through 2006. A classic Black and white film exercise, the project achieves a level of intimacy only possible by such immersion.

Photo by Amy Touchette . Source: clampart.com Amy Touchette, "Circus Sideshow Dressing Room, Coney Island"

Available light is the predominant mode; flash is used sparingly. The light is generally low, the film often pushed, giving the work a classic 1950’s reportage look, and reminding me more of Eugene Smith than Robert Frank. The on-stage highlights glare out of the surrounding darkness. Offstage, exhaustion seeps through a headshot of *BOB*, her eyes closed, leaning against a wall between sets. And in stark contrast to the crowded camaraderie at the Coney Island Sideshow dressing room, *BOB* stands naked and alone in the cavernous dressing area backstage at the gritty Galapagos’ former space in Williamsburg.

Photo by Amy Touchette . Source: clampart.com Amy Touchette, "Winter Morning"

Touchette catches her at all hours and moods, creating a very comprehensive and intimate portrait of the World Famous *BOB*: whether she is sharing an embrace with a friend after a show, or taking a cab home after a long night of multiple gig, or waking exhausted on a winter morning.

Amy Touchette
Shoot the Arrow: A Portrait of the World Famous *BOB*


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