January 29, 2012

Los Angeles. January, 1992

This is my long-lost pal, Artie Gaffin. I met him in Boston through my friend Dali and we clicked immediately. Soon after, he left his native Manhattan and moved to Los Angeles to work with various theater groups. In fact this photo was taken on the morning after I’d endured a one-man performance by Stacy Keach in Solitary Confinement at the Pasadena Playhouse, which Artie was stage managing. (Much more dramatic and exciting than the play, however, was the all-night adventure that began with our post-theater dinner being interrupted by a waiter who said Artie’s partner Danny had been rushed to the hospital with a severe back injury. This is in the days before cellphones, and all the information we had was part of the name of the hospital. Thus began a multi-stop drive around LA until we found him and arranged for his painless return home.) The last time I saw Artie was when his production of M. Butterfly passed through Boston and we got together. Years after that, while watching the Tony Awards, I was happily stunned to hear Nathan Lane accept his prize for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and acknowledge “Stage Manager Arthur Gaffin.” We had a lot of laughs, a lot of fun.


  1. I keep coming back to look at this photo. What a lovely study in light and shadow, hard and soft textures, horizontal and vertical lines. All of it in contrast to a sweetly smiling man of indeterminate age in a denim shirt. The composition reminded me of some artist's work. I thought of Caravaggio. But then, today, I suddenly realized who the artist was -- Derek Jarmon, whose birthday was January 31st, 1942 -- exactly 70 years ago today. He was a master at creating light and color from inky blackness. At the end of his life, nearly blind from AIDS-related illnesses, he continued to make films. He even designed a stunning concert tour by the Pet Shop Boys, creating a multi-media extravaganza which set new standards. He took the PSB hit "Domino Dancing" and turned it into an AIDS anthem about beautiful men (matadors) being killed by a black beast (AIDS) -- a masque of death. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzeiaSSzZaU Thank you, Sandy, for reminding me of Derek Jarmon and for introducing me to Artie Gaffin (still going strong on Broadway). I especially like the droopy candle in the photo -- very Jarmonesque!

  2. Oops ... Derek Jarman, not Jarmon! Artie Gaffin just finished up a revival of "Follies" at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway.

  3. Sandy Leonard--It's Artie Gaffin here!
    Would love to reconnect. Email is Rchala@aol.com