summer lower east side

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Madonna photographed in Alphabet City by Richard Corman, 1982.

Richard Corman had just finished an apprenticeship with Richard Avedon in 1982 and was referred to Madonna by his mother who was casting Martin Scorsece’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”.  At the time, Madonna was an aspiring dancer, actress, and singer. She had auditioned for the movie and Richard’s mother saw something special in the unknown Madonna that her son could capture on film with some modeling and audition shots. On their first outing in 1982, Madonna walked Richard Corman around her neighborhood, using anything she came across as a casual backdrop for an afternoon of shooting. “I followed her around the Lower East Side,” says Richard. “She was so comfortable — it was as if she was in her own backyard.” 

Iconic photographer Richard Corman remembers the first time he met Madonna. He told Rolling Stone magazine:

“[It was] in the summer of 1982 at her apartment on the Lower East Side. Prior to entering the building, I had to call her from a phone booth from across the street as she let me know, under no uncertain terms, that I was not to enter the building without her alerting all of the tenants due to a lot of illegal activity going on, on the stoop and on the ground floor – which she had no part in… There was a group of kids outside the building, on the stoop, in the hallways, and when I said I was there for Madonna the seas parted. I looked up the staircase, and I saw this girl leaning over the edge of the banister, and even from three stories below I could see these catlike eyes just looking down. I knew at that moment that she had something special — I really did.”

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July 12, 1992: Summer fun in the pool of Hamilton Fish Park on the Lower East Side, which had recently reopened. “Surely stories like this happen only on sappy television dramas: an abandoned park, long lorded over by drug pushers, is transformed into a scene of mothers and children, of trees, open space and sun sparkling on blue water,” wrote The Times. “It is not an elixir for every urban ill,” the story, an architecture review, went on. “But it’s a powerful tonic against despair.” Photo: Ángel Franco/The New York Time"