Musto Does Madonna!

A Voice photographer shares her memories and a Michael Musto contact sheet from 1992 – when ‘Sex’ saved the day


This was definitely one of the most fun photo shoots I ever did. Madonna’s Sex book had just come out, in October 1992, and Michael immediately wanted to spoof it for his column.  I was all in.  After giving it a lot of thought, I realized that the best way to pull it off was to utilize my own loft location in Jersey City. (Back then, Jersey City was still off the radar to most people, and was much more deserted than anyplace in Manhattan or Brooklyn. It was still filled with a lot of empty warehouse buildings, etc. ) I had an assistant (photographer Andre Lambertson, who was the Voice photo intern at the time) to help me with the logistics, like quickly pulling off my long black trench coat that I loaned to Michael in between rolls of film, and helping him run into my buildings’ hallway if too many people were around!

It was definitely tricky; it was the end of October, cold, and the middle of the day. As always, Michael was an amazing model, and fearlessly just went right into it. It was hilarious, and I loved shooting every second of it! I knew exactly the spot I wanted him in — we would just drop the coat and shoot crazy fast and then run back into the hall again between rolls of film.

And then the police pulled up!

I grabbed my copy of the book and ran over to the police car and sweet-talked my way into letting them allow us to continue, after I explained what we were doing. The book came out to a lot of speculation and was sold under wraps because of her nudity, becoming instantly collectible and hard to get hold of. The officer I spoke to said something like, “Ummm … okay … let me see that book!”

After getting a good look, he handed it back and said, “Well, ok! But be quick about it!” And they drove off.

What a blast! We ended up using one of the photos as a poster that the Voice sold as a way to raise money for AIDS research, as well as running one in Michael’s column. It’s absolutely one of my favorite Village Voice memories.  ❖

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