THAT’S A CRAZY ONE by Mel Stones
April 28-May 27, 2018
Opening Reception meet & greet, Saturday, 4/28 7-9pm
The Chaotic Real Lives of the kids behind Larry Clark’s “KIDS”.
Already featured by VICE magazine Thatʼs A Crazy One is an inside look at the youth culture that dominated downtown NYC in the early 1990’s. That same culture that helped spark the multi-million dollar industries of skateboarding and streetwear that exist now. The subjects were the inspiration for Larry Clark’s cult classic film KIDS. In stark contrast to the storyline told in the film, it is the true capture of what life was like for the cast of KIDS prior to the film being made and released.
Photographed by Mel Stones & High throughout 1991-1995, the two teenage girls used NYC public school darkrooms to develop and print these images. Shot by insiders, Thatʼs A Crazy One is a rare archival portrait of early NYC street skating and the intimate relationships that existed between this crew of kids. Shot in low light on 35mm film pushed to the max, the images are grainy and gritty and bring you back to Pre-Giuliani New York rawness.
Mel Stones & High both grew up in NYC in a time of upheaval, when crime rates were high and the streets were legit. Commuting to and from their public schools on graffiti covered trains, being robbed at gunpoint and having to pass through metal detectors in order to get into their school was the norm. They met in freshman year of high school, along with the crew of kids that would eventually become their closest friends and protectors. They were a group of poor, punk rock skater kids from every borough, outsiders by every definition. Most dealing with issued home lives it pushed them to become more than friends – it created a family. This crew and their way of life started to garner the attention of the photographer Larry Clark who began following their group and documenting their movements throughout NYC in 1993. This eventually led to his film KIDS, and a cultural phenomenon that continues to question boundaries of adolescence.
Thatʼs a Crazy One features images that run a wide gamut, from kids sleeping on the train, skateboarding through the streets, smoking weed and drinking 40’s, to the abandoned buildings and roof that were their playgrounds. However it is the dedication of the book that sets the tone for the images that follow. Once read, you realize that many of the kids on these pages are no longer among the living. Often mistaken as a documentary film, KIDS left an aftershock amongst this group of teenagers long after the limelight faded, with no solid foundation many met tragic ends. These lives so superficially portrayed on screen were genuinely struggling and that struggle materialized in the deaths of many of the “famous kids.” Of the deaths mourned on these pages – three are from the cast of KIDS; Justin Pierce who played Casper, Harold Hunter who played Harold and Sajan Bhagat who played Steven have all since passed on. The images in Thatʼs a Crazy One evoke the painful truth of how one can feel alone and together at the same time.
Too painful to face their losses, these images have remained archived for over 20 years. Thatʼs A Crazy One takes you through their cathartic journey to set the record straight. All profits from sale of book will be donated to NYC Public Schools Photography Program in memorial to their departed. Pay it forward.
About Mel Stones –
Born and raised in Brooklyn, I photographed this collection while still in high school. My circle of friends were skaters and punks, a few who inspired and acted in Larry Clark’s film KIDS. The negatives sat in my archive for over 20 years, until my co-author Highlyann and I put together this book as a photographic memoir of our teens. It is dedicated to the friends we have lost along the way and all profits from sales are being donated to my old public high school photography program. I moved to Hawaii 13 years ago with my son and now live in Kailua with my husband and three daughters.