Marilyn Minter’s Mother Doing Nothing Out of the Ordinary



Coral Ridge Towers (1969)


“I was about twenty and in art school at the time—a junior photography student. I went home for the weekend, and I just photographed my mother not really thinking anything was out of the ordinary. Not for a second did I think the pictures were startling. But when I showed the other students my proof sheet, their reaction was extreme: “That’s your mother? Oh, my god!” Waves of shame came over me. I kept wondering: what do you see that I don’t see? My mother was definitely not June Cleaver but nobody’s was. June Cleaver was a figment of somebody’s imagination. My mother was a drug addict. She never really left the house and almost always wore a night gown. Once in a while, she’d lunch with friends at the club, but she rarely went out more than once or twice a week. I have high school friends who told me, years later, that they never saw my mother in anything but a night gown.

She wore night gowns and robes all day long. She watched TV in bed, did her exercises, put makeup on, dyed her eye brows—all in bed. She was a beautiful woman at one time. She was very concerned about her looks, but she was a little off. She used to break off her hair unconsciously. They have a name for it now; it’s a nervous, OCD kind of reaction. That’s why she had to wear wigs. She had acrylic nails, but she never took care of them and funguses would grow underneath. She was never quite right in terms of glamour. I always mention this because people presume that she was this Joan Crawford kind of swanning beauty, like the images that we see in the movies of people who really did have hair and makeup people around them all the time”

– Maryilyn Minter



(All rights reserved. Text @ Parkett Magazine, images @ Marilyn Minter.)

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