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Between The Lines

The stories behind this issue’s stories.

Rapper’s delight

“I might want to just mess with a cream joint, you know what I’m saying?”

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It’s the first time I’ve ever been in on the sartorial decision making of a CEO, and it’s seriously fun. Russell Simmons, CEO of Rush Communications, is trying to decide what to wear to the MTV Video Music Awards, and his intern, Lord Nez, has laid out his pink Phat Farm suit on the desk for inspection (“Rush Hour,” page 68). The only question is whether a pink New York Yankees cap or a cream-colored hat would go better with the cream-colored sneakers and shirt. The group’s at an impasse, so Simmons encourages Lord Nez to break out a few beats for me. “He always puts me on the spot,” Lord Nez complains, laughing. “Hold on, I’m trying to think . . .” Here’s part of his rap.

“I had to play it alone, now I got my own secretary. People try to come up short, like the whole month of February. Russell told me to establish a buzz, so I took on that challenge like sneaking a gat in the club. I’m so disrespectful, I treat you like an unpaid phone bill and I disconnect you.”

Just another day at the office. (And yes, Simmons went with the cream joint.) Jennifer Reingold

Through a Lens, Smartly

When you’re photographing someone famous, the shoot becomes a race against time. I’ve photographed three presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. I didn’t get more than 20 minutes with any of them. The more high-powered the person, the more they want to get out of the studio and do their thing.

Russell Simmons was no exception. We were told we’d have two hours with him. We got about 15 minutes. I thought he’d arrive with a big entourage, but he walked in with just his stylist and his brother, Reverend Run from Run-DMC. That was a huge bonus. The last shot I took was of Russell and his brother.

My job is to make friends with people very, very quickly. Photographing someone like Russell Simmons or Donald Trump (whom I did the other day), these guys are really serious. I have to raise my game to their level, and that can be pretty terrifying. You feel as though you’re fighting for your life. There’s this thing with these big shots: When they say, “I’ve got to leave,” what they really mean is, “You should be good enough to have it by now–and if you don’t have it, you don’t belong here.” In a very short period of time, I have to get to a place where the viewer can look at the photograph and say, “That’s what it must be like to meet Russell Simmons.” Platon

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The Party Must Go On

The afternoon when New York became unplugged, I was interviewing customers in the lower level of Dylan’s Candy Bar (“Mom, Look! Cool!” page 47), the fashionable sweets boutique on the Upper East Side. A mother from northern Virginia was explaining why she couldn’t be interviewed despite her obvious affinity for the store (“They have Pop Rocks? Oh, I love Pop Rocks!”). She had to remain anonymous, she explained in a hush-hush voice, because she works for the CIA.

The next moment, the store went dark. Coincidence? I’m not so sure.

Meanwhile, in Dylan’s rainbow-colored party room, a 3-year-old’s birthday party was in serious jeopardy. As customers filed out of the store, the irate birthday mother demanded that the Dylan staff do something, anything. “I paid for the room!” she insisted. The staff calmly moved the party to an adjacent patio. With the store’s ice cream about to melt, Dylan’s staff gave it away–one of the day’s few sweet moments. Chuck Salter