I wasn’t expecting much from Shannah Laumeister‘s Bert Stern: Original MadMan. Everybody knows Stern as the sharpie who took those legendary semi-nude snaps of Marilyn Monroe (i,e. “The Last Sitting“) a few weeks before she died, but I didn’t know anything about Stern, the man. (Or madman.) But I wanted to.
Laumeister’s film started off like a typical blowjob profile so right away I was antsy. It showed Stern attending a Manhattan art-gallery exhibition of his work and being glad-handed by the swells and the hangers-on. And then a series of reputable authorities began telling Shannah what a visionary fellow Stern is/was/will always be. Blah blah blah.
But then it shifted gears and Stern started telling the story of his life, and before I knew it I was hooked. I began to feel relaxed with the guy and those big sad eyes and that quiet, low-key, matter-of-fact way of speaking. And then I began to learn about what he’s done and I realized soon enough that Stern really was one of the biggest portrait photography and zeitgeist-capturing ad visionaries of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. And perhaps one of the great nookie kings of that era. Jesus God, a kid in a candy store!