Unseen Photos of New York’s 90s Drag and Trans Icons

Photographer Remsen Wolff’s forgotten archive is finally being shown to the public.

Remsen Newbold Wolff (New York, April 6th 1940 – New York, August 18th 1998)

Wolff never had any formal training as a photographer. The artistic approach is intuitive and thoroughly personal. Wolff experimented and struggled with sexual and gender identity and moved in a community of transgender people, crossdressers and drag kings and queens, whom Wolff photographed extensively from 1990 on. That was the year the project Special Girls – A Celebration started, which would ultimately comprise over 100,000 images.

Special Girls is a large body of work with over 125 models from New York and Amsterdam.  He considered himself to be a “phony” or “faux transsexual” and in the last years of his life went by the name of Vivienne (Viv) Blum. These last years (s)he was troubled by depressions. Lack of enthusiasm for his/her work by the world, not feeling excepted and suffering from agoraphobia were grounds for that but the diagnosis of stomach, liver and pancreatic cancer gave a physical explanation for the tormented mind.

AMANDA LEPORE (2), NEW YORK, 7 FEBRUARY 1995 © THE REMSEN WOLFF COLLECTION, OWNED BY JOCHEM BROUWER

CONSTANCE, NEW YORK, 6 JUNE 1992 © THE REMSEN WOLFF COLLECTION, OWNED BY JOCHEM BROUWER

CLARE SCANDELLE, NEW YORK, 8 AUGUST 1994 © THE REMSEN WOLFF COLLECTION, OWNED BY JOCHEM BROUWER

CHRISTIAN WOMYN II, NEW YORK, 10 APRIL 1994 © THE REMSEN WOLFF COLLECTION, OWNED BY JOCHEM BROUWER

MISSTRESS FORMIKA, NEW YORK, 16 MARCH 1992 © THE REMSEN WOLFF COLLECTION, OWNED BY JOCHEM BROUWER

JAMES, NEW YORK, 15 JUNE 1991 © THE REMSEN WOLFF COLLECTION, OWNED BY JOCHEM BROUWER

SMART. QUEER SMART.

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