The Last Waltz by Cecille S.
Me taking a photo of #BillCunningham taking a photo of me leaving the memorial service for Eileen Ford on 5th Ave. I first met Bill when he came over to introduce himself after a #BetsyJohnson show I had participated in.Betsy was mad for #RoxyMusic, ‘Love is the Drug,’ and had the song blasting nonstop throughout the show. I was an adventurous teenager and had recently moved from #Jamaica and was open to all things new and lovely. My eccentric and creative #genius #photographer friend #ArielSkelly had introduced Betsy to me who used me in most of her shoots and ads. Betsy took me on the #MervGriffen show with her and had me by her side while Merv interviewed and asked her and myself questions. I was toasted but happy and I opened the show on roller skates even though I didn’t know how to skate. I drank copious amount of champagne to add ‘courage’ once I realized we would be on wheels. God Bless Betsy, for having total confidence in me not crashing into the audience. She was a cool motherf-ker! They don’t make them like her anymore!
Bill gave me walking tips and other ‘advice’- he truly had a gentle heart and was insightful, visionary, unpretentious and kind. He continued photographing me over decades, most often on 57 Street. I never thought anything of him taking photos of me. And never tracked the photos. I wasn’t interested in the finished projects. It was just a part of the adventure of my life in New York City. The (always) unexpected interaction with him which was innocent and sort of a life-affirming validation that we were connected in a pure way. There was a child-like innocence to Bill and I believed he saw the same in me. We just loved. And we loved effortless beauty, genuine style, and sweet characters. I don’t know if he was working for the New York Times then and I didn’t care. I used to wear the most beautiful fitted cocktail dresses during the daytime with bubble gum pink, blue, gold, turquoise stilettos. I had received a collection of beautifully made dresses from a friend’s grandmother who had duplicate outfits made in different colours, bright bubble gum pink, navy blue and cream dresses, all with cropped jackets, which I mixed and matched with funky and beautiful accessories. Sometimes I wore modified suede brown cowboy boots I had found in #Florence with long black lace skirts and a fitted knitted bolero jacket. #TinaChow had also given me the most amazing riding boots made out of leather which felt like butter. I threw then away when the leather ripped, but in retrospect, I should have had those masterpiece boots repaired. They were magnificent and I had no idea who made them. Labels weren’t important, just beauty. I always had on something Bill found enticing. Mostly I think it was my genuine delight he enjoyed…him ‘popping’ up out of nowhere which brought a massive smile as brilliant as the sun to my face. That attraction continued until he took the last picture of me walking down 5th Ave (below) He snapped me in many different positions then, maybe he knew this would be the last encounter. But this time, I too, took a photo of him in the process of doing the thing which gave him the most pleasure. The Last Walz. The circle was completed. Bill you will/are truly missed. I am saddened to acknowledge that a pure genuine loving character will never walk among us anymore. He was One! The only one! A special, loving-human sweetheart.