I can just hear Helen Mirren now,
"I hyahby declare this National Rhinoceros Week",
smash goes the champagne on the side of a large rhino
who blinks twice and runs the other way.
used to be people would ask, "are you really in the picture with the rhino?"
it always seemed an obvious airbrushing to me.
but I love the idea of really being there.
I love everything about the rhinoceros,
dinosaur beast from another planet.
this is one of my favorite photographs, (before they put me in it).
the original picture was shot in africa by a well-known japanese
wildlife photographer mr. tanaka.
the majestic mountian backdrop, the field of flowers,
the perfectly perched oxpecker. wow.
the shot of me airbrushed in was done in a studio in tokyo
by mr. sukita, the well-known japanese fashion photographer
who shot the portrait of david bowie for the heroes cover.
japan in the early 1980's was such fabulous culture shock. it still is, but back then you didn't even have the dubious comfort of a golden arches. it was really a foreign place. and I loved it. my first year 1979 was with david bowie. we played a huge venue. nearly all the big venues are rigged with their own tv cameras for broadcasting/taping. I was told later our bowie show was seen by one third of the population of japan. next year (seemed like the next week) I went back to tokyo with talking heads who were at their hottest. the following year 1981 it was with the newly formed king crimson and later that same year with japan's own ryuichi sakamoto. on the flight over to japan I opened a magazine to find a full spread about ryuichi's band yellow magic orchestra which said they were bigger than the beatles in japan and could not walk down the streets. I had no idea. king crimson (who had never been to japan) became an over-night sensation there that year as well. we've been back many times. like the turtle said when molested by the snail, "I don't know, it all happened so fast".
I liked mr. sukita very much.
he looked like a japanese male laurie anderson.
dark suit, spiky cropped hair, severe shoes
with the toothy grin of a 1953 DeSoto.
in one of those vast tokyo lobbys
with the customary round of little coffees
mr. sukita sat surrounded by a bevy of nervy young assistants,
the ever-polite interpreter was at his side.
when I explained the concept of me with my guitar
standing in a field next to a rhinoceros,
he made wild comical motions with his hands.
"mr. sukita would like to know,
are you shooting the guitar at the rhino?"
the interpreter asked.
"oh no no," I said, "I love the rhino".
out came that big grin, everybody laughed,
"good!" said mr. sukita.