EYE CANDY

Tom Bianchi’s Rarely Seen Gay Liberation-Era Polaroids Couldn’t Be More Liberating

Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

The photographs that Tom Bianchi took between 1975 and 1983 on Fire Island—then a haven for nearly 10,000 gay men, faraway from the reality of repression and AIDS—have become the stuff of gay folklore. But another series of Bianchi’s photos from that era have taken more of a backseat in the culture. But now, just in time for Pride Month, a new exhibition at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest gallery in New York shows that Bianchi’s life was no less worth documenting in the off-season than it was in the Pines—thanks in large part to the “erotic night games” he was fond of hosting at his apartment in New York’s East Village, on 9th Street. But there’s something deeper to those sexual encounters, and the way that Bianchi photographed them; each Polaroid has freedom and exploration as its subtext. It’s likely what Bianchi felt upon moving to liberation-era New York, the year that he began the series.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (020), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (087), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (412), 2019. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (310), 2019. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (002), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (212), 2019. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (081), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (317), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (176), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (272), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (196), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (219), 1975-1983. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.

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Tom Bianchi, courtesy of New Discretions

Tom Bianchi, Untitled (061), 2019. Featured in the exhibition “63 E 9th Street: 1975-1983 NYC Polaroids and Tablets,” on view at Johannes Vogt’s Next Door Guest in New York City through July 5, 2019.