Bettie Visits CBGB
Marc H Miller & Bettie Ringma
Our first photograph of Bettie with the movers and shakers at CBGB was taken during our very first visit to the club in late 1976. Standing alone by the bar was one of Bettie's favorite performers, the poet-rocker Patti Smith. At home at CBGB and a wee bit tipsy, Patti was more than happy to oblige our request for a picture with Bettie. Soon we were CBGB regulars, checking out the different bands and slowly adding to our collection of pictures.
Although the buzz about CBGB was growing, the place was still a neighborhood bar where future rock legends were just as likely to be hanging out and drinking by the pinball machine as performing on stage. In addition to the musicians, there were music writers, fashion designers, commercial photographers, as well as a small group of artists like us who were part of the Soho and Tribeca art scene.
As our "Paparazzi Self-Portraits" morphed into "Bettie Visits CBGB," we saw our photographs as a reflection of the new aesthetic emerging at CBGB, a contradictory mix of high and low culture energized by fun and humor, the lure of fame and fortune, and a cynical appreciation of the power of a good hype.