Life & Culture

Photos of Burroughs, Basquiat and Blondie Hanging Out

A new book, Burroughs Reloaded, brings together a collection of unpublished photos of the cultural iconoclasts by Victor Bockris

The word ‘icon’ is used far too liberally nowadays, but it’s a fair description when it comes to William S. Burroughs. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a postmodernist author, the American writer had an almost incalculable influence on both pop culture and literature. Now, he’s the subject of a new book titled Burroughs Reloaded, which was created in collaboration between photographer and writer Victor Bockris and designer Jason Evans, and published by P.A.M. Books. A friend of Burroughs, Bockris worked for Warhol at the Factory and published many pieces in his magazine, Interview, as well as books on figures including Burroughs, Warhol and Lou Reed, among others. This book brings together a collection of unpublished photos of Burroughs and Warhol, along with other members of the downtown art scene such as Jean Michel Basquiat, Allen Ginsberg, Keith Haring. Here, alongside an exclusive preview of this publication, Bockris recounts his memories of the legendary writer.

“My strongest memory of Burroughs is him telling me how a reporter from Life magazine had begun an interview by saying, “Have an Old Gold Mr Burroughs,” (a line out of the opening chapter of Naked Lunch), and I started laughing, thinking he was making it up. Our eyes met and he started laughing too, assuring me it was true. It took me a long time to get an impression of him. He was like a strict headmaster with high standards who came out from behind that stance when he recognised how much I enjoyed him. He became the sweetest, kindest and most fun person to hang out with shooting blowguns after dinner I ever met. His friends like Allen Ginsberg had been taking pictures of him ever since they met. Once I became part of his inner circle, taking pictures was just a way of enhancing the enjoyment of the moment. Bill was always good at snapping off a pose. At becoming somebody else or evermore himself. We never tired of playing games but these sessions were fast and brief.”

Burroughs Reloaded is published by P.A.M. Books and is available to purchase from P.A.M. and Donlon Books.