Not Your Usual Bedtime Story

Photographer Bruce Weber Takes an Intimate and Inspiring Look at the Transgender Community

“These days everybody wants to be exactly like each other. I like people who are characters,” says Bruce Weber of shooting the models, makeup artists, students who each give their own personal testimony in Not Your Usual Bedtime Story. The short sees an assortment of individuals identifying as transgender—from makeup artist Niki M’nray to models Ines Rau and Gisele Xtravaganza—disclose their personal biographies with members of their friends and family, while clad in clothes from designers including Balenciaga and Saint Laurent Paris. Interspersed with clips of a young Dean Stockwell from 1948 film, The Boy With Green Hair, the film was made by the venerated photographer in collaboration with W magazine’s former Creative Director Dennis Freedman. The pair conceived the coinciding campaign Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters for New York department store Barneys, which feature's today's talking heads. Weber, whose work is synonymous with the all-American aesthetic defined in his early collaborations with brands like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch, was enlisted in the hope of bringing the trials faced by the transgender community to the forefront of the now ever-prevalent LGBT debate. “It was very important for me to see how generous of spirit the support systems are,” he says.  “It is not just about having a support system when you’re growing up, it is about having one for the rest of your life.”
What was behind the decision to shoot on location in New York?
Bruce Weber:
We wanted to be able to show a bit of the city and allow the talent, many of whom have never been to New York City before, to see how beautiful Central Park is.

Can you tell us a little about the footage from The Boy with Green Hair that you included?
This was a movie that really meant a lot to me as a kid. I was always drawing in the art department and reading books in the library instead of playing football so I knew how this kid felt. I feel that the wonderful thing about being different is it gives you character.
Do you think someone’s gender and identity affects the way you approach your subjects as a photographer and filmmaker?
When I meet somebody, I’m not so interested in whether they’re a man or a woman—I’m interested in whether they have soul.

(Read More)

Conversations (2)

  • Tonie Marlow
    My husband and I have the blessing of calling many transgender people, our friends. It's exciting to experience the changes in attitudes around us all, through the years. We are an older (early 60s) hetero couple with no children. I'm proud of the fact that we've been approachable to people who want to discuss the need to experience their lives and loves in a way different from the dictated circumstances of their birth gender. Even as a child, I thought it was unfair that gender was often "the luck of the draw" and three childhood friends I had struggled mightily to fit into the gender they'd been dropped into. The strong joy surrounding the transgender person who has at long last been able to choose the gender that obviously "fits", is infectious and a triumph! I felt this video expressed that joy and triumph - thank you.
  • Meghan Carlsen
    Forget the clothes, forget the makeup these people are beautiful without. Don't get me wrong clothes and makeup sublime. Have shown my children and my husband and they are all in agreement - poignant moments, great interviews, lovely film. Love the archival footage - difference should always be celebrated - life is filled with such banality. Interestingly, however I do not see transgender as different they are just being who they are meant to be. Today Facebook announced that it would extend gender descriptions beyond male or female. Another step in the right direction.
    • Posted By Meghan Carlsen
    • February 14, 2014 at 5:57AM
    • Share Comment:

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to comment


    On Collaboration: Franca Sozzani x Miles Aldridge

    The Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief and Photographer Launch a New Series with EDITION Hotels

    Since they met in 1995, Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Franca Sozzani and British photographer Miles Aldridge have been creating vivid, surreal set-pieces for the most experimental and provocative of the magazine’s editions. The ongoing alliance between these two fashion creatives is explored in “Vision,” the first episode of a new series exploring the concept of collaboration. It’s directed by NOWNESS regular Johnnie Shand Kydd in association with EDITION Hotels. Since rising to the helm of the lauded magazine in 1988, Sozzani was instrumental in heralding the era of the supermodel in the early 1990s, while championing the careers of pioneering fashion photographers Steven Meisel, Bruce Weber and Paolo Roversi. Aldridge’s work is in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Today he sees the launch of a major home town retrospective at Somerset House, entitled I Only Want You to Love Me, coinciding with a tome of the same name published by Rizzoli. Another London showing of photography, Short Breaths, will be unveiled on July 12 at the Brancolini Grimaldi gallery. “I remember seeing her at one of the runway shows and thinking she looked like a beautiful character from a Fellini or a Visconti film,” recalls Aldridge of Sozzani. “Then a few months later I was having tea with her. I think she wanted me to move into a new world and Vogue Italia have that trust in me, even if I’m playing with slightly disturbing, disquieting, uncertain things.”

    Each film in the On Collaboration series has been produced in partnership with EDITION Hotels, a new project between Ian Schrager and Marriott Hotels. The London EDITION opens in Autumn 2013.

    (Read More)

    Marie Vic x Elite NYC

    Seven Top Models Assume Unlikely New Professions in the French Video Artist's New Short

    The lives of a mechanic, maid and lifeguard take on glamorous new guises with a little help from models including Dorothea Barth Jorgensen, Cameron Russell and Hilary Rhoda in this new short from French video artist Marie Vic. Gearing up for the grueling month of fashion shows around the globe, the seven beauties in the film, all represented by Elite New York City, pose and preen in a tongue-in-cheek take on an alternative career path. “I like to play with props and I really take pleasure seeing things out of context,” explains Vic, who received an MFA in photography from Parsons The New School for Design and has exhibited at the Hendershot Gallery and Eyebeam in New York. “I wanted to compose an eclectic collection of ambiances where the models interact with an arrangement of accessories in a given area of New York to create an oxymoronic situation.” The varied locations include The Mark Hotel in Upper East Side Manhattan, a vogueing ball in Harlem and the boardwalk of Brighton Beach. Vic, who handled every aspect of the production apart from the music, filmed one model individually in each of the locales to create the disparate tableaux. As the director says: “The only thing that runs through the whole video is one pair of Pierre Hardy shoes!” We caught up with Maryland-born Rhoda about the pitfalls and necessities of fashion week.

    What five things can’t you live without during fashion week?
    Hilary Rhoda: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum to keep my skin hydrated between the makeup changes of shows  and long working days in general; my mom to keep me sane; music; rocking out at a spin class to get rid of stress or jitters; and a good pedicure after wearing heels for a month straight.

    What are your favorite off-duty hangouts? 
    HR: In New York, Acme is a great low-key spot to go with friends for a drink. When I first started doing shows, the bar in the lobby of the Hotel Westminster in Paris was always a great place for a nightcap.

    Some of the best beauty tips you’ve picked up along the way?
    HR: Contouring with bronzer is one of my favorite makeup tricks. You can really accentuate the cheekbones and eyes and it looks great on everyone. Another trick is to give your face a nice massage for a couple minutes in the morning to get the blood flowing in your face and get rid of any puffiness from lack of sleep during fashion week. 

    What’s your daily fashion week uniform? 
    HR: Since I’m usually taking my clothes on and off a million times a day, I wear clothes that make it easy to do that. Jeans and a button-down blouse with a leather jacket and booties do the trick. 

    In another life what career would you have?
    HR: I am having this moment right now of imagining myself doing sick dance moves in a music video. So either a professional dancer or a pop star! I do a lot of choreographed dance cardio as my workouts every day, so that's one way I can pretend I’m Beyoncé.
    (Read More)

Previously In fashion

View Full fashion Archive