A few years back I was at @AutoEroticaSF in San Francisco and bought a novelty greeting card with a photo of a cop on the cover, and a picture of the same cop, naked, on the inside. The back of the card said that the photographer was "Jute Harper". Out of curiosity, I googled the name and got one hit, which was for "Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz." The book said that Wojnarowicz's lover, Peter Hujar "rearranged the letters to create the anagram 'Jute Harper.' This was the name, he decided, that would make him rich and successful, and at some point in the eighties, he created a small body of work under that name, with David's help. It was softcore porn done for greeting cards that could be sold in Christopher Street shops..." The name Peter Hujar rang a bell, and a quick search reminded me that Hujar took the photo “Orgasmic Man,” on the cover of @hanyayanagihara’s “A Little Life.” Despite his talent, Hujar never got much acclaim while he was alive, apparently due in part to his personality and lack of ability to promote himself. In fact, Fran Lebowitz said at his funeral that “Peter Hujar has hung up on every important photography dealer in the Western world.” Reading further in Fire in the Belly, I saw a citation that said that "Cards made by 'Jute Harper' are in Fales 6A, 9, 14." I looked up @Faleslibrary, and saw that it has Wojnarowicz's archives, which are digitally searchable. This led me to getting in touch with the director of the library, who confirmed for me that the picture on the card is most likely by Hujar.
Since then I’ve tried to track down copies (or even images) of the other cards in the series, but haven’t been successful. The farthest I got was an archived Berkley newspaper article describing the cards, and mentioning that noted gay photographer @stanley.stellar also took pictures for the series. I paid about a dollar for the card, and don't imagine that it’s worth much more than that now I managed to sleuth out its provenance. However, I do feel rewarded insofar as I think it’s neat to have a small, curious bit of ephemera by a talented gay artist.
#PeterHujar #DavidWojnarowicz #tbt