2012 March 21

John Varvatos, Reality TV Star: "I'm Not Embarrassed"

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John and Mick Rock John and Mick Rock
Patrick McMullan
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Downtown returned to its original glory for a few hours last night at the CATM gallery in Chelsea for the first ever showing of photographer Mick Rock's The Legend Series, consisting of artwork based on his iconic photographs. The eve brought out Lou Reed, Bob Gruen, David Zelikovsky, John Dabu, Scott Lipps, Chelsea Leyland, Lisa Raden, Liz Vap, and John Varvatos, whom we grabbed for a quick chat. 

How do you know Mick, John?
We've been friends for a long time. We met through talking about photography, and I consider him one of my best friends. He's one of the funniest people on the planet and super sweet and passionate.  

Is Mick having a moment?
Anyone who grew up in the seventies is familiar with him, because his work was so iconic. He shot Bowie and Queen! And then in the early eighties, Blondie. But a lot of photographers who worked back then aren't doing so now, and Mick is crazy busy shooting bands of all ages. In the end, it's about what you do with the lens.

What are your favorite Mick Rock photographs?
I love all his Syd Barrett stuff. There's also a photo of (David) Bowie and Mick Ronson eating on a train, wearing crazy jackets. I'm working on a book about fashion and rock with Harper Collins, and I'm finding it hart to edit, because there's so much great stuff.

You've now entered the reality world mentoring on Fashion Star. Do you watch yourself?
Yeah, I watched the premiere, and I've watched a few afterwards, because I have to make the comments for the network. It's on tonight, but I don't know if I'll watch it or not.

How do you feel about seeing yourself on television?
I'm OK. I'm fine with it. I'm not embarassed by what I'm doing or what I'm saying.

Do you care about the ratings?
I didn't, but now NBC has us plugged into it. We had a good retention for our first episode, but we'll see about how the next couple go. (Note: Ratings were up 13% last night.)

Why did you agree to do it?
The concept was great. I've had opportunities to do other shows, but I felt like this show was unique except for the runway part. I mentor people all the time in my design studio, but there, they have to listen to me!

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