Nico, 1968

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© Guy Webster

I first saw Nico in the movie La Dolce Vita. She was this gorgeous blond German beauty when I met her at the Monterey Pop Festival. She later came to my studio and we an immediate connection. It was for her solo album, The Marble Index. She didn’t have much time for that shoot – maybe two or three hours. First thing I did was darken her hair, and then I set up the lighting. I noticed her amphetamine lips, and I knew I had to get that into the picture. She had been a model. I asked her not to model but just look right at the camera. I did it on a black background with a light behind her head so that I could bring her forward. It was Andy Warhol’s favorite picture. He had a copy in his studio. I did the back cover, full length with her boots. She had a unique body.

After the album came out i didn’t see her for years. She went back to New York and then Europe. In 1971, I was living in Majorca off the coast of Spain. I was sitting at an American bar by myself. I was lonely, but not sad. The fog had set in from the ocean. It was very misty, and out of this eerie shroud came a figure in black, coming slowly into focus like Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia. And…it was Nico! She came up to my table and the conversation went like this:

“Guy!”

“Nico!”

“You got drugs?”

“No. Nico, it’s six years in prison if you’re caught with even marajuana.”

“Gotta go. Good-bye.”

Never saw her again.

From Big Shots: The Photography of Guy Webster; Text by Harvey Kubernik and Kenneth Kubernik

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