In 1971, I flew to San Fransisco for a business trip and met Mike Philips. Mike worked for Nikon USA, or EPOI which was Nppon Kogaku, Tokyo. Mike was a tech rep and a photographer. In a matter of hours we became friends. It was like two ships meeting at night. Mike, was a great photographer – extremely minimalistic. Back in the day, when photographers carried three or four cameras, Mike carried one camera, one lens, and two rolls of film; and generated awesome images. In those days, I found myself in San Fransisco at least 4 times a year and Mike would come to New York about as many times.
One day, Mike came to me with a concept for a book called Forbidden Fantasies. It was a book he wanted to do on Halloween in San Fransisco, when almost the whole gay community, dresses up in drag for the occasion. Mike’s idea was to find an empty gas station and set up 3 different backgrounds, 3 different sets of studio lights, and have 3 photographer’s views of that particular day. I agreed to be one of the photographers. The first year there was a cancellation, the following year I was in Greece for 2 months. Unfortunately, I never became part of this project.
When you became friends with Mike, you automatically became friends with Mark Joseph, a great writer and former roommate of Mike’s from UC Davis College. Mark wrote to To Kill the Potemkin, Deadline Y2K, Typhoon, The Wild Card, Overwhelming Pursuit, Mexico Benti Uno, and his most recent book Monte Rio – not necessarily in that order. The other friend of Mike’s was Gary Nichamin, also a roommate to Mike and Mark. Three very talented and amazing friends that have always been very special to me. Mike was best man at my wedding and was my son’s Godfather. I loved him and I still do. Sadly he passed away at a very young age. For whatever reason and to this day, I really don’t know why, our paths went in different directions. I found what happened to our relationship confusing and upsetting for a long time. I never chose for this to happen – it just did. I regret not writing a chapter about Mike in my book Fill the Frame I just didn’t know how to handle my feelings, let alone write about what happened between us.