I worked with Taylor Negron on the set of Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1981. He had one day on set as the memorable "Pizza Guy" and I was an extra. Little did I know then that decades later in 2009, he would become a dear friend and creative collaborator. Taylor was good friends with one of my best friends Danny Nero and I asked Danny if he would introduce me to Taylor because I would love to photograph him. To my surprise, Taylor said he loved my work and he was open to any ideas I had in mind.
After some emails, I finally met him at his apartment in Venice, CA. We talked for a while, he made me lunch and we set a date for the first of what would be many photo shoots together.
It was that very first meeting when he shared with me that he was diagnosed with Cancer.
The first shot we did together was of Taylor in a stark white setting, curled up in a chair with a black crow on the ground staring up at him. At first glance it just seems like a quirky picture of Taylor Negron the comedian. But unbeknownst to everyone but myself and Taylor, it had a deeper meaning. The crow was the cancer. A black spot on this bright white scene and sweet Taylor in the chair, saddened and bewildered. We later did some shots with him holding the crow, in almost a symbolic acceptance of each other.
Okay, that's the last time I'll mention the C word. This series of photos is meant to be a happy romp down memory lane and a celebration of our time and work together. Moving on...
This is my tribute to Taylor. I wanted to share the beautiful creative exchange we had in some pictures that have never been seen before.
This has to be one of my all time favorite shots with Taylor.
As you'll see throughout the photos, he constantly gave creative options for every shot. It was pretty much impossible to not get something usable. He was a photographer's dream!
I love how you can see the inscription "To Taylor" on the inside of the first page. This was a sketch book he kept with him to draw, paint and write.
Another favorite shot of Tay.
Taylor was unmatched at giving unique expressions and posing variations.
I simply couldn’t have asked for a more giving, creative subject to work with. That always made it difficult to choose what might be the best shot because there were just so many.
I wanted to do something with really long shoelaces. It just seemed like a quirky idea at the time. We played around with some expressions and scenarios of what we was doing with them, when he went into using the laces like long spaghetti. I loved it! We refined the placement of the laces and his hand position and this was the final shot.
On one wardrobe change, he came out in these pants and I just thought they were so fun. I said let's just ham it up on an apple box. I love this series.
I had the privilege to have my portrait painted twice by Taylor at his Silverlake apartment. He gave me one and kept one for himself.
Taylor's place was eclectic but beautifully warm. A true artist's home.
When Taylor made you lunch, it was never anything ordinary and it was usually followed by a homemade pie. Like anything else he did, there was an artistic flair to the experience. His kitchen made you feel like you were in Tuscany.
Me and Taylor chilling on the patio after an amazing lunch.
While we were hanging out one day, someone in the room was talking about how both himself and this very famous, TV Hall of Fame actor/comedian (name withheld) had at different times, dated the same woman. I caught Taylor’s expression the second after the guy nonchalantly said “Yeah, we shared the same vagina!” Taylor’s reaction was priceless.
Taylor with his wonderfully talented and long time music collaborator Logan Heftel. They performed for years together.
Taylor asked me to shoot cast photos for a pilot he was working on called “The Foreclosure of Taylor Negron”. It was a great couple days of shooting the cast. Here he is with singer/actress Taylor Dayne and Melissa Fosse-Dunne.
Taylor brought together a talented cast for show. I met a lot of wonderful people on the set, many who I'm still in touch with today. Roy Cruz and Abina Anthony-Davis (lower right) were very close friends and frequent creative collaborators with Taylor. Some other cast members were Samantha Lockwood, Barry Sobel, Caroline White, Damian Pelliccione, Laura Ortiz, Michael Adam Hamilton, Ron Gilbert and Cory Krueger. (It was a large cast with many more talented actors than in this small set of photos, sorry if I missed some names).
Taylor directed “Who Loves You Baby?” A hilarious lounge act celebrating the romantic musing of 70's icon Telly Savalas, who has returned from the grave to give the cynical hipsters of today a good kick in the pants. Brilliantly played by Tom DiMenna and written by Hunter Nelson. We shot a handful of great photos of Tom for the promotion of the show. Great special effect make-up by George Troester.
Other promotional shots for "Who Loves You Baby?" Abina Anthony-Davis working behind the scenes.
It was great to attend one of Taylor's art shows in Echo Park, CA.
Taylor with longtime friend and host/producer of UnCabaret, Beth Lapides before a show at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Fast Times director Amy Heckerling came to one of the UnCabaret performance in LA that I was photographing. I hadn’t seen her sine 1981 and I showed her and Taylor a photo I had on my phone of one of the scenes I was in. She was very sweet.
Taylor's longtime friend, singer/songwriter Syd Straw also came to the show. (upper left)
It's never easy to put into a few words the feelings of losing a friend. We all miss Taylor. He was an extraordinary human being, who like most of our dear friends who have left this world, left us way too soon. But his work, his art, and most importantly just the special way he had with friends, family and the many who had the privilege of working with him, will never ever be forgotten.
Thank you Taylor for your friendship, the countless laughs and for sharing your beautiful creative spirit so generously.
All photos © 2009-2014 Patrick Shipstad Photography