Rare nude photos of Madonna will be on display for the first time this Wednesday at Denver's Bookery Nook bookstore at 4280 Tennyson Street.
The photos are from a 1979 New York shoot for which Madonna, then a struggling young musician looking to start a band, was paid $13. The Bookery Nook will be displaying the photos, which were shot by photographer Joseph Threadgill, until March 31.
On Wednesday at 7:00, the bookstore will open the exhibition with a reception featuring champagne, hors d'oeuvres and a performance from local Neo-Soul singer Molly Cottrell.
In a press release Tuesday (below), the Bookery Nook detailed the long and unlikely history of how Bookery Nook owner Shannon Piserchio came to acquire the rare photos.
Before she became famous, Madonna agreed to pose nude for a photography class in New York to earn money to form a band. Her pay? A mere thirty dollars. After Madonna's music hit the Billboard Charts in 1982, one photographer, Martin Schreiber, recognized the model from the class and sold his negatives to Playboy. He received instant fame in the photography world and enough money to cover his expenses for three years.
But what happened to the other photographers' photos? No one knows. Until now.
Madonna enthusiast, Shannon Piserchio, has found the unpublished, unseen photos of one of the remaining photographers. Her journey began when she bought a rare photo of Madonna at The Camera Obscura, a photo gallery in Denver. Inspired by this unusual photo that had no information on it, Shannon decided to unearth the story behind the mysterious photograph.
"I'm a photographer," Shannon said. "I know the event at which the photo was taken can hold as much or more humanity than the photo itself."
Searching the internet, Shannon stumbled upon a photo credited to Martin Schreiber: a headless, black and white image of Madonna. Shannon could tell by the shadows on the body that the photo she bought from the gallery and the photo she found on the internet were taken in the same place. But what most people won't notice is that they were taken at the exact same moment. "On the left breast, the shadow falls across the nipple. The shadow on the shoulder is the same, and even the shadow crossing the sternum is in the same spot. If the photos weren't taken at the same time, they were taken within seconds of each other."
This meant two things: One, another photographer was present at the photo shoot. And two, the photo Shannon purchased couldn't have been taken by Schreiber.
Shannon decided other photographers' photos must be somewhere. She found Schreiber's email address online and contacted him. He revealed there there were, in fact, other photographers. Five to be exact. But he didn't know who or where they were. Shannon went back to The Camera Obscura to ask about the Madonna photo. Hal Gould, the owner, told her two guys sold the photos to the gallery in the 90's, but he knew nothing else.
Finally, Shannon returned to the internet where she found a blogger had posted on Schreiber's photo. She contacted the blogger via Facebook to see if he knew who the other photographers were. But Shannon didn't hear back from him. Instead, she received an email concerning the blog post from a man named Tom Macurdy. It turns out the original photographer, Joseph Threadgill, gave his ten photographs to his friend, Macurdy, a lawyer at the time.
But Macurdy had no motivation to sell the photographs. He locked the photos in a filing cabinet for nine years. But now, thanks to Shannon's expert detective work, the never-before-seen photos will have an outlet for the first time this week in Shannon's own Denver bookstore, The Bookery Nook.
"Mr. Threadgill's photographic efforts show Madonna more attractively than Schreiber, " Macurdy said. "They are better from an artistic point of view, although I am not a photographer myself."
This week, in Denver, Wednesday March 2nd , The Bookery Nook, Tom Macurdy, and DeVelo Magazine will host the opening reception for Madonna: The Forgotten Images exhibit. The opening reception will start at 7:00 pm and will serve champagne and hors d'oeuvres. Local Neo-Soul singer, Molly Cottrell, will play at the event. The exhibit will run until March 31st.