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September 29, 2021

Joan on the Phone With Lisa, 1978

Joan Jett was living at the old Tropicana Motel in West Hollywood around 1978. The young photographer Brad Elterman went over there to hang out and have lunch with Joan. They ate these rather large sandwiches and hamburgers at dukes the coffee shop at the Trop. After the feeding, they went back to Joan’s dumpy suite where she picked up the phone and called her friend Lisa. At that precise moment, Brad took the photo. So here the story behind the photo:

“A teenage Joan Jett was my greatest subject. Hands down. She was so cool and stylish back in 1977. Both of us were a bit on the shy side, so we got along just fine. I was around fairly close to the inception of The Runaways and there was becoming a big demand for their photos, especially in Japan. I was hooked on to Music Life and Rock Show magazines in Tokyo so I would airmail my color slides and handmade prints to them moments after getting my film developed. They liked this photo very much because it is so candid.”

(Photo © Brad Elterman)

“Of all the photos I’ve taken, this one is my favorite. I call the photo “Joan On The Phone With Lisa”.

“The photo was taken during a period when Joan had moved out of her San Fernando Valley family home and checked into the iconic and dumpy Tropicana Motel in West Hollywood. All of the rockers loved this joint and Tom Waits was living there. I hung out with Joan there more than once and we would go next door and dine at Dukes, the tiny coffee shop on the property. It was massive hamburgers and then frozen Snickers bars for dessert. This photo was taken after one of those feedings. I think I just caught a cool moment with her.

“This photo was not necessarily ground breaking for me as a young photographer, but it is with the young bands who I am photographing today. They love the candidness of the shot and I try to recapture these kinds of moments today.”




1 comment:

  1. As a photo it is aesthetically/artistically nothing special. It is a snapshot, really. Nothing more. Only the circumstances surrounding it are special. All the effusive hyperbole above trying to make it some sort of cultural iconic moment and therefore "art" is hogwash.

    Oh, and the reason it caused such a stir in Japan is NOT because they were enamoured. It was because they were offended. Shoes, not only indoors but on the bedsheets in Japan would have been scandalously offensive.

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