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December 3, 2021

The Story Behind the Portraits of Ozzy Osbourne in a Pink Tutu, Shot by Mark Weiss for Circus Magazine in 1981

In April 1984, photographer Mark Weiss was assigned to shoot with Ozzy Osbourne for a cover and feature in Circus magazine.


Mark recalled his time with the rock star: “I knew this one would be a blast—news had just come out that Ozzy had bit the head off a dove at a record company meeting the month before. He was in NYC promoting his first solo album Blizzard of Ozz. I spent a few days with Ozzy, shooting him around New York City and at his hotel room at the Plaza where I set up a background for the cover shoot. Circus was planning on using his image on a few different covers as well as in multiple spreads, so we tried a few different looks during the session.

“We just hit it off right from the start with my first shoot with him for the cover of Circus magazine, I was young and didn’t know crap. When I asked him to do something he did it he made it easy for me. He gave me my confidence. He was up for anything... from my first shoot with him in a pink tutu, to a shaved head, dressing up in drag or hoping around in a Easter bunny outfit. When Ozzy needed a new guitar player, I found him one.”

Ozzy Osbourne in a pink tutu, 1981.

Ozzy Osbourne, 1981.

Circus magazine cover, June 1981.

“Ozzy was a great subject. When I asked him to try something, he would always do it, and more. At the time, I didn’t always speak up. One of the things I kept telling him was to lean his head forward, because he had a bit of a double chin when his head was relaxed.

“He couldn’t understand my direction, but instinctively he would lean his head forward to hear me better. Ozzy would keep saying, “What? I can’t hear you, Mark!” So I would yell, “Yes, that’s it!” He would answer, “What’s it? What the fuck are you saying?” It was like an Abbott and Costello routine. We had a good laugh about that.”

Ozzy posing for the 12th Anniversary for Circus magazine, 1981

Ozzy at the Circus magazine office in New York City, 1981

Ozzy Osbourne in the bath at the Palza Hotel, NYC in 1981.

Ozzy Osbourne in the bath at the Palza Hotel, NYC in 1981.

“After the shoot, I showed him my portfolio. Then we took some photos together. We were like two kids having fun. I finally felt like I was coming into my own. One of the features that he was going to be in was titled “Rock & Roll Yearbook: Class of ’81.” Onstage, Ozzy used to run all over the place so Circus awarded him “Most Athletic.” I figured I’d take some sports-themed shots, so when I went over to the Plaza to do the shoot, I brought a pair of boxing gloves. Ozzy came out dressed in a pink tutu. He was playing off the same theme, but with a twist. I spotted a pair of boots nearby, so I had him put those on, too, for a sort of play on Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots.” It was a bizarre scene, for sure.

“When I handed over the photos to Circus, I didn’t think much of it. To my surprise, they used one of the tutu shots for the cover of the issue. After it came out, I got a call from Sharon Arden, Ozzy’s manager. She was not happy. And I could understand the way she felt. I mean, here was the Prince of Darkness... in a pink tutu on the cover. It had been intended to be a small black and-white image inside the magazine.”

Ozzy Osbourne and Mark Weiss, 1981.

Mark showing Ozzy his portfolio, 1981.

“For a few months after it came out, Ozzy’s camp didn’t want anything to do with me. Someone even called in to a live radio broadcast and asked him why he had done it. Ozzy replied, reluctantly, “It was an accident.” But then the cover started getting a lot of attention, and they came around.

“That was the beginning of Ozzy doing more crazy stuff in his photos. Later on, I dressed him up in a lot of outrageous outfits.”

Ozzy Osbourne and photographer Mark Weiss together in New York City at the Plaza Hotel after his first photo shoot with Ozzy in 1981.

“Mark always used to bring along this, like, kid’s dress-up bag. You never knew what he’d have in it. He was a young kid who loved music and loved what he did, and he was so enthusiastic. Ozzy would go along with it because he was a fun guy. Even though it was a complete contradiction to his persona.” —Sharon Osbourne (manager and wife, Ozzy Osbourne).




1 comment:

  1. at what point did he check out of the plaza and move into the palza ?

    ReplyDelete



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