RETAINING MYSTIQUE WHILE FACING FORWARD

A Sneak Peak at TIM HAILAND’s New Book ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF RUFUS WAINWRIGHT with RUFUS WAINWRIGHT and TIM HAILAND

By Tyler Malone

March 2011

“I’m just a little bit heiress, a little bit Irish
A little bit Tower of Pisa
Whenever I see ya
So please be kind if I’m a mess”

That final verse of “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” was all I needed to become completely fascinated with Rufus Wainwright. It seemed to sum up so much of the man, and yet simultaneously relayed very little actual information. It displays that tightrope he walks in all his songs, where as much is said between the lines as is said in the words that make up his witty lyrics. He is able to remain mysterious while giving parts of his soul to his audience and bearing it all in his songs. It is in part because of that ability that rock icon Elton John has called him, “the greatest songwriter on the planet.”

I had already been a fan of a few years when I first heard “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.” After his debut album, I listed him among the new artists I frequently listened to, but it was that lead single from his second album that really sealed the deal. Sophomore slump? No way. Not a chance. Not for this ever-intriguing artist. And he’s still going strong over a decade later. If anything he’s only grown more fascinating with age and experience.

The years have been kind to him. Though he’s grown up before our eyes, he somehow hasn’t really aged. He’s still the beautiful “matinee idol” he always was. His talent has only grown, his songwriting becoming ever more refined. And a decade later not only does the mystery remain, but it has deepened. He’s always “retaining mystique while facing forward”–another line from “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.” He’s exactly who I’d want to see a day in the life of.  He’s the perfect larger-than-life personality that warrants a peak behind the curtains. What is behind this great and powerful Wizard of Awes?

At an event at one of New York City’s great bookstores, Marc Jacob’s Bookmarc, I was granted a few minutes to ask Rufus about his new book with Tim Hailand, One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright. Tim Hailand’s book features pictures of one day in Rufus’s life taken starting before Rufus even wakes up all the way to the end of the night. At the booksigning, Rufus, as always, was kind, funny, and…mysterious. In person, as much as on record, that enigmatic presence remained.

I had the chance to ask him a couple questions and then I sat down with Tim Hailand for a more lengthy one-on-one about his One Day in the Life of… Series. The series has had two previous books: one on actor Daniel Radcliffe (yes, Harry Potter), and one on musician Jake Shears (the lead singer of the Scissor Sisters). I wondered what it was about Rufus that made him such a perfect subject for this One Day in the Life of… project. Did he see the same mystery and charm in Rufus that I did? Did he want to “inhabit the flesh of [Rufus's] body” as Cherry Vanilla claims she does in the book’s introduction?  And was this book an attempt to mythologize or de-mythologize–or both simultaneously–the artist who is “a little bit heiress, a little bit Irish” and always seems to be “retaining mystique while facing forward”?

Tyler Malone: Now that you’ve had a chance to see the book and look back on the day, would you say this was an average day in the life of Rufus Wainwright or a special, unique day?

Rufus Wainwright: Well, it was a bit of both. You know, in terms of insane touring lifestyle, it was pretty average: performing in front of thousands of people every night in ridiculous outfits and sleeping on a bus. But what was particularly special about that day was Martha. That was our first day of touring together–and with our mother having passed away last year–we really needed some genetic soothing.

TM: What would your ideal day in the life of Rufus Wainwright be like?

RW: Oh my god. Ideal? My ideal would be…well, today it would be being in LA, considering the weather.

TM: I can understand that.

RW: And also my daughter is in California. So it would probably be something like waking up after six hours of sleep, and playing with my daughter–inhaling the beautiful smell of newborn poo. And probably eating something where nothing was killed in order to make it. And you know, playing piano all day. Then watching Rachel Maddow at night. I’ve gotten pretty dull, I guess.

[Rufus turned to attend to the line of people waiting to have their books signed, and later I was able to have a more extensive discussion with Tim Hailand, the photographer behind the new book.]

Tyler Malone: First, I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful book you’ve created. The photography is amazing. And I feel like you actually get a true glimpse into a bit of Rufus Wainwright behind-the-scenes. This project of One Day in the Life of… is a great concept. Now I know this isn’t your first book in your One Day in the Life of… series, so I wanted to ask you how the series and the concept initially came about?

Tim Hailand: First back to you–Thank you very much for your compliments on my work and the book project in general. It was started as an editorial assignment for V Man magazine about 5 years ago–the subject being close friend and current book subject Jake Shears. I decided to expand the project and shot a few friends of mine, artist Jim Hodges, performers Stephen Galloway, Adam Dugas, and Casey Spooner. I was thinking of making a compilation of various people, and asked Daniel Radcliffe to shoot a day. I am friends with Dan and his family. Quite literally in the midst of shooting Dan’s day, it occurred to me that these photos would make a good book, and that’s how the first book came about. Most people know Dan as “Harry Potter,” but I know Dan as a very smart, charismatic, and curious person–quite well grounded actually. He is a truly inspired and inspiring person, a friend, as well as a collector and admirer of art and culture–so the project developed naturally out of that.

TM: How did the book on Rufus happen?

TH: Rufus is also a friend, and an artist who’s work I greatly admire–so I asked him and he said yes.

TM: In the introduction to the book, Cherry Vanilla writes of Rufus: “As soon as I met him, I wanted to inhabit the flesh of his body.” What was your initial response upon first meeting with Rufus?

TH: I was living in LA at my friend Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s house around 1999, they always had interesting people coming over. Cherry brought Rufus to dinner one night. I liked him right away. I had heard of him, but had never heard his music–his first album was just out at the time. He was a nice guy and casually confident. I went and bought his debut album the next day, and have been listening ever since.

TM: I think one of the more intriguing aspects of your series is how it simultaneously both plays down and plays up the exceptionalism of celebrity. What I mean is on the one hand we get your subjects in very intimate moments–like Rufus in his undies at the piano–and we feel like: “Hey, this celebrity is no different than us.” But then, we also see Rufus playing a show in front of a thousand people and suddenly we feel distant, our lives seem miles apart. Can you elaborate on that idea? Is there both a mythologizing and a de-mythologizing of celebrity that you’re going for? And is that something you think about when picking you subjects and the days you photograph the subjects?

TH: I think perhaps that I am most impressed by people who can do something that I cannot possibly do. Performers who can go onto that empty black space of the stage and summon up their magic powers have always impressed and inspired me. I feel that the stage can be an enchanted place where those who have access to the magic make it happen. I’m more interested in stars than in famous people (in that I mean charismatic beings). There are plenty of famous people who don’t have star quality, and some real stars who aren’t famous. I photograph people that I genuinely admire–talented people who I find inspiring. It’s more interesting to me to photograph people that I genuinely admire, and not those who are simply “famous.” I strive to treat people with respect and integrity, both in my work and in real life

TM: How exactly do you pick the days you choose to shoot these subjects? Are you looking for that sort of dichotomy of major moments mixed with more intimate ones?

TH: I discuss it with the subject and chose a day that has a major crescendo, in the case of Jake and Rufus a performance. If one has ever been around “show biz,” you know it’s not all glitz and glamour. I guess what one sees is how hard these creative people work. I love hard workers, and love to work hard myself, and it’s nice when I can work with other creative people!

TM: What is your favorite part of making these books? The day of shooting? The process of editing? The lead-up to the day?

TH: I like ultimately holding the finished book in my hands, and having other people experience the books as well. I collect photo books, and prefer them over looking at images on a computer screen–so creating an actual object that exists in the real world is important to me. I also love making photos, and I love designing the book–I edited and designed all 3 books in the series. The editing process is a long and tedious one–I have friends help me with that as I need an outside eye at times.

TM: One would assume the actual days of shooting are stressful, but such great experiences. I’d almost love to see One Day in the Life of Tim Hailand as some sort of meta-book where we could get a glimpse of you getting a glimpse of one these stars. What does your day of shooting with these subjects look like? Could you describe a little of one day in the life of you and your photo shoots?

TH: That’s a good question–these all day long shoots are both exhilarating and exhausting. I have to remain focused on the subject, yet open to the whole day. I always get a bit anxious before embarking on one of these shoots–almost like performance anxiety. Like will I be able to perform well?  Will I get great photos that day? Once I get started though it all seems to flow. The subjects get used to having me around, sometimes we chat, sometimes I just shut up and take photos. I feel very fulfilled at the end of the day, and look forward to seeing the images (as the black and white is mainly shot film and not digitally) a day or 2 later.

TM: I know the fourth book in the series will be about Gareth Thomas. Was there an intentional move into the world of sports to kind of get a completely different glimpse of celebrity and artistry?

TH: I shot Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas in Wales in October but was not thrilled with the actual game pictures, so not sure when or how that day will be published. I am also interested in releasing some versions of this series editorially. I am very interested in heroic people, in those I consider to be heroic at least. All of my subjects are heroes to me for one reason or another. I find athletes to be heroic, and I like how form follows function with them. I did a whole series where I photographed classical sculpture as if they were people, and athletes fit into that classical idea in my mind. And again, they are all hard workers–I think that’s what unites them, and what I can relate to.

TM: What’s next for you? Will there be more books? I feel like this concept could continue ad infinitum. There are so many interesting public figures that I’d love to follow around for a day (without being a stalker, simply by reading your books)…

TH: The next confirmed book is theater director and designer Robert Wilson. I will document his new opera premiering in Manchester this summer. The piece is called The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic and the book will feature Robert Wilson, Marina Abramovic, Antony Hegarty, and Willem Dafoe. And the title will be One Day in the Life of The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. I have also approached Kylie Minogue (who wrote for my Jake Shears book) as well as Marc Jacobs. I would like to do a book with World Heavyweight boxing champion Vladimer Klitschko, and I think Madonna, David Bowie, Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Mick Jagger would be interesting.

Rufus Wainwright is one of the world’s most brilliant singer-songwriters. Affectionately referred to by Elton John as “the greatest songwriter on the planet” and praised by The New York Times for his “genuine originality,” Rufus Wainwright has established himself as one of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation.has released eight albums and two DVDs to date, and has appeared on numerous soundtracks and compilations, as well as collaborating with artists like Elton John, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash and Keane. His newest album  titled, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, is will be released this year in March/April 2010.

Tim Hailand is a photographic artist based in New York and Berlin, exhibiting internationally. Over the last 10 years he has focused mainly on portraiture. Hailand’s work is in the permanent collection of The Guggenheim Museum, the archives of New York’s MoMA, as well as the Albright-Knox Art Museum. Hailand is in the private collections of Hilla Becher, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, Pete Burns, Elton John, Chaka Khan, Patti Lupone, Isaac Mizrahi, Stevie Nicks, Pet Shop Boys, Daniel Radcliffe, Jake Shears, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Mario Testino, Rufus Wainwright, and Vivienne Westwood. As well as being and author and publisher, his work has also appeared in Visionaire, Entertainment Weekly, OK, Hello!, The New Yorker, Paper, Playgirl, Frieze, Artforum, W, Time Out London, Dutch, HX, Next, Aspen and V.

LINKS:

One Day In The Life Of… Official Site

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Official Site

TIM HAILAND Official Site

Written by Tyler Malone

Book Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand

Additional Photography by Marie Havens for Patrick McMullan.com

Design by Marie Havens

Special thanks to Bookmarc, Michael Ariano, & Marc Jacobs team!

Captions:

Page 1/Cover:

Rufus Wainwright & Tim Hailand, RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Book Signing of “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” Published by Hailand Books and Hosted by BOOKMARC, BOOKMARC, NYC, March 10, 2011, Photography by Marie Havens for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 2:

Rufus Wainwright, Photograph from photography book: “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” (Published by Hailand Books), Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand

Page 3:

Rufus Wainwright “Video Screenshots” Collage, RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Book Signing of “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” Published by Hailand Books and Hosted by BOOKMARC, BOOKMARC, NYC, March 10, 2011, Photography by Marie Havens for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 4:

Rufus Wainwright, Photograph from photography book: “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” (Published by Hailand Books), Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand

Page 5:

Rufus Wainwright, Photograph from photography book: “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” (Published by Hailand Books), Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand

Page 6:

Rufus Wainwright, Photograph from photography book: “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” (Published by Hailand Books), Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand

Page 7:

Rufus Wainwright “Eye” Collage, Photograph from photography book: “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” (Published by Hailand Books), Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand

Page 8:

Rufus Wainwright, Photograph from photography book: “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” (Published by Hailand Books), Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand

Page 9:

Rufus Wainwright, Photograph from photography book: “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” (Published by Hailand Books), Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand

Page 10:

Rufus Wainwright, RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Book Signing of “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” Published by Hailand Books and Hosted by BOOKMARC, BOOKMARC, NYC, March 10, 2011, Photography by Marie Havens for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 11:

Tim Hailand & Rufus Wainwright, RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Book Signing of “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” Published by Hailand Books and Hosted by BOOKMARC, BOOKMARC, NYC, March 10, 2011, Photography by Marie Havens for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 12:

Tim Hailand, RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Book Signing of “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” Published by Hailand Books and Hosted by BOOKMARC, BOOKMARC, NYC, March 10, 2011, Photography by Marie Havens for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 13:

Book interior, RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Book Signing of “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” Published by Hailand Books and Hosted by BOOKMARC, BOOKMARC, NYC, March 10, 2011, Photography by Marie Havens for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 14:

Book Cover, Photograph from photography book: “One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright” (Published by Hailand Books), Photography by Tim Hailand / © & Courtesy of Tim Hailand


back to main article page ›