Saturday, April 2, 2011

Johnnie visits the Library at Douglass College in New Brunswick NJ in the late 50's

Warren C. Fry: "Ah Ha!  Apparently Johnnie made some visits to the library at Douglass College in New Brunswick NJ in the late 50's.  Five years ago I was leafing through an old copy of 'Les Chants de Maldoror' at Douglass library and found some interesting marginalia on a page marked with a very old, pressed yellow alder (turnera ulmifolia).  The passage detailed Maldoror's coupling with a shark and the note, scrawled in a faded purple ink, read  "compare to Bruno Franklyn meeting of Ippolit Wheeden, Nov. 11 1925, Zurich".  I put in a request to see the old card check-out lists from the past three decades and found that the book was checked out from Oct 31, 1959 to Dec 2nd 1961 (!) by one A. Kaprow and a note scrawled in the same faded purple ink next to this entry read "con J.R."  Mystery solved!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Johnnie Rodriguez selling Lucky Hats in Cala Regina, Italy (2009)

Bruno Chiarlone - Due anni fa in Sardegna, dalle parti di Cala Regina, c'era un uomo che gli somigliava. Vendeva sombreri e cappelli da cow boy. Ne comprai uno per poche decine di euro e il tizio che me lo aveva venduto mi disse che mi avrebbe portato fortuna. Allora lo misi sul capo e mio cognato mi fece una fotografia. La stessa foto l'ho poi pubblicata su vari miei libri e le vendite sono andate a gonfie vele: Devo ringraziare Jonny Rodriguez per questo?

Roughly translates as: Two years ago in Sardinia, from portions of Cala Regina, was a man who resembled him. Selling sombreros and cowboy hats. I bought [one] for a few euro and the guy who sold it to me told me that [it] would bring me luck. Then I put [it] on my head and my brother took a photograph of me with it on. The same photo, I then posted on several of my books, and sales have been booming: Johnnie Rodriguez I have to thank for this?

Lawrence Charles Miller:  Bruno - He tried the same thing with me. But. alas, my luck was different. I saw him in Rende, Calabria, my mother's hometown (my mother's maiden name is Rende). He knew this and thought I was rich - owned the town or something. Finally fled to get away from his constant selling of lucky charms.

Mark Bloch:  Now I see that Rodensky and Rodriguez were apparently both not only seen in Reggio di Calabria in the late 50s or early 60s but both sightings involving these episodes with photographers and hats. Rodesnksy was on the set of Federico Fellini's 1959 film "La Dolce Vita" and famously took a side trip to Calabria to visit his friend the hotel owner Coriolano Paparazzo where a number of photos with sombreros were taken. Rodrigues not only was also seen there but he also turned up in a photo buying sombreros from a Richard Mutt during the filming of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in 1948 on location in the state of Durango, Mexico and was later spotted during the shooting of night street scenes in Tampico, although I learned since that the night scenes were all filmed back in the studio in California so I don't know what to beleive anymore. But interestingly, it was Rodensky's dear friend Coriolano for whom papparazzi are named.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Johnnie Rodriguez seen in Canada and Fist Fighting Reno, Nevada

Allan Revich said: 
I saw him up here in Canada a couple years ago. He looked pretty good.
After Canada we met again one more time. I was traveling. So was he. Ran into him in Nevada, and we hung out for a few days.  But we got into a fistfight in a Reno bar. He sucker punched me just as the bouncer was escorting us out. Kicked me in the head and disappeared. If I ever see him again... Let's just say he won't be throwing the first punch this time around.

Johnnie Rodriguez, Maciunas, Warhol, Rauschenberg, Judd and Pollock

Gary A. Bibb - In addition to inspiring several artists in the 60's, including Maciunas, Warhol, Rauschenberg and Judd (it's also rumored that Pollock crossed paths with Johnnie around 1950 - 52); this phantom of a man was apparently quite a musician too. I have some amazing rare photos of Johnnie playing the guitar and had no idea who he was until Cecil posted this missing persons notice. My photos don't have any information about who this guy is but when I saw Cecil's photo of Johnnie, it all came together. I'm doing research now and have discovered some amazing accounts of his musical adventures...

Johnnie Rodriguez, a Gun and a Guitar

Jorge Artajo:  I knew a Johnnie who traded his gun for a guitar. The gun was a warm one and the guitar was made of bones he got on "El dia de los Muertos" (The Day of the Dead) Holiday.

Johnnie Rodriguez in Las Cruces, New Mexico - 1980's

Denise M. A. Brown:  I met Johnnie in Las Cruces New Mexico outside a White Sands Credit Union. I thought it was strange that he was dragging a suitcase full of books through the sand but in NM in the 80's, it could have easily been a performance piece. Later that day, I found him in the back of the NM State U library where I worked as a janitor. He was studying economic abstracts and eating peanut butter from a jar and had a long conversation with me about his ideas about Pop art. 

Is Konmar Rodensky actually Johnnie Rodriguez ? 1986

Mark Bloch: I will have to repost more facts about this after the weekend after summoning up some supporting documents but suffice to say this is curiously similar to the case of Konmar Rodensky. In 1986, I travelled to the Netherlands where artists Sonja Van Der Burg, Jacques Massa, Harry Fox and I, as well as our co-conspirators Sally, Jeremy, Let and Martin and others all collaborated on creating the Rodensky files. In the end it was like this: any found photo, described by the finder, would contribute more information to the strange case of Konmar Rodesnky. It began as a misunderstanding but soon grew into a fascinating bio. His first name was taken from the local food store and his last name was the bastardization of an actual person's story retold as a fable. In the end Rodensky was known to be a filmmaker and outlaw, the onetime assistant to Fellini and a midget who created the tradition, now common, of setting his huge piles of mail under mailboxes because he could not reach the slot. I cannot remember the rest but I have many photos of him and two issues of my zine Panmag have been devoted to him. Don't you think Rodriguez sounds mysteriously like Rodesky? I warn everyone that this Rodriguez character may very well be the notorious Rodensky in sheep's or perhaps donkey's clothing. Proceed with caution. He is a huckster and a charlatan however I warn you he is also a seductive genius.

Johnnie Rodriguez and the Bueno Sisters

The Bueno Sisters: (left to right) Muy, Kay and Essa
courtesy The Museum of Snapshot Photography -

Sean Ward: Ah, Johnnie. He would give you the shirt off his back and the sombrero off his cabeza, dingle-balls and all. I have a photo around here somewhere of me with the hat. But I don't know about all that talk about the flock sex. Sure, he hung out with some pretty fluxsome babes. You remember Kay Bueno? She was something! But that beastiality thing, once his aunt was lost in that donkey show in Tijuana, Tia Flora, the one who helped him become a man, he wouldn't have a thing to do with the trade. What was it he used to say? "Algunas flores no eran ser mojadas."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Johnnie Rodriguez and George Condo

Lawrence Charles Miller: I came across Johnnie last Friday [03/25/2011]. He sells drawings, doodles really, off a loading dock not far from the New Museum- but worlds away. He knows more about the art world than most academics. I told him I just saw George Condo's show at the New Museum. 'Oh ya,' he says 'I remember him from the east village in the 80's.' Johnnie has aged beyond easy recognition. but believe me he's still Johnnie.
He confided about a "social" disease. He appears to have three teeth-total. Just at the end of our talk he mentioned something about the last WWI veteran passing away and his eyes got all watery. It was very cold out - so maybe it was that. But I don't think so.

Johnnie Rodriguez and Farm Animals

Johnnie's crew in Mexico City.
courtesy The Museum of Snapshot Photography -
Melissa McCarthy: I think prior to 1960, "Johnnie" was surreptitiously prostituting animals, especially sheep, for bestiality aficionados. It was said that if you wanted "flock sex", he was the go-to guy.

Jorge Artajo said...
Oh my! I can’t believe it was that Johnnie! The one I once met. It happened that on a one hairy summer morning I was by the road playing “solo” when a man with a guitar and a herd of “cochinos” came into my village –“¿Te gustan bonito?- he told me with an unsettling smile that made me blush. Then he introduced himself as Juanito and asked me about the town fair. I told him that there were no fair in the village, but that in the outskirts by the threshing floor skinners used to gather to trading, so there he went. Few moments later I was sitting at the church square playing “tabas” with some friends when we heard a huge roar behind us. The “marranos” came running over us screaming and yelling like hell. They had some men stuck to their rears with their faces all in red. They were trying to detach themselves from those pigs’ asses that have absorbed their cocks. People laughed and prayed, some fainted, some shocked, some got indignant, some scratched their crotches, and some ripped their clothing. The last image I had before my mother blind my eyes and took me home was the catholic priest shouting like crazy running after them waving a butcher knife. From then on Juanito got a reputation and spoken aloud his name became synonymous with offense to the whole village, so it’s good to hear about him again. I’ve always wandered what could have happened to him.

Johnnie Rodriguez on the Upper West Side (NYC)

Michael Chan: I remember Johnnie. I bumped into him when I was delivering Chinese food on the Upper West Side (NYC) years ago. He asked me what was in the bag and I told him "fried rice". He replied the same "Jes! flores secas." I didn't know what he meant at the time but I thought it must be something cool, and the rest is history.

Johnnie Rodriguez In West Los Angeles circa. 1959

re; Missing Johnnie
An acquaintance, who was living in W. Los Angeles
at the time, disclosed that Johnnie migrated Northwest
from Texas, & worked as a movie extra, briefly,
in films, such as this one, c.1959. - Nicol A. Kostic

Have you seen Johnnie Rodriguez?

Please send correspondence home to Johnnie's family.
About Johnnie Rodriguez
Last seen by the family in Mexico City in 1956.
Johnnie has been missing for decades. We only occasionally hear news of him. It is said that he ended up to New York City in 1961. He had a small place near where Yoko Ono was living at that time. He would take old flowers from the dumpster of a florist shop and hang them in his apartment to dry and then sell bunches of these dried flowers on the street to make his rent and to be able to buy cigarettes, beans and tortillas and once in a while, a bottle of tequila. Someone said in a letter from the early 1960's that, on one occasion, he was selling dried flowers when a young eastern European sounding man (possibly Lithuanian) walked by as he said "flores secas'. The man stopped for a moment and asked him to repeat what he had said and Johnnie repeated 'flores secas' and the European man said 'Fluxus?' and Johnie replied, "Jes! flores secas." and that this was the beginning of what we now know as Fluxus.
on the back it says: Johnnie Rodriquez - Age 15
When the family received the above photograph a short note was with it; "Aquí esta una foto mí en la ciudad de Nueva York. Fue tomada por un extraño de nombre Andy no se que me siguio cuando me vio empacar mis latas de sopa de tomate Cambell’s (es la marca) que acababa de comprar y las puse en forma de pirámide. Yo estaba con nostalgia y recordaba Teotihuacan. Él se me hace una persona rara, pero es típica de mi barrio. Contento se me hacerco me agito el hombro y me dijo “That’s it! Thank you man!” quire decir (eso es! Gracias hombre!) y nunca supe gracias de que. Que raro. Aque en la ciudad de Nueva York hay mucha gente rara y el es uno de ellos."
Translated this means more or less, "Here is a picture of me in the city of New York. It was taken by a weird guy named Andy something who was following me around when I was stacking cans of Campbell's tomato soup into the form of a pyramid like at Teotihuacan since I was homesick. He is a strange guy but typical of my neighborhood. When he saw the cans of soup he shook my shoulder and said; "That's it! Thanks man! But thanks for what? I still don't know. How odd. Here in New York there are many strange people and he is one of them."