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Reclusive Steven Meisel Talks Vices, Aging, and His First Job

>> Steven Meisel, who is legendary for his photography, but also for his mysteriousness — he's reclusive, with public appearances few and far between — and always covered up, with dark sunglasses, head covering, and a uniform of black.  He won't discuss the boyfriend he lives with, and he even finds seclusion on shoots, working from behind a scrim or in a black box.  

But he's opening up a little — it was just announced that he will make a personal appearance at the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography at the end of this month, and Jonathan Van Meter caught him for a series of phone interviews recently, collected in a profile for the May 2009 issue of Vogue:

Back in high school, Meisel's hair was down to there, according to classmate Pat Cleveland.

"He had this long, silky black hair down to the bottom of his derriere. He wore really tight little jeans and beautiful shirts. He wasn't wild. But, you know, when you see someone who is that beautiful, they don't have to be outrageous and loud. He didn't have to push his way into anything."

"Oh, he drove me crazy." »

His first job, also in high school, was at Halston; he despised the designer.

"Everyone would be called into this room, and he would stand there like . . . like . . . Kay Thompson. 'Think Pink!' Oh, he drove me crazy. He would yell at me and say, 'Don't just sit around, Pocahontas! You have to do something!'"

In those days, he spent plenty of time in public.

"I went to every single club, every single hangout, every single after-hours drug place. There wasn't one thing that I didn't do; there wasn't one place that I didn't go to."

Can his reclusiveness, and his affinity to airbrushing, be chalked up to his own aging process?

"Would I rather look 20 again?  Uh . . . yeah? I think anyone who says no would be crazy. It's difficult. It's also difficult physically. I don't have the stamina I once did." He pauses. "But the other stuff? What are you going to do? I love plastic surgery. I haven't had any, because it's very hit or miss. Even with the best doctors . . . there's no guarantee.  OK, am I getting plastic surgery?  I don't think so."

Some say he's self-conscious about his weight; he admits his one vice is "food."

"This week I even tried hypnosis," he says, laughing. "Still, I see the cookie!"

*image: source

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