Jon Aes-Nihil has spent many years as a kind of enigma of the local underground. He has sometimes been referred to as “The LA Warhol,” but rather than being based on any substantive connection between the two, that title is mostly due to the fact that Aes-Nihil has white hair and surrounds himself with a cadre of strange and flamboyant people. The man himself is cryptic to the point of pain, a mystery even to many who consider him a friend. One thing that is largely unknown about him is that he is a skilled photographer who has been chronicling the American underground since the mid-1960s, when he was a precocious youth in the Bay Area. That’s nearly half a century of shooting the best and worst of what our nation’s counter culture has to offer, and Aes-Nihil has agreed to open up his vaults for his first ever photo show at the Rat Factory on Highland. Among the highlights of his collection are vintage photos of the Velvet Underground live (“It was the ultimate,” he tells us); the Stooges from 72 and 73 (“Probably the best rock shows I have ever seen”); bands like The Who and The Jefferson Airplane during the Summer of Love, the first wave of New York Punk, Sun Ra in the mid 70s (“absolutely incredible”); andjust about anything and everything that was happening in LA from the late 70s on, and icons like John Waters, Allen Ginsburg, and compellingly, the last photos ever taken of William S. Burroughs (“We sat around talking about L. Ron Hubbard. He [Burroughs] said, ‘He was probably the most corrupt man who ever lived.’ “)
Not all of it will be pretty, but it’s history in all its messy glory.
Jon Aes-Nihil photo show at the Rat Factory (Upstairs at Glitter Death)
Opening: February 28, 7- 1am
1443 N. Highland Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Runs through March 14
Gallery hours coincide with opening hours for Glitter Death, normally noon to 10 pm
For more information, call Glitter Death, (323) 839-9872
All photos, Jon Aes-Nihil.
Top, William Burroughs with David Woodard and Dreamachine 1997.