by Kari Hendrick
Cocksucker Blues is one of the most notable documentaries ever made about the Rolling Stones by photographer/filmmaker Robert Frank. It captures the drunken horizons of real life on the road in 1972; late nights and early mornings, filled with drug use and group sex. After the film was made, Jagger argued with Frank that the show wouldn’t be allowed to air, and if it did, they most definitely wouldn’t be allowed back into the United States.
This same gritty, muddy style from Frank during this film is reflected in his photos from the 1920’s, as an outsider’s perspective of american society; primitive and raw. Frank began as a Jewish photographer in Europe during World War 2, shining light on tradition – and then challenging it. In his most famous book of photos, “The Americans,” Frank decided to shoot single images of just that, the “americans”. As an immigrant to the United States, he was able to see more clearly and depict in truth the existence of small-town America, and the disparity, poverty, loneliness, want, and blatant racism it encompassed at the time. For years, his photos were rejected, some thinking they looked too sad or drab. But as Jack Kerouac put it, “Frank was able to capture a sad poem right out of America” and put it into simple black and white film.