When Robert came to the studio, he was wearing a black t-shirt and leather suspenders. In these photos, his eyes and smile really shine through. For as outspoken, vocal, and visible he was in many of the ACT UP demos and in the press, I caught a bit of shyness in Robert.
After we did the shoot and I thought I had “the shot”, I asked Robert if he wanted to play around, photographically speaking, that is.
We tired on several of my button down shirts and settled on this white one. Then I thought, unbuttoned! Then I thought, fan!. I put the main light up very high, turned the fan on and told Robert to “have fun and go with it!”
We had some great fun during this part of the shoot, Roberts playful side came out, and I caught the great smile he had.
A few days later, he was trying to fax me his statement to go with his portrait. For some reason, our fax machines didn’t like each other and the fax would not go through. As we were on the phone trying to figure it out, I asked him to just read it to me and I would write it down. He was a little hesitant, but eventually he read it to me:
“So, I would whisper to myself as I was marching, shouting, demonstrating, fighting back: “Robert, every step is a tear you don’t want to cry, every arrest is an act of hope.” I don’t know what ACT UP represents, a little order in this chaos we know as the AIDS Crisis.”
Robert Garcia died in 1993 at the age of 31.