Are you ready for a crazy story you will never forget? My good friend Peter will be missed by so many, but his ideas and spirt will forever influence those who were lucky enough to know him. He was a powerful man, a powerful artist. Peter helped me at one of the most difficult points of my life, when I was incarcerated in Prague (I plead innocence, it was more comical than anything). I was booked in Prague jail for, "not having identification"... because all of my cameras and equipment (including my passport), were stolen out of my hotel room when I was at the movies. Yes, I did have a huge man down on the ground threatening to rip his heart out through his ass if he didn't give me back my property... but the cops were in on the theft (as screwed up as that sounds), and I guess choking out a thief is technically illegal, (if you don't have identification?). In my defense, it's hard to show identification to the police when your passport was one of the items that were stolen. But the cops knew that.
Anyway... there I was, everything taken from my room, about two weeks before I was supposed to exhibit in Los Angeles... all my three months of photographic work that was to be the core of a series titled, "Women In Sunglasses", was gone. And let's just say, I exhausted ALL METHODS of getting my footage back. This was to be my biggest exhibition to date, and I was TOTALLY screwed! I didn't have the heart to tell the gallery that months of planning just went down the tubes... so I called (from jail), and pretended to the gallery owners that everything was A-OK (remember Jason McDad?). But in reality... I had NO idea what in the hell I was going to do.
As destiny had it, one of my BELOVED Quantum Jujitsu students (Virginia Jameson), just happened to be coming to Prague the evening I got released from police custody... and so let's just say that Virginia basically bailed me out of a very bad situation.
It was at this time, because I didn't have the heart to tell the gallery hosting my exhibition that I didn't have shit to show, (no series... not photos... no nothing!)... that I called Peter. All I knew about Peter was that he worked at Tripod Studio Galler , and that I got along really well with him during a photo campaign I was the subject of for with Lululemo(regarding my brand, Warrior Yog). Peter, who I thought was a mere "photo assistant", might have enough pull to get me some free-time at the studio upon my rapid return to the United States. My return was scheduled for about a week prior to my big art exhibition, and it doesn't get any more high-pressure than that. My choice was to submit to defeat, or to pull a show out of my ass that would impress the art critics. A heist... a true art heist.
I remember calling the studio to ask for Peter, and Steven Deme (his business partner) passed the phone to Peter. The conversation went like this... "Hey Peter. Do you remember me? This is Jeremy Corbell... I'm in jail in Prague, and I need a studio to take some photos at and throw a big party in the next seven days... I'm on my way back to the US now. I don't have any money. Do you think you can ask your boss if you guys could help me?" He said something like, "Darling... don't be ridiculous... this is my photography studio. Art is outrageous... we will make it extravagant!" I'm sure it wasn't music to his business partner's ears... but he did just what he said he would do... without judgement, or even a flinch... Peter's kindness and reckless abandon in the name of art (and probably some arm twisting of Suzie Deme and Steven Demer)... Peter uplifted me at a time of great challenge. Peter, Suzie and Stephen accepted me into the studio, with all of my shenanigans and chaos... and something magical happened. Ironically... It was just mere hours before the "live photo shoot" that fingers crossed, was to become my exhibition series... that Peter thrust a polaroid camera out of his safe, and into my hands. He said, "This is what you need, it's fabulous, you will love it. This camera is FANTASTIC. It's more you."... and that was the FIRST polaroid art series I ever did!
What a guy. What a special friend. Needless to say that for years after that moment, the moment I realized that I was in the presence of a true artist, a reckless, altruistic accomplice... that I was fortunate enough to have Peter in my life. We were thick as thieves from then on.
Peter changed me, he transformed my way of thinking, both artistically and fundamentally. Every time I would meet up with Peter for a coffee or for lunch, he would be telling me about the latest fashion that Lady Gaga adorned herself with... or showing me photos of mysterious people and places. He would tell me that we had to go to Cuba together... that he knew a guy (that knew a guy), that could get us "Q-Visas for International Cultural Exchange"... and that we just had to trick his doctors or whatever... to, "stop them from pestering me with their ridiculous diagnoses" (Peter had been ill from time to time).
So, Peter was a dreamer... but the rare kind that would make shit happen and then just beg for forgiveness. I loved, and hold love for Peter in my heart and my film-work each and every day. As with all great men, Peter was many things to many people. He was friend, father, mentor, partner and visionary. To me... he was THE MAN... and I doubt I will ever find an artist mentor as loving and influential as Peter.
We had this thing we would say, because for some reason, Peter hated goodbye. We would part, and he would always shout, "I gotta go see a man about a dog". It was his way of saying, I gotta go, be good... and if not... don't get caught (this time). It was implied mischief.
If you want to see some of Peter and me (during that time), check out the footage from my photography series Women In Sunglasses. That show was a heist... I will admit that now. I had no show... I had no money... all I had was a willing accomplice... Peter Carapetian. And as he had predicted... we made it "extravagant".
Share this story... people should know about Peter if they don't already. Peter was a TRUE artist.
I gotta go see a man about a dog,
Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell