Motley Crue bassist, Nikki Sixx is a recovering addict. But cameras, he says, are his new drug. He has been a musician, a writer and a radio host. His new passion is photography. To be honest, I was pretty surprised by his images. They are empathetic, penetrative and incredibly personal. He has teamed up with Leica to photograph a two-part interview series.
Read the first part, ‘One Step Up From the Abyss,’ here. The photos were taken while he was on tour, but there are no photos of the band. Instead, he focuses on the people he meets on the streets, and the stories of the people in them.
"You hit a place where you go all the way back and reflect on your life. I’m 54 years old; I have more years behind me than there will be in front of me. You hit a place where you want to reflect; maybe it happens sometime in your 40s. I’m a father of four and a recovering heroin addict. I’ve been doing all this creative stuff, not for money, but for passion. Sometimes it does turn into money and I’m able to support my family and continue to be an artist. That is why I always support other people to become successful artists. I say, “That’s beautiful. If you’ve done it once you can do it again.” You can keep doing it. We all benefit from it. If you are a fan of a photographer or painter or musician, you can benefit if they can be successful."
"I asked the distraught girl how she was doing and she told me she hadn’t had a fix in two days and was in a lot of pain. I asked the other girl how she was doing. She told me she was a prostitute. I asked if I could take their picture. And one girl told the other it was going to be okay and put her arm around her friend. If you zoom in on the girl with the pained expression, you can see the track marks on her arms. She has tons of scars from the needles. It’s such a simple picture, but I wanted to include it because it showed some from of nurturing."
"I met Lonnie, the girl shooting up in photos I shot, in Victoria. There are these two squatter buildings. They’ve thrown all the furniture out of the windows and it has landed in the alleyway between them. There’s this iron fence that blocks it off. It’s formed some version of shelter under the couches and tables and stuff. I saw something as I was driving past the buildings, so I pulled over. I had both cameras around my neck. Someone was holding a cardboard box in front of her face. I told them I wasn’t going to shoot a picture and I wasn’t the police. I said I would like to take their picture if they’d let me and that my name is Nikki. I am a recovering heroin addict. She put down the box and told me she liked it there because of the couches. ..She sat down and we started talking. She asked if I minded if she got high. I told her no but asked if I could photograph it. Then she asked if it would bother me because she knew I was a recovering addict. Such compassion. After we were done, I told her I was going to leave. She asked if she could give me a hug. She gave me a hug and she held on a little too long. She just needed that and felt really grateful. So I started walking back to my car and she called out after me and told me I dropped something. I looked down and there were four $20 dollar bills on the ground. I asked her why she bothered to tell me that. She told me it was because the money was mine. This made me feel like I needed to be a better person. Here was a girl who has nothing, and she was concerned that I lost my money. I just gave her the money and thanked her. But I learned something."
"I met Patrick outside the Main Street Project in Winnipeg Canada today.I asked what he was doing and he simply said ‘WAITING’.He kept staring straight ahead.I took a few pictures and when we were done we said our goodbye’s but for some reason I stopped,turned around to look back at him and this is what i saw.”A man so focused on the door of a building that nothing and i mean nothing else really mattered”.They were about to open to door’s to take people in for the night,shower and feed them.The complete desolation of this shot touched me.The man walking in the background has a story too but i am sure Patrick could care less,he only had one thing on his mind."
"The man & woman in the photos are named Tess and James.Tess is 65 and James is 55.Tess’s best friend since childhood had just passed away and she said she hadn’t been to sleep in 3 days. James was there for her emotional support. Tess told me James has been her friend for over 20 years as she rubbed his arm. As i was taking photo’s she broke down and started crying again.She told me her son used to be a photographer and I reminded her of him. We sat for a while. They are from San Francisco and said they we’re heading to Echo Park."
"This photo is of Jasmine (reading a Ben Harper book ).She was waiting at a bus stop on Sunset blvd.She was from Hollywood but wouldn’t tell me where she was going. She was coy and cute yet distant. I couldn’t really connect with her. She was happy i gave her money and even happier when i walked away…"
See more of Nikki Sixx's images on his Tumblr
Cover image by Mary Ouellette. Images by Nikki Sixx