The past weekend has been a good one for the photographer Nan Goldin. Last Friday brought news that she had joined the roster of Marian Goodman Gallery, of New York, London, and Paris. And last night, Goldin took a star turn on an episode of HBO’s The Deuce, a series about the porn industry in 1970s Manhattan, playing a patron at a bar in the city’s Times Square area.
In the episode, Goldin looks at photographs from her “Ballad of Sexual Dependency” series, which hang on the walls of the Hi-Hat bar. “They call that art?” Goldin asks Vincent Martino (James Franco), the bar’s owner. “I coulda done that.” In the same scene, an actress playing a younger version of Goldin photographs Vincent and others in the bar as they enjoy the evening’s festivities.
The scene likely has some personal resonance for Goldin. In interviews, she has described working at a bar in Times Square around the same time that The Deuce is set, and she’s talked about the ways in which the porn industry destroyed some of her friends’ lives. “I know what is the business of pornography,” she said at a panel in 2011, according to a Paris Review report.
This is actually not Goldin’s first appearance in a production about the world of pornography in an earlier New York. In the undersung 1983 Bette Gordon film Variety, a drama about a woman working at an adult theater. Goldin plays Nan, one of the protagonist’s friends.
David Simon, a co-creator of The Deuce, said on Twitter, “What do you have to do to get the great Nan Goldin to do a big fat meta-cameo on your television drama? You have to study her photographs of 1970s Times Square and inject the raw DNA into your film sets, your wardrobe department, your hair and makeup trailer, your story & themes.”