Since the ’80s, photographer Sally Davies has documented the city’s graffiti-soaked, neon-lit streetscapes. Now she’s stepping, for the first time, into the homes of city dwellers with her new book “New Yorkers” (Ammonite Press), out April 1.
“I began to wonder who the hell lived in these buildings that I had always photographed,” Davies (inset) told The Post. “I decided . . . I would get off the streets after 35 years, and I would photograph New Yorkers in their apartments — in all their unusual, beautiful, strange, boring and authentic glory.”
There are 76 portraits and tales of cabbies, artists, doctors, Broadway denizens, tattoo artists and even avant-garde artist/musician Laurie Anderson.
“Everyone in the book tells a singular and amazing story,” said Davies. But, just like a city, it’s everyone together that makes it special: “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Here are a few of her fascinating subjects.
Marina Press Granger
Marina Press Granger, 36, left the Ukraine in 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed. Her family settled in South Brooklyn and she studied ballet for a decade. But today the art scene in the East Village is her calling. Granger’s downtown apartment, shared with her fluffy pooch, Odette, is pretty in pink but also a powerful statement of identity.
“I helped an elderly woman cross Delancey Street at Bowery,” she recalls in Davies’ book. “She asked me if I lived in the neighborhood and I said, ‘Oh no, I can’t afford to.’
“She looked at me and said, ‘If you belong here you’ll find a place here.’ That was a game changer for me. Well, I belong here and I did find a place . . . The bazillionaires can buy up all the real estate in Midtown all they want. No one wants to live there anyway!”
“I love the big town because I came from a small village,” Rachid Alsataf told Davies. “I love the big buildings, I love the noises, the bars, the restaurants, the lights . . .”
The 75-year-old has done a lot with his life. One of nine siblings born in Raqqa, Syria, he has taught elementary school, fought in a war, run an electronics business and, most recently, driven a cab. Since 1994, the same modest East Village apartment has been his home.
“I love the diversity here. I do not live with just the Arabic community — I live with Chinese . . . with Greeks . . . with Ukrainians! I love it!”
Sylvia Parker Maier
Her father was a Motown musician. Her mother was an Upper East Side classical pianist. And it looks like all the inherited cool got injected straight into Sylvia Parker Maier’s Brooklyn pad.
Decked out in lush plants and colorful portraits of far-flung locales, the brownstone is the home the 51-year-old painter and former model shares with her husband, Andre, sons Rio and Noah, and golden retrievers Milo and Boney.
She was drawn to art as a girl, falling in love with the religious paintings at the church she attended every day with her grandma.
As she recalls in the book: “My mom was asked, ‘Where are you from?’ all the time because of her thick Argentine accent. She’d respond, ‘I’m a New Yorker,’ even though she wasn’t born here. If she was a city, she would have been New York. When I miss her, I look at the skyline and feel her.”
Poised and beturbaned, with beloved dog Bella at her side, Suzanne Mallouk, 60, cuts a striking figure in her tony home along Central Park West. But the Canadian transplant once lived a bohemian existence as a waitress at Max’s Kansas City, a cigarette girl at the Ritz and lover to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Together, Mallouk and Basquiat lived on East 1st Street, a loft on Crosby Street, the Algonquin Hotel and, before he found fame, sometimes in the stairwell of a friend’s building. After Basquiat passed away in 1988 at age 27, Mallouk attended medical school and now works as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.
“New York City is like a living organism, always growing and changing. It is a very alive city. The natural rhythm of the city feels synchronous or harmonious to my own,” she says in the book. ”I feel depressed anywhere else.”
Sam Swope and Jim Tryforos
In 1994, Sam Swope, 67, and Jim Tryforos, 65, were looking for one apartment. But when they came across two available studios in a brownstone on 90th Street on the Upper West Side, they decided to make it work. They’ve lived together, just on separate floors, ever since.
Swope (in blue), from Pennsylvania, worked as a cater waiter and movie prop man, before founding the Academy for Teachers, a continuing-education and resource program for city educators. Tryforos (in brown) grew up in California and is a dancer-turned-physical therapist. He and Swope shun new New York’s “Starbucks mentality” and are holding onto the underground.
“The unusual, the unique, and the adventure of discovery seem lost forever to high-end everything,” Tryforos told Davies. “Soon, if pot becomes legal, all vice will be struck down and the NYC underbelly will be tragically [at risk of disappearing].” But he can’t imagine leaving: “The city still speaks to me . . . It offers the refuge of anonymity . . . And how to possibly live without its brilliant and cherished public transportation system?”
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