NVU with Walter Csna

Dear Shaded Viewers,

You've noticed over the past month posts from a contributor Walter Csna, some of you love him some of you hate him but it seems no one remains neutral. We met a long time ago when I was a fashion designer in New York and he was a teenage fashion writer. I thought that I'd make this interview with him and for those of you in either camp, please express your feelings directly to him under comments.

DP: We met in the 80's in NYC, you were a teenager and writing about fashion for what was it? The East Village Eye? How did that all come about?

WC: I was a 17 year old fashion editor/photographer/stylist/writer/alternative magazine publisher/FASHION terrorist at NY TALK & DETAILS where I had a column about new designers called THE YOUNG LINES.


DP: When did you have your fanzine? What was the focus?

WC: I atarted the KEY when I was 15 and assisting Carol Horn on 7th Ave and I was living in the Chelsea and every night was Danceteria or Roxy or Berlin. I did a veryt anti-fashion subtly sattired xeroxed zine that caught the eye of Norma Kamali and she introduced me to the publisher Stanly Harris who bought it and took it into the actual newstand found fashion bulletin. We broke a lot of new designers like Isabel Toledo and Marc Jacobs way back in the day.


DP: For a while you were a designer, what was that like and why did you stop?

WC: I kept getting sued. FIrst by American Airlines for stealing their blankets and turning them into sexy dresses and then LOUIS VUITTON for doing a cover of a magazine (my Magazine CSNA) that featured a topless girl strangling herself wearing a LV bag refashioned into an ultra chic Bondage mask. They freaked – I was censored by LV. It was tacky. I wasn't allowed to profit off of my own magazine unless I put stickers over the mask. I decided to give them all away for free which is how I got my job managing GALLAGHERS fashion archive for 3 years.


DP: If you had to put yourself in a box, do you consider yourself an artist or a photographer?

WC: I am just shooting stuff I see in my daily  life, the people I'm blessed to meet or the crazy strangers I encounter on the city streets.


DP: When did you first pick up a camera?

WC: At 15 I shot a lot of the early stuff in THE KEY & STOP cause no on would work with me.

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DP: Do you always leave your house with your camera and are you looking for anything in particular?

WC: Oh yearh, cause I'm obsessed with street art. I'm kinda  sick right now and not getting to shoot is driving me nuts! I always shoot with a cheapie digi camera, always about 100 $.


DP: WHat have been the most interesting stories about the subjects of your photographs?

WC: People really like the picture of me about to cut off my tongue, thats always popular and the doll stuff still rocks it & I try to do as many impromptu portraits as I can when traveling. I'm writing a lot though lately so thats been more my focus. 


DP: WHo is Mouse to you, did you give her that name?

WC: I met Mouse when she was 16 and we both worked at this tacky restaurant in the Poconos and we knew we had to do pictures so it was instant and I kept in her life for the next 6 years shooting, her husband Tommy and all the other boys in between.

DP: How do you see your photographs?

WC: I look at them and laugh my ass off.

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DP: How would you define your character?

WC: Laid back dude into ink and no bullshit and being creative everday and always trying to do something better.

DP: What are you trying to transmit with your photographs?



DP: Let's talk about your dolls?

WC: I wanted an excuse to make 500 couture style miniature  dresses.


DP: What do you consider the most interesting series that you have done so far and why?

WC: The pictures I've taken over the past two years of my on again off again BF Will have been so random & personal & correct so  I must say your lover is a fabulous subject!

DP: Where did you grow up?

WC: Bayside, Queens.


DP: When did you move to San Francisco?

WC: When I was 30 to clean up my act. Yeah, right , I was a pot dealin hustler in a castro castle doin whatever I liked.

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DP: Do you have any icons? Who are they?

WC: My mom and dad and russ meyer & avedon & Vreeland of course and major respect for MR. PENN.

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DP: What are your favorite films?

WC: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls  forever, Mahogny, Gloria, The Seven Minuts, 9-5, The Getaway, Papermoon, The Incredibles.


DP:  How does music drive your life and who do you like to listen to?

WC: I listen to everything but really love dance music and old disco. I try to listen to all the new stuff but always end up going back to Mary J. Blige!


DP:You shoot volumes, any plans to put together a book?

WC: I am working on a book right now, it's my blog basically in printed form and the working title is FUKT 2 START WITH a mix of my short stories & photos and drawings and musings & abusings.

DP: Can you give me a resume of your life since we met? 
WC: I have been a full on fashion freak for over 25 years and I still get highly inspired by the wackest shit ever. I started as a fashion designer at 13, started self publishing at 15, became a fashion writer & stylist at 17 and basically did a little of that till I was 40 for magazines/newspapers like The Village Voice, Interview, Italian Vogue, Per Lui, Lei, i-D, Elle, Vanity Fair, too many more to mention. Started dabbling in web based content in the 90's for HBO and word.com. Lived in Cali for 6 years where I started as an editor for Ray Gun Publishing and ended up a bud delivery dude and full blown hustler. Left that all behind and came back to NYC where I did 1 off visual only mag called CSNA-got sued by LV got hired to manage Gallaghers fashion archive till it went bust 3 years later and have been a full time artist/blogger for the past 3 years.

DP: Has life turned out the way you thought that it would?

WC: Hell NO!

DP: Is there anything that you'd like to change?

WC: Nothing

DP: Are you working on any projects that you want to talk about?

WC: My other book – all photos called THE BEST WORST 2 YEARS OF MY LIFE. basically a really tragic but uber romantic recall of a love affair in reverse told through 200 very personal & in the moment pictures – kind my Nan Goldin moment.


Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.