by John Russel Jones

The art and fashion worlds are mourning the loss of photographer Marcus Leatherdale, who passed away on Friday, April 22, at the age of 69. His work has been featured in the original Details, as well as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Interview, and i-D magazines. Leatherdale was particularly well-known for chronicling the 1980s New York City nightlife and celebrity scene, but also for his moving shots of the people of India. Born in Montreal, Leatherdale was fellow photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s office manager, boyfriend, and model, and worked for curator Sam Wagstaff. 

“Marcus Leatherdale was a calm, cool, beautiful presence in the room always,” says fashion designer and queen of New York nightlife Dianne Brill. “We were friends together every night with our downtown tribe of artists, writers, musicians, wits, and creators of self-styled amazing looks. Marcus was movie-star handsome in his leather jacket and denim vest. He was glamorous and yet so warm and comfortable to be with. Marcus’s art has greatness. All of us that he shot from Andy Warhol, Iman, Claudia Summers, and so many other culturally influencing downtown stars are so lucky to have been part of his legacy forever. Bless the boy.”

“Marcus was a wonderfully talented human being who cared more about his art than accolades, though he deserved way more than he received,” says fashion journalist and icon Lauren Ezersky. “He was super talented. As a person, if you were his friend, you were his friend. He was so young! This happened way too soon. He went to India and took these beautiful pictures, and you really see the passion he had for people. I think we will look at his work now and rediscover and appreciate it. We have lost a great talent.”

On Facebook, friends and celebrities offered tribute, including the actor and drag icon Divine, who shared Leatherdale’s portraits of himself, as did fellow drag icon Lypsinka.  

The photo above by Marcus Leatherdale, from his Facebook page, of him and his friend Babaji, taken in Banaras, India.


  1. I knew Marcus well as part of the Rupert Smith/Andy Warhol set in the early to mid 1980’s. We shared a love of India, where we had both spent a lot of time. I am so glad to see his talent acknowledged.

    That said, Divine, a/k/a Glenn to his friends, died two decades ago, so I am presuming someone else did the posting to a Divine FB page.

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