Steve Terry is the man behind Wild Life Press, an independent publisher that creates limited edition books (among other things, like a lookbook and even a flexi disc) working in close conjunction with the artist or subject. And by “close,” Terry doesn’t mean phone calls or emails—it involves, for example, sitting down in Ernie Glam’s apartment and going through boxes and boxes of more than 700 photos taken by Alexis Dibiasio of the New York Club Kids in the ’80-’90s (46 of these made the cut for “Fabulousity: A Night You’ll Never Forget…or Remember!“). “I’ve been collecting night life and youth culture-related printed matter for over 25 years and have always had an interest in both art & printing,” Terry tells CH. “The collection was built out to become the Wild Life Archive, and starting a publishing imprint as part of that seemed a natural progression.”
Recently uprooted from the UK to Portland, Oregon, Terry bumped into the folks over at the PDX concept shop Table of Contents—the ones behind this crazy bike lock—and he’s now bringing Wild Life Press books as well as much-desired selects from his aforementioned collection to the store. Some of these rare vintage books include “El Baile” by Pacha, “Hippy Hi” by Richard Crone, “Punx” by Hubert Gloss, “R” by Will McBride and few more one-offs. Expect the now out-of-print copies of “Fabulosity,” “West Side Rendezvous,” (where photographer Katsu Naito documents the transvestite and transsexual street-walkers of New York’s Meatpacking District in the early ’90s) and “Join in the Chant” (contrasting ephemera from ’60s hippie concerts in the US with the ’80-’90s raves in the UK) to go quickly.
An avid club-goer since he was 15, Terry grew up in the night life scene, promoting parties and records. He now promotes powerful, untold stories that have either been forgotten in history or kept quiet underground, which he feels should be shared with more people. Wild Life’s most recent publication, for example, is photographer Elegance Bratton’s book, “Bound By Night,” which explores the “wildly creative and competitive” House Ballroom scene, a place where a subculture of LGBTQ find their family, fame and a sense of belonging.
Terry explains his criteria for determining what becomes a Wild Life Press book: “It’s usually either an extension of what I collect for the archive or a book I feel that should be made that hasn’t as yet. This was the case for both “Fabulousity” and “Bound by Night“—I wanted to own an image-based book on the New York Club Kids and a document of the contemporary Ballroom Scene on the East Coast. I normally work with unpublished artists or more underground artists as these are where I find my inspiration.”
And for those who want to learn what an alt-culture aficionado and collector reads, Terry tells us what’s currently on his bedside table: “A bit of a mixed bag! I just finished Jon Savage’s “England’s Dreaming” (a brilliant account of the London punk scene) and have started reading both “Area” by Eric & Jennifer Goode about the legendary NYC nightclub and “Abundance” by Peter Diamandis which outlines how new technologies will transform society and bring us into a new optimistic, abundant era.”
For those in Portland, drop by Table of Contents from 6-8PM on 17 July 2014 for their launch event where you can browse the collection in person and shakes hands with Terry. For everyone else, books will become available for purchase from TOC’s online shop at the same time.
Images courtesy of Table of Contents