Coreen Simpson

“Go the way your blood beats”

James Baldwin

NY was unseasonably hot this September.  We took an uber from our Airbnb in coolness and were early for our meeting.  Coreen Simpson was a fascinating interviewee as not only was she the inspiration for the Black Cameo that was ultimately picked up by Avon, but is also a world renowned photographer for her work in the Hip Hop and music world, photographing the stars like David Bowie.  Hardy and I sat across the street and waited until 10:00 exactly to walk across the street to her apartment for our interview.The humidity was nearly unbearable as we knocked on her apartment building door and was let in by a kindly soul opening the door. Coreen lives on the 4th floor and has a view of the Hudson River that is unbeatable. She opened the door and was an impressive statuesque force of nature in a long white dress designed by Iman.  She has a partner named Keith, and the two of them ushered us into a fascinating apartment that was filled with movie star charm.  A black and white houndstooth sofa is where she sat and faced us as fans whirred the heat in from the river and throughout her apartment.  A buffet table of her jewelry was awaiting us as if a feast for the eyes.  Coreen commands all attention and holds the crowd captive.  I setup my camera in front of the mirrors while Keith fixed us lemonade drinks and Hardy started photographing the environment.  We were so excited to meet each other that we started to have a very lively conversation about all things and as it turned out we all four got along famously.  We laughed and talked informally for about an hour. Coreen is an all consuming presence and has total starpower.  She was a model so she knew how to pose for the camera, and talked very frankly about what it took for her to become a success in the jewelry industry.  She has a streetwise edge and knows everyone.  As it turns out we had a dear friend and colleague in common, Albert Chong, and even more a coincidence she was the artist in residence when I was in graduate school and Coreen stayed with Albert and his family, just a few doors down from where I lived in Boulder in family housing on Athens Court.  As she told me this I had a memory of her walking in my hood.  I unfortunately did not see her speak at that time, but knowing Albert broke all the ice, and we were fast friends as of that moment.  Her interview was powerful, poignant and astute.  She has an enduring quality that just does not quit, and her strength, power, poise and self confidence absorbed every ounce of my attention. I could not take my eyes off of her and was flattered beyond belief when she told me that my questions were really really good ones, and that the interview was interesting and informative.  Nothing could prepare us for the purity and clarity of her responses, as well as the clarity of her truthfulness and insight.

Hardy Klahold