Welcome to the Insta-hood: @vintageannalsarchive !

this week I interviewed social media account: @vintageannalsarchive:

  1. Tell me a little about yourself.
    “My name is Rich Wexler. I am a special education high school teacher, Photographer (under
    New Castro Photo (also Instagram page) http://www.newcastrocameraphotography.com/
    named after LGBTQIA+ activist Harvey Milk) I consider myself an activist and try to use
    teaching, my photography (documentary), my vintage annals page to help spread information
    and images of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and other unseen or under documented minorities. As a Jew
    I fall into both of those worlds to an extent and have always tried to use my white privilege to
    offer my experiences and talents to all diverse communities. I am also a film, pop culture, and
    music nerd. My claim to fame in those worlds is based around being a puppeteer (I was born on
    Jim Henson b-day) and did a puppet show on the same bill as Sufjan Stevens (pre-indie fame)
    as well as met Frank Oz once. My brain exploded meeting Yoda, Miss Piggy, Bert, Grover,
    Animal, Grover, and ½ of the Swedish Chef all at once. Frank was the nicest man in the world
    and thanked me for being a fan. I have so much respect for Frank who in my opinion was part of
    changing the world for the better for kids my age in the 70’s. I have spent a lot of my life doing
    all kinds of different things. I worked at a LGBTQIA community center, puppet theater, hot dog
    cart vendor, Orthodox Jewish School and Camp, Psych hospital as a general teacher, etc. To me
    having stories and a life of experiences has always been more important than financial stability. I
    do identify as having dyslexia, and having dealt with anxiety and depression much in my life.
    Teaching, photography, music, and art really have really kept me together. I am currently
    learning guitar mainly through 1970’s songs including “Dust in The Wind”, and “Time In A
    Bottle”, I will always love that stuff. I have also avidly shoot and collected 3D photography and
    other forms. I will mention that more later. Also I grew up in Philadelphia and have been here
    my whole life but now in West Philly.”
  2. What made you want to start collecting and archiving vintage images? 

“This goes way back to being a kid and teen. I always liked collecting stuff but also loved older
items that my parents and grandparents had. My grandparents were kind of hoarders and pack
rats and had the best stuff. They collected these types of decorative whiskey bottles. I remember
actually drinking from one and it was gross. It was this malt liquor whiskey. Even in high school
we wouldn’t drink from them. Also my dad’s best friend owned a video store and let me have
full reign of all the posters, collectibles, and promo stuff. Whenever I go to a thrift store I always
feel like I’m in those places. The stuff I remember the most was a full cardboard stand up of
“The Toxic Avenger”, and original Sixteen Candles poster, and a AM/FM radio promo for
Tremors 2. I was pretty obsessed with thrift store clothing after being obsessed with “Valley
Girl”, and “Pretty in Pink” I wanted to be a punkier version of Duckie. My Jewish mom didn’t
want her son to dress like the homeless so I wasn’t allowed to shop at thrift stores. So of course I
rebelled and it just stuck. There was nothing better in the world than thrifting in the late 80’s and

90’s before Ebay. I was an avid thrift shopper for years in the Phily/Jersey area. I miss that so
much. Since I grew up with a mother and family who always took pictures I was always
interested in old photos and films. I grew up watching 8mm films, slides, and home movies on
the wall of our house. I loved the visceral experience as well as the illumination of images such
as slides. This is around the same time I got obsessed with 3D stuff. I had a viewmaster as a kid
and remember watching “The Creature From The Black Lagoon” on tv with old school glasses. I
always went to see the 3D theater releases and fondly remember “Coming at Ya” and “Jaws 3D”
as well as lenticulars and 3D comics. At some point in my thrifting experiences, I started to get
interested in people’s family photos and family films. I can’t really explain it but to me all that
was art. I consider it a form of folk art. I love having to kind of make up your own stories about
what the families were like. One time I actually found a photo of my own family. It was a photo
of my mother and Paul Anka. I kind of lost my mind for a few minutes. I soon realized that my
dad dropped it off, but I didn’t know that in the moment. My two best finds are as follows. I once
bought $100 worth of unseen family 8mm and Super 8 films. In that set was a homemade film
from the Weeki Wachee Mermaids from Florida in the 1960’s. It was shot in slow motion and
was blue and to this day it’s the most beautiful footage I have even seen. I used to play records
along with the films and was just transformed. My second best find is what is called a Personal
Viewmaster Reel. In the mid 1950’s Viewmaster made a home personal Viewmaster stereo
camera. You would shoot slide film and send it to Viewmaster and they’d send you your own 3D
photos. I think they did this till around the 80’s. My friend was with me and looking for 3D
Viewmaster reels for an art project and we found a few. When we looked at them they were
peoples actual photographs in 3D. When I looked at them I was transported to another time. The
immersive nature of 3d viewmaster puts you in that world. I have never again had such a visceral
experience. After years of collected them I actually figured how to shoot and make my own 3D
viewmaster slides and have shown them in a few art shows. I also own a 1950’s projector that
lets you project viewmaster reels large and wear other 3d glasses to see it. Over the years I would
just have great luck at finding peoples photo collections on the street. My best find of photos was
a collection someone threw out in a giant trashbag in front of U Arts School in the late 90’s. It
had the best collection of 90’s great bad art school photos. My favorite is a black and white of a
couple holding a fish. It looks like a promo image for a bad student theater production. At some
point I decided to start the Vintage Annals Archive Instagram to start to share this stuff. I think
it’s about 5-7 years old. The only way I know exactly is scrolling to the bottom but with over
13000 posts I never quite make it all the way through. I had like 300 followers for the first 3
years or so and did not fully understand how Instagram worked and would post like 100 images a
day. I applaud anyone who has been on there since the early days. God bless you. I got lucky one
day and was reposted by Amy Sedaris who is a master at all things vintage and overnight had
like 4000 new followers. After that I have slowly gotten up to 13000 followers. I don’t really
care about numbers and such but it’s nice to have a solid audience. I have almost quit a few times
as you start to run out of stuff but I keep going and it’s still fun.”

  1. What is your favorite decade  of advertisements?

“As I grew up in the 70’s (born 1970) I will always love the advertisements and images of the
day. My favorite ads are the ones that are naughty and sexist in 1970’s terms and have double
meaning. I also love prescription drug advertisements for Ritalin and such. I think of them like
the scenes in “Three’s Company” where Mr. Furley is listening in and in shock and
misunderstanding the conversation. I also love any drug or sex-based product ads. This also
brings up an issue is that at times (though rarely)that is problematic where people read these ads
by today’s standards and get angry. As a teacher I don’t mind putting out this problematic
material as it is educational in my opinion. I never post it to just offend others. Although if
someone gets offended as happens when I post some LGBTQIA+ materials I will then double
my efforts and post a lot more. I love doing this but when people act racist and homophobic it
kind of makes me want to stop but I don’t. It’s rare but happens enough that now I dox those
account posts.”

4.Can you talk about your website?

“In terms of photographs and my collections I have scanned most of my physical archive and
make it available for anyone to use images hi-res scans for art or historical projects. I am a Jew
and I try hard to include all races and gender identities and such. Before I started to upload my
images to my website I would notice a lack of historical and archival family photographs of
Bipoc and LGBTQIA+ imagery online and in online archives. If I looked up African American
family Christmas photos you get very little compared to general searches. I mean if you look up
black musicians in Google you get 70% male musicians in the main photo search. Sadly there is
racism embedded in even a google search. I just try to do what I can to add more of that material
in general. My website has about 21 full collections from family photos to scanned 1980’s
Dokken slides. I like that people can see them as a full collection. I also make some of the
physical archive available upon request. I have a nice collection of 3D photographs and slides
and have shown those locally before. One day I hope to tour with them or make a small 3D
museum with a general collection of found and family photographs. I do take donations to help

procure more materials as well as pay for the site and such. I have always wanted to put some of
the 2D and 3D collections out in book form which also takes money.”

  1. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share? 

“I am starting to bring my vintage annals work into my own photography work which is very
exciting to me. I have a favorite photographer who did most of her iconic work in the 60’s 70’s
and still makes amazing work to this day. Her name is Meryl Miesler and I just did a post about
her new book “New York Paradise Lost – Bushwick Era Disco” who I actually met and got to
know through posting her images on my vintage annals page.

I also did a recent shoot with amazing artist Jim Tozzi who has created (vintage art inspired)
Bert’s Tit imagery and stickers and did work on Wonder Showzen, and Xavier Renagade Angel.
Since I am a teacher and off in the summer I will be traveling with my camera in hopes of
capturing the last pieces of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s in places like Las Vegas, San Francisco
and Chicago this summer. I once got to take photos of LGBTQIA+ hero Cleve Jones.
I am also hoping to document some of the characters and players who came to fame in the 60’s
through the 90’s and hope to meet and do portraits and possibly short documentaries.”

If you like more information the following contract information is below:

IG: @vintageannalsarchive

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