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Gay Boston chronicler has died

Bobby Busnach by Anthony Lyons

Bobby Busnach, "street hustler and model", at 16. Photograph by Anthony Lyons

The Boston Globe is reporting today that photographer and "Gay Boston" chronicler Robert "Bobby" Busnach died, earlier this summer.

Born in Cambridge, his family moved to Pennsylvania when he was ten but he ran away back to Boston where the self-described "glitter boy" lived on the streets as a hustler.

Busnach was a regular visitor to The Other Side, the Bay Village "gay discotheque" (torn down in the 1980s; near the intersection of Piedmont and Broadway) located across the street from Jacque's.

He moved to New York City in the 1970s where he remained for a few decades. He eventually ended up on the Cape where he was living when he died of heart failure on July 5, 2019.

His online presence remains; there are several YouTube videos he created and he had one of his first gallery shows this summer at AMP, the Art Market Provincetown.

Interviewed for Provincetown magazine last year, he had this to say, which seems rather fitting:

As a survivor of his chosen tribe, this work goes beyond himself, though he finds his center in it all.

"We all called ourselves fags, or dykes, fag hags, wannabees, sissies, whatever we were called we took the name for ourselves. I didn't want to be like everyone else. I want[ed] to be special. It made us special. I didn't want to be part of their society. And I still don't."



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RIP Bobby. About 5 minutes ago I noticed his birthday was coming up on Monday and I considered wishing him an early birthday. Now its really too late.
Loved him and his dog Wilbur. Cannot imagine the two of them not together anymore.

Voting closed 5

"I didn't want to be like everyone else. I want[ed] to be special. It made us special. I didn't want to be part of their society. And I still don't."

Reminds me so much of the old bohemian gay days of the 1970s before we "assimilated". Like director John Waters says "I remember when the cool thing about being gay is we didn't have to get married or go into the army."

The Other Side was legendary. One night circa 1974 David Bowie walked in after his "Diamond Dogs" show at the Music Hall wearing bright red lipstick and danced the night away in the company of a large black bodyguard. It's still talked about to this day.

Voting closed 18

Thank you. I don't think I know him, but heartfelt admiration for everyone who survived the dark times & went on to create art (or anything) afterwords.

Voting closed 15

Who made the world a more beautiful and frivolous place...and paid a terrible price...AIDS

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You make it sound like we weren't having a good time. Trust me, we were. :-) Thanks anyway for your "admiration" for us just existing.

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Bobby Busnach was interviewed by Brian Halligan back in 2013 for the Boston DJ Project. It's in 3 parts.

Bobby Busnach Interview - Boston DJ Project (1/3)

Voting closed 7

And to be fair, not knowing the guy, the death notice was intriguing. I do sincerely thank you for writing up what amounts to a fairly good obituary for the guy. Interesting fellow.

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It was in the Boston Globe and Arlington Advocate, and is available online.

Rob had several exhibitions at AMP and other places in Boston and New York City. He was also a prolific DJ who made many mixes, easily findable with searches if you are interested. The article kind of made it sound like he was a lightweight, but throughout his life he created a prodigious body of work, despite many many obstacles, including money and finding places to live. He fought for everything he loved, and became an really incredible person, always reinventing himself.

He was a commensurate artist who was finally becoming known to a wider audience. Efforts to complete an international book he was working on are in the works, and we hope will come out this or next year. We also hope for a retrospective exhibition of his work at some point.

Voting closed 0